I was watching Taylor Sheridan’s new series “Lioness” recently, and I was surprised that a specific scene was actually aired—not because it was shocking, but because it was true.
A hot extraction for a CIA operative in a rural south Texas town was going down, and when it was accomplished, one agent expressed his fear that the operation might make it on the morning news.
“Administration won’t even admit there is a border. . . worse than what we did happens every day, and nobody covers it. And if they do, the administration kills the story before it even teases going national.”
As someone who was born and raised on the Texas border, this hit home. So here’s what I want the next U.S. president to know about the border.
Growing up in Del Rio, I knew we were in a border town. I traveled to and from Mexico as regularly as traveling to the American city next door. A quick dinner in Mexico was normal, seeing Border Patrol agents everywhere was normal. But it wasn’t until this administration unleashed a reprehensible crisis that it felt like living on the border.
Unfortunately, the border crisis has gone on long enough and border residents have had to adapt so quickly, that the awe and shock we felt in 2021 is fading. This has become the new reality.
But it shouldn’t be that way. And it doesn’t have to be.
Whatever political ideology you identify with, whatever president you’ve voted for in the past, you can’t deny that the southern border became increasingly secure under the Trump administration. Because of policies like Remain in Mexico, Asylum Cooperation Agreements, 287G programs, and expanded border wall capabilities, border crime was low and border residents could breathe a little easier.
But President Joe Biden came in and wasted no time creating an open, accessible, and crime-ridden southern border. People from El Paso down to the Valley can see the increase in crime, drug and human trafficking, vehicle bailouts, and more. And we won’t stand for it.
The 2024 election will be here before we know it, and it is up to every American to hold candidates accountable and vote for someone who will protect our nation’s borders and enforce our immigration laws.
What do we want our next president to know about the border?
First, border security is national security. Lenient policies on border security have empowered transnational criminal organizations to seize control of the border and increase their profits on illegal drug and human trafficking. If we don’t have operational security over the border, we cannot know everyone that is coming into the U.S. and what their intentions are. Over 1.5 million known “gotaways” have infiltrated our nation. Now we have to find them—and remove them.
Second, the new president must realize our resources are limited. Kinney County, Texas, a rural county with a population of roughly 3,000 people, has had to face an incredible burden due to the failures of this administration. Prior to this crisis, the county court rarely spent more than a couple of thousand dollars in a month, but by 2022 a typical month’s costs were roughly $25,000 due to the increase in human smuggling and criminal trespass by illegal immigrants. If it wasn’t for emergency funding granted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Sheriff Brad Coe stated his county would have been turned over to complete cartel control.
Cities like Del Rio and Brownsville have had to process migrants as quickly as possible and get them on buses to other cities due to little to no housing capacity. Local resources that are reserved for the community are often prioritized for the migrants entering the towns, which puts community members at an increased risk.
Third, border residents do not feel safe. Migrants and human traffickers are regularly trespassing onto private property, often with weapons and drugs. Some border residents have had them go into their homes and steal their property to include vehicles and food. While ranch owners used to carry weapons to fight off snakes and mountain lions, their main concern is human smugglers and desperate migrants attempting to evade law enforcement.
Fourth, the new president must realize the idea of a border czar is good, but learn from Texas, and appoint someone who actually knows what it takes to secure the border. Texas border czar Mike Banks served in the military and then had a long, successful career in the U.S. Border Patrol. This administration’s border czar, Vice President Kamala Harris, has ignored our border, its residents, and this crisis. She shifts blame to the law enforcement officers trying to do their job and makes everything about race instead of facing the facts. We won’t accept this, and we demand better.
To the next President of the United States, don’t forget about us. Whether we are waiters, bank tellers, teachers, military members, first responders, living on the border we are the gateway to our nation. We exist, and we want a safe community to live and raise our families. Living on the border, we know that there are threats we will always face, but we know if our the presidential administration is working for us, that threat is greatly reduced. There is a border, and who and what crosses it has an effect on the entire United States.