Sheriffs: Border Crisis Hits South Texas Especially Hard

Tuesday, 29 Jul 2014 08:50 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The immigration border crisis is hitting southern Texas law enforcement particularly hard, straining resources and inflicting mounting damage across the region, local sheriffs say.

At the annual Sheriff's Association of Texas convention, officers told local media about ripped fences, broken water pipes and stolen, wrecked and abandoned vehicles.

"The damage is constant," Brooks County Chief Deputy Benny Martinez told News 4 San Antonio.

Story continues below video.

Martinez estimated that 85 percent of cases he handles are immigration-related – and that his county isn't equipped to cope with it.

"Absolutely not," he told the station. "That's a federal issue."

It is conservatively estimated that damage caused by immigrants in the past five years amounts to $1 million, the station reported, and Martinez said things aren't getting better even with the increased attention and political talk.

"Right now, I don't see it," he told the station. "But what I would consider [progress] is those fences being rebuilt and staying up for longer than a week."

"When you have to focus on the rush of undocumented immigrants coming through your county, what does that do to your staffing? Of course it kinda takes some of our staffing from being out on patrol," Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villaneuva told the subscription-only Time Warner News, the Daily Caller reported.

Texas has been hit hard in the current immigration surge, with women and children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally and turning themselves immediately over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents when they arrive.

Drug smugglers also have made their way into the country along with the throng of children, giving sheriffs another law enforcement problem.

"The concern that I have as the Bexar County sheriff is what comes across the border. If it's not stopped at the border, it comes to San Antonio," Sheriff Susan Pamerleau told the station.

Some sheriffs were skeptical that Gov. Rick Perry's call for 1,000 National Guard troops
will be effective for their specific needs.

"My county's all private property," Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber told the station. "The only way National Guard can go into those properties would be with permission from landowners."

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