AUSTIN, Texas – U.S. Border Patrol Agent Hector Garza testified before the Texas Senate Subcommittee on Border Security in support of creating a multi-state border security compact. Garza told the Senators that Texas must take an aggressive stance against the organizaed criminal enterprises that are smuggling thousands of illegal immigrants into the United States. The bill, SB 1252 by Senator Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), would require the Governor of Texas to negotiate an Interstate Border Security Compact to allow states to enforce federal immigration law.
Garza was in Austin representing the members of the National Border Patrol Council, Local 2455, where he serves as president. “I am here today to provide you a glimpse of what is really happening on the Texas/Mexico border,” Garza told the committee attended by Breitbart Texas. “I will speak to you today about the federal government’s failure to secure our border by not enforcing our immigration laws.
Agent Garza told the committee that the federal government has some of the “most restrictive prosecutorial guidelines for smuggling cases.” He said that because of this, many cases of human smuggling are not prosecuted.
Members of the committee seemed shocked to learn that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas sets a threshold for prosecution whereby a smuggler must be transporting six or more illegal immigrants before they can be prosecuted.
Senator Hall said, “This seems like saying that if a bank robber steals less than $1,000 from a bank, we won’t prosecute them.”
Chairman Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) asked Garza to repeat his testimony about the threshold because he wanted to make certain it was entered into the record. He seemed astounded by the order by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ignore the violations of the law.
Breitbart Texas has learned this policy varies from region to region and from time to time based upon how busy the local prosecutors are at the time. At one point last summer, Border Patrol agents in Falfurrias told Breitbart Texas their threshold was set at fifteen illegal immigrants. Consequently, agents have seen smugglers adopt the threshold as a limit on how many they smuggle in order to avoid prosecution.
Garza said that if a U.S. citizen is caught smuggling people at a level of five or less, they are simply released with no charges.
“They say that crime doesn’t pay,” Garza said, “but by failing to secure our borders, crime not only pays, it is reaping huge dividends to these smuggling organizations.”
Senator Hall asked Agent Garza if the Border Patrol is catching a higher percentage of people crossing the border illegally. Garza replied that it is impossible to determine that because they don’t know how many people are actually crossing. He also said that supervisors pressure agents to be conservative on how many people escape capture.
He explained that if a van carrying twenty immigrants is stopped and they take off into the woods, the agents will try to capture as many as possible. If they capture twelve of them, then eight escape. But, if they report eight as having escaped, supervisors will pressure them to report a smaller number unless they can prove it was exactly eight that escaped.
“The State of Texas needs to take an aggressive stance against these criminal organizations that are literally bringing in thousands and thousands of illegal aliens into our country,” Garza concluded. “If the State of Texas does not act now, Texas will continue to be viewed as an easy entry point for alien smugglers because there is no fear of prosecution if caught.”
The bill provides “that this state enacts the Interstate Compact for Border Security and enters into the compact with all other states legally joining in the compact in substantially a certain form.” It sets forth the language to be used in the form and sets up fees and fines for offenses that might be derived as part of the compact. Breitbart Texas will provide additional coverage of SB 1252 in future articles.