Border influx impacts local communities

U.S. Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, speaks at a town hall style meeting Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, at the Mulberry Cafe in Midland. About 75 people attended. (Ruth Campbell|Odessa American)

Border security, election integrity and energy independence were among the topics U.S. Rep. August Pfluger spoke about during a town hall Friday at the Mulberry Cafe in Midland.

About 75 people came out to Coffee with Your Congressman to hear the Republican lawmaker, including several elected officials from Ector and Midland counties.

“You have some phenomenal leadership in Odessa and Midland. They are doing great things to lead this community, which is one of the reasons that I have hope for where we are as a country,” Pfluger said.

In July, he said, more than 200,000 illegal immigrants came into the U.S. He expressed concern that the immigrants also are bringing in COVID.

“Our Constitution lays it out very succinctly and the rule of law must be enforced; it must be followed. Sheriff David Criner is in the room right now. And I know good and well that the impact right here in Midland County, next door in Ector County, over in Andrews County, the impact is this: There are more drugs, including fentanyl. There is human trafficking and is going on and we’re seeing a rise in crime right here. That is happening because folks are being allowed to basically walk right in,” Pfluger said.

He added that he has visited the border multiple times. He visited La Joya and talked to a local police officer who has basically been deputized into a program that allows him to work with federal agencies and work side by side with the Border Patrol.

Pfluger said the officer told him there were about 250 to 300 illegal immigrants walking down this road and that was during a 12-hour shift.

Pfluger said the officer told him they pulled a 6 year old boy out the brush left there by the cartels. The officer told him the cartels use children and families as a diversion to get fentanyl, traffickers and dangerous people into the country.

“This is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable to see the rise in crime, the rise of drugs, the rise in illicit illegal activity; the safe houses that have been found right here in Midland,” Pfluger said.

Because of the border crisis, Pfluger said Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers have been pulled in to help, which means less people that the sheriff can call for back-up here.

“That’s the impact because President Biden has not done what he needs to do to provide the resources and the manpower and the technology to keep our borders safe” Pfluger said.

The influx from the border and Central America is caused by bad policies and undoing what President Trump did working with Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador to help stem the flow by having them remain in a third country.

Pfluger asked for help on this and he has an ally in Rep. Henry Cuellar, D- Laredo.

“Congressman Cuellar is one of the only Democrats who has stood up to Nancy Pelosi and to President Biden to do the right thing. He’s one of the only Democrats who has actually said this is wrong, it’s impacting our communities. And it’s actually bringing more traffic, more trafficking, whether it’s human trafficking or drug trafficking in our communities and overwhelming our hospitals and our schools,” Pfluger said.

He urged people with family and friends in other parts of the state to call them and tell them to contact their representative about the border.

“It makes a huge difference,” Pfluger said.

On a separate topic, Pfluger said the oil and gas industry is under assault.

“At the end of 2019, the United States of America, because of the shale revolution that developed right here in the Permian Basin, that everybody in this room was a part of we became energy independent, energy dominant. We exported more than we imported. We got to a point where we’re almost 14 million barrels a day. We are blessed with abundant natural resources in this country and in providing those resources for every single American to use, not only did we cut the cost of living for energy cost by $10,000 per family of four over 10 years, but we also sent energy to places like Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Southeast Asia. And we raised a billion people out of poverty. Not only did we raise a million people out of poverty, but we lowered emissions through private innovation; not through government mandates, through private innovation we lowered emissions to record levels. The Paris Accords don’t come close to what we’ve done in this country,” Pfluger said.

“This administration on day one, what did they do, they issued executive order, after executive order aimed at killing this industry and just two days ago, the President United States said, I think we need help from OPEC to provide us more oil and gas. Guys, now this is unacceptable. Twenty-five years ago when I wanted in the Air Force Academy. You know what we studied as part of an instrument of power, energy independence. That was five years after the Gulf War. So five years after the Gulf War, the service academies — West Point, the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy, they were teaching energy independence. If only we could be energy independent. Imagine if we could be energy independent. Imagine if what if we could produce more and export. That’s what we were studying 25 years ago, well guess what, we’re there. Y’all have done that. Everyone in this room has been a part of it. And I’m not okay handing our power, literally handing our power, to people like Putin in Russia. I’m not okay with that. To giving China, who’s building 366 plus new coal plants, our power. I’m not OK handing malign actors around the world our power,” he said.

He added that this area is the most prolific source of oil and gas in the entire world. Being able to ship those resources to allies and partners makes is stronger and our allies stronger.

Energy security means national security, he added.

On infrastructure and budget reconciliation, Pfluger said nine Democrats have told Pelosi they are not voting on the $3.5 trillion package until the $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill is brought to the House floor for a hearing.

Pfluger said he is not voting for either one.

He said the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation is a Green New Deal and it would explode the debt.

“(It is) Bernie Sanders’ dream to have a Green New Deal in this country, to have socialism start to take root in this country …,” Pfluger said.

He added that electrification of cars, for example, would occur through government mandate, not private industry.

“It says that we’re going to have socialist type programs in healthcare. We’re going to expand Obamacare. We’re going to expand, not only tax credits but the payments that are going for childcare. None of us in this room, I would venture to say, want bad healthcare. None of us want our children to be treated poorly. But folks, I’m for competition,” Pfluger said.

“When I look at the Permian Basin and the innovation that’s coming out of here, it’s the competition that has gotten us to record levels of low emissions. It’s competition that allows us to produce … oil and gas cheaper and cheaper and deliver it to Americans so that they have the benefits of affordable, reliable energy,” he said.

Pfluger said competition, transparency and choices are what’s needed in healthcare.

He added that infrastructure, including broadband, is needed in the Permian Basin and he is proud of Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, and Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, who are fighting for infrastructure in Austin despite the Democrats fleeing for Washington.

On a separate item, Pfluger said there are two Americans being held in Russia by Putin that need to be freed. One is Trevor Reed, an ex-Marine, and the other is Paul Whelan.

According to the NBC News website, Reed was detained last year on charges of assaulting a police officer after a night of drinking. He was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison.

Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison on suspicion of spying, the BBC News website said.

“We are working to put as much pressure on Putin as we can. We have gotten President Biden to talk to him directly about these two people, so that’s a huge victory, in and of itself, but we’re not going to stop until we bring Trevor Reed home. I wanted to tell you that because he is a constituent. His parents live in Granbury. They’re sick about this,” Pfluger said.

“So I want you to know that we’re not going to stop fighting. I’m very proud to have brought a Democrat on board and to fight in a bipartisan way person for justice, “Pfluger said.

He added that people need to register voters, get involved and run for office. And even though some thought the 2020 election was stolen, he said they should still vote.

Odessa Mayor Javier Joven was in attendance and was pleased to get an update on what’s going on in Washington directly from the Congressman.

“It’s very important that everyone in this room be able to attend these …,” Joven said.