AUSTIN, Texas - The surge of state troopers and Texas National Guard is being credited with slowing down the number of migrants trying to cross the border at Del Rio.
"You know I’m wondering what the expectation our citizens have can you tell us from the governor what is your mission," asked state Rep. James White (R-Hillister), chairman of the Texas House Homeland Security Committee.
It was a simple question asked Thursday to DPS Director Steve McCraw. "The overall mission is to secure to the border with Mexico and work with our federal partner plain and simple," he said.
Committee members learned just how complicated cooperation can be, for example, the current relocation of migrants from Del Rio into other parts of Texas.
"Where are they going? Where are they ending up? And I am asking on behalf of my constituents, if law enforcement, DPS, can begin to answer that question for the people of Texas," asked state Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler).
McCraw responded by saying they don’t know because federal officials will not share that information with them. The lack of information regarding the migrant busing operation dominated much of the hearing.
"We have no idea, we have no preplanning and no preparation for Texas law enforcement or anywhere else in the country on who is coming to our county," testified Jackson County Sheriff A.J. Louderback.
After testifying, Louderback, who is also with the Sheriff's Association of Texas, explained his frustration is not limited to bus destinations. "The blindsiding comes more from the fact that essentially in less than a month everyone has become much more busy, our law enforcement, all of our calls for service, for every county in Texas, has gone up, our work load has gone up, our resources are taxed," he said.
The multi-billion dollar investment made recently by state lawmakers for enhancing border security is intended to provide some relief. However, Zapata County Sheriff Ray Del Bosque said he and other small departments remain overwhelmed. "Right now I just have questions and I’m looking for answers," he said.
The mass deployment of troopers to Del Rio was done to show how the state can respond. A long line of trooper patrol cars created a temporary barrier which slowed the illegal crossings. When asked how long they can hold at that location, McCraw said. "We will hold as long as necessary."
He went on to say the deployment may end by the end of the week. Things may change because of other events DPS is worried about, including new reports that migrant caravans have diverted from Del Rio and are now currently heading to other Texas border crossings.
The executive director for Catholic charities of the Rio Grande Valley was among the last to testify. Sister Norma Pimentel told the committee that her organization at one point was receiving 2000 people a day, which has now dropped to under 500. Sister Pimentel also clarified that many of the migrants the border patrol sends to them eventually head to cities like Chicago and to locations on the East Coast.
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