There has been a huge influx of border crossings on our southern border with Mexico. Many immigrants have traveled thousands of miles from their home countries searching for a better opportunity. According to the United States Customs and Border Protection, in the 2020 fiscal year there were 405,036 encounters reported. This year, 1,078,226 encounters were reported, a 102% increase since last fiscal year.
With the focus in the Rio Grande Valley, the Del Rio Sector has seen more activity than usual. Chief Patrol Agent Austin Skero of the Del Rio Sector says, “The Del Rio Sector is uncommonly busy. We have never seen anything like this in our history.” He adds, “we are catching about a thousand migrants daily.” The United States Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector is the second busiest sector in the nation. The Del Rio Sector covers 47 counties, which includes the Concho Valley, and 245 miles of border along the Rio Grande. According to a press release in January from the Del Rio Sector, there have been 31,000 encounters reported since October 1st, 2020, which is a 193% increase from last year.
Our local communities are seeing effects from the border as well. Kimble County Sheriff Allen Castleberry says there has been countless reports of immigrant activity since he first took over as county sheriff in January of this year. Kimble County is ninety miles away from the United States-Mexico border and spans over 1200-square-miles of rugged, hilly terrain and the county seat is Junction. Also, two major highways and Interstate 10 runs through the county.
Castleberry says the sheriff’s offices receive calls daily from locals reporting suspicious activity and property damage. There have been three pursuits, which entered Kimble County from surrounding counties, two of the pursuits resulted in injury of two Kimble County deputies. Castleberry added, “these pursuits when they have bailouts, we don’t stop there… it’s 24/7 deal.” Even with the stress and strain on deputies, Kimble County Sheriff Allen Castleberry emphasized Kimble County residents come first no matter what. “Even if we’re all out there on a manhunt, one of us has to break off and go. I am not going to put my citizens in the backseat, they elected me to do a job and they want us there,” then adds “we’re going to get there as quickly as we can.”
Both the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and Kimble County Sheriff Department have stressed they are in dire need for resources. Chief Border Patrol Agent Skero says the Kimble County Sheriff department is exhausting their resources to help assist them. Castleberry says, “I don’t have the manpower to cover all of that 1200 square miles.” He continues, “I wish they could get us help, I know everyone is strained and strapped for man-power and I believe it will be a matter of time before we have more problems.”
Governor Greg Abbott has stepped in with his own state-funded assistance. He issued a disaster proclamation on May 31st, which included Sutton, Crockett, and Kimble counties. Late June, he renewed his proclamation to include Schleicher and Mason counties for state assistance. As well, on the federal level, Congressman August Pfluger (TX-11) urged Congress to pass a bill that would give resources to Customs and Border Protection agents and other law enforcement agencies. On July 19th, Congressman Pfluger and other House Republicans introduced a resolution declaring support for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The public is encouraged to speak up against crime across the nation and to report any suspicious activity at 1-800-863-9382 or contact local law enforcement.