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Congressional border tour

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It was not a typical boat ride. On board a 34 foot patrol vessel, equipped with several automatic weapons, a group of lawmakers escorted by Texas state police got a close look at the waterway separating the United States and Mexico.

A simple river separated three people on Mexican soil from a larger group of small town Texas police officers and border sheriffs concerned about international drug cartels operating along this very border.

Martin Cuellar, Webb County's sheriff, made the three hour trip here from Laredo.

"Mexico and Nuevo Laredo are our partners and we have to do everything we can to keep them safe too," he said.

So they waited, as heavily armed agents and lawmakers returned from a tour that included an image they hadn't prepared to see.

"My colleagues and I saw firsthand the tragedies of this border and the loss of life," said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-TX. " We saw a body floating just a few minutes ago on this river."

The stop along the banks of the Rio Grande, a seven hour drive from Houston, capped a three day tour of our nation's southern border. It was organized by McCaul, who is hoping to pass HR 1417 this fall. The bill is also known as the Border Security Results Act.

"This (Rio Grande Valley) sector probably needs more resources than any on the US/ Mexico border," McCaul said. "We plugged up San Diego, they went to Tuscan. Plugged up Tucson and now they're here. We have a lot of DOD assets in Afghanistan that could be used readily here. Night vision equipment, you name it the taxpayers already paid for that. So why not redeploy that to the southwest border?"

Some of that equipment - like military aircraft- has already been transferred to support a new partnership between the National Guard and Border Patrol.

"I was skeptical at first but (now) I'm absolutely amazed at how successful it's been," said Col. Pat Hamilton. "Most of our pilots are combat veterans. That's something we didn't have before."



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