Rio Grande Valley leaders react to Governor Abbott’s border plan, many questions remain

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HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — County leaders in the Rio Grande Valley are still unsure about Governor Greg Abbott’s border plan.

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County judges have many questions on how exactly the governor’s plan will impact their communities. 

Governor Abbott’s plan includes the state of Texas building its own border wall without the help of the federal government and having local law enforcement arrest anyone crossing the border illegally for trespassing.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez has his own set of questions on Governor Abbott’s plan. He said he is not convinced that the plan will help with illegal immigration border crossings. 

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“Where are they going to be in jail in the event that they are with the family? What are we going to do with the children.?” Cortez said, “I’m not sure that the threat of having an immigrant stay in jail for six months is sufficient enough to keep them or deter them from coming. So I wanted to know why he felt that incarcerating them would slow down the flow.”

Cortez said Texas jail space is an issue as far as limitation and Starr County Judge Eloy Vera agreed. 

“We only have 270 beds in our jail which a lot of those beds are leased out to either the federal prisoners or our other county prisoners and we get paid for that,” said Vera. 

He said the payment is a big part of their revenue, but another underlying issue is what happens when they do take them to jail. 

“We are completely responsible for all of their health needs. Whether it be medicine or whether it be a procedure, we have to give that to them at our expense at our taxpayer’s expenses,” said Vera. 

Cortez said immigrants that come for work are needed in America. 

“We need those workers, right now the renters, farmers, construction people, hospitality people. They’re all saying where have the workers gone,” said Cortez.

Both county judges said they hope to work with Abbott to resolve their questions and continue to help their communities.

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