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Texas Sheriffs React To Gov. Abbott's Call For Jailers To Aid Border Counties

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar speaks in a TPR file photo.
Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar speaks in a TPR file photo.

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a call for qualified current and former county jailers to assist border sheriffs with operating detention facilities and providing jail beds.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar released a short statement on the governor's request.

"BCSO manpower including jailers will be utilized to maintain our current staffing needs," the statement said.

Salazar has been working to end a chronic staffing shortage and high overtime costs at the jail. Hiring bonuses and taking recruitment efforts on the road across Texas is part of that work.

Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward said he fully supports the governor, but there is a staffing shortage at his jail, too.

"Some of our jailers have to come in their days off so I'm not so sure we could provide a lot of assistance to this program being that we're short-handed already," said Soward.

Abbott said border sheriffs need assistance.

"The State of Texas will not tolerate criminal activity, which is why we are stepping up to address this crisis in the Biden Administration's absence," said Abbott. "Part of our comprehensive efforts to secure the border include enforcing all state and federal laws, which is why we are calling on jailers and sheriffs across the state to volunteer support for our border sheriffs. Working together, we will secure the border and keep our communities safe."

The governor's disaster declaration directs the Texas Department of Public Safety to enforce all federal and state criminal laws for criminal trespassing, illegal entry, smuggling and human trafficking.

The declaration also directed the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to work with counties included in the declaration to establish alternative detention facilities to ensure enough jail capacity for undocumented immigrants who are arrested for criminal activities such as trespassing.

All four counties in the Rio Grande Valley — which is the most heavily-crossed area on the U.S.-Mexico border — refused to issue local disaster declarations at Abbott’s request.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño told TPR there are neither trespassing complaints nor the jail space to justify Abbott’s plan to aggressively apprehend migrants.

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