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South Texas: The New Hot Spot For Illegal Crossing
NPR ^ | January 19, 2014 | Ted Robbins

Posted on 01/19/2014 2:40:09 PM PST by nickcarraway

As the U.S. government has militarized the California and Arizona segment of the Southwest border over the last two decades, illegal crossers have moved to another area. South Texas has become the new border hot spot.

The Rio Grande Valley is also the closest route to Central America. Two-thirds of those caught crossing are from that troubled region.

The Border Patrol and local authorities are straining to keep up.

Fleeing Poverty And Murder

In Reynosa, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas, is Casa del Migrante, a Catholic-run shelter.

It's a cement-block building with a large dining room, separate dorms for men and for women and children. It's a relatively safe place in what can be a dangerous city for migrants like Mario Torres.

The soft-spoken 25-year-old has already traveled 1,500 miles from his home in Honduras. He paid fees to guides and bribes to bandits. Better than staying home, he says.

"I couldn't find work," he says. "I came with my wife. We came together, the two of us. The criminals, they killed one of her brothers. We had to come because they were threatening us."

More From The Border

Trains that once deposited travelers for shopping and dining in dusty Sierra Blanca, Texas, no longer stop here. Interstates further eroded the local economy as more people chose to live and shop in El Paso, 85 miles away. U.S. Border Drug Busts Putting Strain On Texas County's Budget A hilltop view of the 18-foot fence along the U.S.-Mexico border west of Nogales, Ariz. U.S. Is The Border Secure Enough To Tackle The Immigration System? This photograph is included in an exhibition currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Photography In Mexico. (Border fence, near Naco, Ariz., 2010) The Picture Show Seeing More Than A Fence: Road Trip Along The Southern Border Torres was a truck driver; his wife was a high school teacher. He says they had no choice but to escape the poverty and violence in Honduras, the country with the highest murder rate in the world. His wife is already in the U.S., with relatives in South Carolina.

They paid smugglers a premium price for her to cross safely: $13,000.

"I have a cousin in the United States," Torres says. "She loaned us the money, and now she's working — my wife started working and paying it back, little by little."

Now he's biding his time until he can cross. He'll need to pay a guide to ford the Rio Grande on a power boat, an oar boat, anything that floats.

On the U.S. side of the river, Border Patrol Agent Danny Tirado drives along a landscape that is very different from the Arizona desert — the stretch of border that's gotten most of the attention over the last decade.

In Arizona, steel walls and mountain ranges separate the seemingly endless desert between the two countries. Here in South Texas, the border wall doubles as a levee to protect McAllen from flooding.

Outside the city, the wide Rio Grande is the barrier, though it twists and turns so much that, in places, border agents can't see around the next bend. The air is humid, the vegetation thick.

"It's a lot of dense brush," Tirado says. "It does make it easy for people to hide in that area."

'I Don't Feel Safe Anymore'

The Border Patrol has been beefing up its presence here. Over the last decade, it has doubled the number of agents in the Rio Grande sector to roughly 3,000.

The Border Patrol even has a checkpoint 65 miles north of the border, in Brooks County, Texas, on the main road out of McAllen. Every vehicle stops at there — an effective way to catch drug smugglers.

Few migrants try to cross, however. Instead, human smugglers stop before the checkpoint and tell their clients to walk around it, right onto Linda Vickers' ranch land.

"I don't feel safe anymore out here," Vickers says. "I carry a pistol with me and cell phone when I go outside. It just shouldn't be like that."

The Border Patrol checkpoint is Vickers' nearest neighbor, about 4 miles away. The ranch is in grassland dotted with mesquite trees and scrub brush. As she sits on the front porch of her large stucco ranch house, her dogs stand at alert, sensing something.

"I guarantee you, they smell somebody," Vickers says.

She sees groups of 10, 20, even 50 people every day, she says.

"It's the trespassing. It's like if you had a nice yard in a nice place, and people were littering and tearing your fences and defecating on your property," she says. "And you're finding all this — you'd be a little upset, too."

Crossing Can Be Deadly

It's easy to see why people cross here. If they make it to the next pickup point, they've pretty much made it to anywhere in the U.S. But it's not a quick walk around the checkpoint, as smugglers tell the migrants.

