CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nueces County Sheriff J.C. Hooper is among the area law enforcement officials who have been invited to Edinburg to attend the Wednesday meeting between former President Donald Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott at the United States-Mexico border.
Former President Donald Trump and Governor Greg Abbott will visit the U.S. Mexico border Wednesday.
Hooper traveled to Jackson County last month to join other South Texas sheriffs. And Corpus Christi Border Patrol Chief Sam Briggs will attend a town hall with residents who've been having a lot of issues with migrants.
The meeting was held there because Jackson County is close to Houston, which is the hub for human trafficking and drug trafficking in South Texas.
But Hooper says Nueces County is seeing migrant-related crime as well, mostly in rural areas.
Gov. Abbott, who is up for reelection in 2022, has vowed to build a border wall and has begun crowdfunding to raise funds to do so.
President Joe Biden halted construction of the wall on his first day in office, returning $2 billion to the U.S. Defense Department from monies that had been allocated for the wall.
The governor held a border security summit in Del Rio earlier this month in which he announced a plan to crack down on illegal border crossings.
"President Biden's open-border policies have led to a humanitarian crisis at our southern border as record levels of illegal immigrants, drugs, and contraband pour into Texas," Abbott said.
From October 2019 to September 2020, the U.S. Border Patrol had 405,036 encounters. Conversely, from October to May the Border Patrol had 898,949 encounters, according to the agency.
Along the Southwest border in May, there were 180,034 attempted border crossings. Of these, unaccompanied children and single minors from the Northern Triangle accounted for 10,765 and family units 22,630, according to statistics provided by the Border Patrol.
The Northern Triangle includes the South American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Ahead of Wednesday's visit, Gov. Abbott has amended a border crisis disaster declaration to include additional counties.
Locally, Brooks, Jim Hogg, and Kenedy counties are included in the declaration.
The declaration allows for alternative detention facilities or an expansion of jail capacity to house undocumented immigrants arrested on state jail offenses such as trespassing.
Meanwhile, an advocacy group that provides free and affordable legal services to the immigrant community says the declaration is unconstitutional.
Beatriz Alvarado, a community organizer with RAICES, says that immigration violations are civil violations, not criminal.
"Under the Trump administration, we saw what happened when they criminalized immigration," Alvarado said. "We saw the family separations happening at the border.
"So, we’re expecting the same things to happen. And kind of the same thing to play out. A lot of hurt, a lot of pain for years until it’s finally determined in the courts that what they did was terrible and inhumane and horrifying."
Abbott has requested other states send law enforcement personnel to assist in arresting and jailing via an Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
In Texas, 28 counties have opted into the declaration, but counties along the border have opted out, Alvarado says.
"Despite this, he's still going to the border and he's still making this bizarre political move to push this hateful anti-immigrant agenda that Trump had been pushing while he was still in office," she said.
Alvarado said that long-term trends show higher peak crossing numbers during this time of year and the Biden administration should have prepared for the influx of migrants.
"We didn't prepare," Alvarado said. "The only thing we can do to prepare in a humane way is to receive them humanely."