Border talks

former congresswoman Mayra Flores charmed and educated guests at last week’s Republican Women Kerr County luncheon as she talked about personal experiences as a border patrol agent’s wife and Mexican-born citizen.

Issues related to the influx of migrants facing communities along the Texas border was the topic for last Friday’s Republican Women’s monthly meeting. Speakers for the luncheon were Aaron Reitz, Deputy Texas Attorney General for Legal Strategy and former U.S. Representative Mayra Flores from Brownsville.

Prior to the two scheduled speakers taking the podium, Kerr County Sheriff’s Deputy Capt. Jason Waldrip gave a short update on what impact the border issues are having on Kerr County. Waldrip said one of the most important challenges has been keeping the line of communication open for the multiple agencies involved in border enforcement.

“With limited resources, we have done an incredible job,” Waldrip said.

Waldrip said Kerr County has seen 86 human smuggling arrests and 313 immigrants turned over to U.S. Border Patrol in the past two years.

“The arrests are not deterring these people. We are also seeing more guns among these people now,” Waldrip added.

Assistant Attorney General Aaron Reitz said since  the Biden administration took over in January 2021 there has been an increased interest in  border security issues in Texas.

“It’s something people really care about…more than other issues in Texas. It matters because of several reasons,” Reitz said.

He said the lack of border security has taken a massive toll on the state of Texas and the nation.

“Unfortunately our federal law has been construed that the state of Texas, Kerr County, your schools, your hospital must provide a certain level of care for the migrants. It has been a huge financial burden and a huge public safety cost,” Reitz said.

Reitz said when you break down the numbers of migrants coming into the U.S. across the southern border, the overwhelming number are MAM, or military age men, who are spreading the influence of the Mexican drug cartels in Texas and around the nation.

He said another big issue is the public health problems. Migrants are bringing in “all kinds of diseases.” Of special concern recently are the ones brought into the country from Africa which are blood-borne diseases for which there are few treatments available, Reitz said.

Reitz said the flood of immigrants into the urban centers around the country is intentional and designed to change the voting dynamics in those cities and warned that once the immigrants become dependent on public assistance then they will become Democratic voters.

“It implicates some of the most fundamental issues of national sovereignty. Without a border you do not have a country. A lot of good people are working on the problem. They are doing what they can,” Reitz added.

He reviewed several of the lawsuits filed by the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office related to the border issues against the Biden administration. Texas has filed a total of 16 lawsuits related to border security or illegal immigration issues and half have received an affirmative decision in the courts. Only one has not, according to Reitz.

Cases related to the deportation of the migrants, Title 42 and the most recent “parole program”  for migrants into the country are some of the cases filed.

“We have problems over the definition of the word ‘asylum,’ Reitz said.

“The future of our country, our state, our economy, our health are at stake. This invasion is objectively the most important issue of our time,” Reitz added. He urged the attendees to continue to support the efforts of local law enforcement and to support the designation of the drug cartels as international terrorist organizations.

“The drug cartels are a greater threat to national security than the Taliban are,” Reitz said.

Reitz handles many of the lawsuits filed by the state related to the border crisis, including both border security and immigration issues. A Texas A&M graduate, Reitz served in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Afghanistan with the Embedded Training Team in Helmand Province. He returned from service and attended UT Law School and clerked with a Texas Supreme Court justice before going to work for Attorney General Ken Paxton.

When Mayra Flores took the podium she told the attendees that the opposition spent $10 million to defeat her in the Nov. 2022 election. When she was elected in June 2022 she was the first Republican to be elected in the Rio Grande Valley in decades.

“Our country is worth fighting for. Children are being raped and abused by the cartels. That’s why legal immigration is so important. The Mexican cartels are in full control of the southern border.” Flores said

“Why would we support illegal immigration when it’s funding the cartels?” she asked.

Flores, who was born in Mexico and immigrated legally to the U.S. at the age of six, became a U.S. citizen at the age of 14, criticized the current Mexican government.

“The Mexican people deserve better. More than 100,000 people have been kidnapped. I don’t know why we’re waiting to label the cartels as terrorists,” Flores said.

Flores said while Republicans now have control of Congress, their power is limited because the White House and Senate are still controlled by the Democrats.

She also talked about the fentanyl issues related to border security.

“We need to be outraged and speak louder. We no longer need to be a silent majority. Most Americans want what’s best for our country and what’s best for our kids. We can’t expect elected officials to do it all,” Flores added.

Flores stressed that securing the border should not be political.

“Fentanyl is killing Americans. It doesn’t matter your political persuasion,” she said. She also addressed the number of suicides among border patrol agents. Her husband is a border patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley sector. She said she has attended “way too many” funerals.

“We need to bring common sense back to our country. We must protect our children’s innocence.”

She also stressed the role of parents and grandparents in children’s lives and the need to strengthen the values of faith and family in our state.

“Texas must also invest more in education because by 2030 Hispanic children will be the majority in our schools,” Flores added.

She was born in Tamaulipas state, just over the border from the Rio Grande Valley. Her parents were migrant farm workers so she spent part of her year in San Benito, just outside of Brownsville, and the migrant season in Memphis, Texas, a cotton production area.

In 2020 she joined in the political activities in the RGV and organized pro-Trump caravans in the area.

Her popularity led to her election in to the U.S. House of Representatives June 2022 after the resignation of Fillemon Vela.

Redistricting after the 2020 census changed the district’s boundaries and she lost her re-election bid the November 2022 election to Democrat Vicente Gonzalez, but she garnered more than 44 percent of the vote in the district in a deeply Democratic area of Texas.

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