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Crossing the Line: Border Crisis as Immigrants flood Texas
An immigrant peers out from a detention area at the McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas, July 15. A solution for the growing crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border is looking elusive with three weeks left before Congress leaves Washington for its annual August recess.
Wilson County NewsJuly 23, 2014 3,627 views 24 comments
The question is not if they’ll come; they’re here. Whatever they may be called -- undocumented immigrant minors, undocumented alien children, illegal aliens -- they continue to arrive, in huge numbers, at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In Karnes City, a detention center designed for male immigrants is being converted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house women who entered the United States illegally with their children.
“The numbers are atrocious and somebody better get off their tail and do something about it; bottom line,” Gonzales County Sheriff Glen Sachtleben was unequivocal in offering his view of the situation.
There’s nothing new about people crossing from south of the border for economic opportunities in the United States; it’s occurred as long as the nations have been neighbors. What’s new about now is the age of the travelers and the sheer numbers of them.
Those numbers and the Obama administration’s proposal to allow them to stay, once here, drew protestors July 18 and 19 to the Mexican Consulate and highway overpasses. Area residents displayed “Secure our Border” signs and more.
As Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel catch and detain many entering the country illegally, border cities and communities are strapped -- financially and logistically -- to deal with the influx of younger immigrants. Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas is on record stating his city will not divert any more of the city’s public funds to provide aid for detainees.
Faith organizations, which have long stepped into the breach to help, also are feeling the pinch.
Baptist Child and Family Services withdrew plans July 16 to convert a $50 million resort in Weslaco into a 600-bed facility to house unaccompanied minors, after the proposal was “misreported to the public,” according to BCFS. The proposal aimed to “find a solution for providing safe, humane care for the children flooding across the border and overwhelming U.S. Border Patrol and communities.
BCFS also is seeking advertising costs, to place ads inviting area families to house such minors as they await the processing of their applications to remain in the United States. The families would be screened, according to BCFS, and paid for “fostering” the minors.
It’s been called a humanitarian crisis, as many of the undocumented minors may be fleeing drug cartels, civil uprisings, and economic distress in their home countries.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, both from Texas, introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to respond to the situation -- the HUMANE Act.
The proposed act would, Cornyn said July 21, “... make sure current law is actually enforced by speeding up court dates and the removal process for unaccompanied children. It is also worth reminding the American people that (1) there are numerous fraud-prevention measures in our current asylum laws, which the HUMANE Act would not change, and (2) more than 70 percent of those seeking asylum in the U.S. last year were ultimately not awarded status.”
“We’re trying to find a solution related to the issue in the legislature to keep legal protections intact and to provide due process faster,” Cuellar told the Wilson County News July 21, in Floresville to honor a local veteran. “For some of these people, before a judge sees them, it takes three to five years. We’re trying to put them before a judge faster.
“There’s no changes in the current laws, and no changes in the legal protections,” Cuellar said.
As Congress waits to act, the flood continues along the Rio Grande.
Border cities and communities across Texas are struggling to cope -- while the women and children are detained, they must be housed, fed, clothed, and given medical care.
Who will provide it? At what cost? Where will the funds come from? And how do we deal with them -- as immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees?
Officials across South Texas, approached regarding this overwhelming influx and resultant impact on communities, states, and our nation, offered varying responses.
Many of the immigrant youth are regarded as adults in their home countries, Sachtleben said. Here, however, they’re given the same protection as children.
“Our facilities, our laws, etc., don’t take this into account,” Sachtleben said. “... I honestly don’t have any answers.”
Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney said there are too many unknown factors to accurately respond. He echoed Sachtleben’s concerns about the age and life experiences, citing some cases where minors have known gang affiliation, even at the age of 11 or 12.
“Some have baggage, such as disease or otherwise,” Quinney said. “I don’t know a real good solution for what we’re dealing with. I don’t know the answers. But we have lots of children in our own country with needs not being met.”
A possible solution would be to send aid to the countries where the minors originate, suggested Guadalupe County Sheriff Arnold Zwicke.
“I would hope we will not bring the problems they have at the border, as we do not have the facilities to take in these immigrants, which indeed would impact Guadalupe County financially and would add problems to the overall safety and security as well,” Zwicke said. “I believe if we are wanting to do a humanitarian act, we should address the problems in the countries they are coming from as we do in other countries, rather than bring a time bomb to America. It is my opinion that it is sad we do not take care of our homeless citizens and our soldiers who fought for this country first.”
