Border Showdown Between Congressman And Local
POSTED: 8:10 pm MST February 7, 2006
February 7, 2006 -- El Paso County Sheriff Leo
Samaniego and Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West
delivered a message before a Congressional Homeland
Security subcommittee on Tuesday. But U.S.
Representative Silvestre Reyes (D) El Paso, believes
the Sheriff's may have an agenda, and that some of the
testimony presented "didn't make sense."
"Tell them, it ends here, it ends now, there will be
no more incursions," that's the message that T.J.
Bonner, the President of the National Border Patrol
Council delivered in his testimony.
"They are basically running over us down there," said
Sheriff West. "Why is Mexico just sitting back and
allowing this to happen?" said Bonner.
Taking center stage at the hearing was the January
23rd incursion in Hudspeth County, where sheriff's
deputies pursued three SUVs filled with narcotics.
When one of those SUVs became stuck in the river
sheriff's deputies say they were surrounded by Mexican
"He was holding a large caliber weapon which appeared
to be a 50-caliber weapon on a mounted tripod," said
Deputy Sheriff Esequiel Legarreta, of the Hudspeth
County Sheriff's Office.
"Some of the things that I heard then and I heard
today (Tuesday), just didn't make sense to me," said
The El Paso's Congressman testified after the
sheriff's officials were finished that he had concerns
with the story that was being told.
"I spent all my adult life on the border. I have never
seen a 50 -caliber machine gun on the back of any
military style vehicle, and I am an Army veteran and I
know what that looks like. Under stress, it can
certainly look like a 50-caliber to somebody that's
not familiar with it," said Rep. Reyes.
Rep. Reyes caught many Sheriff's off guard when he
said, "I'm concerned that a lot of the work that we
have been doing in convincing the Mexican government
that they should be a partner with us, if we don't
deal in facts, and we do not deal in accuracy then
that partnership may not take place," said Reyes.
Shortly after that comment that El Paso Sheriff Leo
Samaniego walked out of the hearing. Hudspeth County
Sheriff Arvin West was asked by the sub-committee
about his relationship with officials in Mexico, and
he said it is very limited.
"I have asked the Mexican Consulate, who by the way
came to see me right after this incident, to give me a
list of these people to make contact with for the
simple reason that if we do have incidents like this,
I can have a direct communication with them. I have
yet to see that list," said Sheriff West.
That remark concerned Rep. Reyes, who appeared to
question Sheriff West's credentials.
"If you don't establish those kinds of relationships,
if you don't understand that's an important part of
your duty on an international border, then you really
have no business being in charge of any entity," said
"That's typical of him trying to white wash things,"
West told KFOX later. "I don't know what his agenda is
or why but there we have it."
Congressman Reyes tells KFOX that he believes it's the
Sheriff's who may have an agenda.
"There are maybe some agenda's working here and that's
why we need to be very clear about what happened, why
it happened, and where we go from here," said Rep.
Sheriff West says the agenda is clear.
"We do have an agenda for all this, keeping our nation
safe and keeping our community safe," said Sheriff
Mexico insists that none of its military forces were
involved in the January 23rd incursion, and named four
suspects last week.
T.J.Bonner says that he and the 10,000 agents he
represents are asking lawmakers to immediately stop
the $60 million a year in federal aid that is given to
Mexico, until these border incursions are stopped.
As for the border sheriff's, they will remain in
Washington for the next few days. They will still be
meeting with Texas Senators Cornyn and Hutchison as
well as White House Staff.