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
"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
"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.'