Whatever they are called -- undocumented alien children, undocumented immigrant minors, illegal aliens -- they are here. Texans -- from elected officials to school districts, law-enforcement officials to medical practitioners, and ranchers to urban residents -- are required to deal with the influx. And federal officials continue to struggle with border security and immigration issues as the human flood continues.
‘It is my opinion that it is sad we do not take care of our homeless citizens and our soldiers who fought for this country first.’ -- Guadalupe County Sheriff Arnold Zwicke
‘The numbers are atrocious and somebody better get off their tail and do something about it; bottom line.’ -- Gonzales County Sheriff Glenn Sachtleben
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Section A: General News Archives
AACOG P&Z Workshop (July 29, 2015)
Annexation plans for Floresville (July 29, 2015)
Appreciate depreciation (July 29, 2015)
Band boosters gear up for new year (July 29, 2015)
Change in Medicare numbers can be bonanza for scammers (July 29, 2015)
Chicken products recall (July 29, 2015)
City council: What should budget include? (July 29, 2015)
Coldewey is new chief appraiser (July 29, 2015)
County unemployment rate rises (July 29, 2015)
Court Update (July 29, 2015)
Dollar General grand opening (July 29, 2015)
Editorial: A nuclear Iran seems inevitable with Obama administration (July 29, 2015)
Editorial: Why abortions are (still) not illegal in the United States (July 29, 2015)
Electric utility gets green light from Floresville to refinance 2005 bond (July 29, 2015)
GVEC holds annual membership meeting (July 29, 2015)
Indictments (July 29, 2015)
Letter: How can Wilson County safeguard its water? (July 29, 2015)
Letter: Opinion page worth the read (July 29, 2015)
Letter: Thanks for defending our history (July 29, 2015)
LV Stuff the Bus event is Aug. 1 (July 29, 2015)
Meeting Watch: Floresville ISD (July 29, 2015)
Meeting Watch: Wilson County Commissioners Court (July 29, 2015)
Meeting Watch: Wilson County Emergency Services District No. 2 (July 29, 2015)
Newly Elected Officials Workshop is Aug. 7 (July 29, 2015)
Police say burglars struck store twice (July 29, 2015)
Police: Accused child molester could have more victims (July 29, 2015)
Poth drops highway speed, talks 2015-16 budget (July 29, 2015)
Refinancing could save FELPS $383K (July 29, 2015)
Sign up to run in November (July 29, 2015)
Thieves target signs around St. Hedwig (July 29, 2015)
Trampoline park supports Autism Treatment Center (July 29, 2015)
Attend Health Fair in Seguin July 29 (July 22, 2015)
Crash near county line claims one (July 22, 2015)
ECISD gives raises, keeps tax rate same (July 22, 2015)
Editorial: Choose carefully where to invest your energy (July 22, 2015)
Editorial: Government for Big Money (July 22, 2015)
Editorial: Is the Civil War over? (July 22, 2015)
Editorial: It’s time to take a stand in defense of liberty (July 22, 2015)
Emergency services directors review OT costs, reduce fleet (July 22, 2015)
Fox Chapel continues SEDC payments (July 22, 2015)
Franchise Ownership Workshop July 25 (July 22, 2015)
Goody bag items needed for chamber (July 22, 2015)
Hospital district approves adding new medical staff (July 22, 2015)
Jade Helm 15 military exercises under way (July 22, 2015)
Jason Talley to lead state organization (July 22, 2015)
Keeping Floresville in style for 25 years (July 22, 2015)
La Vernia area could combine paid, volunteer fire staff (July 22, 2015)
Meeting Watch: Falls City City Council (July 22, 2015)
Meeting Watch: Falls City ISD (July 22, 2015)
Meeting Watch: La Vernia ISD (July 22, 2015)
Obamacare increases starting pay for food-service staff Stockdale ISD (July 22, 2015)
Paying ‘stupid tax’ (July 22, 2015)
Police Blotter (July 22, 2015)
Police seek three suspects for theft (July 22, 2015)
Poth ISD board gets first glimpse of 2015-16 budget (July 22, 2015)
UIW to bring holistic healing to SA’s south side (July 22, 2015)
Bealls participates in clothing drive (July 15, 2015)
Beautification group to meet (July 15, 2015)
CoDA finds source of anxious behavior (July 15, 2015)
Commissioners grant waiver to Mission Rail Industrial Park (July 15, 2015)
Editorial: Americans’ focus is on anything but serious issues (July 15, 2015)
Editorial: Looking back on my 85 years (July 15, 2015)
Editorial: Surprise! Scientists have ‘cracked code’ to happiness (July 15, 2015)
