By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — Four county judges in Texas have signed declarations of invasion and called on Gov. Greg Abbott to also sign one and do even more to secure the Texas-Mexico border.
In response, Abbott press secretary Renae Eze told The Center Square that “all strategies remain on the table as Texas continues stepping up in the federal government’s absence.”
The judges and sheriffs attending a Tuesday news conference praised the governor for supporting law enforcement efforts over the past year in response to increased crime in their counties as a result of the Biden administration’s open border policies. While many illegally entering the U.S. are surrendering at ports of entry, an estimated 1 million aren’t — and are evading law enforcement, making their way north into the U.S. Referred to as “gotaways,” they are defined by statute as criminal illegal aliens and, according to immigration law created by Congress, are eligible for deportation.
“If you had told me 29 years ago when I entered law enforcement that I’d be doing this, I would have said no way,” Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd said, referring to tracking down foreign nationals committing crimes who’d made their way into his county some 200 miles north of the border.
“You hear the term invasion, and that is exactly what this is. You hear the term immigration, and that is not what that is,” he said. “This is slave trade we deal with every day in our counties. These individuals that are being brought to us coming through our county who we’re intercepting, they are not free to go. They are the property of the cartels who get them to Houston and move them around the country, where they have to work off their indebtedness to the cartel … whether that be selling drugs, working in restaurants, working in hotels or forced prostitution. These individuals are not free. We are importing a peon class, and we are allowing the cartels to do it. It is an invasion being pushed by the cartels.”
Sheriff Boyd said Gov. Abbott threw three law enforcement life line with funding made available through Operation Lone Star, an initiative the governor launched in 2021 as illegal immigration numbers surged.
Others who spoke also thanked the governor and the impact that Operation Lone Star has had enabling them to pursue criminals with additional resources.
Kinney County Judge Tully Shahan, the first judge to declare an invasion, said, “We don’t want to lose America. The Biden administration won’t do a thing about it. They could stop this thing this hour. They could stop it now. They don’t have the guts, but they have a plan. And their plan is to keep bringing them in: open borders. If we keep our open borders, we’re not going to have a nation. We’re fighting for our border.”
Terrell County Judge Dale Curruthers, who also signed a declaration of invasion, said, “We are here to protect the sovereignty of our nation, not just the border. Every day our residents live in fear of the invasion. We have received support from the governor, and we are very grateful for that. But the invasion is real, and we are doing the best we can with limited resources. We have the least to offer and the most to lose.”
Goliad County Judge Mike Bennett said, “We get a lot of stopovers” of criminal foreign nationals. “We are a very poor county. We have two stoplights in our county. We have a sheriff’s department with two deputies on duty at any given time. Three to four days a week, we have bailouts in our county, and it takes 150% of our sheriff’s department’s resources leaving the rest of the county totally unprotected.
“We are asking the governor to do more. Clearly it’s a responsibility of the United States government to do this. Clearly they’re not going to do a thing.
“Gov. Abbott, we’re asking you to step up even more than you already have and give us the resources that we need. Our county is being overrun. Let’s deal with these people at the border and not after they’ve come into the interior of our state.”
Abbott press secretary, Ms. Eze, told The Center Square, “While President Biden ignores the ever-growing humanitarian crisis, and Congressional members visit the border for photo-ops and then return to Washington to do nothing, Texas has deployed thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers and allocated over $4 billion of Texas taxpayer money to secure our border.”
This includes “building our own border wall, erecting strategic barriers, and sending significant resources to help our local partners as was mentioned repeatedly in the Brackettville press conference,” she added.
Since Operation Lone Star began last March, law enforcement participating in it have made 274,000 apprehensions, more than 16,900 criminal arrests, including of smugglers and human traffickers, Ms. Eze added. They’ve also seized millions of lethal doses of fentanyl.
“It’s past time for President Biden – and for both parties in Congress – to do their jobs and secure our southern border,” she said. “As the challenges on the border continue to increase, Texas will continue to take additional unprecedented action to address those challenges caused by the Biden Administration.”