State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, returned from a tour of the Rio Grande Valley with federal, state and local officials last week and is recommending a surge of funding, equipment and personnel to increase security of Texas’ border with Mexico.
“We learned a lot,” Hughes said. “The drug cartels are responsible for bringing these record numbers of children to the border, with the goal of overwhelming the system and making it easier for the cartels to do their evil and heartless acts.
“These drug lords take money from the folks in Mexico, promising safe passage into the U.S. Then, if they make it across, these same criminals in many cases hold their clients hostage and extort money from their relatives in the U.S. This is in addition to home invasions and other violence they perpetuate. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard a lot about these unaccompanied minors. A lot of people have concerns, and I wanted to go and report the truth.”
Hughes traveled to South Texas to investigate these issues, along with a committee of officials from various agencies at several levels of government.
On June 21, Hughes said he joined Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and a group of House colleagues and friends from county and national governments on the Rio Grande River, including U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra, Pharr Police Chief Ruben Villescas and Hidalgo County Constable Larry Gallardo.
In response to these issues, Hughes proposes a surge of funding, equipment and personnel to increase the security of Texas’ border with Mexico.
“So the surge (of funding, equipment and personnel) is a big part of the solution,” Hughes said of the border concern. “With the extra $1.3 million per week that Texas has just approved, DPS and each of the agencies with which we met can put more officers and more resources into this fight.
“They can aggressively go after the drug cartels right on our border, starting at the Rio Grande River. By concentrating more force there, we can decrease illegal border crossings and increase the cartels’ cost of doing business.”
He said the weekly funding will come from “money already appropriated for other sources, but we had a surplus, so we’re just moving surplus funds around. This is not a new tax.”
Hughes is confident the proposed measures will be effective.
“I’m optimistic. We’ve had surge operations in the past, and they worked,” he said. “We can make the border safer for the folks living there, decrease illegal border crossings, and stop the pipeline of helpless children being used as human shields by the heartless drug lords.
“In addition, we observed some of the equipment that’s being used very effectively. Most importantly, we got to visit with officers of these various agencies who are serving us in very difficult conditions.”
Hughes also bears his constituents in mind.
“The border counties’ immigration problem will directly affect East Texas,” he warned. “These children are being ferried by the cartels with the goal of overwhelming the system, and that could lead to more cartel violence, or maybe even terror. There are my humanitarian concerns for the children, and my security concerns for all of us.
“There is still work to do. The federal government must do its constitutional duty and provide real border security. But in the meantime, Texas is not sitting idly by and waiting. With this surge, we are taking immediate action toward securing the border.”