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  • Writer's pictureLauren Jessop

Exclusive: Interview with Kinney County’s Sheriff Coe;

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

The effect of illegal immigration on his county and why he’s fighting so hard

Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe in his office
Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe

BRACKETVILLE, Texas – Citizen Stringer recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe about the border crisis and its impact on Brackettville and Kinney County. The discussion started as many do in Texas, and that was high school football and Tiger pride.

It is no surprise that Sheriff Coe says the border crisis is the worst he has seen since 1985-1986 when there was a major surge.

Coe says the factors that cause surges in illegal migration are tied to changes in our economy and upcoming presidential elections. “So if we have a little hiccup in our economy, good or bad, it affects Mexico tremendously, and at that period of time, we were kind of in a slump.” He said that in the past, it was “kind of seasonal,” but this year it has never slowed down.

Presidential elections always have an impact because, as he notes, “one side says we’re going to build a wall, the other side says we’re going to open the borders and there’s going to be amnesty.” There are usually rules attached to an amnesty program such as a cutoff date to be in the U.S. by, “So if there’s even the slightest chance, they’ll start moving this way,” Coe said.

Since January, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of illegal aliens passing through, and between August and October of this year, 2,000 were arrested. Kinney County has a population of 3,600. Brackettville, the county seat, has a population of approximately 1,600.

According to Sheriff Coe, the cartels “have an iron fist on everything.” One of the problems is that they are spreading misinformation in southern Mexico and Central America, telling people they will transport them to the U.S. safely and get them jobs for a price. That price is thousands of dollars and unsuspecting migrants risk becoming indentured servants in order to pay their debts back. Some never do, and the debt is passed down through generations.

Coe stresses it is not the Mexican people, but rather their government, they take issue with. “What government encourages their people to leave? Leave…don’t come back. Just send money home,” Coe said.

Coe has taken a hard stance on standing up for his county because he says their survival depends on it. Kinney County has an electric co-op, schools, and a Border Patrol station. He explained there is no industry to speak of ­ they don’t have oil or gas companies, or manufacturing plants.

The county’s economy relies heavily on its ranchers and the revenue brought in by the hunters that come to the area because of them. During certain seasons, their population triples, creating a booming economy for the local businesses.

When the hunters are in town, they buy their groceries and support the restaurants and other small businesses in the area. “If we lose our hunters and we lose our ranchers, we’re done,” said Coe. Without the ranches that bring in hunters that support the local businesses, their town can’t survive.

Why would ranches, many having been passed down through generations, be at risk?

The majority of crimes being committed right now are criminal trespass and damage to private property.

Illegal aliens who evade Border Patrol are coming through the county and either driving through or cutting ranch fences, which is becoming extremely costly to ranchers.

Coe says the cost to repair ranch fencing can run $25,000 per mile. According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, the state leads the nation in the number of farms and ranches with 248,418, covering 127 million acres.

With all the damage being done, the rancher needs to be riding his fence line more frequently, which takes time away from normal operations and looking after their animals. Sheriff Coe said many ranchers own thousands of acres. “Who does he sell it to?” He said some, whose families have owned property for generations, are starting to consider selling. “Everybody’s losing money – how long can ranchers, exotic game ranchers absorb that loss?” he asked.

In addition to property damage and trespassing, residents are having their vehicles stolen and human smugglers lead law enforcement on high speed chases through town.

The residents have also become concerned about their personal safety. Fortunately, there have been no assaults or violence, and the sheriff prays it doesn’t happen, but they have had groups of illegals come up and demand to be taken someplace, or show up at homes saying they were told that someone would fix them a meal.

Sheriff Coe told us they are looking into drones to help them locate trespassers on large areas of land. While they were being given a demonstration on how the drones work, they sent one up on a local ranch and within one hour caught 20 illegals.

With all of the arrests being made there aren’t enough jail cells in town, or in the county, to hold the perpetrators until their trials, so overflow is being sent to other areas such as Segovia prison in Edinburg which has a capacity of 1224, and Briscoe in Dilley with 1384.

Needless to say, this small community is not used to dealing with such a large number of cases and there is a backlog, which is problematic. If a defendant doesn’t make bail, they are held until their case is heard. However, by law, if the case isn’t heard within a 30-day period, the individual must be released under their own recognizance.

Coe said there were some timing issues with the state and in some cases, Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith did not receive arrest records from authorities until day 29 or 30, resulting in approximately 30 cases being dismissed, but he is confident things will run more smoothly in the future.

Sheriff Coe, until recently, only had six full-time deputies, but in October, he received approval to deputize ten additional members. Although that process has not been completed yet, several nearby counties have sent some of their personnel, six members of the Texas State Guard have been stationed there, and there is a rumor they will be getting 200 National Guard soon, which he says will help them greatly.

Kinney County Sheriff's Office Deputy
Kinney County Sheriff's Office Deputy

Many of the people we spoke to while in Texas feel that people in other areas of the country don’t know the extent of the problems that illegal immigration is causing them. It’s a combination of the mainstream media not reporting it fully, and NIMBY syndrome (Not in my back yard).

Coe said, “People in Chicago don’t care what happens in Texas because it doesn’t affect them. “What I see today, y’all will see tomorrow.”

We have recently reported that over 283,000 illegals have been released into the U.S. during the last year ­ 95,000 of which are not being tracked, and thousands are being flown by nonprofits to destinations of their choice.

Until the policies of the Biden administration remove the incentives for migrants to come to the U.S. illegally, border states will have to deal with the influx as best they can.

Originally published on Citizen Stringer, November 20, 2021

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