People can be out in the heat or the cold for days before they're picked up again.

Brooks County Chief Deputy Sheriff Benny Martinez sees the bodies of those who don't make it. Last year, 87 people died crossing Brooks County. He calls that good news.

"I call it good news, absolutely," Martinez says. "Compared to last year's 129, we're way down."

He says deaths declined only because the weather was relatively mild.

Overwhelmed And Frustrated

Martinez's office is in the Brooks County seat, Falfurrias. It's a small town in a small county of fewer than 10,000 people.

Martinez and his four deputies are used to dealing with relatively small matters: traffic, drunkenness, the occasional burglary or fight. Now, he says, dealing with illegal crossers takes up more than 85 percent of the sheriff's office workload and half the county budget.

"It's been overhwelming," Martinez says. "It's been frustrating, frustrating in the sense that you're trying to do what's right and you can't because [you] don't have the resources to do it."

Brooks County doesn't even have a medical examiner for the bodies, relying on a neighboring county and on Texas State University to do autopsies and DNA tests so the dead can be connected with their families.

Martinez says he'd like to see the federal government pass a guest worker program so people can come legally. In the meantime, Brooks County is asking the government to reimburse its costs.

"It has to come from Washington," he says. "I don't see Brooks County taking the whole burden of all of this. It just doesn't make sense."

It fits the government's strategy, though: Increase border security in one place so people cross in another — until it becomes too dangerous or too expensive.

But, they keep coming.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Government; Mexico; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: aliens

1 posted on 01/19/2014 2:40:09 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

Millions are trying to get in before the GOP passes amnesty.


2 posted on 01/19/2014 2:41:50 PM PST by FlingWingFlyer (Where are Holder's "po folks" getting the I.D.s to sign up for ObamaCare?)
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To: FlingWingFlyer

All part of the plan to turn TX deep blue.

It’s working too.

Once amnesty passes TX is a goner for the GOP.


3 posted on 01/19/2014 2:45:22 PM PST by Black Agnes
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To: nickcarraway

If we can have TSA harass a baby’s diaper or grandma in a walker...we have the resources to seal the border and deport Illegal Aliens


4 posted on 01/19/2014 2:45:50 PM PST by SeminoleCounty (Amnesty And Not Ending ObamaCare Will Kill GOP In 2014)
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To: Black Agnes

Yup. It won’t belong now until Americans have no say in who is running their government.


5 posted on 01/19/2014 2:47:17 PM PST by FlingWingFlyer (Where are Holder's "po folks" getting the I.D.s to sign up for ObamaCare?)
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To: nickcarraway
Until a couple of years ago our family has always hunted deer in south Texas. We have seen people coming out of the Rio Grand with their bundles on their heads, groups of 15 or 20. We have happened on small groups in the brush. My husband even found a woman who had just given birth on the ground.

If Mexico wasn't such a corrupt pest hole they might want to stay there, but with jobs and money and all they have to do is get here, they are going to come.

6 posted on 01/19/2014 2:48:37 PM PST by Ditter
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To: nickcarraway
Would Alligators survive in the Rio Grand? Just thinking out loud.
7 posted on 01/19/2014 2:48:49 PM PST by angcat
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To: FlingWingFlyer

Governor Castro coming to TX in 2018 or 2022 ...that will end us


8 posted on 01/19/2014 2:50:43 PM PST by thestob (Paul Ryan is determined to destroy this country)
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To: nickcarraway

Whack ‘em & stack ‘em.


9 posted on 01/19/2014 2:51:12 PM PST by Mich Patriot (PITCH BLACK is the new "transparent")
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To: nickcarraway
HEY!
Robbins!

I live in southern Arizona across the border with Mexico and I don't see the militarization of the border.

10 posted on 01/19/2014 2:52:27 PM PST by SandRat (Duty - Honor - Country! What else needs said?)
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To: nickcarraway

Data: Texas Had Most Border Patrol Arrests in 2013

The Border Patrol made 420,789 apprehensions in the fiscal year that ended in
September. That is a 16 percent increase from the previous year but still 42
percent below 2008. As usual, more than 98 percent of those arrests were made
on the Southwest border. And nowhere saw more arrests than Texas.

