Posted: Jul 18, 2014 7:07 PM
Updated: Jul 18, 2014 7:07 PM
FALFURRIAS - Sheriffs from throughout the nation gathered in Brooks County to learn more about the immigration crisis affecting South Texas.
The sheriffs said the surge in immigration represents a threat to their communities.
Brooks County Rancher Dr. Mike Vickers and his wife Linda gave the lawmen a quick glimpse into the crisis.
"We have four deputies to cover 1,000 miles. It's one man per shift. We are pretty much on our own," Vickers told the sheriffs
"They'll call and say, ‘if you call Border Patrol on your ranch today, we're going to come back tomorrow and kill you,'" he said.
Officials with the Federation for America's Immigration Reform said it was important to have the sheriffs see the root of some problems that are sprouting in their counties
"These people are coming in so fast and being processed so quickly, they don't know anything about them," FAIR National Field Director Susan Tully said.
"They're claiming to be from Central America, but they're not. We've gotten intelligence from many agencies that say the cartels are sending their trained guys up here. They know the drill. They are supposed to say they are under the age of 17, they're from Central America and they're getting in," Tully said.
The sheriffs said the surge is beginning to breed problems hundreds of miles away from the border.
"This is an issue that involves the whole United States, even though it initially impacts here," Livingston County, Ill., Sheriff Tony Childress said.
Childress said they now know how to spot cartel activity. His county is along a major trafficking route to Chicago.
The sheriffs said they knew the border was porous, but the gaps in Brooks County gave them a new perspective into the problem.
The sheriffs say the know cartels are expanding their reach far into the country.
"In two days traveling time, those drugs are in my community. We are arresting Mexican drug cartel associates in my community," said Sam Page, sheriff at Rockingham County in North Carolina.
"We're very concerned because of what's going on down here," Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis said.
"They're transporting people all over the country, including right into our communities (in Massachusetts). We feel, as sheriffs, it's our duty to come down because we're all border sheriffs now," Evangelidis said.
Little is reported about the immigration crisis beyond the border.
"There is no question that there are several young gang members who are using this opportunity to come in and go all over, including all the way up to the Northeast in New England," Evangelidis said.
The sheriffs said cartels know America is vulnerable.
The sheriffs will take the information back to their deputies to help them spot cartel activity in their counties.
"We need to help our fellow border sheriffs. When we secure our borders, we help protect America," Page said.
The Vickers said they don't see families or unaccompanied minors trekking through their land. The couple said the immigrants in Brooks County are those who want to avoid capture.