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Brewster County Sheriff skeptical, eager to hear Abbott’s border plan

Updated: Jun. 12, 2021 at 9:24 AM CDT
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ALPINE, Texas (KOSA) - Gov. Abbott announced a new comprehensive border security plan at a Border Security Summit in Del Rio on Thursday, which includes a proposed border wall built by Texas, as well as harsher penalties for those who illegally cross the border.

“We’re still kind of in a daze,” said Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson.

Dodson attended the summit, where he spoke with Abbott’s team about what can be done in border counties to stop people from illegally crossing in record numbers.

“It’s more than we’ve ever had,” Dodson said.

Part of Abbott’s plan is to charge undocumented immigrants with a Class B misdemeanor for criminal trespassing if they’re caught on private land. It’s normally a Class C misdemeanor. That would allow county jails to hold people for 180 days.

“There’s no way,” Dodson said. “Really and truly, it’s not even feasible. I’ve been in almost forty years, and I’ve never seen a judge in this county put somebody in jail for a Class B for 180 days.”

The problem isn’t just a lack of precedent.

“You know, we’d fill our jail up in minutes,” Dodson said. “Where do we go then?”

The Brewster County Jail has 54 beds, 50 of them currently full. If Abbott wants to put this plan in place, a sizeable investment into law enforcement infrastructure would need to be made to expand the jail.

“I’ll need at least $8 million,” Dodson said. “So, is he going to give this county $8 million to add onto the jail?”

Abbott has indicated funds will be available to stop the flow of undocumented migrants, but questions abound about how that money, and how much, will be doled out to counties.

“At the end of the day, he did say he had money and that he wanted to create 10,000-bed spaces for jails to house immigrants,” Dodson said.

And while questions abound on jail space, they’re also just plentiful regarding the state building a border wall, something Dodson sees as impractical.

“If you’re familiar with our terrain, it would be almost impossible to build any kind of wall,” Dodson said.

For now, Dodson and other border county sheriffs are playing a waiting game. Abbott is expected to release more details about the plan next week.

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