Texas border sheriffs ask congress for help
A coalition of Texas border sheriffs will testify at Capitol Hill hearings this week that illegal immigration and drug smuggling have sent law-enforcement costs soaring and exposed their deputies and communities to escalating violence.
Overwhelmed by a flood of illegal aliens, drug smugglers and rapidly increasing violence, the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition -- which includes all the sheriffs from Texas' 16 border counties -- want the federal government to help them pay for manpower increases, rising fuel bills, vehicles and equipment.
"If anything happens along the border areas, we're the first ones to respond, and it's the local taxpayers who are footing the bills for the federal government's inability to control the area," said Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez.
Sheriff Gonzalez, who heads the coalition, has argued that the federal government's failure to control illegal immigration and drug smuggling and to curtail growing violence along the 1,200-mile U.S.-Mexico border in Texas has forced county law-enforcement authorities into a "financial nightmare."
"We feel our government is not protecting our country, particularly at a time when terrorists could make their way into the United States through our southern border," Sheriff Gonzalez said.
The coalition says criminal organizations involved in narcotics and human trafficking have become more sophisticated and dangerous and, as a result have moved their operations all along the border.
Joining the coalition in support at the hearings will be Sheriff Larry Dever of the Cochise County Sheriff's Office in southern Arizona and Sheriff Todd Garrison of the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department in southern New Mexico.
Sheriff Dever's jurisdiction includes 83 miles of U.S.-Mexico border that have become the nation's most traveled immigration corridor.