Kinney County, about 120 miles west of San Antonio, reportedly won’t be among the border counties receiving Texas National Guard troops. The county’s exhausted sheriff’s department must now rely on help from citizens, other counties, and maybe Oklahoma, to deal with illegal border crossings.
“It’s wide open,” said Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe (R) of the border situation. On Thursday, Coe said little has changed, except the groups of illegal immigrants his department is capturing have increased from as little as 10 people to as much as 35. His department is waiting to see if the reported 90,000 immigrants from Panama will be coming next.
Apparently, Gov. Greg Abbott will not be sending sufficient help soon to stop illegal border crossings in Coe’s area.
Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith (R) said there was a border sheriffs conference call with Gov. Abbott on Wednesday. Coe told Texas Scorecard what he learned of pending border action from the governor during that call.
“It sounded like the governor is getting ready to send somewhere between 500 and 1000 [Texas National Guard troops] towards the border. It looks like particularly Val Verde County and Maverick County,” Coe said. “We were not mentioned.” Kinney County is between those two counties. He said the governor’s office has given no reason why Kinney County is being excluded.
Earlier this month, Kinney County Judge Tully Shahan (R) asked Abbott to “immediately deploy 2,000 state military personnel” and “state military air assets” to the county to “repel an invasion and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Texas.”
Smith told Texas Scorecard they currently have two TNG officers in the county, and they’re helping organize files in his office.
“Now, we’re [going to] have to probably rely on our citizens to assist in this,” Coe said. “We’re just asking everybody to be more vigilant. Call in what you see, [and] give us some intel. We’ll gather what we can, and then we will see if we can maybe get some troops from the governor.”
Situation on the Ground
Coe described how Texans in Kinney County are being affected by the illegal border crossings. He said houses are being burglarized and damaged, property stolen, and fences cut.
He gave an example of a recent home invasion.
“[Illegal immigrants] couldn’t get into the doors or the windows, so they went up on the roof, ripped the shingles off, busted through the upper decking, and got into the attic, punched holes through the ceiling, [then] went into the house.” Based on the physical evidence, Coe estimates there were about 10 or 15 intruders.
Coe said there are no homicides as a result of illegal border crossings yet, but “ranchers have had to put their hand on their gun to get people to back away from them.”
Abbott may not be sending help, but Galveston County has. Coe said Goliad County (roughly 214 miles east) has sent help, Grimes County (roughly 313 miles northeast) may do the same, and sheriffs from Oklahoma are coming to see how they can assist. State officials previously denied help from Florida sheriffs.
Meanwhile, Coe’s six deputies are tired.
“You can only work six days a week [and] 12-hour shifts for so long,” he said.
An inquiry to Gov. Abbott’s office was not replied to before publication. During his border security press conference last week, Abbott was asked if he would close the points of entry into Mexico, as proposed by former State Sen. Don Huffines, one of his challengers in the 2022 Republican primary. “We will take any and all action that needs to be taken,” Abbott replied. “Understand this, however; most, if not all, of the illegal immigration is occurring is between the points of entry.”
“That is why we are having to surge resources between the points of entry, because our focal point is to try and reduce the number of people who are crossing into here illegally.”
Sheriff Coe asks Texans to pray for him and his deputies. “We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”