A Texas sheriff personally drove four illegal immigrants he’d apprehended back to the US-Mexico border to deport them, insisting he’s been left with no choice given the current border crisis.
Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe told the Epoch Times the migrants were discovered after a suspected smuggling vehicle his deputies were pursuing crashed on Wednesday morning.
Five illegal immigrants were found inside the vehicle, including a woman who had to be taken to hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
The sheriff said Border Patrol agents had told him they could only apprehend the four other migrants if they’d been medically assessed at a hospital first.
“They had declined any type of medical help,” Coe said of the four uninjured migrants.
“So I can’t let them walk the streets. I can’t say, ‘Hey, go, be free.’ Because I still have to protect the Constitution and protect the people in the county.”
He added, “To let them go, undocumented, unaccounted for, just go because of a policy — I couldn’t do it.”
Coe said he put them all into his sheriff’s vehicle and drove an hour to Eagle Pass, where there’s an official port of entry to Mexico.
The sheriff dropped the four migrants off in the middle of the international bridge.
The driver, a Mexican national who was wearing cartel-lined insignia, was arrested and is now facing seven felony charges.
“It’s going to be the exception rather than the rule. But at the same time, if Border Patrol won’t take a group for whatever reason, I don’t have a choice,” Coe said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hailed Coe’s move during a press conference Wednesday in the wake of the latest human smuggling tragedy that left 53 migrants dead in a sweltering truck in San Antonio.
“I applaud all of our sheriffs for having to respond in unprecedented conditions. And that’s causing all of us to use unprecedented action,” Abbott said.
“And so whether it’s doing what that sheriff in Kinney County is doing, or what we’re doing, such as turning back more than 20,000 people, we all have our own tools and strategies that we use to either turn back or to return people across the border.”
Coe said he isn’t sure if there will be legal ramifications for his actions, but argued that local law enforcement shouldn’t have to tie up so many of its resources for the ongoing border crisis.
Deputies in Kinney County have already arrested 66 human smugglers this month alone.
It comes as migrant encounters at the US border continue to soar to record highs, with a staggering 239,416 recorded last month, Customs and Border Protection data show.
The latest figures bring the total migrant encounters in fiscal year 2022 to more than 1.5 million.