21 CALF News • February | March 2022 • can’t imagine what these kids have been through. They need more than a few months’ therapy.” The problem, however, is that it can be hard to rescue these children if a group of adults and kids are intercepted after crossing the border. That’s because, under the present administration, family units can’t be broken up, Deller says. So a group of adults with children merely has to claim that they’re all related. If they’re caught by U.S. Border Patrol agents, claiming they’re related means they likely won’t be arrested because of the difficulty in proving or disproving their claim. At the state and county levels, if they’re caught on private property, people crossing the border illegally can be detained and jailed for trespassing. They can be detained, processed and deported, only to cross the border again. If they’re armed, however, unlawful possession of a firearm by an illegal alien is a federal offense, Coe says. “But the criminal trespass will go with it and we’ll work with our partners, with BATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms], Homeland Security and others on things like that.” For Coe and his six deputies, who have 1,400 square miles to protect, most of the smuggled illegal aliens they apprehend are on roads and highways. “The DPS troopers who are working this area, they’re catching a lot of people who are on ranchland,” Coe says. “We do see quite a few who have criminal records.” But county and state law enforcement are spread thin and Coe worries about the effect the ongoing invasion will have on his county. “All we have is agriculture. That’s it.” The county doesn’t have any factories or oil and gas reserves. “We don’t have the infrastructure like the bigger cities. We have one grocery store, one gas station and we depend on our ranchers.” Beyond ranching, the biggest economic driver in Kinney County is hunting.“Our county will go from 3,600 people to 10,000 to 12,000 because of deer season,” he says. “And the hunters treat us very well. They buy their groceries here. They buy their gas here. So we’re dependent on the ranchers and the hunters to come in and support Kinney County. If we lose the ranchers and lose the hunters, we have nothing to fall back on.” If the intimidation, vandalism and violence brought on by the Mexican cartels force ranchers to sell and hunters to find hunting leases elsewhere, the economy dries up. “If ranchers have to sell, who’s going to buy? Is it going to be the cartels? Is it going to be the Chinese?” That possibility worries Coe. “We see the intel reports and the cartels have places established in Canada. They’ve got businesses established overseas in Europe and Africa and I’d be completely naive if I said they weren’t operating here in the United States, even in my area,” Coe says. For the most part, however, border counties Like Kinney County and border towns like Bracketville, the county seat, are mere waypoints on the terrible trail that human trafficking victims travel. “The issues we’re dealing with, what I see today, you’re going to see tomorrow,” Coe emphasizes. National news is reluctant to report on the crisis. One of the few times the border crisis made the national news was when five young girls ranging from 11 months to 6 years old were abandoned in last summer’s heat. Those children were found a mile from Deller’s house. Since most Americans are simply unaware of the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, Sheena Rodriguez is taking it upon herself to help people understand just how bad it is. She hails from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and invites friends and neighbors to go with her on her trips to the border. “It’s like a distant problem,” Rodriguez says, “and they just don’t realize [what’s really happening].” While illegal border crossings occur at all hours, the coyotes who lead groups of people often cross at night. Here, U.S. Border Patrol agents process a group they intercepted. Photo courtesy Sheena Rodriguez The county, state and federal officers who work along the border get hit with anger from both sides. One side calls them racists for simply doing their jobs and the other side calls them traitors for not doing enough. “But when I’ve brought people down, they’re astonished and they start to get it,” Rodriguez says. “They start to refocus their anger toward the policies behind it.” What Can You Do? Beyond becoming involved with the organizations working to combat human trafficking, either monetarily or prayerfully, pay attention, Deller says. Look for indications that people may be victims of human trafficking. She recommends people watch a video on the Texas Attorney General’s website called “Be the One.” https://www.texasattorneygeneral. gov/human-trafficking-section/be-one. “That tells you what to look for. If you’re sitting at a light, pay attention to the vehicles around you and the kids in them. Or you can be in a store and if you know what to look for, you may be the one who saves a child’s life.” For more on the border crisis, go to news/releases/texas-borderlands-costillegal-immigration-ep2. 