During his discussion with a CBS reporter, Chief Garcia explained that his officers capture dozens of immigrants a month and face an uphill battle with the overwhelming numbers who come through the city. The cases cited by GWPD included two young girls who were stashed in a vehicle and picked up along Highway 281 earlier this year.
But there were some positive developments to report. Shortly before the interview aired on CBS last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry authorized spending an extra $1.3 million a week for the Texas Department of Public Safety to supplement border security.
This was announced as a segue into Chief Garcia’s interview.
“Texas can’t afford to wait for Washington to act on this crisis, and we will not sit idly by while the safety and security of our citizens are threatened,” Gov. Perry said in his issued statement. “Until the federal government recognizes the danger it’s putting our citizens in by its inaction to secure the border, Texas law enforcement must do everything they can to keep our citizens and communities safe.”
Garcia estimated the percentage of illegal immigration flow into the George West is 400 percent. Because of the sheer lack of manpower, GWPD officers are only able to catch a fraction of them, the chief said.
Sometimes, state and federal authorities can’t make it to George West to pick up the travelers, authorities said.
As a result, sometimes authorities are forced to release some of them, reports show.
In an follow-up interview with The Progress, Chief Garcia said because there is no jail or jail resources at the GWPD, the very young children and adults trying to sneak into America have to remain at the department until Border Patrol authorities can come retrieve them.
Often, they are hungry and thirsty—especially the young children—and officers often pool their own money to get them food and water for them from the local convenience store.
After they have the strength back, some often try to flee, forcing GW officers to handcuff them until they can be transported out of town.
“It gets crazy,” the chief told The Progress. “We are working on a problem nobody else seems to think is a problem.”
On Monday, for instance, George West authorities were still processing five individuals—four undocumented immigrants and their driver—who authorities discovered during a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 59.
“The driver was traveling with his uncle and cousins, and the passengers didn’t know what I was saying to them,” the chief said Monday morning. “I have one officer working right now, but he is tied up with the them. Border Patrol just got here. … We probably average one smuggling case a week now.”
And ultimately? George West authorities believe the increased border security will just be a “Band-Aid” on the situation.
“How long is this going to last?” the chief asked. “I predict we will stay as busy as we’ve ever been. Unless some money is allocated to local law enforcement, all we will be doing is plugging up one hole while another opens, simple as that.”
Ben Tinsley is a reporter for The Progress newspaper in Three Rivers. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone at 361-786-3022. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BenTinsley, Google at http://plus.google.com/+BenTinsley or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.