Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed 5th Congressional District GOP candidate General Kurt Winstead to the newsmaker line to describe what he saw at the southern border over the weekend and (in the full audio version) explain his position about declining federal money from the Department of Education.
Leahy: We welcome to our newsmaker line now-retired Brigadier General in the Tennessee National Guard, Kurt Winstead. Kurt is a candidate for the Republican nomination in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District.
Kurt, I understand you went down to the border in Texas on Sunday and, I guess, Monday. Tell me where you went and what did you see.
Winstead: Okay, thanks for having me on this morning, Michael Patrick. I was in Del Rio, Texas, which is about halfway between Brownsville and El Paso, about seven hours each way to Val Verde County.
I met with the sheriff there, Martinez, and several deputies. We talked to border agents. To be very candid with you, it was an eye-opening experience.
I’ll give you two things: we need to build a wall and we need to get more money to our Border Patrol agents so they can do their job and get more Border Patrol agents. It was unbelievable what we saw and learned.
This is a massive, massive area. And they’re talking about from 2020 to 2021, when there was a change in administration, there was over 160 percent increase in encounters with unaccompanied minors coming across the border. Almost 1,000 per month is what the sheriff told us. That was happening.
And so with that in the background, we’re driving along and we are looking at the border part where they’re trying to … there are some fences up and some not. So, where they were trying to put some fences up, we’re driving on, looking and next thing we know we see two male adults bringing four children across to the U.S. side of the border – [aged] 7, 6, 4, and 1-and-a-half-year-old children – and then abandon them.
Leahy: So the Rio Grande is there, right? How wide was the river there?
Winstead: I’d say at least 100, 200 feet.
Leahy: Really? And was it deep? Was there a heavy current?
Winstead: Yes, there are parts, Michael Patrick, that are deeper and more swift currents. Then it slows down in parts, it gets a little more shallow. And those are the areas obviously the most traversed in crossing the Rio Grande.
But it’s still dangerous because Sheriff Martinez was telling us about the number of bodies that are picked up of people that drown just trying to get across.
Leahy: What day did you see this incident?
Winstead: This was Sunday. We hadn’t been on the ground, probably, I don’t know, an hour and a half. We were using one of the sheriff’s deputies of the local county there, Van Verde County, was taking us around, just showing us how some of these areas are so dense that people could get in there and hide. Illegals and criminals. And anybody could get in there.
Leahy: Anyone could get in. What would they hide in? When you say dense, with what?
Winstead: I was talking about foliage. Just foliage really, right there on the river.
Leahy: What kind of foliage is it?
Winstead: It’s just on the side of it. If you’ve been in South Texas, you’ll know what I’m saying. It’s on the side of the river. It’s thickets, briars, and it’s got trees. It’s really hard to get through it, but they figure out the path.
And then on the other side of that is a subdivision. So when they get through the foliage, they run through the subdivisions, which causes other havoc in the area.
Leahy: So describe again, if you would, General Winstead, exactly what you saw with the adults and these four kids.
Winstead: Okay, we’re driving up, we’re in a pickup truck driving up to look at the Rio Grande, to look at the border, to see the different areas.
You can see clothes that the people who come across the border, the immigrants, the illegal immigrants come across the border that discard and put on other clothes so they have dry clothes so they can kind of blend into the community.
So he’s showing us these places, these popular places for them to come across, where they try to police, but they really can’t, because it’s not enough of them. Not enough border agents, not enough sheriffs, et cetera.
So we’re driving out there, and all of a sudden, you see, you can tell [it’s] four children. because they’re smaller and two adults. And from afar you think, oh, that looks like a family unit. It was not.
As soon as we got up on them, the two adults, two male adults, they start to question them, they take off running. Of course, the deputy stays with the children, because that’s your first concern, for safety.
And the one-and-a-half-year-old is in the arms of the 5-year-old girl just crying, just bawling. It’s 106 degrees. It’s 106 degrees. That’s hot.
And so they just abandon them, run off. And immediately the sheriff, the deputy sheriff, calls the Border Patrol, who takes possession of them in a van to get them to a processing point.
And he said, you know what? I don’t know when the Border Patrol can get here, because there are not enough of them. So it may be a couple of hours, it may be several hours, we don’t know, but I’m calling them, trying to get them here as soon as possible.
So he called, the Border Patrol showed up within about 30 minutes, which was lucky. We were able to process, to get the kids. They were very dehydrated. We gave them water, some snacks, and then the Border Patrol takes custody of them and takes over.
Leahy: And what becomes of those kids?
Winstead: Well, they go to the processing center, and then within about 48 hours, the processing center tries to help them find relatives in the United States, and then they’re just dispersed throughout the United States.
Leahy: Oh, my goodness.
Winstead: Now it’s a sad situation. And to be very candid with you, the increase in the number of unaccompanied minors shows you that this administration, the Biden administration, their policies are failing because they’re actually encouraging this to happen, encouraging the kids and other immigrants to come across the border.
Then when they get across the border to process and disperse, and you don’t see them anymore, they’re encouraging this. And during the Trump administration, you look at the statistics, this was not happening at this rate. It’s about fourfold now since the Trump administration. There was no incentive to come across because we weren’t taking them.
Listen to the interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.