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County declares disaster over immigration

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By Charles Ballard and Tony Farkas
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State Rep. Ernest Bailes swings his support for the Texas Declaration of Local Disaster at the Commissioners Court on June 14. Photo by Charles BallardState Rep. Ernest Bailes swings his support for the Texas Declaration of Local Disaster at the Commissioners Court on June 14. Photo by Charles BallardCOLDSPRING — The San Jacinto County Commissioners Court, backed by a chorus of ayes from the more than 200 people in attendance, approved a declaration of disaster for the county based on the current border crisis.

The declaration was discussed at the Wednesday meeting of the court.

Sheriff Greg Capers said that the effects of illegal immigration include increased drug smuggling and human trafficking, as well as the recent mass killing in the south of the county.

“It amounts to an invasion of the county,” he said.

In the declaration, Capers listed that there have been 3.4 million illegal entries, and of those, 1.2 million illegals have avoided capture. Also, 108 known terrorists have been found to have crossed the southern border, and 107,000 people have been killed.

Capers said that there is a marked increase in calls for service in the county, and the department does not have enough resources to handle the increase in call volume. Other counties have seen a difference with the additional funding.

The declaration states the judge has determined “that extraordinary measures must be taken to keep residents safe,” and requests the Texas governor declare existence of an invasion and take action and remove invaders, based on powers listed in the Texas and U.S. constitutions.

Capers said that the Legislature has set aside funds for equipment and overtime, and while the county may not be approved for this, it’s necessary to try.

County Judge Fritz Faulkner said there was right at 200 people from community attending Wednesday’s meeting, and apparently, no one came out against the declaration.

Of the ones that were for the measure, Coldspring resident Linda Almaguer said that after attending a town hall meeting recently, she was shocked to find out there are cartel members operating in the county.

She also was concerned that because people want to do bad things, she was in danger of losing her rights, and the Sheriff’s department needed manpower, equipment and communication.

Sandra Griffin said that illegal immigration was a large problem in this state, and laws are not being enforced. The county and the state needs manpower, guns and the Texas spirit to fight.

State Rep. Ernest Bailes said border security is an important issue, a was a big part of what the Legislature dealt with in this year’s session.

“We’ve set aside the funds, please take advantage of this,” he said. “That’s as simple as it gets.”

Capers said after the meeting he was pleased with the community support for this document of law enforcement, but the people of San Jacinto County need to educate themselves on what their elected officials are dealing with.

“I am glad it was a unanimous decision on the part of the Commissioners,” he said. “It will be now up to the Governor to sign it and then we can get moving on enforcing the law, with the correct amount of personnel and equipment.”

In other business, the commissioners:

•proclaimed June 19 as Juneteenth;

•approved combining the 911/permitting officer and the environmental officer positions, which will become effective Oct. 21;

•approved seeking bids for pickup trucks for the environmental/permit office;

•approved extending an agreement with Tyler Technologies through the end of June;

•approved releasing payments in relation to the local buyout grant program;

•approved a payroll deduction form for PHI Air Medical for insurance regarding air ambulance service;

•approved the purchase of a drone for the Office of Emergency Management for $5,899;

•approved the lease for a Chevy Tahoe for the Sheriff’s Department, with McAnally abstaining. Commissioner Donnie Marrs was absent; and

•discussed using Recana Security Solutions to alleviate jailer staffing issues and set a workshop for June 28 to discuss options.

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