It’s obvious that there is a lot of interest in the subject of the border, security, and immigration. This is a presentation of some of the points I learned while I was on the border. It was a working vacation and not an exhaustive or comprehensive study of the border. I will leave you with a few of my own thoughts of what we need to do and, of course, I welcome your input. First, I want to thank our hosts for this meeting. Second, I also want to recognize and thank my family and staff for their support and for accompanying me on this trip to to the border. My goal for this presentation is ambitious. I am going to try to squeeze a weeklong trip into a 45-60 minute presentation. I welcome your questions along the way, but I will have a time for Q&A at the end. I will have to breeze through a number of slides and only briefly point out a few key points in many of the photos. However, I have made the presentation available online. So hang on as we travel along the Rio Grande. My purpose in this trip was to gather facts and confirm reports and gain first hand knowledge of people, border security, and immigration.
My staff and I received two official briefings by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency in Weslaco. We toured the US CBP Station and detention centers in Weslaco; and I toured ones in McAllen & Del Rio by myself. My staff and I also visited a short-term shelter and foster care facility under contractor with the United States Office of Refuge and Resettlement and which is also licensed by Texas Family Protect Services. During the trip as well I interviewed over two dozen people—officials, waitresses, clerks, and business owners. We covered about 800 miles along, over, on, and in the Rio Grande.
I several days were spent in the Valley at Brownsville, Welaco, McAllen and Laredo. The next day we left Laredo and headed on to Del Rio, Seminole Canyon, and Marathon. The last leg of the journey we spent in Big Bend National Park, Terlingua, Lajitas and finally Presidio.
On the way to the DPS headquarters in Weslaco on Tuesday I had a interesting interview with a first generation American citizen who was working as a store clerk. Though hispanic, she had a very strong opinion about what we need to do—equal treatment. She said….
The Department of Public Safety has a sizable presence in the Valley. Here is there regional headquarters in Weslaco.
There my staff and I along with Representatives Munoz and Lucio were briefed by the Regional Commander Jose Rodriguez. Also representative from FEMA was there as well. Here are a few highlights from the briefing.
After the briefing, Rep. Lucio and I joined a helicopter patrol and toured about 30 miles of the border. When you get up in the air you immediately note several things: The first, there is lots of agricultural land next to and extending north from the Rio Grande.
Second, you note that there are large population centers both in Mexico and Texas.
Here is a closer look at Reynosa, Mexico and the Hidalgo Port of Entry leading to US 281. Many of the cities in this region are well developed and densely populated.
Third, there are lots of access points to the river and there are lots of recreational areas, parks and protected lands along the river.
Fourth, the border wall and fence is not located on the border—the river. It can’t be. It’s in the middle or deepest point of the Rio Grande. However, it is not practical to build the wall next to the river either. So it divides peoples property, limits access by private property owners and law enforcement and also provides a place to hide when people do cross the river.
Fifth, the Rio Grande, and thus the border, is very crooked and full of curves and bends. There are “peninsulas,” so to speak, into Mexico and . . . .
peninsulas into the United States or Texas. These make a multitude of places to stage and facilitate crossings and to hide on both sides of the river.
This slide shows the complexity of the border. In the bottom left is the U.S., then you cross the river and there’s Mexico. You continue south and your back in the U.S. and so forth. Not as simply as the borders are in AZ and CA.
There are 56 miles of border fence or wall, but it is not contiguous.
Along the river there is dense underbrush and high grass affording many opportunities to hide.
We landed at the Anzalduas Dam and State Park where we up with Congressman Michael Burgess and our staff.
From there we were ushered up the river in two armored gun boats the DPS uses to patrol the river.
Right across from the park where we launched on the Texas side, was a Mexican recreational area.
There are numerous cabins, vacation houses, boat ramps along the river in Mexico.
Next we attended a briefing at the CBP station in Weslaco. . . .
Murder rates from UN. Latest numbers are from 2012. See http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/10/world/un-world-murder-rates/
Similarly to our public schools, I was not allowed to take photographs (perhaps because of the many children that were present). However, I do want to confirm that the photos circulated on the internet such as these are accurate.
This is similar to the Del Rio’s CBP station where there were less detainees. The detention area is much like a county jail.
The toilet is separated only by a short cinder block wall. On average in some of the detention centers when they were overwhelmed, there was only an average of two square feet per person.
In addition to men and boys, there were women, children, and nursing infants.
