The Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition and the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition recently concluded a conference in Washington, D.C., where they updated key federal government officials on border security and crime issues. Doña Ana County Sheriff Todd J. Garrison was in attendance.

“I’m happy to report that we are finally getting the people in Washington to understand what our problems are,” Garrison said. “Border sheriffs are not interested in becoming immigration officers, and we made that clear on the Hill. We also made clear that the federal government must step up its efforts to adequately control the border. Their failure to do so places a burden on our counties, our departments and our resources. We expressed strong concerns about national security, and we asked for more assistance to fight drug and human trafficking, larceny, burglary, robbery, rape and murder along the border. In addition, we asked for help dealing with gangs coming from Mexico, causing big problems here.”

The Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition consists of departments from 28 counties in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The coalition is dedicated to a regional approach to law-enforcement and awareness of border issues.

The aggressive agenda of the coalition was facilitated in Washington, D.C., by Ann Yom, Director of Government Affairs of the National Sheriffs Association, by Sen. John Cornyn, and by Representatives John Culberson and Henry Cuellar.

Meetings were held with Secretary Michael Chertoff, Department of Homeland Security; Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchinson; Representatives John Culberson, Henry Cuellar, Ciro Rodriguez, Judge Ted Poe, Kay Granger (Texas), Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, Rep. Hal Rogers, ranking member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, Rep. Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. David Price, Chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee; the Counsel and Associate Counsel for the Senate Homeland Security Committee; Sen. Jon Kyle of Arizona; and former Congressman Henry Bonilla.

Representing the border sheriffs were: Sheriff Ralph Ogden, Chairman of the SWBSC, Yuma County, Arizona; Assistant Sheriff Earl Wentworth, San Diego County, California; Sheriff Todd Garrison, Doña Ana County, New Mexico; Sheriff Omar Lucio, Cameron County, Texas; Sheriff Oscar Carrillo, Culberson County, Texas; Sheriff Guadalupe Trevino, Hidalgo County, Texas; Sheriff Tomas Herrera, Maverick County, Texas; Sheriff Reymundo Guerra, Starr County, Texas; Sheriff A. D’Wayne Jernigan, Val Verde County, Texas; Sheriff Rick Flores, Webb County, Texas; Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, Zapata County, Texas; and Donald L. Reay, Executive Director of TBSC. Some of the sheriffs also had staff in attendance.

The meetings were designed to provide insight to those briefed and to provide a solution to border issues by working in partnership. Congressmen Culberson, Cuellar and Rodriguez are co sponsoring a bill that will address border crime issues. The bill is in the draft stage at this time.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 525-5801.