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A WORD FROM THE MAYOR
Last week Governor Abbott held a meeting in Uvalde with a number of local mayors, judges and sheriffs on issues related to the border, which I was able to attend.
Border Patrol is overwhelmed. The flow of illegal immigrants is so heavy they can’t keep up. The border has been closed, so to speak, to immigration due to Covid concerns for the normal channels of immigration. The flow today of individuals coming across is not stopped or prevented, to any large scale by our federal government. The protocol typically is to process those that are caught, take their information, give them a court date and turn them loose in our nation, with a promise to appear for a court date later on. They say the number of illegal’s that have entered our country since January of 2021 is two million, I’m not sure that accurately accounts for all they missed. Border Patrol is supposed stop the flow of illegal entry, but are now full-time in the human processing business. So much time is spent on processing, very little patrolling is going on, therefore more and more illegal’s are getting across. Holding facilties are beyond capacity to house them, to the point Border Patrol has said it will take large number of folks and turn them loose in South Texas towns.
This is overwhelming to these towns in every aspect. To my knowledge this has not happened in Frio County, but the implications of a wide open border has a very real cost to every citizen in this county, in this state and our nation. To date, the Governor says Texas has spent $3.5 billion trying to curb, slow down and stop the flow of illegals. The impact locally is human trafficking. The sheriff’s department is involved in three to six vehicle chases of human smuggling per day. These usually result in the smuggler driving through a rancher’s fence and escaping into the brush. I support our sheriff’s stance, this is lawlessness, if we don’t stop it or try to, what next? No doubt it’s dangerous, costing us our deputies’ time, wear and tear on vehicles, added fuel costs and time away from normal patrol. It is extremely frustrating to the ranchers, understandably so. We catch, on average, three of these smugglers per week. They, not the illegal immigrants, are felons and are therefore held in our local jail when caught. We have limited jail space, and this negatively impacts our ability to fight crime locally as effectively as we’d like. The issue is being addressed and corrected but, to date, about 25 percent of Frio’s jail population are human smugglers. The cost of holding these charged with felonies until their trial date will be huge, a cost born largely by our county. There is some help from the state but soon, at this rate, those capacities will be overwhelmed. This takes us back to having a limited supply of jail space to meet our local needs. Our judicial court system is trying to get back to a normal flow after the impact of the pandemic, but expect the court system to be overwhelmed again, all at a larger cost to the taxpayer.
The previous administration used a law known as Title 42 to stem the flow of illegal immigration using the pandemic as the catalyst to turn them away. The current administration is doing away with Title 42 next month and we can expect the tide of illegal immigration to increase. Texas has been actively fighting the border issue. The Governor has provided numerous resources to counties hardest hit. Texas is currently building the wall, in places where the federal government stopped, Texas is stringing razor wire and other barriers to allow our man power to more effectively patrol the heavier traveled crossings. Texas has a ‘turn back’ policy in place, simply not permitting folks to cross, if caught by Texas law enforcement. The Governor indicated last week, Texas will start bussing illegal immigrants to Washington DC, indicating other measures will follow as Texas seeks to protect the state and nation, from, I’m going to use the word invasion, because it is. Without the federal government’s help, these actions taken by Texas that are huge and costly, but is only topical, it will not solve the problem. This administration must take the action necessary to close/prevent these folks from crossing, as we have in the past. Until such time, the price of our border not being secure will continue to cost us all in more ways than one.
I hold an office every Wednesday afternoon at City Hall for anyone that would like to come and talk about this or any issue related to our city.
God Bless the City of Pearsall, the County of Frio, the State of Texas, the United States of America and You.
Ben T. Briscoe
Mayor of Pearsall