Agents in Texas made 235,567 arrests.

11 posted on 01/19/2014 2:53:00 PM PST by deport
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To: deport

According to the DPS, the plane is being used for surveillance and
assisting operations along the US-Mexico border.

The plane, purchased from Swiss company Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., is jam-packed with
military-style features including high-resolution and thermal imaging surveillance
cameras, a $300,000 downlink system allowing the crew to send real-time footage anywhere
in the state. As a bonus, the package also came with four night-vision goggles worth about $60,000.

12 posted on 01/19/2014 3:00:27 PM PST by deport
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To: angcat
Opt for Salt Water Crocodiles, like they have in Australia.

Salt Water Crocodiles are Big and have a Bad Attitude.

Everything is food.

13 posted on 01/19/2014 3:03:34 PM PST by SandRat (Duty - Honor - Country! What else needs said?)
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To: SandRat

I’m all for it.


14 posted on 01/19/2014 3:06:59 PM PST by angcat
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To: angcat

Do drones come in fish-size submarine forms? Just thinking out loud... continued...


15 posted on 01/19/2014 3:42:18 PM PST by C210N (When people fear government there is tyranny; when government fears people there is liberty)
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To: FlingWingFlyer
Yup. It won’t belong now until Americans have no say in who is running their government.

Surely you jest Shirley. We lost that pretty much about the time of FDR and certainly LBJ! The Marxists are just running a clean up operation now...that is until the shooting starts.

16 posted on 01/19/2014 3:52:07 PM PST by Don Corleone ("Oil the gun..eat the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: C210N

I’m still waiting to see one!


17 posted on 01/19/2014 4:34:39 PM PST by angcat
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To: Black Agnes
Once amnesty passes TX is a goner for the GOP.

And once Texas is gone, the GOP will never control anything higher than the House.

There is no roadmap to victory for a Republican presidential candidate that cedes Texas to the Democrats. It's just not possible.

18 posted on 01/19/2014 4:39:44 PM PST by Drew68
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To: Drew68

You’re right. It’s lights out then.

But Romney won in Texas by 16 points in 2012. That’s equivalent to Obama’s margin in Illinois.


19 posted on 01/19/2014 4:44:12 PM PST by nascarnation (I'm hiring Jack Palladino to investigate Baraq's golf scores.)
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To: Ditter

Maybe if Mexicans would put just half the energy into fixing their country that they do into destroying ours than maybe someday Mexicans won’t have to run away from Mexico. I’m sick of these f’ing people. Mexicans are a bunch of pugnacious arrogant beggars who feel that simply because they’re only one of two countries in all the world to share a border with The United States that some how this confers a de facto right on them to just waltz on in here. No one has the legal right to illegally enter someone else’s country. They are in violation of the law, they don’t pay the taxes we do nor do they think they have to obey any of our laws.


20 posted on 01/19/2014 4:49:07 PM PST by jmacusa ("Chasing God out of the classroom didn't usher in The Age of Reason''.)
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To: nascarnation
But Romney won in Texas by 16 points in 2012. That’s equivalent to Obama’s margin in Illinois.

Yes, but demographics are not in our favor. Not even in Texas. I figure the 2016 GOP candidate will win by 4-8 points. By 2020, Texas will be a battleground state.

21 posted on 01/19/2014 4:49:18 PM PST by Drew68
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To: Drew68

You may well be right.
I’ve been told by certain FReepers that abortion is killing potential Dem voters faster than immigration is producing new ones.
I totally disagree with this, because my calculations show the ratio is >2:1 in favor of more Dem voters.


22 posted on 01/19/2014 4:52:27 PM PST by nascarnation (I'm hiring Jack Palladino to investigate Baraq's golf scores.)
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To: jmacusa
The Mexicans who swim the river and walk through the brush are peons, they can't fix anything. The ones up the ladder from them are the ones who should be fixing it but they are too corrupt.

Everyone down there has their hand out.

23 posted on 01/19/2014 4:55:51 PM PST by Ditter
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To: nascarnation
I’ve been told by certain FReepers that abortion is killing potential Dem voters faster than immigration is producing new ones. I totally disagree with this...

