Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of House Bill 4635. My name is Melissa Ford Maldonado, and I am the policy director for Secure & Sovereign Texas, an initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The Foundation is grateful for your committee’s leadership and efforts to help fix the crisis at the border and protect Texas and Texans.

In my role, much of my work focuses on critical issues such as border security, organized crime, drug trafficking, human smuggling, trade, and corruption & collusion by state actors in Mexico.

The Foundation’s latest research on these topics provides a deep dive into the threat posed by Mexican drug cartels. We believe these criminal organizations are one of the largest criminal threats to the United States right now.

Mexican drug cartels have complete control over the border, recently labeled the most dangerous border in the world, and are devastating our communities with crime, drugs, and a humanitarian crisis. They are running a billion-dollar slave trade, and are now richer, more armed, and bolder than ever.