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BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Former Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos says he is pleased Congress is finally addressing the issue of illegal weapons and cash being smuggled into Mexico.

Cascos, a Republican, points out that when Texas Secretary of State he wrote to Donald Trump urging action on border security. At the time – December, 2016 – Trump was president-elect.

“Additional initiatives to secure our border would not only include boots on the ground, but satellite and drone surveillances as well, Cascos wrote. “I would also suggest a permanent southbound surveillance program to include not only personnel inspecting southbound vehicles, but equipping every land port of entry with K-9 units trained to detect weapons, explosives and currency.”

Discussion on having the United States assist Mexico by installing checkpoints to stop illegal weapons and cash crossing the southern border came about when four members of Congress visited the Rio Grande Valley last Sunday. One of the four, Congressman Henry Cuellar, said he would be adding language to a 2020 homeland security appropriations bill to allow local law enforcement agencies to keep the proceeds when illegal currency is discovered ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border. Cuellar believes this will give sheriff’s offices and and police departments to an incentive to check southbound traffic.

“Well, well, well,” Cascos said, when he read about Cuellar’s initiative. “I have been advocating for southbound surveillance for years. I’m glad someone in D.C. is at least talking about it.”

Cascos said he was advised that, while serving as secretary of state, “of all the weapons going south into Mexico, over 70 percent goes through Texas’s land ports of entry.” 

Cascos added: “In my opinion, the use of trained K-9 units as well as additional personnel would be a great start.”

Here, almost verbatim, is Cascos’ Dec. 4, 2016 letter as Texas Secretary of State to then-President-Elect Trump. Cascos’ personal cell phone number has not been reprinted. 

December 4, 2016

Dear President-Elect Trump,

Congratulations on your historic win. America WILL be great again and I look forward to assisting your administration in any way I can. 

Several of your campaign issues revolved around illegal immigration, border security and NAFTA. As Texas’ Secretary of State, I addressed these issues regarding our relationship with our largest trading partner, Mexico. One of my first duties was to negotiate the water debt between Mexico and the United States – a debt that was years in delinquency. I am proud to say that after many discussions and meetings, Mexico has complied with the 1944 Water Treaty and became current in October 2015.

Since becoming the Secretary of State, I have visited with Mexican officials in Mexico City three times, discussing subjects such as trade, energy reform, and illegal immigration. During these discussions, Mexico expressed concern that illegal Central American immigration crossing its southern border was a big problem. Immigrants, not only from Central America, but also from other parts of the world are crossing the Mexican southern border, some staying in Mexico while others trek north to the United States. According to Fiscal year 2016 statistics prepared by The Migration Policy Institute, there were 218,00 U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions from countries other than Mexico. The number from Mexico was approximately 190,000. No one knows for sure how many individuals are actually crossing these borders.

During these discussions, I suggested several options to not only secure Mexico’s southern border, but also the border between Texas and mexico. Securing that border is a multi-faceted challenge. Our first line of defense would be Mexico’s southern border. The negotiation and building of a 541-mile wall along Mexico’s southern border would be, I believe, not only more effective, but cost efficient as well.

I also suggested improving and raising our levees along the Rio Grande River, basically constructing an 18-feet retaining wall along the banks. I realize this would be a challenge in dealing with the International Boundary & Water Commission on the USA side and their counterparts in Mexico. Coupled with these improvements would be the construction of a weir (dam) in Deep South Texas. The Brownsville Public Utilities Board has a presidential permit in place for the construction of the weir. This would capture water before losing it to the Gulf of Mexico, thus helping the bordering communities. It would also elevate the Rio Grande Rive levels and make border crossings more intimidating to illegal immigrants.

Additional initiatives to secure our border would not only include boots on the ground, but satellite and drone surveillances as well. I would also suggest a permanent southbound surveillance program to include not only personnel inspecting vehicles but, equipping every land port of entry with K-9 units trained to detect weapons, explosives and currency.

Having lived on the border all my life and having served as county commissioner, county judge, Department of Public Safety Commissioner, and Texas Secretary of State: I am uniquely familiar with the challenges we face. I stand ready to assist you in any way you believe I can. Allow me to provide my personal cell number should you or a member of our team wish to speak to me directly – XXX-XXX-XXXX.

In closing, I wish you the very best during your administration. I pray for blessings and health for your and your family and that God will grant you wisdom to truly “Make America Great Again.”

Merry Christmas,

Carlos H. Cascos.

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