The elected Constables for Precincts 2 and 4 in Galveston County are helping another county’s sheriff’s office that is overwhelmed by the border crisis.
Constables Jimmy Fullen and Justin West are in Kinney County, which is a little over a two-hour drive west from San Antonio.
“The law enforcement down here is over-extended,” said West, a Precinct 4 Constable. “Where we’re at in Kinney County there has been over a 500% increase in calls for service since the beginning of the year.”
Kinney County only has six deputies and the sheriff asked for help in dealing with a large influx of migrants crossing the border illegally, and then making their way through the county. Kinney County is in Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector, which has seen a 532% increase in apprehensions from last year, according to Customs and Border Protection data.
“The landowners out there, the cattle owners, they’re having their fences torn down, their cattle are getting out. So, it’s a major problem,” said Fullen, a Precinct 2 Constable.
In addition to Fullen and West, two more deputy constables and one Galveston County sheriff’s deputy are assisting Kinney County. According to Fullen, the plan is to work 12-hour shifts on two-week rotations.
State troopers and Texas Rangers are also in the area as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s initiative to arrest migrants who cross the border illegally and commit state crimes like trespassing.
DPS officials said only single adults are being arrested, family units and unaccompanied minors are being handed over to Border Patrol.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 352 migrants are being held in the Briscoe prison unit. This unit was cleared out to make room for border-related arrests.
The constables say a rail depot in the county is a hotspot for migrants traveling north.
“Any of the northbound trains coming from the Eagle Pass area, coming up, you’re guaranteed you’re going to get them each time,” said Fullen.
When KPRC 2 spoke with the Constables they had just assisted DPS with an operation that led to the arrest of 41 individuals on-board cargo and lumber cars.
“We’re seeing people from all over, and that includes other continents,” said West.
In July, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry issued a disaster declaration in response to the border. Henry also authorized law enforcement to aid other counties dealing with border-related crimes. Henry said the effort is voluntary, reserve peace officers temporarily fill the vacancies of those who are on the border and this particular effort is being paid for with American Rescue Plan funds from the federal government.