George Melton, who who lives off Highway 55 near Leona Produce, estimates about 1,500 people who have entered the United States illegally have crossed his property over the past year.
He highlighted an example from a few Sundays ago when his next door neighbor called to say there was a strange man in Melton’s backyard.
The call did not shock Melton, who says the man was Honduran and one of many to have crossed his property.
“We went out there…and my son asked him to lie down…,” Melton said. “We called the sheriff’s department. He was arrested.”
Afterwards, Melton said, he asked the deputies what would happen to the man.
“They said they would get his fingerprints so, if in the future, he shows up they’ll know that he’s been here before. And then they take him to a [border patrol] station, and they put him on a bus or an airplane and they take him to any city in the United States that he might want to go to,” Melton said, adding that, within 24 hours, “He was out of Uvalde.”
Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco told the newspaper he can’t confirm what happens once the Border Patrol takes the individual into custody.
Melton, who has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas, has been living in the Uvalde area for more than a year and also has property near Camp Wood that he is developing for recreational use.
The Meltons previously lived in Uvalde in the 1990s when he was working in agribusiness, and his wife, who now lives in Austin, was a teacher at Benson Elementary.
“The question is, where are all of them from,” queried Melton, who formerly worked with the military as a contracted counterinsurgency advisor in the Middle East.
He also recounted a period during June of last year when the influx on his property was so great that approximately 100 people were apprehended over a two-day period. Additionally, he said, on four separate occasions in the last year, the Meltons have found people trying to break into their home.
Melton said that there have not been any incidents where a migrant has used a weapon against them but added that U.S. Border Patrol agents, “have really saved us.”
He noted that on one occasion there was a 28-person group approaching his house in the middle of the night while he was home.
“The Border Patrol stopped the whole thing,” he said.
Melton’s concerns about the migrants’ countries of origin stems, in part, from his work in the Middle East, and in part from a recently published book,”America’s Covert Border War,” penned by Todd Bensman, a writing fellow at the Middle East Forum, a conservative think tank.
Melton says the crisis at the southern border is greater than the individuals coming from Central America, and more about, as the Middle East Forum describes, “unvetted migrants from ‘countries with terrorist organization activity’ who are accompanying the mass migration at the southern border.”
“There are some potentially extremely dangerous people, not Hondurans, not Venezuelans, not Mexican people; that’s old hat,” Melton said. “That’s happened since forever.”
“There’s a new addition to it… these jihadists,” he said, referring to terrorists following extremist ideology. “That’s new.”
Melton pointed to a December 2021 tweet by U.S. Congressman Tony Gonzales.
“On Christmas Day BP agents told me they recently caught folks on the terrorist watch list from Syria and Egypt. These captures have become a regular occurrence. It’s not a matter of if but when Americans die due to this administration’s negligence,” Gonzales wrote.
The congressman’s office was unable to provide specific information about that claim, but offered Border Patrol statistics that indicated migrants from 106 different countries were apprehended from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021.
On Jan. 11, Chief Patrol Agent Jason D. Owens, who assumed command of the Del Rio Sector in November of 2021, tweeted that from Jan. 2-8, 2022, Del Rio sector border patrol agents apprehended “40 illegal border crossers, from Uzbekistan, 34; Mauritania, 1; Syria, 1; and Tajikistan, 4.”
Previously, on Nov. 24, agents near Eagle Pass apprehended one female and five males from Eritrea, a country in Africa, and one male from Uzbekistan, in Central Asia. On Nov. 27, agents near Eagle Pass arrested one male from Tajikistan, also in Central Asia.
Melton’s background, which took him to various locations around the globe, including Azerbaijan and Afghanistan, has him raising a red flag about individuals he says are being transported from their home country to either Central America and then to the U.S.
On the local level, Melton said there is one thing that can be done by residents to help with the crisis.
“Ranchers and farmers can sign a document that gives Border Patrol and state troopers the authority to arrest people,” Melton said, noting that he has told Sheriff Nolasco that, once his schedule permits, he would lead informative meetings with local property owners.
The initiative is part of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, which was launched last year in response to drug and human smuggling incidents. As part of a two-year $3.3 million Operation Lone Star grant, Uvalde County will soon be participating in trespassing arrest requests similar to neighboring Kinney County.
Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Brandon McCutchen said the Texas Department of Public Safety is coordinating this effort, confirmed an order will need to be signed by the property owner.
The program is set to kick off mid-May.