Charles Hurt, Washington Times, July 8, 2006
Most of the people who sneak across the border are no longer good people in search of honest work, the sheriff of a border county in Texas told a House subcommittee yesterday, but rather criminals who belong to gangs and drug cartels.
“For years we have seen individuals enter the country illegally,” said Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr., sheriff of Zapata County. “However, recently we feel that many of these persons are no longer entering the country to look for legitimate employment. We are now seeing that many of these persons are members of ruthless and violent gangs.”
Sheriff Gonzalez’s testimony before the House International Relations subcommittee was part of a series of “field hearings” held across the country to gauge voter opinion on reforming the nation’s immigration laws. Yesterday’s hearing was held in Laredo, in Zapata County.
“Some areas can accurately be described as a war zone,” panel Chairman Ed Royce, California Republican, told The Washington Times after touring the border near Laredo.
Sheriff Gonzalez told members of the subcommittee that the number of illegal aliens from places other than Mexico — including countries on terrorist watch lists — caught crossing the border has more than quintupled in the past four years. Increasingly, he said, they try blending in to look like Mexicans crossing the border in search of honest work.
With more than 165,000 illegal aliens caught in fiscal 2005, Sheriff Gonzalez said, he can only imagine how many succeed in getting across.