Bell County commissioners pass resolution on illegal immigrant children
BELL COUNTY, TX (KXXV) -
The Bell County commissioners court voted Monday morning to pass a resolution stating they do not want illegal immigrant children in Bell County. The vote was unanimous 4-0, with one commissioner out of town.
In the resolution, officially named, the resolution on border security and the influx of illegal immigrants, the court sited issues like the strain on local government funds, possible health concerns and possible exposure to criminal activity as reasons for the resolution. They asked legislators to end the relocation undocumented children into Texas communities.
"With the federal government picking and choosing where they send people, we at least wanted to go on record that we do not believe [relocation] is in the best interest of the taxpayers," said Bell County judge, Jon Burrows.
In the resolution, commissioners urged both state and federal lawmakers to "take prompt action to end the influx of illegal immigration" by stepping up patrols at checkpoints, strengthening human trafficking laws and provided added civil and criminal liability for land owners against trespassers.
"They're taking the position that we don't want to have any of these kids here," said Raul Villaronga, Treasurer of the League of United Latin American Citizens. (LULAC) "In other words they're saying 'Not my problem. Don't put them here'."
Some Latino advocacy groups have spoken out in recent months over the growing humanitarian crisis with an expected 80,000 undocumented minors to come across the border this year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
"To me, A tangible reform would be to come up with an immigration system that is timely and that allows people that want to come to better themselves to be able to become citizens," Villaronga said.
Commissioners said resolving to not accept illegal minors was also a monetary decision. They did not want the county to bear the burden of more of the displaced. Bell County has previously taken in refugees from disasters like hurricanes Katrina and Ike when thousands were forced from homes.
Bell County commissioners said they are not indifferent to the humanitarian aspect of the illegal immigration crisis, but they wanted to make sure their voices and the voices of their constituency heard.
"We thought it would be a good idea to get our position out there before something happens," Burrows said. "A lot of things with the federal government happen without being consulted."