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Texas Border Killings Prove Need to Reopen Investigation of No-Bid Contracts

Today's release of new video documenting Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) personnel in a helicopter shooting at a truck suspected of carrying undocumented immigrants - and killing two passengers - raises significant questions about the type of training by provided for border security efforts. The incident renews concerns over suspicious no-bid government contracts such as the one awarded to Abrams Learning and Information Systems, the company responsible for training DPS border agents.

As public statements by Gregg Cox, the director of the Public Integrity Unit at the Travis County District Attorney's office, indicate, PIU was forced to end its investigation into these no-bid contracts with ALIS after Gov. Perry vetoed $7.5 million for the law enforcement agency.

In light of the questions raised by this alarming DPS shooting video, Progress Texas Executive Director Edward Espinoza has called on the Public Integrity Unit to reopen its investigation into DPS no-bid contracts.

"In situations like this it is unclear that agents were able to know the identity of the suspects, be it a Texas citizen, an immigrant, or a child. What is clear is that this "shoot first" strategy is dangerous for all sides - the agents involved should have better training. We ask that the Public Integrity Unit’s criminal investigation into DPS no-bid contracts with Abrams Learning and Information Systems be reopened immediately. The human cost and lack of transparency surrounding DPS operations at the US-Mexico border underscores why we must scrutinize third-party contractors training DPS and other state employees in border security.”

According to the Austin American-Statesman from 2006 to 2012, DPS, under the leadership of Gov. Rick Perry, awarded almost $20 million in no-bid contracts to Abrams Learning and Information Systems, Inc., a Virginia-based defense contractor, to develop its border security plan and train its personnel.