County judge discusses border security

BROWNSVILLE — Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. traveled up to Washington, D.C., earlier this week to share his thoughts on border security.

Treviño called the wall a “14th century solution to address a 21st century problem” at the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee hearing.

“There seemed to be bipartisan support that a border wall won’t serve its intended purpose,” Treviño said. “To me, I took that as a positive development that they listened to our particular area.”

Even though Secretary John F. Kelly of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was selected to advance the president’s agenda, he seemed receptive to feedback, Treviño said.

“He is a reasonable, knowledgeable individual, and I think he knows it won’t be feasible to get this done … financially,” he said.

Kelly has been traveling to different areas along the border to talk to local officials and determine their needs, Treviño said.

Last week, Kelly met with officials in McAllen. Treviño was not invited to that meeting.

In Washington, one of the main points Treviño wanted to emphasize was that the border wall was not a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

He spoke about other alternatives, including a virtual wall using cameras, clearing the foliage around the border so agents could navigate more easily, and investing the money meant for a wall into technological infrastructure.

“I did call and talk to different people and agencies, and was disappointed to learn that much of the technology infrastructure we have has not been upgraded and replaced,” Treviño said.

If it were upgraded, it would be a less expensive alternative in the long run and complement surveillance efforts, he said.

The hearing was intended to last two hours, but three were spent on Kelly’s testimony. As a result, Treviño was unable to meet with anyone after the meeting.

Part of the struggle going forward will be informing the rest of the country of what it is really like to live in a border community.

“Part of the problem, and I hate to use this word, is ignorance,” Treviño said. “… We have some elements, some issues, but we’re no different than anyone else.”

At a press conference Friday morning, Treviño firmly stated that Brownsville was not a sanctuary city and that Cameron County was not a sanctuary region.

Border security and immigration reform should not be a partisan issue, he added.

“It should all be part of the same solution. I am hopeful that individuals with open minds will continue to rise up and speak up so the leaders of Washington on both sides will realize there is a benefit to immigration reform,” Treviño said. “Trying to force Mexico to pay for a wall that those of us at the border don’t want or need makes zero sense.”