Elmendorf council votes 4-1 to abolish ‘assistant city administrator’ post (July 15, 2015)
Elmendorf, SAWS reach deal (July 15, 2015)
FEMA seeks Texans to work at disaster recovery offices (July 15, 2015)
Floresville joins opposition to water transport project (July 15, 2015)
Floresville Visitor & Tourist Bureau takes small steps (July 15, 2015)
La Vernia council remains as MDD board (July 15, 2015)
La Vernia council terminates city secretary (July 15, 2015)
Letter: Let’s get involved (July 15, 2015)
Managing growth, groundwater responsibly — an analysis of water ‘surplus’ project (July 15, 2015)
Meet DPS Sgt. John Henke (July 15, 2015)
Meeting Watch: La Vernia City Council (July 15, 2015)
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No quorum for Poth EDC (July 15, 2015)
Otto Kaiser plans health fair, low-cost physicals (July 15, 2015)
Police blotter (July 15, 2015)
Questions remain after reported attack (July 15, 2015)
Reputed dope dealer takes plea (July 15, 2015)
Saenz interns with Cuellar (July 15, 2015)
STEER calls for award nominations (July 15, 2015)
Stockdale News: Giving Jubilee kudos (July 15, 2015)
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Stockdale to receive $311K in grant, earnings distribution (July 15, 2015)
Texas A&M to pair with two-year colleges (July 15, 2015)
Unauthorized subletting (July 15, 2015)
Veterans eligible for VA Medical Care (July 15, 2015)
Winter rainfall dries up city’s utilities income (July 15, 2015)
World Heritage Site designation piques curiosity in ranch (July 15, 2015)
ADCaP, UIW online fall information session is July 9 (July 8, 2015)
Avoid skin cancer; protect your family from the summer sun (July 8, 2015)
Chief appraiser’s opening draws four applications (July 8, 2015)
Connally donates to Floresville Food Pantry (July 8, 2015)
Court Update (July 8, 2015)
Dangers of leaving children in vehicles during summer (July 8, 2015)
Deel named top 10 advisor, inducted into Hall of Fame (July 8, 2015)
Does the YMCA have a future in Wilson County? (July 8, 2015)
Editorial: Guns in church can work (July 8, 2015)
Editorial: U.S. Supreme Court disasters (July 8, 2015)
Evergreen states opposition to Cibolo, Schertz water plan (July 8, 2015)
Floresville Economic Development Corp. (July 8, 2015)
Floresville Planning & Zoning Commission (July 8, 2015)
Floresville police hunt suspects, arrest two (July 8, 2015)
Home safety while you’re away (July 8, 2015)
Host an exchange student (July 8, 2015)
How to handle difficult discussions in the workplace (July 8, 2015)
Letter: A third letter to America (July 8, 2015)
Letter: Hoping to find the cowardly culprit (July 8, 2015)
Letter: No press coverage, no tickets (July 8, 2015)
Meeting Watch: Poth ISD (July 8, 2015)
Museum seeks lumber, pictures (July 8, 2015)
Nominate your 2015 favorite country doctor (July 8, 2015)
Nonprofits encouraged to partake in Newcomers Fair (July 8, 2015)
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Police Blotter (July 8, 2015)
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SSCA to meet (July 8, 2015)
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Trustees approve $9.55 million budget (July 8, 2015)
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Corner Store grand opening is set for July 2 (July 1, 2015)
Court Update (July 1, 2015)
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Editorial: Changing the past to fundamentally transform America (July 1, 2015)
Editorial: Donald Trump tries to put his brand on GOP (July 1, 2015)
Editorial: Hillary and history: Best-known is not the same as best-qualified (July 1, 2015)
Event highlights seniors, vets, services July 17 (July 1, 2015)
FELPS aims to improve reliability systemwide (July 1, 2015)
Floresville ISD adopts $39M budget (July 1, 2015)
Floresville keeps city manager, 'extravaganza' (July 1, 2015)
Free July training for business owners (July 1, 2015)
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H-E-B recalls burger buns (July 1, 2015)
La Vernia approves $26M-plus budget (July 1, 2015)
Letter: Frightened aging bones (July 1, 2015)
Meeting Watch: Falls City City Council (July 1, 2015)
Miles Svoboda earns saddle in chute dogging event (July 1, 2015)
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Skloss retires after four decades with Karnes Electric (July 1, 2015)
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Traps to avoid after graduation (July 1, 2015)