AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas House committee heard testimony Tuesday about issues ranging from ranch security to vaccinations of children showing up at the border.
The state’s top military official confirmed Tuesday that National Guard training is happening at Camp Swift.
A south Texas rancher also testified about what is going on at his ranch and neighboring properties, about 70 miles north of the border.
“You never know who’s going to be on your property. You never know the disposition of the people you encounter on the property,” said Mike Vickers, a rancher and veterinarian.
Vickers lives in Brooks County. The area has a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint.
“A lot of people left behind out there, big groups left behind,” Vickers said. “A lot of them end up dying because the coyotes have already duped them of their money and left them behind, and left them out their to fend for themselves.”
Vickers says migrants try to get around the checkpoint by passing through his and his neighbor’s yards.
“Just last Friday we had a situation on my own ranch,” said Vickers. “[A man] had an encounter with two of my ranch employees. He threatened them with a club.”
Vickers says border patrol later captured the man.
“It’s a life threatening experience every morning when you walk out the front door on a lot of ranches in South Texas,” said Vickers.
The Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard, John Nichols, says troops are training, not to engage, but to deter and refer immigrants to state troopers.
The Department of Public Safety director also talked about the current surge operation. Director Steve McCraw said the surge has cost more than $7 million so far.
The executive director of the ACLU Texas, Terri Burke, also testified.
“There are only two kinds of additional boots on the ground needed in the Valley: humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross and more administrative and judicial personnel to screen these immigrants to determine their status, whether they warrant consideration for asylum or refugee status or for U or T visas,” said Burke. “To secure the border, our nation needs legal programs that respect family reunification and more clearly hew to labor demands, among a number of other changes.”