The sally ports were used not only to drop of the immigrants, but to hold them until there was more room in the processing area. It was also used for recreation and exercise in Del Rio.
The system is being overwhelmed by the minors and families seeking asylum.
This is a table I put together to show by State the the Southwest Apprehensions of Minor Alien Children and Families. In the first column you will note that even in 2013 the Texas sectors doubled the total number of California and Arizona. Second, notice nearly 300% increase in Texas apprehensions in 2014 and while California and Arizona. Third, detainees in Texas represent 88% of total from southwest border. Finally, notice in the last two columns on the right, the projection of detainees expected by the end of the fiscal year in August.
This problem is not completely new. There was a large influx in 2005.
Here is a table of aliens who have be forcibly deported or left the country on their own will. You will note that the total number of deportations have dropped a good bit under the current administration beginning in 2008, though the forced removals have increased.
Next we visited a temporary shelter in Los Fresnos.
This was a very well run facility.
Inside a dormitory.
Inside a classroom.
A number of people have asked for contact information and to learn about helping. I will post this on the web.
The next day we toured the Palo Alto battlefield where the US–Mexican War began. This is just south of Port Isabel and north of Brownsville. At the conclusion of the War the Rio Grande was established at the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico.
There are 28 official border crossings on the Rio Grande. Most are in the Valley.
Brownsville and McAllen were well developed.
In McAllen I toured the CBP station there which was similar to Weslaco but processes a lot more people. That day the patrol agent noted there was a lull. They only had about 500 people that day. For the past month it had processed about 1200 detainees per day.
On the way to Laredo we notice numerous troopers patrolling US 83. Operation Strong Safety which had begun earlier in the year was recently extended to continue at the cost of about $1.3 million per week.
These blimps are outfitted with remote cameras which are used to inform law enforcement of the movement illegal aliens in remote or large agricultural areas.
Along US 83 we observed large distribution centers and warehouses indicating substantial international commercial activity.
After arriving in Laredo we took a walking tour around the square and went to one of two ports of entry near our hotel.
We had an opportunity to visit with several border patrol agents.
Here is a view from our hotel room overlooking the Rio Grande and Mexico.
That morning at breakfast I happened to meet the Commissioner of the US CBP. He was in the region launching an ad campaign in Mexico and Central America.
On our way to Del Rio we passed through a CBP checkpoint where we were scrutinized and asked if we were U.S. citizens.
In Del Rio my family dropped me off at the courthouse.
In Del Rio I visited with County Judge Laura Allen, Chamber of Commerce Director Donna Langford, Sheriff Joe Martinez, and Emergency Management Coordinator D.A. Bagley. (The Sheriff did not want is picture published.) U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego set this meeting up for me.
The County Judge took me to the Port of Entry and pointed out the ineffectiveness of the border fence.
I also had lunch with two Border Patrol agents and toured the station and detention center there in Del Rio.
From there we traveled on to Seminole Canyon State Park and where the Park Policeman and Ranger took us to view some ancient pictographs where Panther Creek joins the Rio Grande.
On the way to Marathon we observed a border patrol agents dragging a road so they could tell whether people had crossed out of the desert.
In Big Bend National Park my wife and I visited the Boquillas Crossing on the southeastern part of the park early in the morning. It was closed when we went by so we viewed it from an overlook down the river. Across the Rio Grande in the distance is the small city of Boquillas, Mexico. The official crossing is up the river to the right. There is no bridge, but you can legally cross the river by ferry, donkey, or wading. There is an unofficial crossing to the left.
We also visited the beautiful Santa Elena Canyon. Here we took a short hike and dipped our feet into the Rio Grande which passes through the Canyon. There are very high natural walls along the river here.
On the west side of the park is a little town called Terlingua where I stopped to visit with the Fire Chief and EMS personnel about border security and VFD funding.
We also visited the Warnock Visitors Center where my cousin and Park Ranger Lou McKaughan works and along with Park Manager and Policeman Barrett Durst (not shown).
Then we came on to Lajitas means “little flat rocks” which are abundant here. It used to be a common place to cross the river, but it is no longer legal to do so.
From Lajitas we took the beautiful El Camino Real to Presidio. On our way up “the Big Hill” we observed a group of people canoeing down the river displaying both the recreational use of the river and the formidable natural barriers of the landscape.
When we got closer to Presidio we could see in a distance some of the oldest continuously farmed land in the U.S.
