Thursday, July 18, 2024

Border community residents testify to horrors they’ve experienced

In a lawsuit filed against Kinney County over detention policies of illegal foreign nationals, the county submitted more than 30 affidavits including testimony from residents describing their experiences as a result of Biden administration policies, including encounters with violent men who illegally entered Texas not far from the residents live.

One resident who has lived in Val Verde and Kinney counties since 1996, Jacqueline Lewis, said her family hadn’t experienced anything terrifying until the last few years. Border Patrol agents who previously responded to calls “now tell us they are too busy at the river processing family units to send help. … We feel abandoned by our federal government and … are in very real danger.”

On Christmas Eve 2022, a state trooper was parked outside her home when illegal foreign nationals fired at law enforcement officers and fled on foot just a few yards from her home. Shootouts and high-speed chases of smugglers attempting to evade capture have created great danger for residents, she says.

“As a mother of two daughters I worry most about my children being killed in a high-speed chase or being kidnapped by cartel members,” she said.

She also described how one of their ranch hands, a Mexican national working in the U.S. legally on an H2A visa, was attacked by a group of Mexicans who entered Texas illegally. He got out of his vehicle to help a man lying on the ground who he thought was injured. Instead, it was a ploy, the man had brass knuckles and attacked him. A group of men jumped out of the brush with backpacks and stole his truck.

Another resident, Cole Hill, who manages property in Kinney and Uvalde counties, says from 2015-2020 he could count maybe 10 encounters with illegal foreign nationals and never experienced any confrontations. Since January 2021, that changed, with “countless illegal aliens trespassing, increasingly aggressive confrontations with groups, costly property damages, stolen vehicles, theft of property, and multiple buildings broken into,” he said. “Our peace of mind is shattered. I live, work and sleep in a state of paranoia over what could happen at any moment to me, my family or my neighbors at the hands of any of the thousands of dangerous criminals who pour through our ranchlands.”

Of the many confrontations his family has experienced, he described an encounter when six men tried to break into their home after they “had snuck up to my daughter’s window and were watching her play. She noticed them, screamed for help, … my wife called me and said they had started trying to find a way in. Thank God I was close enough to home to get there and stop the illegals from getting inside.”

In another instance, five men crawled under a fence and began running towards his home. He shouted for his children to go inside, and “the guys kept coming, and I ran inside right behind the kids to grab a shotgun that I was now keeping by the front door.” He was able to scare them off and they ran away.

Since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in April 2021, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers have been assisting the sheriff’s office pursuing smugglers and trespassers and implementing consequences, he said. “I only wish there were stronger penalties for smugglers, trespassers, and anyone else who is caught by DPS in their campaign against what can only be described as an intentional, aggressive invasion of our Texas border.”

Maverick County foreman Ben Binnion said they’ve recovered 23 bodies in one calendar year on the property he manages. He’s dealt with hundreds crossing at night and as a result moved his family off the property for safety reasons. The trespassers are entitled, he says, “demanding help to charge their phones, provide them with water or request transportation.”

He echoed sentiments DPS commander of the western region of Texas, Juan Sanchez, previously told The Center Square, “This new group, they are very entitled. They’ve been giving us a lot of resistance. They don’t have respect for law enforcement. They don’t have respect for the citizens here.

“Of the thousands of people I have seen or gotten pictures through security cams, the vast majority are adult males,” Binnion added.

In Val Verde County, Marsha Morgan said the majority trespassing on her property “have been male, the majority coming from Venezuela.” She said one man “dressed as a woman, he was a Mexican national who crossed and was attempting to burn our house down with Molotov cocktails. He managed to burn and destroy our huge cottonwood tree that was in our back yard, and he burned a few vacant lots next to us.

“Luckily, this person was taken down by law enforcement before he made it to our house to carry out his plan. I’ve been very thankful that Operation Lone Star has been in effect and for the various branches of law enforcement that have been around our property. I know without their assistance, we would not currently have a house on the river.”

“The State’s brief showcases evidence that resembles something you would expect to see from a hurricane disaster,” Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith told The Center Square.

“Unfortunately, the disaster that Texas is experiencing is man-made and attributable to an open border invasion controlled by criminal cartels. Make no mistake, Operation Lone Star is the only thing standing between Texans and the lawlessness that is being allowed to occur on our southern border with Mexico. The upcoming special session that will soon be called in Austin MUST provide Texas with the necessary tools to address this unprecedented crisis.”