Dear Members,I hope that many of you received some much-needed rainfall last week. If not, let’s hope that El Niño is trying to take the reins from La Niña. Last month was busy with a US senator and a group of think-tank folks led by the Texas Public Policy Foundation making fact finding tours to the border and reaching out to us for our input and participation. Our presence was also requested at the Southwest Border Sheriff’s Coalition meeting in El Paso. I’ve been asked to testify before the State Senate Committee on Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs on the 11th of this month. The committee wants to understand how rural communities are affected when illegal immigrants are released into the communities after being processed by Border Patrol. My testimony will be in more general terms as to how landowners are affected. I thought that I would share some of the information I’m using with you this morning. Last year in McAllen, before the Catholic charity’s intake sight was changed, the immigrants would walk the streets, some breaking and entering buildings and cars to use as shelter. Now they are being bussed out of these areas into cities where they have friends and relatives. So how are communities really being affected? County law enforcement’s focus has been diverted from the local public safety needs of their communities to deal with smuggling pursuits. Local EMS services now attend to caring for immigrants if they’re injured, or abandoned by their smugglers. Some die, and that takes time and resources away from both local law enforcement and EMS services. When Title 42 expires on May 23, there’s expected to be around 18,000 illegal immigrant entries a day by the DHS Secretary’s estimation. Currently 1-3% of illegal entries are hardened criminals. If that ratio holds true, after May 23 there will be approximately 180-360 criminals entering every day, and that is not counting those that continue to evade capture. These criminals could easily overwhelm local law enforcement in both rural and urban areas along the border, further inland, and in all major cities in the United States. The majority of ranching and farming families, who live on or near the border, have now moved into town because of personal safety concerns. Those concerns also include property damage caused by smuggling and trespassing, and the time taken away from their daily activities. It is a monster situation that all United States citizens should be concerned about. Switching gears, I’d like to thank Jacob Jackson, Ph.D., the Natural Resources Research Analyst Data Analysis & Transparency Division, from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, for presenting on the proposed U.S. Fish & Wildlife Department’s endangered species listings of several animals in South Texas as well as the milkweed plant. It is important that we help the state of Texas track and share information to help eliminate the threat of these proposed listings that is generally propagated by the Center for Biological Diversity. To learn more about what the State Comptroller’s office does to help mitigate endangered species regulations, click here. You can also download the app iNaturalist to help share information on proposed endangered or threatened species in your area. Participation is voluntary, but the information is proving to be very effective in preventing uninformed decisions. You can choose how much to share and can even mask location information to protect your privacy. Please contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas that we can help with or implement.
Until next month,