Austin, TX (STL.News) During the House Appropriations Committee hearing yesterday, several border sheriffs testified in support of additional funding that is needed to secure the state’s southern border. The sheriffs discussed the challenges they are experiencing in their communities related to border security and advocated for more funding and resources to mitigate the border crisis.
“We are faced with unprecedented challenges…this crisis is not going to stay on the border. It’s going to affect all of us in the state of Texas and all of us in the United States. I support these funds that are being allocated to secure our border,” said Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez.
“We’ve had a 140% increase in dead bodies, a 130% increase in 9-1-1 calls, over 200% increase in rescues. Any type of funding that’s provided will definitely help the county and border counties, or any other county for that matter, that has this issue, because it doesn’t stop there. We’re 70 miles north of the [Rio Grande] river, we do have a checkpoint, a lot of private land, and this is what’s occurring in our backyard. There’s a lack of manpower, there’s a lack of resources,” said Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez.
“In my county alone since January, we have had over 90 vehicle pursuits. We are seeing a tremendous amount of traffic and it’s putting a delay time to answer our local [emergency] calls because we’re handling other calls. When a landowner calls 9-1-1, unfortunately it rings at our office — it doesn’t ring at the border patrol station, it doesn’t ring at the DPS communications, it rings at our office. So we are the initial call. If somebody calls that they have a trespasser or a suspicious person on their property, we don’t know if it’s an illegal alien, if it’s a criminal, or what — we respond to what we’re called to do, assist somebody that’s in distress,” said Zavala County Sheriff Eusevio E. Salinas, Jr.
“Since I’ve been sheriff, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s unbelievable what we’ve seen. It’s costing our county a lot. Anything you all can do to help the border sheriffs in the state of Texas and the nation will be a great asset. Believe me, ladies and gentlemen, this is real,” said Presidio County Sheriff Danny C. Dominguez.
“The Governor’s initiative that he has put in place is legitimate, it’s valid, it’s necessary. These are issues that I hear about weekly, daily, morning to evening, from sheriffs all across the state of Texas who are engaging with limited resources. It’s undeniable that all of us in the law enforcement community in the state of Texas, all of us are strained,” said Jackson County Sheriff and President of Texas Sheriffs’ Regional Alliance A.J. Louderback.
“It’s not just a border problem, this problem is inundating all of us. It is in our community. This has never happened in my 28 years of law enforcement. It’s a huge humanitarian issue. Something has to be done,” said Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd.
Governor Greg Abbott named border security funding as a priority item for the first and second 2021 Special Sessions. In a call with border sheriffs and county judges on Saturday, the Governor urged them to make their voices heard to the committee and members on the urgent need for this additional funding to secure the border. Governor also urged legislators to swiftly act on this item, especially since a quorum has been established, in order to keep communities safe and help secure the border.
Updated Numbers from Operation Lone Star:
Operation Lone Star was launched in early March to help secure the border and combat the smuggling of people and drugs in Texas. There are currently DPS troopers, agents, Guardsmen, and rangers, who are engaged in the mission and working with local law enforcement. The Governor expanded the mission to include anti-human trafficking efforts. Since Governor Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, over 4,600 arrests have been made by the Texas Department of Public Safety for charges including criminal mischief and criminal trespass. Additionally, Operation Lone Star has led to the confiscation of drugs and illegal firearms — including over 700 pounds of cocaine, 127 pounds of deadly fentanyl, over 8,500 pounds of cannabis, and over 270 firearms to date. In July 2021, more than 212,000 people attempted to illegally cross Texas’ southern border — the largest number since 2000.