As you should. This is silly.

This premise relies on the flawed belief that liberals always produce liberal children, conservatives always produce conservative children, and only Democrat-voters have abortions. None of which is true.

24 posted on 01/19/2014 5:02:54 PM PST by Drew68
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To: Ditter
They can't fix anything? Hogwash. They end up working for building contractors framing houses, doing plumbing, electrical work, etc. Heck we were a nation of farmers, blacksmiths, mule drivers and shop owners who took on the preeminent world power of the late eighteenth century and created a nation. Mexicans don't give a damn about their country or each other. It's a crime-ridden, violent and racist class-ridden kleptocrisy where everybody steals whatever isn't nailed down and blames The United States. I'm sick and G-damned tired of my wife and I busting our butts for what little we have only to have to be paying the freight for a bunch of asocial parasites who produce no wealth, render no useful service and who degrade and destroy everything they come in contact with. This has been going on for almost forty years. How much longer can we put up with before America becomes the crap hole these people ran away from?
25 posted on 01/19/2014 5:09:45 PM PST by jmacusa ("Chasing God out of the classroom didn't usher in The Age of Reason''.)
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To: jmacusa

That is NOT what I am saying!

In their own country, they can’t fix anything. they are too low on the ladder to have the power to fix anything, so they leave. The system needs fixing in Mexico starting at the top.


26 posted on 01/19/2014 5:16:47 PM PST by Ditter
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To: thestob

Many of the older voters backing nominal Republican candidates in TX will be dead by 2022, and there are no conservatives to replace them. TX has a lot of hibernating socialists waiting to arise to victory.


27 posted on 01/19/2014 5:28:57 PM PST by Theodore R. (TX Republicans can't wait until March 4 to nominate Cornball and George P.!)
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To: jmacusa

You may not like social parisites, but the American people seem themselves as “compassionate” and want to “help” parasites.


28 posted on 01/19/2014 5:30:08 PM PST by Theodore R. (TX Republicans can't wait until March 4 to nominate Cornball and George P.!)
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To: jmacusa
Maybe if Mexicans would put just half the energy into fixing their country that they do into destroying ours

Really?

Our country is circling the drain and what are WE doing? What CAN we do? The Odumbos own the military, the Treasury and the media.

What are the poor Mexicans supposed to do against the drug lords who run their country?

29 posted on 01/19/2014 5:33:28 PM PST by Lizavetta
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To: Ditter

Please, you’re bordering on the bigotry of low expectation. Things never get fixed anywhere form the top down but from the bottom up.


30 posted on 01/19/2014 5:46:32 PM PST by jmacusa ("Chasing God out of the classroom didn't usher in The Age of Reason''.)
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To: Lizavetta

Circling the drain? Britain is circling the drain, so is France. We’re in some dire straights I’ll agree but we’re not dead yet. Obama is out of office in two years. And Obozo does not ‘’own’’ the military. And the media? He sure as hell doesn’t own Free republic. “Poor Mexicans’’ my ass. They sure can come up with anywhere from 14 to 25k to get here. ‘’What are they supposed to do’’? C’mon FRiend, that’s the bigotry of low expectation and you don’t strike me as a bigot.


31 posted on 01/19/2014 5:51:44 PM PST by jmacusa ("Chasing God out of the classroom didn't usher in The Age of Reason''.)
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To: Theodore R.

Not this American brother, not me!


32 posted on 01/19/2014 5:52:40 PM PST by jmacusa ("Chasing God out of the classroom didn't usher in The Age of Reason''.)
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To: nickcarraway

“I don’t feel safe anymore out here,” Vickers says. “I carry a pistol with me and cell phone when I go outside. It just shouldn’t be like that.”


33 posted on 01/20/2014 7:13:16 AM PST by SwinneySwitch (It's all about New Jersey!!)
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To: Ditter; jmacusa
The system needs fixing in Mexico starting at the top.

The problem is that the system in Mexico is fixed starting at the top. In that respect, the USA is becoming Mexico.

34 posted on 01/20/2014 7:36:33 AM PST by UCANSEE2 (I forgot what my tagline was supposed to say)
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