Governor Abbott claims migrants caused “slaughter” on the Texas border


BRACKETTVILLE – In April, Kinney County’s local elected officials felt besieged. Their rocky borderland 160 kilometers west of San Antonio had become a dangerous crossing point for migrants who had crossed the Rio Grande.

So Kinney District Judge Tully Shahan took an unprecedented measure. It issued a local disaster state, a legal process typically used by communities affected by cyclones, floods, or forest fires.

“On April 21, 1836, Texas won its independence during the Battle of San Jacinto, the final and decisive battle of the Texas Revolution,” wrote Republican Shahan in the disaster declaration. “Today, 185 years later, Texas is under siege again as thousands upon thousands of illegal aliens invade our state across our border with Mexico.”

The move picked up speed. Over the next month, similar statements were made by another 14 counties – some along the border, others more than 200 miles away.

The matter culminated on May 31 with Governor Greg Abbott issuing his own disaster statement citing a “humanitarian crisis in many Texas communities along the border.” Then he went a step further with his border reaction when he announced on June 16 that Texas would be building border walls using a combination of state dollars and crowdfunding to support one of his and Lt.

EDITORIAL STAFF: Abbott takes border issues no more seriously than Trump does

“The bloodbath is caused by the people who come across the border,” Abbott said at a press conference announcing his border wall plans. “Homes are being raided. Neighborhoods are dangerous and people are threatened with weapons on a daily basis.”

Patrick later added, “This is a struggle for our survival.”

According to federal data, the rush of migrants crossing to Texas has increased 360% this year compared to the first half of 2020. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has recorded nearly 400,000 migrant encounters in Texas this year, although a large portion of that total, up to 38% in a few months, is due to migrants returning to the country after at least one previous deportation enter.

The rise is a product of drastic changes in immigration policies between the previous and current presidential administrations combined with deteriorating economic conditions in the migrants’ countries of origin – notably Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

When asked by a reporter whether Abbott would like to address the humanitarian needs of those entering the US in search of a better life, he instead emphasized the humanitarian needs of Texans.

“I’m focusing on the humanitarian crisis Texans are suffering from,” Abbott said. “Texans on the border are in a humanitarian crisis because their lives are disrupted with guns, gangs and crime plagued.”

So what is the Texas border invasion like in places like Kinney County? And to what extent do these migrants cause “slaughter,” a word that by all definitions means violent killings?

Violent crime in the border region

Kinney County’s Little Division, Brad Coe, oversees 1,360 square miles of hardpan property and 25 linear miles of the Rio Grande. And in 35 years of law enforcement in the area, Coe has never seen the current level of activity.

“We will go non-stop,” he said. “There is no end in sight.”

The type of calls his proxies keep replying to relate to the migrants entering private ranches. The fences they cut annoy the ranchers because they let the cattle escape. The water pipes that they cut open for hydration can drain the ranchers’ reservoirs.

Then there are the cases where migrants break into and step into empty ranch houses or deer blinds, often leaving messy places and pantries being ransacked. Firearms are occasionally missing.

“They always take water and food, but one (rancher) said they took various other things that were around the house – binoculars, knives, and the like,” Coe said.

But there has been no increase in violent crime in Kinney County, Coe said. The same appears to be true for many counties within the border region of the state. Among all rural border counties that submitted violent crime data to the state’s Unified Crime Reporting program, violent crimes are occurring at a similar rate this year, if not slower than 2020.

The same generally applies to the urban areas on the border, as can be seen from the Unified Crime Reporting data obtained through an open file request. Among the border’s largest cities, El Paso, Brownsville and Edinburg are all well on their way to hitting last year’s violent crime numbers, while Laredo is well on its way to lowering its annual crime rate. Only the city of McAllen is well on its way to surpass last year’s violent crime rate.

Rather, it is property crimes and migrant rescue that law enforcement agencies work overtime on.

In the heart of the Chihuahua Desert, the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office has responded to bushfires set by desperate migrants hoping to be found by authorities. They have reported rash from cut fences, cut water pipes and break-ins into empty ranch houses.

“They don’t steal anything from themselves, but they break in and get food and water and stuff,” said Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West.


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