Zapata County judge says he’ll sign disaster declaration after meeting with Abbott.
DEL RIO, Texas (Border Report) — Just moments after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday announced a sweeping eight-point plan on border security — which includes utilizing local law enforcement to arrest migrants, the state building a border fence, and getting federal reimbursement for ranchers — Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez slipped quietly from the Del Rio Civic Center.
At his hotel, he explained that he was “shocked” by the announcements that directly affect his South Texas county. And, he said he does not see a reason to declare a local disaster, as Abbott has asked him and 16 other hold-out border counties to do.
He clarified his reaction isn’t because he wants to be contrary with the governor, but he said it is because he felt Abbott “came with an agenda” to the Border Security Summit he held Thursday afternoon in Del Rio “to tell” — not to listen to local leaders’ suggestions or solutions. And, that bothered Cortez.
“I feel his frustration. I feel why he’s trying to move in the direction he is. However, I’m very concerned that he wants not only the state of Texas but all municipalities and counties to take on the duties of the federal government with respect to immigration and border security,” Cortez said.
But, some other border county judges who spoke to Border Report immediately after the two and a half hour summit concluded said they were moved by Abbott’s words, and a few said they were excited by his proposals for Texas and they plan to return to their hometowns and drum up support for Abbott’s proposals.
Zapata County Judge Joe Rathmell told Border Report that after listening to the governor, he is inclined to request the commissioners in his South Texas county support a disaster declaration that he wants to issue for this county of 16,000 residents in order to qualify for state assistance. He said he plans to take it to commissioners on Monday.
By Sandra Sanchez for BORDER REPORT
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