Illegal immigration sparks second commissioners court debate

Illegal immigration took center stage for the second week in a row inside the Smith County Commissioners Court. Last week the issue was two resolutions attempting to declare that Smith County would not help people arriving illegally.

Both of those failed to pass and, as a result, people wanted to continue that discussion this week.

The group was a small one, and commissioners were divided on whether to hear from a group spokesperson in open court.

As he spoke, Bob Brewer was hoping an agenda item covering security in the county was referring to securing county lines against people who enter the U.S. illegally.

"The people that they're transporting do not have papers," Brewer began. "We have a right to know who's coming here."

"It does not say anything about anything that you're talking about," Precinct 4 Commissioner JoAnn Hampton interjected.

"It's about security of us, our life, liberty and property," Brewer countered.

"No, it's not," Hampton said.

Hampton was determined not to have the issue brought back up but Brewer found sympathy across the dais.

"Can we just let him finish and have his say?" Precinct 3 Commissioner Terry Phillips asked before County Judge Joel Baker ruled Brewer could speak.

"You guys are sworn to protect us," Brewer continued. "And we'd like you to do something."

It's a familiar story that is now hitting home for people just a few hours away as Dallas County prepares to house hundreds of immigrant children from Central America.

"I didn't know and my parents didn't know all the risk that I was taking," 13-year-old Sylvia Marroquen, an unaccompanied minor from El Salvador, said with the help of a translator.

She said it was a two week trek from El Salvador--one without much food or water and with repeated sexual attacks from her coyotes, the men who led her to the U.S.

"I feel very thankful for the border patrol," she said.

Baker said he understands people feel strongly on both sides, but he won't intervene.

"It's been my position all along and apparently the position of the court that no action needs to be taken at this time," Baker said after the meeting. "While it's a local concern, it's not a local issue."

Baker said the issue will not be up for discussion at future meetings. His recommendation was that constituents contact their U.S. representative or senator with concerns.

KTVT's Susy Solis contributed to this report.


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