Kinney County declares state of disaster due to rise of migrants

Declaration claims residents have been assaulted, threatened and robbed

KINNEY COUNTY, Texas – Kinney County issued a declaration of disaster over the rise of migrants entering the country at the U.S. border.

Kinney County Judge Tully Shahan signed the declaration -- claiming that residents have been assaulted, threatened and robbed -- on Wednesday, April 21.

“We have had deputies who live here shot at. We’ve had border patrolmen who have been on duty have been shot at,” Shahan said.

Shahan said the county has not had incidents of people being seriously hurt.

“Criminal activity is definitely up — the pursuits, the smuggling, smuggling of persons. There’s potential there for assaults. We’re seeing more and more weapons being involved. Last year, Border Patrol was shot at. This year, my guys have been shot at four or five times by human smugglers,” said Brad Coe, Kinney County sheriff.

Coe said law enforcement is stretched thin.

“We’ve got police reports on the stolen vehicles. The vehicles have been stolen from ranches,” Coe said.

Coe said the county would be asking for additional support from the state.

“Maybe bring in some National Guard or bring in deputy sheriffs from other counties to assist,” Coe said.

Atascosa County also signed a declaration on Wednesday but has since amended it.

The following is a statement from Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward:

“I can not speak directly on the County Judge’s Declaration and the specific information that it contains. I do know that he has since amended it.

“We have had no reports filed with us regarding our residents being robbed, assaulted, or threatened by any illegal aliens.

“What we have had is property damage due to vehicles being occupied by illegal aliens running through multiple fences when trying to elude law enforcement. This has happened extensively over the past year and recently as well.

“I, as County Sheriff wholeheartedly oppose the housing of illegal aliens in local motels as my citizens do not not feel comfortable with the possibilities of crime that may come from this. I also oppose the astronomical amount of taxpayer’s money being spent by the new administration in Washington D.C. on allowing the non-stop flow of illegal immigration and the policies regarding open borders and lack of enforcement which will no doubt result in an increase workload for law enforcement agencies.

“I have absolutely no objection to legal immigration but not mass unchecked open borders. That will create unsafe conditions at some point to some degree in my opinion.”

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Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.