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How the Migrant Surge Played a Role in the Uvalde School Shooting

On Sunday, a Texas House of Representatives committee released its preliminary report on the deadly school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old attacker killed 19 students and two teachers, and wounded 17 others on May 24.

While much of the report focuses on law-enforcement failures and mistakes by school staff, the committee also pointed to the role of illegal immigration in the failed response to the shooting.

“Another factor contributing to relaxed vigilance on campus was the frequency of security alerts and campus lockdowns resulting from a recent rise of ‘bailouts’—the term used in border communities for the increasingly frequent occurrence of human traffickers trying to outrun the police, usually ending with the smuggler crashing the vehicle and the passengers fleeing in all directions,” the committee wrote. “The frequency of these ‘bailout’-related alarms—around 50 of them between February and May of 2022—contributed to a diminished sense of vigilance about responding to security alerts.”

Indeed, lockdowns happened frequently at Robb Elementary “due to its proximity to the intersection of Highway 83 and Highway 90.”

 

(From Texas House interim report on Robb Elementary school shooting)

The Uvalde school police chief, Pete Arredondo, who has been widely criticized for the chaotic and ineffective response to the shooting, “described a rise in bailouts: to avoid being stopped by law enforcement, vehicles loaded with undocumented immigrants traveling along highways leading from the border towns of Del Rio and Eagle Pass lead officers on high-speed chases that often end by crashing the vehicle and allowing the occupants to scatter,” according to the report.

Arredondo said that it was important to notify schools in the vicinity of the bailouts “because the passengers would scatter everywhere, and the school district police did not want them coming on campus.” The report noted that while there had been no known incidents of bailout-related violence on school grounds, there have been “examples of high-speed driving that sometimes crossed school parking lots and reports of some bailout incidents involving firearms in the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Further:

Numerous witnesses testified to the Committee that there has been an increase in bailout activity over the past 18 months. Uvalde CISD Director of Student Services Kenneth Mueller testified that since February 2021, high-speed chases have been a daily event in the Uvalde area, causing Uvalde CISD schools to be secured or locked down frequently, with “secure” or “lockdown” events happening since late February 2022, and approximately 90% of those being attributed to bailouts. Uvalde CISD parents became so concerned about the number of bailouts occurring near the elementary-school campuses that they offered to hire off-duty police to supplement the Uvalde CISD police presence.

Unfortunately, the Raptor alert system used by the school to communicate threats was not able to differentiate between a bailout and something much more dangerous, like a school shooter on campus, leading “teachers and administrators to respond to all alerts with less urgency—when they heard the sound of an alert, many assumed that it was another bailout.”

In fact, one of the first responders who entered the school building after the shooting began, Sgt. Daniel Coronado of the Uvalde Police Department, testified that he initially assumed they were dealing with a bailout situation when he didn’t see any injured students in the hallway upon his arrival, which led police officials to respond as if they were dealing with a barricaded subject rather than a school shooter. The report details in a footnote that “Chief Arredondo also testified that the possibility of a bailout ‘came over my mind at some point… because they happen so often, and there’s been a few that were armed.’”

In the Factual Conclusions section of the report, the committee asserted that the frequent bailouts contributed to the chaotic response to the shooting:

Effect of bailouts:

i. The frequency of less-serious bailout-related alerts in Uvalde diluted the significance of alerts and dampened everyone’s readiness to act on alerts.

ii. In response to the May 24, 2022, lockdown alert at Robb Elementary, the initial reaction of many administrators, teachers, and law enforcement responders was that it likely was a less-dangerous bailout.

Open-borders activists are blaming Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s aggressive border policies for the rise in bailouts. “Border Patrol doggedly pursues these undocumented people in a way that can often be life-threatening, even though the people aboard that vehicle have not committed more than just the administrative crime of being in the United States undocumented,” Adam Isacson, director of the Washington Office on Latin America’s Defense Oversight program, told USA Today.

“Gov. Abbott is the one who’s contributing to this problem by creating a narrative that isn’t reality on the ground,” said Vicki Gaubeca, director for the Southern Border Communities Coalition. “The reality on the ground is the place is oversaturated with law enforcement. The borders have been hyper-militarized.”

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin disagreed, saying at a July 5 press conference that bailouts put students in danger with an influx of “pedophiles, convicted murderers, drug dealers,” and “gang members” crossing the border.

It’s not as if the problem was unknown to authorities. A few weeks before the Uvalde attack, National Review highlighted the increase in migrants bailing out when fleeing law enforcement. McLaughlin told NR’s Carine Haijar, “We’re seeing the traffic up more; the ‘gottaways’ and the ‘walk-arounds’ are up probably 200 percent.” He explained that Border Patrol is overwhelmed processing the surge of migrants at the border, resulting in “wide open” borders. Many of the migrants are criminals, he said. “They wouldn’t be allowed in the United States.”

Could more children have been saved without the huge influx of illegal aliens pouring into Texas as the result of Joe Biden’s lax border policies? There’s no real way to quantify that. Did the surge of border-jumpers overwhelming the alert system contribute to the tragedy? It sure looks that way. Opening our borders to all who would come into the U.S., criminal or otherwise, is certainly not the answer. Crime is out of control in these communities, social services are strained to the breaking point, and Border Patrol is overwhelmed. It’s a recipe for disaster, something the Uvalde community found out the hard way.

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