AUSTIN — Sheriffs, police chiefs and landowners in counties along the Texas-Mexico border have asked for more help securing the border against a wave of migrants they say are arriving.
Local law enforcement officers and landowners testified before the Senate Border Security Committee Wednesday in Eagle Pass, one of the border communities that state officials say has been impacted by the the migrant crisis. Specifically, they asked for more soldiers and special brush teams to help deter crossings.
“We’ve seen the mess and the trash and all the stuff that’s left behind by some of the immigrants in our cities, and really, it’s a job that our people in the city have to do to clean up all of that stuff,” the chief said. Eagle Pass Police. said Federico Garza.
Christopher Roswell, who owns property in Maverick County, said the immigrant activity he’s seen on his property over the past two years is “crazy”.
Roswell said he offers hunting on his property as a primary source of income. However, the hunts were disrupted by undocumented immigrants who he said threatened his bosses. In other cases, Roswell has helped migrants it has found abused, trafficked or abandoned.
Roswell also listed property destruction, including broken fences, trash left on the ground, and illegal holes drilled into freshwater tanks throughout the property.
“My livelihood is at risk,” Roswell said. “It’s not just the damage we have to deal with, it’s also the abuses of human trafficking.”
Luis Valderrama, a rancher near Del Rio, said his fences were regularly cut, allowing his cattle to escape, sometimes into the roads, creating danger.
Additionally, he expressed concern that the people choosing the route on his property are those who do not want to seek asylum, possibly due to criminal records. This forced Valderrama to move his wife and three young children off the property for safety reasons.
“I can’t have (my children) there with my wife (and) expect her to have to protect them every night because there are people walking around within 100 yards of the house” , Valderrama said. “I mean, it’s not sustainable.”
Sheriffs, officers and landowners have called on lawmakers to invest more in Operation Lone Star, the state’s military mission along the border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Launched in March 2021, OLS has already cost Texas taxpayers more than $4 billion. Governor Greg Abbott has said he is prepared to spend any amount necessary on border security, frequently criticizing the federal government for not acting as it would like on border issues.
Border security is the responsibility of the federal government, but Abbott has pushed the line, often issuing new guidelines that critics have questioned.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations and nonprofits have pushed back against these programs, most recently against Abbott’s July executive order that ordered state law enforcement officials to remove illegal immigrants detained at the Texas-Mexico border.
The ACLU has called on the federal government to stop working with state law enforcement as they turn over detained migrants to US Border Patrol officers at ports of entry. The organizations also called on the federal government to invest more resources to ensure that the rights of undocumented immigrants are not violated.
“We urge the Department of Homeland Security not to cooperate with these actions by the Texas State Police,” the letter reads. “Specifically, DHS should refuse to take people into care under these circumstances and should prevent Texas state and local authorities from detaining people on federal property pursuant to Governor Abbott’s executive order.”