Despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s public pivot towards border security, citizens in Kinney County aren’t getting help. The state is denying funds for securing their border with Mexico, forcing local officials to seek private donations, and has yet to accept significant help from Florida.

In May, Abbott issued a disaster declaration in response to Texas’ unsecured borders. The next month, he directed $250 million state funds towards a down payment for Texas’ wall and visited the border with former President Donald Trump. He also put border security on the Texas Legislature’s to-do list for the current special session.

But citizens in Kinney County, roughly 200 miles southwest of Austin and bordering Mexico, have seen practically nothing.

“The governor says one thing, but doesn’t actually provide resources to the people on the ground and counties,” County Attorney Brent Smith told Texas Scorecard.

No Help

Smith said Kinney County declared a local state of disaster in April and asked Gov. Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management—which he adds works for Abbott “under statute”—for “boots on the ground” and help for local law enforcement.

”To this date, we have not received any assistance,” Smith said, adding all they’ve received is Texas Department of Public Safety personnel on the highways. “If someone walks across the border right now on foot, and they avoid the highways, there’s nothing in front of them.”

He reported “thousands upon thousands” of aliens are illegally crossing the border daily and that since October, the U.S. Border Patrol has caught more than a million, getting 20 percent on “a very good day.” Smith reports foreign nationals from more than 75 countries have crossed the border, and most aren’t staying in Texas, but heading north.

“We’ve already caught terrorists, child molesters, sexual rapists, and those are the 20 percent we caught,” Smith explained. “It’s more than a crisis. It’s an invasion.”

Solutions

Smith said Kinney County was approached by border security contractors who’ve previously worked with the U.S. military worldwide. For about three days, local officials showed them their border with Mexico and the trafficking flow. The contractors then provided a cost estimate of everything they can provide to secure the county’s border.

“They far surpass anything Border Patrol or DPS can do for us,” Smith stated.

He explained the plan’s central part is to put “operational observation towers” along the border on the private property of owners who want it. There’d be large motion-activated spotlights between these towers.

“Once movement’s detected, we’ll have rapid response teams on ATVs with the tracking dogs to go there to check it out,” Smith continued. “If it is illegal aliens, they’ll apprehend them or hold them for law enforcement to arrive.” From there, they’d be taken for processing.

“The contractors have indicated that once deployed, they can have our border secure 100 percent in two weeks,” Smith said. He guesses deployment could take two to three weeks, but he believes this is “the solution to this entire crisis.”

Kinney asked the state for funding to get the private contractors moving, but the request was turned down. “They said, ‘Oh, well, DPS has all the resources we need,’” Smith recalled. “We don’t have any resources from DPS except more cars on the highways.” As a result, the county is preparing to get funding through private donors.

This isn’t the only help where the state is in the way. Smith relayed the county has also been contacted by the office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

“I have spoken with his office some, and they’ve said that they’re willing to come help,” he said, adding he’s “been contacted by several county sheriffs in Florida,” also offering aid.

Smith explains this new help is significantly different from the state troopers that came from Florida earlier. They’re only allowed to do ride-alongs with Texas DPS. What DeSantis and these sheriffs are offering, Smith says, would make a substantial difference. “But they can’t do it unless I get approval through TDEM,” he explained. “We’ve been trying to get that done for over a week now.”

Ticking Time Bomb

Smith said citizens in Kinney aren’t happy. “The creation of this crisis is [President Biden’s] fault, but how long does the crisis go on for until it starts to become the governor’s fault?” he asked. “We’ve proposed solutions to the governor, and he said, ‘No, thank you.’”

It’s a deadly situation for the migrants too. “Yesterday, we found another dead body in our county, and it’s become a weekly thing we find dead bodies now.”

Smith warns with hunting season approaching, this is building to a potentially dangerous confrontation unless something is done. “You’re talking about hundreds upon hundreds of hunters that come into Kinney County,” Smith warned. “What do you think’s going to happen when illegal aliens, hundreds and thousands of illegal aliens, are on those properties while they’re trying to hunt?”

An inquiry to Gov. Abbott’s office was viewed 11 times, but Texas Scorecard received no reply before publication.

Robert Montoya

A former filmmaker, University of North Texas graduate, and one-time assistant language teacher, Robert Montoya misses Japan and the 1980s. He is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard.

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