(CNN) — Discussing the impact on local law enforcement as America grapples with an unprecedented surge of immigrants, Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber tells CNN's Rafael Romo: “We're suffering because we don't have the manpower.”
“It's a lot,” Schmerber said. “In terms of law enforcement, we suffer from the criminal elements that we call 'local business,' and then we don't have the manpower to deal with the immigration problem; so, it costs us a lot. Labor.”
A Homeland Security official said federal officials reported a seven-day average of more than 9,600 immigration encounters along the U.S. southern border in December, one of the highest numbers ever recorded, CNN previously reported. In November, Border Patrol agents visited nearly a quarter of a million people along the Southwest border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The sheriff said they “frequently” have to cover up situations involving immigrants.
“Last week, the Border Patrol called us to see if we could take the buses; those immigrants were being transported on the buses, they were being detained, taken by bus to Laredo, Texas and processed,” he said. “So, I'll have two units, two vehicles with my assistants taking those buses to Laredo.”
Authorities are arresting a record number of migrants at the US southern border daily, straining already overstretched resources. The seven-day average reported on Nov. 28 was about 6,800 meetings, CNN reported.
Even though the city has more manpower than the county, the sheriff says they still help “with the safety of the people and of course…the bus drivers.”
The community is also feeling the impact, according to the sheriff, who says the closing of two bridges that carry international trade is affecting businesses.
So this affects the economy a lot, he said. “Especially now in the Christmas holidays.”
A Homeland Security official highlighted the situation at the US-Mexico border as it tries to absorb the flow of migrants and is nearing a “breaking point” with thousands of people waiting to be processed.
The nationality and demographics of migrants continued to present a challenge to authorities, as there were not enough detention spaces or repatriation flights for those who did not qualify for asylum.
The sheriff believes the federal government isn't doing enough to help its law enforcement units.
“I know the government is helping us a lot,” he said. “But that's not enough.”
“The central government is not helping law enforcement in this area,” he added.
The worsening situation culminated in a call between US President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador this week, CNN reported. Both agreed that more law enforcement is necessary and that senior U.S. officials will travel to Mexico in the coming days.
“Music ninja. Analyst. Typical coffee lover. Travel evangelist. Proud explorer.”