The influx of illegal immigrants into southern Texas is depleting law enforcement resources and causing heavy amounts of damage in the area, said several sheriffs gathered for the annual Sheriff’s Association of Texas convention.
“The damage is constant,” Brooks County chief deputy Benny Martinez told News 4 San Antonio at the conference, held in San Antonio on Monday and Tuesday.
Martinez estimated that 85 percent of cases he handles are related to immigration issues and that his rural county is not equipped to handle the workload. (RELATED: Border Meltdown: Obama Delivering 290,000 Illegals To U.S. Homes)
According to News 4, ranches just north of the border are facing ripped fences, broken water pipes and a spate of stolen, wrecked and abandoned vehicles.
“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 Time Warner News.
Reports of the heavy influx of illegal immigrants have so far mostly focused on the humanitarian aspect of the issue, ignoring the physical and financial impact on southern Texas counties.
The Obama administration estimates that 90,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from Central America, will be apprehended in fiscal year 2014. And another 39,000 mothers with children had been apprehended as of last month. (RELATED: Obama Officials Refuse To Provide Data About Flood of Illegals)
Because Texas is the nearest entry point for Central Americans, the state is experiencing the brunt of the unprecedented surge. Many of the women and children merely turn themselves over to the care of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents charged with watching the border.
But as the Washington Post reported last month, dealing with that surge can provide ample opportunity for drug smugglers and other adult illegal immigrants to sneak into the U.S.
To handle that, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $30 million last month because of “grave concerns that dangerous cartel activity, including narcotics smuggling and human trafficking, will go unchecked because Border Patrol resources are stretched too thin.”
At the Sheriff’s Association convention, sheriffs in more northern counties said they are worried about that aspect of the influx as well.
“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 News 4.
Gov. Rick Perry has attempted to deal with criminals at the border by calling on 1,000 National Guard troops. (RELATED: Texas Gov. Rick Perry To Send 1,000 Troops To Border)
But some sheriffs have said that the move will be ineffective in their counties.
“My county’s all private property,” Sheriff Tom Schmerber said. “The only way National Guard can go in to those properties would be with permission from landowners.”
Martinez, the Brooks County chief deputy sheriff, told Time Warner News that he has yet to see progress from any of the proposals asking for more money and more manpower. (RELATED: Obama Blames The GOP For The Border Breakdown)
“But what I would consider [progress] is, those fences being rebuilt and staying up for longer than a week.”