Texas Border Region Pushes State to Do More Against Illegal Immigration

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UVALDE, Texas—A trio of small border locales have banded together in a bid to compel the state of Texas to provide the resources they need to secure their citizens against an unprecedented flow of illegal alien traffic.

Officials from Uvalde County, the city of Uvalde, and Kinney County formed a subregional planning commission on Aug. 2 under a unique Texas statute that gives small entities the teeth to force state agencies to the table to solve problems.

Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants pass through the area—via car or train, or on foot—to get from the border cities of Del Rio and Eagle Pass to San Antonio. The counties have declared themselves in a perpetual state of disaster since April.

Two officials from the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) attended the commission’s first meeting on Oct. 21. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, tasked TDEM with providing resources to beleaguered border counties, after issuing a state disaster declaration on May 31.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has dedicated more state troopers to the area, but the 391 commission members complained to the two TDEM officials about nonaction and communication issues that have left them feeling ignored and frustrated.

Uvalde County Commissioner John Yeackle said one of his county’s biggest problems is finding jail space for illegal aliens and smugglers.

“We’re getting verbal commitments—as I understand from the sheriff’s office—for DPS to move them to Del Rio, but that’s not happening in reality,” Yeackle said. The facility in Del Rio is a temporary state-run detention center that’s holding illegal alien inmates arrested for trespass and other crimes, but it’s 70 miles from Uvalde.

Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe said several formal requests he’s made to TDEM and DPS have gone unanswered or unresolved, including radio communications between his deputies and state troopers while on duty.

By Charlotte Cuthbertson

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