NYT: Illegal Immigrants Crossing Into South Texas 'in Droves'

Image: NYT: Illegal Immigrants Crossing Into South Texas 'in Droves' A Border Patrol agent surveys an area of the Rio Grande River near McAllen, Texas.

Friday, 11 Apr 2014 10:58 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America are crossing the Rio Grande into the United States every month after hearing reports that people who make it across the border are being allowed to remain in America.

Fueling GOP demands for more stringent border security before any immigration reform bill is passed, the number of illegal crossings in South Texas has suddenly soared this year after six years of relatively deep declines across the southwest region, according to The New York Times.

The Border Patrol reported that 90,700 migrants were seized in the Rio Grande Valley in the past six months, a 69 percent increase over last year. The agency has no idea how many people actually made a successful crossing and then vanished into the American heartland.

Editor's Note: Experience the True Battle on the Border with this Powerful New Movie

The migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have put such a severe strain on U.S. immigration prevention resources, including detention facilities, asylum offices, and special courts, that scores of them are being released into the United States temporarily, the Times reported.

"Word has gotten out that we're giving people permission and walking them out the door," Chris Cabrera, a Border Patrol agent who is vice president of the local National Border Patrol Council, the agents' union, told the Times. "So they're coming across in droves."

There was a time when the majority of the illegals were Mexican laborers looking for work. That's no longer the case, according to the Times. Now couples from Central America with small children, and youngsters without parents, are daring to make the dangerous journey across Mexico to the United States.

They are driven to flee their own country and gamble on being caught entering the United States illegally by the growing problem of poverty in their own homeland, along with the threat of increasing gang violence, according to the Times.

To embolden their courage, the would-be Americans have learned that they can seek asylum in the United States by claiming that they live in fear of being killed back home, the Times reported. The hordes of asylum seekers have resulted in protracted legal procedures, further putting a strain on limited immigration resources.

With younger migrants riding on top of freight trains, they pick South Texas to make their crossing because it's the shortest distance from Central America.

But before they even get to America they have the added danger of falling prey to the Mexican drug cartels in such border towns as Reynosa, which have assumed control of the lucrative human smuggling trade and don't care whether the migrants are caught once they have their money.

The Times revealed a recent case where border agents were standing on one side of the Rio Grande while 45 migrants were loaded from a van onto a boat in full view on the other side of the river. The water was too shallow for a border patrol vessel to stop them half-way across, and so they were arrested as soon as their boat reached the U.S. side.

Although illegal Mexicans are often returned quickly by the Border Patrol, migrants from "noncontiguous" countries have to be officially deported and flown home by other U.S. agencies, a far longer process.

Women and children are detained separately, and sent to the nearest "family units" facility in Pennsylvania, where they are likely to be released while their cases are pending, a senior deportations official told the Times.

Children without parents are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which arranges medical care and schooling, and then sends them to American relatives where possible while their cases are processed. Unaccompanied minors are expected to number 35,000 this year, triple the number two years ago, according to the Times.

By law, border agents must ask the illegals whether they are afraid to return to their country. If the answer is yes, an investigation is conducted to seek the veracity of the claim, and an immigration judge will eventually decide whether the migrant can stay in the United States based on a "well-founded fear of persecution" due to his race, religion, or politics.

In 2013, 85 percent of "fear claims" were found to be credible, which may be the reason that such claims from Central American migrants have more than doubled in 2013 to 36,026 from 13,931 in 2012. In 2012, 34 percent of asylum petitions were approved, 2,888 cases nationwide, according to the Times.

The United States has stepped up border patrols in the Rio Grande Valley in recent months while increasing the number of agents by 500, to 3,000, who patrol the border in helicopters, boats, all-terrain vehicles, and horseback while drones and aerostat blimps keep an eye from the sky.

Editor's Note: Experience the True Battle on the Border with this Powerful New Movie

Although Texas police also have started targeting Mexican smuggling organizations for prosecution on this side of the border, many migrants are still successfully making it across the Rio Grande to fulfill their American dream.

After hiding in sugarcane fields and orchards, the Times noted that they make a quick dash to a nearby shopping mall, where smuggling groups pick them up for a trip north into a whole new world.

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