[WATCH] Texas Sheriffs Speak Out On Stretched Resources, Damage From Illegal Immigration


SAN ANTONIO – The border crisis is top of mind for the state’s top law enforcement. The annual meeting of the Sheriff’s Association of Texas is taking place in San Antonio Monday, just as the crisis reaches a breaking point. The head of the association says the group’s biggest priority is supporting border Sheriffs because their resources are stretched so very thin right now. On ranches north of the border, fences are ripped apart. Water pipes are broken. Vehicles are stolen, wrecked and abandoned. The Brooks County Sheriff’s Office is constantly on the chase. “The damage is constant,” Chief Deputy Benny Martinez says. He estimates 85% of his cases are related to immigration. The rural Sheriff’s office just isn’t built to handle that kind of workload. “Absolutely not,” Chief Deputy Martinez says. “That’s a federal issue.” But at the annual meeting for the Texas Sheriff’s Association, Sheriff after Sheriff says they also feel the impact on the local level. “The concern that I have as the Bexar County Sheriff is what comes across the border – if it’s not stopped at the border, it comes to San Antonio,” Sheriff Susan Pamerleau says. Overworked deputies will soon get some relief when Governor Rick Perry sends the National Guard to the border. It remains unclear how many troops will be sent and how long they will stay. Sheriff Tom Schmerber wonders if the extra boots on the ground will make a difference in his area, which includes Eagle Pass. “My county’s all private property,” he says. “The only way National Guard can go in to those properties would be with permission from landowners.” He says even the National Guard is limited because troops don’t have the power to make arrests. “It might help on the highways but not on the border,” Sheriff Schmerber says. Back on the ranch lands of Brooks County, a conservative estimate puts the property damage caused by immigrants in the last five years at a million dollars. Chief Deputy Martinez says he’s not seeing signs of progress. “Right now, I don’t see it,” he says. “But what I would consider [progress] is, those fences being rebuilt and staying up for longer than a week.”





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