Border security, trafficking discussed during online meeting - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Border security, trafficking discussed during online FFA town hall meeting

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

It was a social media first: the top guy in Texas Agriculture tweeting with FFA members.

The online Texas FFA town hall meeting comes as U.S. lawmakers consider a bill that would dramatically remake the nation's immigration system.

Among the changes: new visa programs and tougher border security. Both are key issues for current Texas farmers and ranchers, especially those living and working along the southern border.

Commissioner Todd Staples kicked off the meeting with introductory tweet, then joked about the familiar blue FFA jacket. Humor aside, Staples has long focused his attention on border security.

Last year he used YouTube, another popular website, to publicize problems ranchers like Mike Vickers of Brooks County, encounter on a daily basis.

"You never know going out on your property who you're going to run into, what type of person you're going to run into," Vickers says in one of the videos.

In another video, Linda Vickers says, "We're not secure. The borders are not secure. We're porous. (Undocumented people from) 75 different countries have been apprehended in this area alone. If that doesn't tell you porous borders, nothing does."

Fox 26 joined in on the twitter town hall, asking the commissioner to discuss the issues future farmers and ranchers may face if border security issues continue.

His response: "Fewer people will engage when unsafe conditions persist, land becomes vacant, food supply shifts to other cities.

According to Vickers, its already happening.

"A lot of people have quit," he says. "They've left and gotten out of the cattle business and now they're trying to sell their property, but they can't even sell their property because of the human trafficking through the property."

It's not just human trafficking that's threatening the industry.

Drug smuggling is also a problem.

Staples followed his first tweet to our question with this one, "We must secure our border and defeat violent drug cartels that threaten US sovereignty ."

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