Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

BORDER WAR CONTINUES

Apr 27 2009

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Mr. Speaker, I bring you news from the second front, and that's the border war that the United States has on the border with Mexico down in the southern part of the United States.

I had the opportunity for the last couple of weekends to spend some time with our Texas border sheriffs and the Air National Guard. In fact, I got to fly with the Texas Air National Guard and their helicopters on a mission a couple of weeks ago, and I want to give my compliments and thanks to Lieutenant Colonel Drew Daugherty, Major Bill Taylor, and others yet to be named whose identities should remain confidential.

In any event, we had the opportunity to fly up and down the Rio Grande River at dusk and then at dark to see what has taken place on that border with Mexico. We saw a couple of incidents where individuals had crossed into the United States. They were later apprehended by the Border Patrol. We saw one incident where there was obviously a smuggling operation getting ready to take place on the Mexican side of the river, where we could see from the American side a drug cartel apparently, in my opinion, was loading up duffel bags so that they could move those into the United States. That information was given to the Border Patrol, and I suspect that the Border Patrol apprehended those individuals when they came across the United States. These low-altitude helicopters are very important in the fight against the drug cartels that come into the United States.

There are some issues, however. The Air National Guard, like the National Guard, does not have enough equipment. For this massive 1,800-mile border here in Texas, there are only four helicopters that the Air National Guard has. And when something else occurs in the State like a hurricane or like a fire, those helicopters are pulled off surveillance and they're taken somewhere else in the State.

So the first issue is that we as a Nation should support the National Guard and the Air National Guard in their work with the border sheriffs and with the Border Patrol, the ATF, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and anyone else in the Federal Government that's working to protect the dignities of our borders.

As I mentioned earlier, I had the opportunity also to be with our Texas sheriffs. There are 16 counties on the Texas-Mexico border. All 16 of those sheriffs plus four other sheriffs are in what is called the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition. And I talked to those individuals, specifically Sheriff Cuellar, who is the brother of our own Henry Cuellar from Laredo. He's the sheriff of Webb County. Sheriff Sigi Gonzalez from Zapata County, Sheriff Arvin West from Hudspeth County, and Sheriff Oscar Carrillo from Culberson County. And all of those individuals said basically the same thing, that they're concerned about what they call the ``cross-border travelers'' that come into the United States and commit crimes in the United States.

We hear a lot, Mr. Speaker, from all different sources about the crimes in Mexico coming into the United States. We have some that say they do occur. We have others that say, no, it's not really a problem over here. It's difficult to find out exactly what the truth is. So I asked the sheriffs of these counties who are responsible for the safety of their own community. These sheriffs patrol massive amounts of land, and I contacted them and asked them this question: How many people in your county jail are foreign nationals that are in jail charged with a crime in the United Sta