Posted: Feb 26, 2013 6:02 PM by Jessica Holley - email@example.com
Updated: Feb 26, 2013 6:52 PM
SAN PATRICIO COUNTY - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says her agency would be forced to furlough thousands of Border Patrol agents if the budget cuts known as sequester are enacted. Napolitano says this will leave our country's border left open for more illegal immigrants to enter the states and could effect our national security.
Last week the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Department said they could face a $754 million cut, leaving our borders open and vulnerable. And cutting manpower and resources will effect counties north of the border including the Coastal Bend.
"I realize they have a budget crunch, but they are playing a political football game that's going to back fire on them when it's all said and done. And it's not going to solve any of your problems," say Sheriff Leroy Moody, San Patricio County.
Right now many Texas counties including San Patricio rely on federal grants to pay for off duty deputies to work during bail outs.
"I think a lot of our federal grants we are going to see disappear and we are not any longer be getting that help and then we are going to do ourselves, we are going to have to do some redesigning of how we operate," says Sheriff Moody.
The Texas Border Coalition says these cuts are unacceptable, because of the lack of resources and manpower the agency already deals with.
"And we are talking about furloughing our front line defense when we know there are already 6,000 manpower short at our ports of entry and they're talking about another 2,750 people who might get furloughed, that is extremely scary," says Monica Weisberg-Stewart of the Texas Border Coalition.
Sheriff Moody says in the last month there have been three bail outs in his county and he expects to see more if the cuts take effect. In addition to the illegal crossing, there will be an increase in waiting time for travelers and cargo shipments.
"It's a big disconnect for people to understand the magnitude of trade that goes both ways between these two countries and it's time for Washington to really open their ideas and find out economically we can not afford these type things happening at our borders," says Weisberg-Stewart.
If a new budget isn't agreed upon the department will be forced to furlough all of it's agents up to 14 days this year.
While those cuts won't go in to effect until potentially Friday. Tuesday the department of homeland security began releasing some of the illegal immigrants held in jails across the country, including Texas. This is the impact sign of the looming budget cuts for the department.
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