‘Chaos’ at US-Mexico border described by sheriff

‘Chaos’ at US-Mexico border described by sheriff

A Texas sheriff will warn of “chaos” at the “overrun” U.S.-Mexico border at a Department of Homeland Security hearing today, Newsweek can reveal.

In a written testimony seen by NewsweekThaddeus Cleveland of the Terrell County Sheriff’s Office will tell lawmakers that the border is in crisis, with a drastic increase in the number of migrants dying trying to cross into the United States from Mexico.

“The border is open and overrun, and criminal organizations are taking full advantage of our political impasse. To secure our borders, we must resume securing the areas between our ports of entry,” he will say.

Lawmakers will receive data from Cleveland showing the Sanderson Border Patrol station saw a 417% increase in illegal immigrant apprehensions and a 467% increase in “escapes” in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

Dan Bishop, chairman of the Oversight, Investigations and Accountability Subcommittee, will tell those gathered that in total, there have been more than 1.8 million border escapes since January 2021.

“This is a major national security crisis,” he will say.

Cleveland is also expected to brief lawmakers that high-speed chases along the border involving smugglers have become commonplace.

“Four people died in a car chase that ended in a head-on collision. High-speed chases occur with nearly every shipment of illegal immigrant contraband we encounter, putting citizens and my team at risk,” he will tell lawmakers.

“We meet people who don’t want to be apprehended or give up. When we meet them in the desert, they run away. When we meet them on the highways, they lead us into high-speed chases before running away.”

The veteran border official is expected to say: “Terrell County does not have a crime problem, we have a border security problem. Over the last three and a half years, Terrell County has seen a significant increase in apprehensions of illegal immigrants.”

Cleveland will say the chaos at the southwest border is solvable and preventable and accuse lawmakers of failing to “ask those of us on the ground to deal with this problem every day.”

“The citizens of Terrell County are paying the price every day for an out-of-control southwest border,” he said.

Mr Cleveland has previously said that at least 37 migrants have died in the past three and a half years, up from one a year.

A National Guardsman waves to passing drivers
A National Guardsman waves to motorists passing along a border fence near the international bridge where thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, have formed a makeshift camp.

Eric Gay/AP

The majority of deaths are due to exposure to high temperatures during the summer months as well as harsh conditions throughout the winter.

Mr Cleveland also revealed how he contacted Texas Governor Gregg Abbott to discuss the ongoing border security dilemma and to ask for more resources to reduce illegal immigration.

A man and a child are arrested by police officers
A man and child are briefly arrested by Border Patrol agents after crossing to the U.S. side of the border in El Paso, Texas.

Andrés Leighton/AP

“Governor Abbott and I discussed the situation and within a week, the additional resources I requested were allocated. We seized over 100 vehicles belonging to illegal immigrant smugglers in November 2022,” he said.

Newsweek has contacted Texas Gov. Abbott’s office for comment.

Mr. Cleveland has worked on the border for 26 years, including the last 11 years as a patrol agent in charge of the Sanderson Border Patrol station in his hometown, where he also serves as sheriff.

Terrell County is the 10th largest county in Texas and shares 54 miles of border with Mexico. The Border Patrol station oversees a 91-mile stretch of border, making it the third largest coverage area along the U.S.-Mexico border maintained by a U.S. Border Patrol station.

A border agent patrols the U.S. side of the border
A Customs and Border Control agent patrols the U.S. side of a barbed wire-covered border wall along Mexico, east of Nogales, Arizona.

Charlie Riedel/AP

The Border Patrol official said smugglers have begun to change their tactics to enter the United States from Mexico, and that the level of activity in Terrell County has decreased slightly. He will argue that technological advances are essential to help secure the U.S. border.

“I have seen the U.S. Border Patrol evolve through technology. Technological advances have helped the U.S. Border Patrol achieve tremendous successes in border security.”

“Technology combined with the ingenuity of Border Patrol agents will continue to advance border security in the United States,” he will say in his witness statement.

Mr. Cleveland is expected to emphasize the policy differences between border security and immigration reform: “Border security and immigration reform are separate and distinct issues. They need to be treated and managed separately, because border security is not just about illegal immigration. Border security is paramount to national security.”

He should also call for infrastructure to be strengthened by adding more detention centers staffed by immigration judges at each location to speed up hearings.

“To do this, additional resources such as manpower, technology and infrastructure are needed to detect, track and apprehend those who mean harm.”

Border Patrol agents lead migrants to a van
Border Patrol agents lead a group of migrants seeking asylum to a van for transport and processing.

Gregory Bull/AP

The hearing later today will focus on using emerging technologies to improve border security and will hear about efforts to develop new technologies, such as AI, to improve border security.

The Department of Homeland Security uses cutting-edge technologies at the border to coordinate efforts to control illegal immigration. The U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security focuses on U.S. security legislation and oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.

The local sheriff’s testimony highlights the importance of reforming the U.S.-Mexico border and using artificial intelligence to formulate countermeasures to prevent illegal immigration. Finally, it is also essential to ensure safe and humanitarian routes for migrants entering the United States legally.

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