Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) traveled to Hidalgo County this weekend to meet with Hidalgo County Sheriff, Lupe Trevino, and his staff. Congressman Poe got a first hand account of the situation along our borders from the continuous flow of illegal immigrants into the area. Hidalgo County is the 6th most populated county in the State of Texas with approximately 650,000 residents and an additional 150,000 illegal residents. Among the 150,000 illegals in the area, the criminal alien has become the greatest threat to local residents and expense to the sheriffs department.

Sheriff Trevino and his deputies are faced with problems of policing illegal criminals due to the lack of enforcement along our borders by the federal government, said Poe. The people of Hidalgo County are paying the price, often with their lives, as a result of a wide open border.

Congressman Poe was given a tour of the entire county along the river area which varied from open access to Mexico via boats and jet skis in a federal park, farm lands and residential areas that border the river, to thick brush locals that block visibility of any kind to the river. I encourage members of Congress to come to the Texas border and see the terrain for themselves, said Poe. Texas has a water border that is vastly different from other border states and requires different solutions for enforcement from one end of the state to the other.

Congressman Poe learned of a recent crime spree that two illegal teenagers went on in McAllen. In the span of 12 hours, the illegal teens raped, assaulted and robbed numerous people in the area before they were apprehended. The Sheriffs Department is now faced with identifying these suspects, trying them and incarcerating them at the cost of the U.S. taxpayer. According to Sheriff Trevino, this is not uncommon and violent crimes by illegals are increasing. The illegal thug crossing into our country to solely commit crimes is a growing problem, said Trevino. In south Texas, drug shipments are not talked about in the hundreds, we talk about them in the thousands. The failure to protect our borders is a major concern to our safety.

Congressman Poes latest visit to the Texas/Mexico border was sparked by a widely under-reported incident in which U.S. law enforcement agencies took on a barrage of gunfire from the Mexican side of the border. In early July, Hidalgo County Sheriff department and Border Patrol agents responded to a call for help along the Rio Grande River. According to Sheriff Trevino, deputies were forced to take immediate cover against 300-400 rounds of automatic gunfire from a ranch across the border. News reports stated that the incident was a result of a drug cartel taking over the Mexican ranch. However, the two boys, both American citizens, described the suspects as Mexican law enforcement.

This was a blatant attack on our country, said Poe. We protect the borders of other countries around the world, it makes no sense to me why we dont protect our own. We are the most powerful nation the world has ever known and our borders are a war zone where local law enforcement is fired at from a foreign country without the slightest concern from the rest of the United States. We must take control of our borders and our security.

Congressman Poe will participate in Congressional field hearings on immigration Wednesday, August 16, 2006, in Houston. Panelists include families of victims of violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants.