Mr. Speaker, during the last week I had opportunity to go to the Texas Rio Grande Valley and visit with some relentless lawmen that represent the State of Texas down on the Texas-Mexico border. I had the privilege to be the guest of Valley Sheriff Omar Lucio. We call it the Valley. It's really the Rio Grande Valley that separates the United States from Mexico. And he is the Sheriff in the tip of Texas where it meets Brownsville and Metamoras.
This map here has a photograph or a drawing of where Sheriff Lucio is Sheriff in Cameron County, the red area. Most of his county borders the water. Some of it borders the Gulf of Mexico. Some of it borders the Rio Grande River. And he's been Sheriff there for 3 years.
I went there as his guest to see the way it really is on the Texas-Mexico border and how the violence and the crime is causing a tremendous problem to the locals who live in that area.
Sheriff Lucio is from the Valley. He was born in San Benito, Texas, and he started his law enforcement career in Harlingen, Texas, as a peace officer; and he retired as a captain of police from Harlingen. He's an educated individual from Pan American University. He has a degree in criminal justice and a degree in sociology, and he's also a graduate of the FBI academy at Quantico.
Prior to being Sheriff, he was also the Chief of Police of the City of Mercedes, and he is on the Texas Sheriff's Association, and more importantly, the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition. What that is, Mr. Speaker, is the Sheriffs, the 16 county Sheriffs that border Mexico and Texas, all the Sheriffs form a coalition because of the tremendous problems they have as law enforcement officers protecting their communities.
Let me try to explain it to you this way: When a crime is committed in a county, even if it is committed by some outlaw that has crossed the border illegally into the United States, the people affected do not call the border patrol, they call the local Sheriff, whether it is a burglary, auto theft, robbery, or a murder. The Sheriffs are the ones who are called because of the crimes that are committed in those counties and not the border patrol.
The border patrol patrols, as the law says, 25 to 30 miles inside the Texas-Mexico border. Most of the Texas counties are a lot bigger than 25 miles. In fact, Cameron County, where Sheriff Lucio is Sheriff, is 1,300 square miles. Now, 300 miles of that is water border. And his biggest concern is the drug cartels that infiltrate the United States from Mexico.
I want to mention that some of the information I received from Sheriff Lucio was quite remarkable, and I'm very impressed with the intelligence-gathering network that he has. Without going into that--it would not be proper for me to tell you how he gathers his information--but he gathers information from all sources, and he knows as much as anybody, including Homeland Security, as to what is taking place with the drug cartels that are infiltrating especially his county.
And he's concerned about the turf wars in Juarez, Mexico, and Laredo, and concerned that they will spread down further south into Metamoras, which is across the border from his main town of Brownsville, Texas. He says that the illegal criminals that come into his county are the biggest threat to not only national security but the security of the folks who live in that area. And he was very concerned about some of the proposals that the Homeland Security has for trying to protect that area.
There are 70 miles of fence proposed in that area, and Homeland Security is even proposing a fence so far inland that it cuts part of Texas' southmost college in half. Half of that college will be on the southern side of this fence. And that is probably not a good idea, and I would invite the Homeland Security chief to go down to that area and see some of the area and why it's impractical in that area to have a fence. Maybe in other parts of Texas, but certainly not in this particular part of the area.
His deputy sheriffs, Mr. Speaker, make $24,000 a year, $24,000 a year patrolling this rugged territory between Mexico and the United States. And I met a good number of those deputy sheriffs and some of his lieutenants, and I insert the names of The Posse, as I call them, into the Record at this point.
Gus Reyna, Jr., Chief Deputy; Javier Reyna, Captain; Lt. Carlos Garza, Investigations; Mike Leinart, Chief Jail Administrator; Lt. Domingo Diaz; Lt. Tony Lopez; Lt. Rick Perez; Lt. Dionicio Cortez; Sgt. Andy Arreola; Inv. Alvaro Guerra; Inv. Leo Silva.
And to a man, they are all determined to protect the citizens of Cameron County, Texas, from criminals from any source.
But they talk about the biggest problem they have is the fact that the border is not secure, that criminals come across the border, whether it is drug cartels or just old-fashioned robbers, and then they go back home across the border. And he is asking that he and other border Sheriffs get more manpower down on the border.
I told him that fence was going to cost $1 million a mile. He said he would rather take that $70 million that's going in his county for fences and have more personnel, more equipment, because the drug cartels have better equipment, more money, better fire power than he does.
In fact, speaking of equipment, I noticed that he didn't really have a lot of patrol vehicles. The way they get their vehicles, because they don't have a budget for vehicles, is they have to confiscate the drug dealers' vehicles, and they turn those over and become part of his operation.
So I want to thank him for his work down on the Texas-Mexico border, and the Cameron County folks are safer because of Sheriff Lucio and his relentless deputy sheriffs.
And that's just the way it is.
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