We concluded our trip along the border at the Presidio Port of Entry.
Welcome sign to the U.S.—Texas!
On the way north on U.S. 67 we passed the Mexican Consulate.
The United States is not Israel. I don’t think these texts apply to us directly—we are not a theocracy. However, there is equity in them that we should apply both civilly and individually.
(1934)* - Five workmen peer at the inside of the diversion tunnel. Behind them on the right is another tunnel.
(ca. 1934)* - The needle valves of the power plant under construction. The valves are 13 feet in diameter discharge the water back into the Colorado River once the water does its work by turning the turbine generators.
(ca. 1936)* - View of the upper generator room at Hoover Dam, on the Nevada side, where there are eight generators. (The Arizona side has nine.) http://waterandpower.org/Construction_of_Hoover_Dam.html
However, in the midst of all that is dysfunctional and needs reform, we should remember that people are a nation’s greatest resource. We should be glad people want to live and work in the United States. During WWII when most of our able bodied men were fighting in Europe or in the Pacific, we needed workers to harvest the crops. Here is a photo of these Mexican workers who filled the gap and enabled us to commit so many men to battle.
Note what is in the hand of Lady Liberty—a tablet on which is written July IV. We should generally have a policy that enabled our forefather to come here for independence. Our biggest problem is not that people want to come here, but that we have made so many dependent on the state—that is unAmerican. Independence is the hope that America has and should make it beautiful.
State Rep. David Simpson's Working Vacation on the Texas Border
JUNE 3 0 – JULY 6 , 2 0 1 4
A SOBERING &
BEAUT I FUL WEEK
ON THE RIO GRANDE
WITH STAFF & FAMILY
GATHERING FACTS AND LEARNING ABOUT
PEOPLE, IMMIGRATION & BORDER SECURITY
• Two official briefings by
TX DPS & US CBP in Weslaco
• Three tours of US CBP
Stations in Weslaco, McAllen &
• One tour of short-term shelter
and foster care contractor for
US ORR & licensed by TX FPS
• Over two dozen informal
• 800 miles along, over, on, and
in the Rio Grande
Marathon, Big Bend,
Terlingua, Lajitas, Presidio
Laredo, Del Rio,
June 30–July 2
F IRST GENERAT ION AMERICAN
CI T I ZEN STORE CLERK
• “Stop the freebies…. Help us out, sir!”
• “I feel it’s not right. Because my kids
don’t qualify for any of that—no free
government aid at all. . . . some people
grow up . . . living free off the
government. And then their kids do it
too because it’s easier for them to do
that than work.”
• “The ladies come and they have two,
three, four kids. They’re set! They’re
set money-wise. They’re set food
stamp-wise. They’re set insurance-wise.
. . . They get it all free. And we
are paying for it.”
• “They come over when they are nine-months
pregnant. Go straight to the
hospital. They don’t have to pay for the
hospital. They have their baby. They’re
set! …. one after another.”
• “You can see people come in and
they’ll have $3000 in food stamps,
$2400 in food stamps. How does one
person make that much in a month?
You don’t. They’re selling them.”
• Change birthright citizenship policy.
“That’s going to be the only way they’ll
stop” coming illegally.
DE P ARTMENT OF PUB L IC S A F E T Y
REGIONA L HE ADQUART ERS , WE S L ACO
DPS BRIEF ING
• By Reg. Commander Jose
Rodriguez & FEMA Coordinator
Kevin Hanes with State Reps
from the Valley: Lucio & Munoz
• In addition to its troopers
patrolling roadways, it utilizes
aircraft, helicopters, armored
• Highest number of pursuits of
criminals in the state.
• It coordinates well with US CBP.
• However, they are facing
• Feds threshold for prosecuting
human smuggling: 6–8 people.
• Limited access to federal
refuges: not allowed to break
branches & must go on ATVs.…
• The border is much less secure
in TX compared to CA and AZ
and TX has half the federal
resources per border mile.
NUMEROUS CA B INS , V ACA T ION HOUS E S ,
BOA T RAMP S IN ME X ICO
J E T S K I S ARE US ED TO TRANS PORT
P EOP L E ACROS S THE RI V ER
US CUS TOMS & BORDER PROT ECT ION
IN T E X A S
• 40 counties
• 59,500 sq. miles
• 9 stations in 5 sectors
• Rio Grande Valley
• Del Rio
• Big Bend
• El Paso
US CB P —RIO GRANDE V A L L E Y S ECTOR
• RGV is busiest patrol sector in
• Apprehended 200,000+ this FY.
