CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
LLANO — Two more commissioners courts in the Hill Country have approved resolutions rejecting the placement of undocumented immigrant children in facilities within their counties citing an “unsupportable burden on local taxpayers,” according to one of the public documents.
Both Gillespie County and Llano County commissioners July 28 unanimously passed resolutions during their respective meetings in response to the influx of tens of thousands of children illegally crossing the Mexico border into Texas for the past several month, officials said.
In an attempt to relieve an overflow of the undocumented children being housed in federal facilities such as military installations, bases and processing centers, U.S. Border Patrol agents have transported hundreds of families to various cities in Texas and other states, including Arizona and California.
Federal officials have approached authorities in areas, including Dallas County, to discuss the potential for housing families in unoccupied non-federal facilities, according to news reports.
Llano County commissioners modeled their document after other entities from communities as close as Marble Falls and as far away as League City and Galveston, citing concerns for the influx of unaccompanied minors as well as the adverse affect on medical, school and infrastructure resources in their community.
“Basically, the essence of the resolution is that we are opposed to not having federal laws in place and being enforced while they’re asking local communities to possibly support, over a long period of time, illegal aliens coming into our county at our taxpayers’ expense,” Llano County Judge Wayne Brascom said.
Similar to the resolution language approved by Marble Falls City Council two weeks earlier, the Llano County commissioners accused the federal government of failing to stem the tide of illegal immigration or reduce potential health risks.
The document stated the federal government’s actions of “encouraging minors to enter the United States illegally puts those minors at risk of physical danger, including violence and sexual abuse, which has resulted in injury and death to multiple unaccompanied minors.”
Furthermore, the resolution stated the court “encourages the Texas state Legislature to enhance state smuggling and human trafficking laws and provide civil and criminal liability protections for Texas landowners against criminal trespassers.”
Llano County resident Ravelle Kundinger said her “heart sank” when she read about the resolution.
“If we treat these children, who have made this trip, the way this resolution is wanting us to, we are creating lifelong enemies of the United States where we could be treating them in a way that we train them and educate them and make them good citizens,” Kundinger said. “I would question whether that resolution covers children who are fleeing their country and fall under the 2008 law signed by President (George W.) Bush for refugees.”
She added no information has surfaced that any of these children have been placed in Llano County.
“We can’t be afraid if we don’t know what to be fearsome about,” she said. “We don’t know what the facts are.”
In Fredericksburg, commissioners took a more focused approach, requesting notice and compensation for taking on what they describe as a responsibility of the federal government.”
The Gillespie County document stated, “ … the Commissioners Court of Gillespie County, Texas, does hereby request that no minors be transferred to non-federal facilities unless the affected local governments, including cities, counties and school districts, have approved the transfer and contractual agreements have been executed by the federal government to fully reimburse such local governments for all costs incurred in the housing, education and maintenance of such minors.”
Llano County officials said they believed the responsibility of assisting the federal government with the care of the minors should fall within the realm of philanthropic groups not entities supported by local tax dollars.
“What we’re not opposed to is other agencies such as a religious or other humanitarian organizations supporting these people from a humanitarian point of view,” Brascom said. “There is a need to have these people cared for and possibly returned to their families in their country of origin.”