Last week, the Senate Committee on Border Security met in Eagle Pass to discuss Operation Lone Star and hear testimony from local county officials, ranchers, and border residents.
Notably, they all said the same thing.
“This is a situation that is not tolerable,” said Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith.
Border county residents reported property damage, safety issues, and dangerous encounters with illegal border crossers.
“There’s the same stories you hear over and over. No matter who you talk to, where you go on the border, it’s the same. It’s not special in Kinney or Maverick or Val Verde. I suspect that all along the border, the same issues are occurring,” said Smith.
Stories of assaults, car chases, property damage, and deaths are commonplace along the Rio Grande River.
“The dangers have escalated to a point where we have to recognize that the state of Texas must act to defend itself,” said Smith. “This is a situation that is not tolerable. It’s not acceptable in Texas, and Texans won’t accept this type of situation.”
The underlying purpose of both the state or the federal government is to protect its citizens. And right now, the federal government and state government are failing to secure the safety of Texans on the border.
As the county attorney prosecuting illegal border crossers, Smith recommends more “teeth” for Texas’ Operation Lone Star.
“There was a bill introduced last year that would make criminal trespass a felony if it was done in an effort to circumvent law enforcement checkpoints and between the ports of entry,” explained Smith. “I would give Operation Lone Star the teeth it really needs to create that deterrent and not just be a roadblock, or a speed bump.”
Smith also recommends prioritizing additional DPS Brush Teams, saying they do a “phenomenal job,” but more of them are needed. Kinney and Maverick counties share a brush team, and therefore, one of the counties is always lacking.
“We’re playing [a] defensive game right now,” said Smith. “And I think in the long term, in the amount of people coming in, we’re losing.”
We need to be more proactive and play more of an offensive game to try to help the citizens of Texas, because at the end of the day, I work for Kinney County and the residents of Kinney County. I don’t work for D.C.—thank goodness. I don’t work for Austin. I work for Kinney County and for my landowners.
However, Smith explains this is not strictly a border problem but a problem “for all of Texas… because the amount of drugs. That fentanyl coming through is literally killing hundreds of people almost every month, and not only in Texas but the United States itself.”
Indeed, fentanyl overdoses are the leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18-45. In July, more than 20,000 pounds of fentanyl were confiscated by Customs and Border Patrol on the southern border, enough to kill every Texan roughly 150 times over.
“We need to do something about it—yesterday,” said Smith.
Meanwhile, Kinney County is one of 11 counties in Texas to declare a border invasion, with each requesting that Gov. Greg Abbott declare an invasion for the state of Texas and utilize his powers as governor to defend Texas’ borders according to Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution.