Here's how the immigration influx at border affects Jim Wells County

Robin Bradshaw
Alice Echo News Journal

The Jim Wells County Commissioners court signed a resolution for local disaster arising from border security in response to the influx of  undocumented immigrants crossing the South Texas border from Mexico. 

The resolution was signed Friday, June 25 by county leaders and aligned with Gov. Greg Abbott's chain of command for local funding to help area residents and support law officers. The border security summit held by Abbott in Del Rio this month was the first initiative to continue Trump's border wall agenda and align Texas counties with allocated border security funds and establish a Governor’s Task Force on Border and Homeland Security. 

"My understanding is that state's plan is to send officers from Michigan to help with the influx of immigrants and we would pay for their salary from our budget," Jim Wells County Sheriff Daniel Bueno said during the meeting.

Meanwhile, County Attorney Michael Guerra said the guidelines for county funding under the local disaster resolution aren't clear but passing the resolution offered a "safety net."

Jim Wells County Courthouse

One state legislator said Jim Wells County leaders weren't taking the proper approach to the issue.

"Jim Well County declaring the area as a local disaster is not under the proper perspective," state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa said. "The southern counties of Hidalgo, Cameron and Starr have not made an emergency declaration and are much more compromised in response to the issue."

Hinojosa said that while there is an increase in immigrants coming to Texas from Central America that Republicans are " politicizing the issue for an upcoming election."

"Yes, both parties come to the valley point fingers and use the valley for photo opps and personal gain. Amidst all the chaos of polarization, a middle ground approach from top leadership with practical supportive ideas and solutions is scarce," he added.

Bueno, the local sheriff, said the county has seen about three to four additional cases a week related to undocumented immigrants, mostly affecting ranchers "with stolen vehicles and broken fences." 

He called it a "sad situation" for both the immigrants who spend money to cross the border only to be sent back and the ranchers whose property is damaged.

While Abbott has vowed to continue former President Donald Trump's border wall plan Hinojosa said it remains a costly and ineffective approach.

"The issue on the South Texas border is not going to be corrected overnight," Hinojosa said. "The border wall agenda is not practical. It's too expensive. A virtual or smart wall with fiber optic lines along the border, supported by technology, drones, motion sensors and cameras is needed. Virtual infrastructure for border security could be accomplished at a fraction of the cost of a physical wall."

Abbott and Trump are planning a joint trip to the border in the coming days.

"The real challenge at the South Texas border and throughout the nation is cooperation and a partisan approach to work on solutions instead of creating chaos," Hinojosa added.