• 53% of all detainees in US.
• 3049 agents plus hundreds of
temporary. Need 700 more.
• 25% of detainees from Mexico.
Also from China, Syria, Pakistan,
• Fingerprints are run to check to
see if any have been in battlefield.
• 56 miles of fence & remote video
• CA & AZ have more infrastructure.
• Criminals taking advantage of
situation with asylum seekers—
whom do not avoid detection.
• Focus: Anzalduas Dam south
WHY ARE THE CHI LDREN & FAMI L IES
COMING HERE TO SOUTH TEXAS?
• Shortest train route
from Central America
• Buses, highways
• Heavily populated
• Protected lands
• Agricultural land
WHY ARE THE CHI LDREN & FAMI L IES
COMING TO SOUTH TEXAS NOW?
• Violence in Central America
• Some highest murder rates in the world per 1000
people: Honduras 90, El Salvador 41, Guatamala 40
• Sexual assault & slavery
• Re-unification with families
• Federal Law and Executive Order & Policy
OVERWHELMED WI TH DETAINEES
• Less than 100 beds nationwide for family units
• Released on bonds or their own recognizance
• McAllen CBP Station
• 1200 apprehensions per day for past month
• 600 agents
• 40% of CBP agents used for processing
Mexican Minors Familes Other
Half are minors & families seeking asylum.
Tx 88% of total
Exponential increase in Tx Projected for FY
Source of data: http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-border-unaccompanied-children
INT ERNA T IONA L EDUCA T IONA L S ERV ICE S
• Run by religious charity
begun in ‘80s
• Contracts with US Office
Refuge & Resettlement
• Performs mental health
reunification with relatives
• Pilot program turns
over 200 each week.
• 90% females sexually
• 128 children
• 72 children
FOR MORE INFORMA T ION A BOUT CHARI T I E S
• 4 Aid Options, Palm Valley Church — (956) 874-7973
• Rio Grande Valley Food Bank — (956) 682-8101
• Catholic Charities San Juan, TX — (956) 702-4088
• Catholic Charities Brownsville, TX — (956) 541-0220
• IES/ORR Volunteering - (956) 233-8800
PALO AL TO: F IRST BAT T LE OF THE
US–MEXICAN WAR, MAY 8 , 1 8 4 6
ESTABL ISHED THE RIO GRANDE AS THE
BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE US AND
COMMI S S ION E R OF U S C B P , GI L K E R L I KOWS K E
• Launching an advertising
campaign for Central Americans
• “If you do get to the US, you will
not be put on a path to
citizenship. There’s no permisio.”
• “It’s a dangerous journey and
many lose their lives or are
• Playing on TV, placards on buses
in central America.
• Supports returning children to
country of origin within two weeks.
• Friend of DPS Director
• Third trip to Texas border
in last several months
INTERNAL US CBP CHECKPOINT
“ A R E Y O U U . S . C I T I Z E N S ? ”
Ou r b o r d e r i s
INSECURE & OVERWHELMED
wi t h a s y l um s e e k e r s .
Ou r immi g r a t i o n p o l i c i e s a r e
DYSFUNCT IONAL .
• Promise to Appear “permisio” policy without
enforcement undermines the rule of law.
• Central American parents are likely to believe
word of mouth advertising more than gov’t ads.
• We are entrusting children to relatives who may
not be legal residents nor adequately vetted.
• Legal vs. Illegal Standard
• Background checks — Two years vs. days
• Medical Screening — In-Depth vs. Cursory
• We provide K-12 education, but students cannot
receive a drivers license.
• If we require eVerify, we will have educated
students, but will not let them work.
• We attract illegal entry and residence by:
• Providing Public Healthcare & Education
• Creating a vacuum for workers by paying
Americans not to work.
Laws & Policies
• Unintended Consequences of
The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims
Protection Act in 2008.
• Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program
enacted on June 15, 2012 has exacerbated the
US CONST I TUT ION
• US Congress may
“establish an uniform
Rule of Naturalization”
(Art. I, Sec. 8)
• US Congress may “define and punish . . . Offenses against the
Law of Nations” (Art. I, Sec. 8)
• “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the
States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be
prohibited by the Congress prior to ” (Art. I, Sec. 9)
What can the U.S. do?
• Provide proportionate resources to Customs &
Border Patrol & Immigration Courts in Texas.
