Victims' Rights Caucus



Madam Speaker, I bring you news from the second front. I'm talking about the front on the southern border of the United States with Mexico.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with two of the sheriffs of the Sheriff's Border Coalition. There are 20 counties in Texas that the sheriffs are members of the Border Coalition. And I spent time with two of those sheriffs, Sheriff Arvin West from Hudspeth County and Sheriff Oscar Carrillo of Culberson County. These two counties are directly east of El Paso County.

The size of these two counties put together are the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island put together. They're massive counties and sparsely populated. The sheriff in each of these counties and his deputies know everybody that lives in the county, unlike the Border Patrol, who come and go from the community. They never really know the people or the culture, or what takes place in those counties. But the border sheriffs and their deputies, since most of them grew up there and were born there, they know the people who should be there and those people that are outside, as they call them, ``out-of-towners.''

This past weekend, the Mexican Government sent 5,000 troops to Juarez, Mexico. That's the town across from El Paso. The reason is because of the drug cartels and the violence. Drug cartels are doing war with not only the United States, but they're doing war physically with the Mexican military. And it's so dangerous down there that Fort Bliss, which is across the river from Juarez, those soldiers that have been in Afghanistan and Iraq, are not permitted to go to Juarez. The State Department has warned Americans not to go to Juarez because of the danger of kidnappings and the violence that has occurred there all because of the drug cartels. But going back to the two counties of Culberson County and Hudspeth County, the question keeps being asked, ``Well, all that crime just stays there on the Mexican side, it never comes to the American side.'' Let me give you a statistic, Madam Speaker, how all the border sheriffs have to fight the drug epidemic and the crimes of violence and the property crimes in their county.

Sheriff Arvin West, Hudspeth County, has two jails; one has 125 prisoners, the other one has 545 prisoners. And on Saturday night, every person in both of those jails except one was illegally in the United States. There was one citizen. And these people are not charged with immigration violations. They hadn't just been picked up for illegally entering the country. They had been arrested for crimes against the Federal Government, felonies and misdemeanors against the State of Texas. He said if he didn't have to keep arresting folks illegally coming into the country and committing crimes in his county, he could close his jail down because there was only one citizen in the whole county or in the county jails. And he said seldom does he have any local folks put in that jail.

So, yes, the border crime has come to the United States and will only get worse. But to show you how innovative these sheriffs are, these are poor counties, these are low-income counties where you've got hardworking people--sparsely populated, however--and so the sheriff have no budget for vehicles. Unlike the drug cartels that have Humvees, they have SUVs, pickup trucks, all of the things that they want. Border sheriffs--this sheriff especially--has no budget in the county for vehicles, so he has to confiscate drug vehicles--when he captures the bad guys with