Members of county commissioners court fired angry words at U.S. Rep. Will Hurd’s chief of staff during a discussion of the area’s ongoing immigrant crisis.
Hurd’s Chief of Staff John Byers and Hurd’s liaison in Val Verde County, Carmen Gutierrez, attended Val Verde County Commissioners Court Wednesday, ostensibly to address the court about the work Hurd (R-San Antonio) has been doing.
Instead, they got an earful from the court’s only Republican member, County Commissioner Pct. 3 Beau Nettleton.
Gutierrez introduced Byers, who is based in Hurd’s Washington, D.C., office.
“I share the frustration of many in the room about this situation, and that’s why I wanted to come down here and see it for myself,” Byers said.
Byers said Hurd “has been involved in this issue for a long time.”
“We had some successes, and we’ve had some frustrations with the partisan gridlock in Washington ... It’s tough to get consensus,” Byers said.
He then spoke about Hurd’s efforts to introduce legislation to address “elements of the border,” seat more immigration judges and find a permanent solution for “Dreamers,” young men and women brought to the U.S. illegally as infants or small children.
“That time around the House chamber was controlled by Republicans, and they let us down. Now this time around, the House chamber is controlled by the Democrats, and we feel like they’re letting us down,” Byers added.
When Byers began telling the court about work Hurd is currently doing, Nettleton interrupted him, saying, “This sounds more like a campaign rally to me.”
“I’m sorry?” Byers said.
“I’ll say this, but I probably shouldn’t: Don’t p--s on me and tell me it’s raining. The congressman has voted against the wall. The congressmen has voted against the president being able to build a wall ... This crisis is a crisis created in Washington by our Congress and our Senate. Period.
“It’s not a border issue. It’s not a Val Verde County issue. It’s not a city of Del Rio issue. It’s not anybody else’s issue except you all’s. And you all have dumped it in our laps ... Until you all do your jobs up there and fix it, we’re going to continue to have this. I can listen to speeches all day long about what we’ve done. That’s not fixing this problem, and every community in this district has it,” Nettleton said.
He said the U.S. “had no problem” building a wall in Syria and spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” on Syria’s refugee crisis.
“And we can’t do anything for our own people? We have veterans in trouble and everything else going on and you’re going to fly down here from Washington with taxpayers’ money and give me a list of stuff that you’ve done? I want to know what you’re going to do to fix it. This is ridiculous and inexcusable,” Nettleton said.
Byers said Hurd has supported “billions of dollars” in enhanced border security.
He was again interrupted, this time by County Commissioner Pct. 1 Martin Wardlaw.
“Why is this Val Verde County’s problem? Why is this being thrown on us? In our laps? People in my precinct can’t afford to fund this. My precinct is very poor,” Wardlaw said.
“That is why we are working on federal reimbursement,” Byers replied.
“What is the fix? If we continue to allow these people to come across ... What do we do? There has to be some give-and-take up there (in Washington). How the hell did this become our problem?” Owens said.
“We can’t take of our own, and now we’re being asked to take care of somebody else’s problem. It’s just unrealistic. I can guarantee you that these volunteers (with a coalition helping transition immigrants released in the local area) are about to hit a wall. They’re going to come to a point where that they’re going to throw their hands up, and then what are we going to do?” the judge added.
Owens then asked, “What is the plan? That’s what I’ve not heard.”
Byers promised to take back the court’s concerns to Hurd.
“We are going to do our best to change these asylum laws,” Byers said, noting Hurd is working to develop a bipartisan coalition in Congress to deal with the issues.
Nettleton said Congress has only been gridlocked since January.
“But for the last several years, the Republicans have held the House, the Senate and the White House, and nothing got done ... the Republicans held control of every single chamber in Washington, and absolutely nothing got done, and I’m a Republican, and I can tell you it is a disgrace,” Nettleton said.