MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — Alabama state leaders recently returned from a two-day trip to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Officials who visited McAllen, Texas, along the Rio Grande, included Attorney General Steve Marshall, Sen. Pro Tem Greg Reed, House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter and Sen. Lance Bell (R-Pell City). Part of the visit included going on the Rio Grande with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“We had a Texas trooper on a boat. On the front, you had two on each side — machine guns. On the back, mounted machine guns,” Bell said. “And Kevlar, we were having to wear Kevlar, and the troopers told us, ‘If you hear anything, y’all hit the floor.’ And it was like, ‘It’s this bad?’ They said ‘Y’all have no clue how bad it really is.'”
Reed said one of the main goals of the trip was to gain a better understanding of fentanyl trafficking. He said officials commended Alabama’s new law strengthening penalties for fentanyl dealers.
“We were complimented about that, not only as a benefit to Alabama, but also, it’s a benefit in looking at how the cartels transport drugs and where they choose to go or not go based on what the penalties are in those states,” Reed said.
Reed and Bell said the biggest concern they heard is the expiration of Title 42 on May 11, when the national COVID-19 public health emergency ends. That policy essentially restricts immigration to curb the spread of COVID-19, and some worry once lifted, it will lead to a surge at the southern border.
“The border is out of control, and it’s going to get worse on May 12. They’re expecting 10,000 crossings a day just on the Rio Grande Valley on the border,” Bell said. “They have barricades set up, forklifts to move them in place and extra law enforcement there from Texas Department of Public Safety to kind of create a blockade when they expect the wave to be coming after Title 42 is over.”
The trip was organized by former Drug Enforcement Agency agent and current Pell City Police Department Chief Clay Morris.