• Allow law enforcement greater access to
federal lands along the border.
• Swift determination of asylees at the border
and recognition of reasonable limits.
• Reduce gov’t. welfare & rely on charities
• Require legal status for birthright citizenship.
What can Texas do?
• Require compliance with immigration law for K–12 ed.
• Reduce gov’t. safety net to more reasonable levels:
• Reducing unemployment payments
• Providing only critical emergency healthcare
• Overturn the mandate to educate aliens who have
entered the country illegally or who are still residents
of Mexico—Plyler v. Doe.
Plyler v. Doe
• Required public schools to offer free educational services to
undocumented school-age children.
• Smith County case filed in 1977; decided by the SCOTUS in
• The Court did not rule that a state could not deny the free public
education to undocumented children, but that if it chooses to do
so the denial must be justified by showing that it furthers some
substantial state interest.
• The facts have changed since 1977 in the numbers of immigrants
and the danger to our state and nation from borders that are not
Plyler v. Doe Reform
• Require a guardian of an undocumented minor to provide proof that
the child is in the legal process to become a permanent resident of
the U.S. before admitting them to a public school. This would serve
legitimate state purposes of :
• Deterring illegal immigration;
• Improving security on the border by decreasing the number of
minors coming across the border, thereby enabling law
enforcement and border patrol to focus on the criminal element
coming across; and
• Reducing human trafficking, drug smuggling, and terrorism threats.
• A change in law will result in an immediate court challenge so the
solution is not immediate.
OTHER PRINCIPLES FOR
• Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he
upholds his throne. –Proverbs 20:28
• He [God] administers justice for the fatherless and the widow,
and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore
love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
• And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not
mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to
you as one born among you, and you shall love him as
yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the
LORD your God. –Lev. 19:33-34
• Secure and control the border.
(Avoiding extremes of completely
closed or open borders).
• Allow freedom to travel & work.
(Minds & muscle. Not another USSR.)
• Give opportunity for refugees, asylum and
naturalization (Doing unto others as we . . . ).
• Enforce just and reasonable laws:
• Distinguish between serious crimes &
violations of civil order.
• Equal justice for citizen & non-citizen
• Do not reward violations of the law
• We need both a dam & a conduit.
“In a multitude of people is a king’s honor,
But in the lack of people is the downfall of a prince.”
PROVERBS 1 4 : 2 8
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
• Retail Cashier, Weslaco
• Three servers, South Padre Island
• Texas State Rep. Eddie Lucio, Brownsville
• Eligio Pena, Assistant Chief Patrol Agent, US
• Raul L. Ortiz, Deputy Chief Patrol Agent, US
CBP, RGV Sector, McAllen
• US Congressman Michael Burgess
• IES Staff, Los Fresnos
• Three US CBP Agents near Laredo’s Port of
• R. Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner of US CBP
• Former Bed & Breakfast Owner, Eagle Pass
• Texas State Rep. Poncho Nevárez, Eagle Pass
• Seminole Canyon State Park Police Officer
• Eric Bayne, Defense Attorney in Del Rio
• Laura Allen, County Judge, Val Verde County
• Joe Frank Martinez, Sheriff, Val Verde County
• Donna Langford, Director, Del Rio Chamber of
• Robert E. Cadena, 83rd District Judge, Del Rio
• Juan G. Bernal, Assistant Chief US CBP Agent,
• David Vera, Operations Officer, US CBP, Del Rio
• Bob Smith, Supervisor of Boquillas Port of Entry
& Ranger, Big Ben National Park
• Greg P. Henington, Terlingua Fire & EMS Chief
• Barrett Durst, Big Bend Ranch State Park
• Lou McKaughan, Big Bend State Park Ranger
• Law enforcement officer passing through Fort
A S P E C I A L T H A N K S TO WHO MA D E T H I S T R I P POS S I B L E :
• My wife, daughters, & parents
• HD7 Constituents & Staff,
Michael Bullock & Kathi Seay
• Texas State Rep. Eddie Lucio
& his Chief of Staff, Ruben
• US Rep. Michael Burgess
• US CBP Agents in Weslaco,
McAllen, & Del Rio
• International Educational
Services Staff, Los Fresnos
• US Rep. Pete Gallego &
Assistant Michael Pacheco
• Laura Allen, County Judge of
Val Verde County
• Seminole Canyon State Park
• Big Bend State Park Ranger