Sheriffs from counties along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas say the daily battle with illegal immigrants continues to escalate.
Illegal immigrants trying to get across the border "are getting so bold as to try to run over officers, assaulting officers," said Sheriff Arvin West of Hudspeth County. "They’re definitely out gunning us, out manning us and the sophistication that they’re using is beyond our capabilities at this point."
West, along with four other sheriffs and a representative of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition, came to Washington, D.C., to discuss the situation with Congress today. Rep. Michael McCaul (R.-Tex.), who represents their district, actively participated in the discussions. Following the presentation of a video clip documenting the terror along the border, McCaul said he couldn’t believe what he had seen.
"Rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine gun fire, many bodies lying in the street — you’d think you’re looking at the streets of Baghdad and yet it’s right across from our border in Texas," he said. "This bleeds over into our country and that’s why it’s so critical to secure our border."
Sheriff Rick Flores of Webb County oversees the city of Laredo, which, he says, "is probably the hottest spot in terms of violence."
"These people pretty much have taken control of the border and they’re expanding it to New Mexico and Arizona," Flores said. "They want to take control of the whole border, and they pretty much have control right now."
Flores continued: "Since they already have an infrastructure in place, what we’re concerned about is potential terrorists making their way through Mexico. We’ve already got some intelligence that they’re making their way through Mexico, using Mexico as a jump board as they’re making their way into the United States."
Asked by HUMAN EVENTS if any of the men had seen an evidence of al Qaeda-related terrorists entering the U.S. while patrolling the border, Rick Glancey of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition said that information must be kept confidential as ongoing investigations are currently taking place.
"But I will say this to you … [earlier] this year, [Robert] Mueller (director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation) made reference to the fact that there were some Iraqis that were intercepted trying to make their way into the United States," Glancey said. "If someone from the federal government in law enforcement is telling you that, then I think all the stories you’re hearing from members of Congress, and maybe members of the U.S. Senate, will put you in the right line of what we’re having to deal with."
In response to questions about the practicality of a fence, Flores said a physical barrier along the border, such as the one in San Diego, would be helpful only in certain areas of Texas.
"The reason they’ve got a wall [in California] is that because it’s no man’s land," he explained. "Well, in Texas it’s a little different — you know the border — people own land along the border. It’s very difficult for you to come in there and say, ‘You know what, we’re going build a wall,’ when these people use the river for irrigation and to water their cattle. They are looking at a virtual wall which is technology and that’s worked out really great."
More than anything, the sheriffs would like to see H.R. 4360, the bill passed by the House in December, fully funded.
The bill designates local sheriff’s offices as the second line of defense along the border, allowing them to come to the assistance of United States Customs Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But it has yet to be approved for funding.
And, according to Flores, that’s what they are waiting on.
"We have to improve our resources — and I’m talking about local law enforcement and that’s the reason why we’re here is because we have to assist federal agencies and the thing is that local law enforcement has never received any support and the Texas-Mexican border has been neglected for a very long time," he said.
UPDATE — April 7: Rep. Jack Kingston (R.-Ga.) has pictures of the sheriffs on his blog.