Kinney County approves deputizing citizens to police migrants

by | Oct 22, 2021 | Immigration/Border, Policy

The small rural area of Kinney County, population of 3,129, which sits on the edge of the Texas-Mexico border approved a plan on Tuesday to deputize private citizens to work with local law enforcement to track down migrants crossing state-lines. 

The plan, which was approved by the county’s commissioner court, is recruiting 10 former military veterans and law enforcement Texans who, if accepted, will be trained, vetted and given proper equipment, according to county elected officials. 

In an interview with conservative media company Gateway Pundit, Sheriff Brad Coe and County Attorney Brent Smith called the migrants coming in from Mexico an “illegal invasion,” so they said the county is taking matters into their own hands. 

In April, the county declared a local state of disaster citing the surge of migrants coming from Mexico and requested Texas Gov. Greg Abbott send 2,000 national guard soldiers to the border to assist them.

Even though the governor hasn’t responded to the county’s national guard request, Kinney County received $3.2 million in state funding last week to continue to detain and prosecute migrants arrested under the Operation Lone Star initiative. 

“We haven’t heard anything about our request or received any national guard,” Smith said. “It is kind of frustrating because Val Verde County to our west has received about 15 national guards and Maverick County to our east has received 15 national guards.” 

35 minutes away from Kinney County is Del Rio, Texas in Val Verde County where just last month thousands of majority Haitian migrants who were seeking asylum stayed under a bridge to wait and make their case for temporary protected status. 

However, as reported, the Biden administration used Title 42, a Trump administration expulsion policy, to send thousands of Haitians back to Haiti citing the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The Border Patrol was completely overwhelmed at the time; thousands of people coming just turning themselves in that wanted to get caught created this problem,” Coe said. 

Both Smith and Coe referred to the Haitians in Del Rio as “give-ups” for claiming asylum while referring to the ones they are detaining as criminals.

“There’s two types of invasions going on. We haven’t had any give-ups that I know of anyway in Kinney County,” Smith said. 

However, this plan to create reserve officers comes after a federal judge ordered Kinney County officials to release 168 migrants after the county prosecutor failed to file criminal charges against them. According to Smith, many of the detainees are being accused of trespassing on private property, a misdemeanor under Texas law. 

So in other words, Kinney County and surrounding areas were holding migrants in jail without formal charges against them and without being given court appointed lawyers. 

After being released, migrants are turned over to federal immigration authorities like the U.S. Immigration and and Customs Enforcement where they can be deported, imprisoned again, or given a court date pending their asylum hearing.

The Texas Signal reached out to Sheriff Coe, Attorney Smith, and Kinney County commissioners, but have yet to hear back.

Photo: Christopher Morris/Corbis via Getty Images

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Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.

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