A look into one of the "hot spots" along the border for immigrant crossings
POSTED: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - 4:41pm
UPDATED: Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 8:59am
MISSION, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — The high level of immigrants crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley sector is getting national attention--and Border Patrol officials say they don't see an end in the near future.
Agents patrol the air and ground along the border as the number of immigrants crosssing the Rio Grande River continues to rise.
Chris Cabrera with the National Border Patrol Council says one of the most popular areas for immigrants to travel is underneath the Anzalduas Bridge.
"As far as people crossing wanting to turn themselves in, it's easily identifiable to anybody," Cabrera explained.
Even on our way to the crossing site, we encountered a small group of suspected immigrants voluntarily surrendering to Border Patrol. In this group, three women and two small children--a representation of the majority demographic seen crossing the river.
Walking along the paths by the border, there's evidence of an abundance of foot traffic.
"See, that's a Border Patrol boot [print] right there," Cabrera said while pointing out footprints in the sand. "And that looks a lot older than these little kid prints all around it."
Border Patrol officials say the area under the bridge one of the hot spots for illegal crossings. That's where they encounter the immigrants who are looking for agents in order to surrender.
"We're seeing people come in in record numbers," said Cabrera. "We're having people turn themselves in a hundred, two hundred people at a time. Not throughout the day, just one bunch."
A graveyard of life jackets occupies the sand of the river bank. Many of them are child-sized.
Agents who patrol this area often keep coolers of food and drinks not only for themselves, but also for the immigrants famished by fatigue and the heat.
"They're still human and these guys understand that 'hey, that could be me or that could be my kid out there,' you know, they're still a person and they treat them as such," Cabrera said.
But while agents attend to the immigrants who surrender, they're unable to focus attention on apprehending the criminals who cross the border--the ones who don't want to get caught.
"These guys are being saddled down with babysitting duties when they should be out there getting the real bad guys, what they're paid to do," explained Cabrera. "And they're having to do this, and it's very frustrating for them."
Even though there is a record-high in the number of immigrant arrests in the Rio Grande Valley sector for this year, Cabrera says he estimates that number is about a third of what's actually coming in.