(Jim Forsyth) The debate in Washington on immigration reform has had no political impact, but the debate is having a major impact on south Texas, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Officials say the number of people entering the U.S. illegally is way up and, tragically, the number of undocumented immigrants who have been found dead in the unforgiving Texas Brush Country is way up, and is on path this year to beat last year’s record for the number of people found dead in the ranch country.
Linda Vickers, who owns a ranch in Brooks County, which is Ground Zero for the immigration debate, pins the blame directly on talk of ‘amnesty’ and a ‘path to citizenship’ for people who entered the U.S. illegally.
She recalls one man being arrested on her ranch not long ago.
“The Border Patrol agent was loading one man up, and he told the officer in Spanish, ‘Obama’s gonna let me go’.”
Border Patrol agents report that immigrants are crossing the border, and in some cases surrendering while asking, “Where do I go for my amnesty?”
“When you have amnesty waving in the wind, you’re going to get an increase,” Vickers says. “And when you get an increase, especially with this heat, you’re going to get an increase in deaths.”
She says the current increase in illegal immigrant entries began last summer, at almost exactly the same time as President Obama unilaterally announced plans to no longer deport young people who came to the U.S. as children with their illegal immigrant parents.
“Washington is directly responsible for these deaths,” she said.
Brooks County routinely has the largest number of illegal immigrant deaths each year because smugglers come up U.S. 281 from the Rio Grande Valley, but kick their human cargo out of the truck before reaching the Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias.
“If that individual, illegal immigrant, can’t keep up, they are left behind,” she said. “And you are going to die out in this heat if you can’t find water.”
She is afraid of ‘carnage’ this summer, when temperatures in the Brush Country routinely reach 115 degrees.
Negotiators in Washington yesterday agreed to limit any ‘path to citizenship’ or any benefits under immigration reform to people who arrived in the U.S. before 2012, but Vickers says that won’t do any good.
She says immigrant smugglers, who charge between $2000 and $7000 per person to smuggle them into the U.S., routinely lie to would be immigrants, and the current lie is ‘if you can only get into the U.S., you’ll get amnesty.’