UPDATE: On Tuesday, September 26, Judge Trevino apologized and Constable Esquivel was able to cash the check.
Original story follows:
The Great American Cleanup picks a different town every year to clean up. Lately they have been selecting border towns. They bring in volunteers, team up with local law enforcement, and pick up trash left behind by illegal immigrants and human traffickers on their way across the border. To honor the local law enforcement officers who deal with the border crisis every day, the group donates money to help them continue their work and strengthen their communities. This year, after working with Constable Norman Esquivel in Brownsville, Texas, on September 11, the group presented him with a check for $15,000.
Judge Eddie Trevino claims cleaning up the border is a political stunt, and won't let him cash it.
Constable Norman Esquivel accepting the check
When Esquivel took the check to the local Commissioners Court in Cameron County to request that they cash it, they did not approve that ask. County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. grilled Esquivel on how he came to receive the funds and to be involved in cleaning up the border area with the Great American Cleanup in the first place. Instead of allowing the constable and his deputies to make use of the funds for new equipment and to provide more resources for the community, Trevino wanted Esquivel to explain why his department was engaged in cleaning up the border.
Esquivel stood before the judge and the county commissioners to account for the work of his department, and make the case for accepting the donation on their behalf.
"It's donated to us because of the efforts that we provided, our department, with Great American Cleanup. We were at the southern border here this weekend, cleaning up the border, the trash that was left behind by illegal immigrants coming into our country," Esquivel said.
The project was funded by the We Fund the Blue Foundation, and it was that non-profit that contacted Esquivel. "They chose our department to help and assist boots on the ground with this efforts," he told the commissioners. "And yesterday, they presented us with a check that we have not yet submitted to the county, but it was actually for $15,000. They added $5,000 more just to show their thanks for our department for the the work that we did for them here on the southern border by picking up trash that was left behind here by the river."
Trevino had questions. He wanted to know where the clean up happened, to which Esquivel replied that it was right across from an encampment on the Rio Grande River, and that his team worked on both Saturday and Sunday for about 8 hours each day.
Esquivel was out on the border, and spoke to Brent Hamacheck with Human Events Media Group. He said he's been in law enforcement for 15 years, and that the border is facing intense illegal immigration. In Brownsville, he said, "approximately 45,000 illegal immigrants came into our country within the last couple of months."
Those illegal immigrants leave their trash behind, from clothes to objects, and "it's a serious issue," he said, that they deal with daily. These illegal immigrants are coming not just from Central and South America, but from across the world.
He said it's important for Americans to "vote for the right people," and not to listen to a media that seeks to cover up what is a very real crisis.
"Did you invite other constables to participate in this event?" Trevino asked, as though Esquivel had planned and run the clean up event himself and shut others out of the volunteer opportunity.
"Are you going to share this money with the other constables?" Trevino asked.
Esquivel explained to Trevino and the commissioners that he told other constables that he and his team would be out cleaning up the border on the weekend, and that they said they'd "try to make it." As to how he would share the money with those who did not attend the clean-up, Esquivel said "we can do it however we need to do it, but it's definitely being used."
Trevino interrupted. "My question was are you going to share this money with the other constable department?"
Esquivel pushed back, saying that he would like to use the funds for "our deputies in precinct one." He urged the need "high quality police equipment and to get things for our community that we always want at community events."
"No other constable showed up," Esquivel said, "No other precincts showed up."
But for Trevino, it was the fault of Esquivel that other constables didn't come help clean up the area, so that they too could be beneficiaries of the donation made. "I'm curious how you invited them," he asked. "You just give them a call? Or—"
"Yes, sir," Esquivel said. Trevino wanted to know why he didn't also take time to send those other constables an email.
"The concern I had," Trevino said, clearly not concerned with the fact that Esquivel had secured much needed funding for new law enforcement equipment and resources for precinct one in Brownsville, "is that this appeared to be a political event." He continued to press Esquivel as to why he, among all the constables in Texas, was the one selected for the lofty honor of picking up trash along the border. Trevino seemed to suspect that greed had fueled the work of Esquivel and his deputies as they hauled trash in the hot sun over the weekend.
"I clean up a different border town every year," John Rourke of the Great American Clean Up told The Post Millennial. "I called Bianca Gracia because she knows a lot of people on the border in Texas. She told me about the constable on July 20, I believe. The non-profit We Fund the Blue backs the Great American Cleanup, which travels to various cities across the US and aids in trash removal for overwhelmed and underfunded police departments. With our cleanup efforts, not only are we able to help the community by cleaning up their environment, but we raise funds and donate to the local police department. These funds are used to support officers on the ground."
Rourke was surprised to find that Esquivel ran into trouble getting the county commissioners to cash the check.
"This is my 4th cleanup," Rourke said. "Easterwood district, of Baltimore was the first, Del Rio and Eagle pass were the other two. I have never had issues with the other locations cashing the check." Both Del Rio and Eagle Pass cleanups were aided by Democrat Sheriffs.
"I've known Constable Esquivel since 2019," Gracia told The Post Millennial. "I called him and he was ready to help. John and I scheduled to go meet with him in August to go over what needed to be done. Constable brought in a local organization that could help us organize. We all worked together to bring the community together to clean up."
Esquivel, she said, "reached out reached out to locals as well and worked with local law enforcement to make sure we had permission to come out and clean. We needed permission and clearance from DHS, DPS, and Border Patrol. The Chief of BP had agents come out for community service as well as feed us on Saturday. We had over 100 volunteers on Saturday and around 30 on Sunday."
"This event was not a political event!" Rourke stressed. "It was a community event. In fact we had two Democrat Commissioners that did come out and help."
Trevino didn't reach out to Rourke or Gracia to find out about their mission or their work. Instead, he continued to press Esquivel, demanding to know if the Great American Cleanup had worked with Democrat law enforcement officials before—they had—and Esquivel pointed that out.
"In the flyer," Trevino said, "it said that they were going to clean up the mess that the Biden administration has left. That was part of the announcement."
"I did not see that on the flyer, sir," Esquivel said.
"I think this was a political event, Constable," Trevino said. "And to put it under the guise of helping out or cleaning up without getting other parties involved, it's very concerning to me. And, and it also implies that the county is not supporting the constables, or in particular you, as opposed to other constables. And I'm curious, I've never seen, I've never heard of this before. I've heard of individuals making donations to help. But this was something else."
"I'm sorry you feel that way," Esquivel said.
"And it was starting to be more of a political nature," Trevino said. "And it's concerning to me. The fact that only you are going to be benefiting from this. Did you invite precinct two? If you had this event in Brownsville at the at the Fort Brown? Pretty sure that's precinct two."
Esquivel tried to respond but was cut off by Trevino demanding to know why the organizers didn't contact someone else to help clean up trash on the border other than Esquivel and his team. Trevino insisted that the event of cleaning up trash along the border was a political stunt of some kind, and in the end, he refused to let Trevino cash the check.
The cashing of the donation check for precinct one was tabled until a future meeting while Trevino complained that others didn't take advantage of the opportunity when it was offered. While Trevino insisted that the obtaining of a donation for work performed was in some way political, he opened himself up to the same critique.
Trevino's objection to the check was on the grounds of his own political bias and concerns that an underfuned police department accepting a donation was evidence of that underfunding. It is unclear if Trevino has any plans to release the funds, or if he'd prefer that the constables simply leave the trash and refuse help from fellow Americans.
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