FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — America’s own border with Mexico is an immigration flashpoint — one that continues to reverberate right here in Maryland.
Alex DeMetrick reports the surge in people crossing the border sent the sheriff of Frederick County to take a look.
Illegal crossings into the United States from Mexico may be thousands of miles away from Frederick County, but the border isn’t far from the sheriff’s thoughts.
“I truly believe there is a nexus, a direct correlation between the open borders and what we’re seeing locally,” said Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, Frederick County.
Sheriff Jenkins briefed Frederick’s County Council on his recent visit to Texas.
“We’re being invaded by drug cartels, drug smugglers, human traffickers, people who are being victimized,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins sheriff’s department is among the most controversial and aggressive in Maryland for holding and turning over illegal migrants to federal ICE agents.
He says what he’s seen in his jail, collapses the distance between the border and Frederick.
“We have seen a surge in heroin. A lot of that heroin comes from the borders. We’ve seen a surge of criminal gang members coming from Central America here locally,” Jenkins said.
But in Texas, Jenkins saw firsthand the children that have become the emotional flashpoint of the surge.
Running from gang violence back home, a steady source of profit for smugglers, the children are easy targets for predators.
“How they’re brutalized. How they’re beaten. How the young girls are raped. How they’re victimized. This trafficking is horrendous,” Jenkins said.
The possibility of people in Frederick County helping to care for the children came up.
“There are people who may want to take on temporary guardianship,” said David Gray, county commissioner.
“I know they cannot do it under the current laws they’ve got,” said C. Paul Smith, county commissioner.
And so… “Go forward to Congress and say ‘please, let’s solve this problem,’” Jenkins said.
Sheriff Jenkins belongs to a group of sheriffs from across the nation that is working to come up with options to present to Congress on the immigrations surge.
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