In a video interview conducted by a citizen journalist, Interim Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra said that Gov. Perry sending National Guard troops to the border was not helpful to local law enforcement.
He also said that the appearance of a militarization of the border sent the wrong message to the community, and created a false characterization that “rampant” crime was occurring.
The Sheriff also spoke about his past positive experiences with the National Guard in South Texas, the continuing humanitarian crisis and the request that border sheriffs made to the Governor.
The Sheriff said the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors has come under his watch but that there was a “misconception” being perpetrated that crime has been rampant and that statement is “false.”
“They are trying to associate what goes on in Mexico with what goes on here at the border, that’s not true.”
He says the crime has not increased because of the surge in illegal immigration. He says the unaccompanied minors and family units are coming across and turning themselves into the first uniformed officer that they see whether it’s a border patrol agent, a state trooper, a Sheriff’s Deputy, a Constable or a Game Warden.
- “We refer them to the border patrol, again, no public safety concern there. It’s the other individuals that law enforcement is concerned with. The one’s that are coming across that do not want to get caught.“
The Sheriff then laid out why local law enforcement is not happy with the Governor.
“I feel that the Governor sending 1000 National guard troops he’s throwing this region under the bus for his own political gain.”
Earlier this month Governor Perry was at the RedState conference where he launched his 2012 bid for President and this time it sounded like he was gearing up for another. He called for a rebellion against a “power hungry, oppressive” President but seems to be ignoring the voices of the local border communities at home in favor of GOP Primary voters. What ever happened to local control?
- “We feel as border sheriffs that the money is better spent giving us an opportunity to get that money. Instead of spending $14.2 million a month, we have asked the Governor’s office for $20 million. That’s basically 2 months worth. Give it to the sheriffs’ office where we in where in turn can give it to local law enforcement agencies and we’re able to put more law enforcement in areas where we’re able to actually enforce the law.These National Guardsmen have absolutely zero authority to detain or to arrest an individual. And we feel all they are are more of a scarecrow tactic. National Guardsmen with a rifle standing guard I think that sends the wrong message for a our community. Militarizing our border sends the wrong message, that our counties are rampant with crime, again that’s not happening.“
The Sheriff also touted his support for the National Guard. He said he has worked well with Guardsmen in the past on natural disaster relief.
- “I have every respect for our National Guard, they do a fantastic job. I’ve seen them first hand come down to these areas when we have hurricanes…I see that role for the Nat guard to come down here and help us but not to come down here and make it look like the impression of militarizing the border.”
When asked what ordinary Texans do to help change the perception he said,
- “You can go down to the border and witness it first hand and then go back into your communities and tell them, ‘We witnessed it first hand its not the wild wild west. Crime is not rampant over there, there is no need to send 1,000 National Guardsmen down here.”
Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra summed up his message by saying, “What can you help me with? Get that message out there that there is no need to have those troops down here.”
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Here are a couple of other things that ordinary people are doing (both filmed by the same person who interviewed the Sheriff):
Aid workers with Catholic Charities sort donations:
Dallas man fills semi-truck trailer full of donations, brings it to border for refugees: