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Texas officials hold ‘Field Hearing’: ‘we are at ground zero of the worst humanitarian public safety and security crisis’

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Texas towns along the southern border are losing their quality of life due to the immigration crisis, and now they are also unable to utilize federal funding for their benefit.

Susan Kibbe, executive director of South Texans’ Property Rights Association, testified before a committee on Friday explaining local emergency services are being diverted from local public safety needs to deal with “smuggling pursuits, bail outs and the lost, injured, dehydrated or dead immigrants.”

“The normal daily emergency needs don’t just put themselves on hold until illegal immigration slows down. They just become needs that are unmet,” she added. Residents of Kinney County, Texas, planned to fund a splash pad park for its residents. Instead, their government funds went to create emergency shelters for migrants who illegally cross into the U.S.

While the loss of a “splash pad” may not sound like much, it is a small indication of the larger problem. Funds also must be redirected to increase security to schools due to a high rise in criminal activity.

Officials of Kinney County, Texas, explained the tumultuous scenarios during testimony before the House Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth on Friday. Members of the committee traveled to South Texas to hold a “field hearing.”

Titled “infrastructure Investment: Building Economic Resilience in South Texas” National Review writes of the hearing:

While Democratic members of the committee took the trip to discuss infrastructure in South Texas, Republican members turned their focus to the impact of the border crisis on the region.

Representative Jodey Arrington, a Republican whose district covers parts of West Texas, blasted Democrats’ focus on infrastructure during the hearing.

“The infrastructure that matters most right now is the infrastructure that protects the American people and we are at ground zero of the worst humanitarian public safety and security crisis in the history of our country and we’re talking about roads and bridges,” Arrington said.

“I’d love to have this conversation but that would be like us going to Ukraine and having a hearing about fixing the potholes in the street while the Russians are waging war on the citizens. So, no. We have to talk about this border crisis.”

Smith said before the current border crisis began, Kinney County saw maybe two or three high speed police chases per year. Just last weekend, the county saw ten high speed chases, he said.

The danger has grown so high that the school campus is “now militarized with boulders that surround the campus to prevent cars from high speed car chases from actually entering campus and injuring children,” he said.

“That’s money that should be better spent preparing our children for the jobs of the future,” Ranking member Brian Steil (R., Wis.) told National Review in an interview.

Communities in the area are contending with massive flooding and little-to-no internet access. In the local colonias, there are people living without adequate access to sanitation and fresh water, committee chair Jim Himes said during the hearing.

Steil said that the committee should explore how the federal government can partner with local areas to meet the community’s need for flood infrastructure that will cost millions of dollars.

“But instead what’s so frustrating when I heard from folks here is that the federal government and local resources are being used to address a different crisis and that’s the porous border costing the state of Texas and cities across the Rio Grande Valley millions of dollars each year,” he said during the hearing.

“It’s impacting the ability of towns to afford longterm infrastructure projects and the inaction by the Biden administration is pushing Texans to pay for a federal issue,” he added.

In August, Texas state lawmakers approved nearly $2 billion in additional funding for border security operations, months after lawmakers had already approved $1.05 billion for border security in the spring.

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Immigration

Majority of 71,000 Ukrainians entering U.S. not using Biden’s programs

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In March, President Joe Biden announced the United States would “Welcome” roughly 100,000 Ukrainians into the country as a result of Russia’s invasion. Thus far, over 71,000 Ukrainians have entered the United States, but “most of the refugees did not come in through the programs the White House put in place” reports Newsmax.

The data comes from the Department of Homeland Security, and refugee advocates say those who have found their way here were not the result of being helped by Biden’s actions.

“The DHS data suggests that most of those who have entered the U.S. so far came on visas they held prior to the war or by crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, and not through the Biden administration’s Uniting for Ukraine web portal that allows Americans to sponsor Ukrainians they know” reports NBC News.

Only a mere “300 Ukrainians have been resettled through the traditional U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which uses federal funds to bring in United Nations-vetted refugees and resettle them in communities with resources to help find doctors, schools, jobs and connections to their cultures.”

A large percentage have come through the southern border: “More than 22,000 have crossed over the southern border since March 24” adds NBC. Those entering through Mexico have slowed, as “that pathway has largely been shut down as the web portal launched and Ukrainians at the border started being subjected to the Covid-related public health order known as Title 42, which blocks many migrants to claim asylum.”

Specifically, “DHS said more than 15,000 Ukrainians have entered the U.S. after being approved for sponsorship online and more are expected to come as another 23,000 have been approved but not yet traveled to the U.S. Those approved are responsible for booking their own travel to the U.S.”

NBC News reports:

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said the Biden administration is inflating the number of Ukrainians it has worked to bring in, since only 15,000 have come through the system it set up. 

“We shouldn’t count towards the 100,000 commitment those who weren’t actually processed through the Uniting for Ukraine program. I think the figures show the current ad hoc nature of the program,” said Vignarajah. “Ukrainian refugees are creatively exploring every avenue in order to seek refuge in the U.S. But we should be making it as simple and straightforward as possible.”

DHS referred NBC News to the White House National Security Council for comment.

In a statement, an NSC spokesperson said, “We are proud to be fulfilling President Biden’s commitment to welcome 100,000 displaced Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia’s aggression who are seeking refuge in the United States. We look forward to continuing to welcome Ukrainians to our country as we continue to take steps to support those fleeing the ongoing war.”

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