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Madam Speaker, I bring you news from the second front. I'm talking about the front on the southern border of the United States with Mexico.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with two of the sheriffs of the Sheriff's Border Coalition. There are 20 counties in Texas that the sheriffs are members of the Border Coalition. And I spent time with two of those sheriffs, Sheriff Arvin West from Hudspeth County and Sheriff Oscar Carrillo of Culberson County. These two counties are directly east of El Paso County.
The size of these two counties put together are the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island put together. They're massive counties and sparsely populated. The sheriff in each of these counties and his deputies know everybody that lives in the county, unlike the Border Patrol, who come and go from the community. They never really know the people or the culture, or what takes place in those counties. But the border sheriffs and their deputies, since most of them grew up there and were born there, they know the people who should be there and those people that are outside, as they call them, ``out-of-towners.''
This past weekend, the Mexican Government sent 5,000 troops to Juarez, Mexico. That's the town across from El Paso. The reason is because of the drug cartels and the violence. Drug cartels are doing war with not only the United States, but they're doing war physically with the Mexican military. And it's so dangerous down there that Fort Bliss, which is across the river from Juarez, those soldiers that have been in Afghanistan and Iraq, are not permitted to go to Juarez. The State Department has warned Americans not to go to Juarez because of the danger of kidnappings and the violence that has occurred there all because of the drug cartels. But going back to the two counties of Culberson County and Hudspeth County, the question keeps being asked, ``Well, all that crime just stays there on the Mexican side, it never comes to the American side.'' Let me give you a statistic, Madam Speaker, how all the border sheriffs have to fight the drug epidemic and the crimes of violence and the property crimes in their county.
Sheriff Arvin West, Hudspeth County, has two jails; one has 125 prisoners, the other one has 545 prisoners. And on Saturday night, every person in both of those jails except one was illegally in the United States. There was one citizen. And these people are not charged with immigration violations. They hadn't just been picked up for illegally entering the country. They had been arrested for crimes against the Federal Government, felonies and misdemeanors against the State of Texas. He said if he didn't have to keep arresting folks illegally coming into the country and committing crimes in his county, he could close his jail down because there was only one citizen in the whole county or in the county jails. And he said seldom does he have any local folks put in that jail.
So, yes, the border crime has come to the United States and will only get worse. But to show you how innovative these sheriffs are, these are poor counties, these are low-income counties where you've got hardworking people--sparsely populated, however--and so the sheriff have no budget for vehicles. Unlike the drug cartels that have Humvees, they have SUVs, pickup trucks, all of the things that they want. Border sheriffs--this sheriff especially--has no budget in the county for vehicles, so he has to confiscate drug vehicles--when he captures the bad guys with drugs--and then he uses those vehicles after they have been seized for his deputies. He has 20 vehicles that he uses for his 17 deputies, and he has two or three of these 18-wheelers.Yes, he's captured an 18-wheeler that's seized by the good guys against the bad guys, and on all of these vehicles, he puts this little notice down here on the bottom. It's on the bottom of this cab. It says semi-truck, $80,000. The drugs were worth $40,000. The bad guy got 10 years in the penitentiary, and the seizure of this vehicle is priceless. So that's how he runs his sheriff's department: with seized vehicles. I commend him for doing that.
It's important that we understand that the drug smugglers have more vehicles, better vehicles, more money, more men, and better equipment. They use GPS tracking devices to keep up with their drug loads. As I mentioned, they use Humvees. We have occurrences of the Mexican military helping move the drugs into these counties. Of course, Homeland Security denied that occurred. They said that didn't happen. But they didn't understand that Arvin West, Sheriff West, had the whole Mexican infiltration into his county on videotape, and once he videotaped it and showed it to Homeland Security, they said, well, maybe they are intruding and helping the drug cartels.And these people don't make any money. The sheriff of Hudspeth County makes $39,000 a year. Sheriff Carrillo of Culberson County makes $32,000 a year, and their deputies make about $27,000 a year. And they are protecting us from the drug cartels moving into the country. A guy just bringing drugs into the United States is going to make up to $1,500 a load, making far more than our own border protectors.
There are four commodities being traded on the border. Two are going north and two are going south. The two going north are people and drugs, and they're being worked together. In other words, the coyotes work with the drug cartels to smuggle people. The two commodities going south: guns and money, and that's what's being traded on the border with Mexico.
It's important, Madam Speaker, that we provide our border protectors with the Humvees they need. We need to give them better equipment, and we need to put troops on the border because the purpose of government is to protect the people.
And that's just the way it is.
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