Posting signs along busy highways to deter criminals – namely human traffickers and smugglers – have appeared in at least two Crossroads counties.
The signs warn smugglers and traffickers to stay out of their counties or they will be hunted down and jailed.
The signs in Goliad County are written in Spanish in bold red lettering. The signs in Lavaca County are written in English and Spanish. All the signs are along public roadways – some are in the right of way, while others are on private land.
We applaud the officials for thinking out of the box for ways to keep their counties and residents safe. But we question whether this is the best answer to a growing problem that has been around for decades.
We doubt the smugglers who have vehicles full of immigrants who have entered the country illegally will slow down to read the signs.
We also doubt they even pay attention to the signs because they have one thing on their minds — getting their passengers, who have paid hefty sums of money to be in the vehicle, from Point A to Point B so they can collect money and head south to pick up another load.
The threat of prosecution and being jailed is not going to deter these criminals who are engaged in deplorable, inhumane activity all for the sake of big money.
We all know too well what happens when a law enforcement officer tries to stop a vehicle driven by a possible trafficker or smuggler. The driver engages in unsafe driving that endangers the lives of everyone in the vehicle, as well as the lives of the officers and any innocent person who happens to be driving by.
We also know what happens when one of the people in the vehicle gets ill, injured or dies — they are dumped on the side of the road and abandoned in a strange place. At least two people have died while in transit this year and were dumped on the side of local highways.
The drivers who work for the cartels don’t care about anything but the money. A report by the New York Post published in March showed the criminal cartels made $14 million a day in human smuggling and trafficking in February alone. That adds up to $441 million in one month.
We know that money is not going to help the immigrants or the countries in which everyone is fleeing, but instead it is going into the pockets of criminal cartels that do not care about the people, but only the money they can make from them.
Goliad Sheriff Roy Boyd said he thinks the signs are helping to slow down the trafficking because when the signs are up, he sees less activity at the 12 houses he has identified as stash houses in his small county, but when the signs are down, the activity increases.
That appears to be simplistic evidence to a very complex issue.
In Lavaca County, the county judge had the signs put up after seeing the signs in Goliad. He wants to slow down the bailouts and chases law enforcement in the county have encountered this year. One such crash ended when the truck with the immigrants crashed into a tree, sending most of the occupants to hospitals for treatment of injuries.
The solution to the smuggling and trafficking of humans is long and complicated. Signs threatening being jailed will not stop or slow it down. The solution has to start with cleaning up the governments in the countries the illegal immigrants are fleeing.
The solutions also lie with the United States government in which our out-of-date immigration laws must be overhauled to offer workable solutions so immigrants can enter the country legally and be productive members of our communities instead of slaves to the cartels.
In the meantime, our law enforcement officials should be focused on finding workable solutions that will actually keep residents safe.