US

8 Hours With Border Patrol in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley

By Charlotte Cuthbertson

McALLEN, Texas—Seven Chinese illegal aliens try to evade Border Patrol; a smuggler ferries two Guatemalans across the Rio Grande on a raft; groups of Mexicans run from Border Patrol; a K-9 unit catches them; an EMT conducts medical screenings on Central American families; and group after group after group of Central Americans emerge from the riverbank to find Border Patrol.

On April 18, The Epoch Times spent eight hours with Border Patrol in a small area of southeast Texas, in the nation’s busiest area for illegal crossings. During the 24-hour period in which we were out, Border Patrol apprehended more than 1,000 illegal aliens in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. As of April 23, seven months into the fiscal year, illegal alien apprehensions in the sector (164,000) had surpassed the total apprehensions in all of fiscal year 2018.

Here is a snapshot of what we saw.

7:10 a.m.

Border Patrol agents apprehend seven illegal immigrants from China, one from Mexico, and a minor from El Salvador who were trying to evade capture after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into the United States. A Chinese man, Dong Jin Shun, said he paid $15,000 to fly to Mexico and cross the border illegally. Dong said he plans to claim asylum from persecution, but couldn’t say why he didn’t just fly straight into the United States and do that. “I don’t know. We all fly this way.” He said a friend in Beijing put him in contact with a smuggler. He had planned to go to New York.

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Border Patrol agents apprehend seven illegal immigrants from China, one from Mexico, and one from El Salvador after they tried to evade capture after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into the United States near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

8:19 a.m.

Border Patrol agents apprehend five illegal aliens from Mexico as they tried to run away after crossing the Rio Grande. One man told us the group paid $1,500 to a smuggler and planned to pay the rest, $5,500, after they got across. Another man said he was planning on going to Chicago, where he previously lived. Border Patrol said it’s likely that the man had been deported, possibly after committing a crime. Border Patrol said smugglers had pushed five groups across the border in five different locations right after a shift change. Many managed to evade capture.

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A Border Patrol agent prepares to search an illegal alien from Mexico who tried to evade capture after crossing the Rio Grande into the United States near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Time

8:49 a.m.

Border Patrol agent Tait Seelhorst and his K-9 Zak find an illegal alien from Mexico who was trying to evade capture. The K-9 earlier found two males from Honduras who had been in the same group. Several others got away and agents saw one man jump into the Rio Grande to escape arrest.

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Border Patrol agent Tait Seelhorst and his K-9 Zak find an illegal alien who was trying to evade capture near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

10:52 a.m.

Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz apprehends a group of 35 Hondurans, mostly in family units, that had just crossed the Rio Grande in rafts. Two women are pregnant, one due any day. One pregnant woman said her husband and their other child crossed separately, so they could be processed as separate family units (otherwise, one parent can be taken and prosecuted).

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Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz apprehends 35 illegal aliens who have just crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

11:46 a.m.

Also in the group, one man told us he came alone. Later, he said one of the boys, who was about 7, in the group was his son. While processing the group, Border Patrol told us that the man didn’t know the boy’s birthdate and they would investigate further. Customs and Border Protection has found 3,100 fake families over the past year.

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A group of illegal aliens who have just crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

1:23 p.m.

A smuggler ferries a Guatemalan woman and her daughter across the Rio Grande on a raft from Mexico into the United States. The woman knew to look for Border Patrol, and said she plans to go to Houston.

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A smuggler ferries a Guatemalan woman and her daughter across the Rio Grande on a raft from Mexico the the United States near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

1:55 p.m.

We stopped a Honduran man and a 13-year-old girl who were walking up the road toward Border Patrol. The man said the girl was his daughter and that they were claiming asylum because she had been threatened. He had a file with some paperwork with him, which he said was documentation of the threats. He said he paid $1,800 for the both of them to cross. They plan to go to Houston, where he has a welding job lined up.

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Wilfredo Montufar Lopez and a minor from Honduras just illegally crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

2:08 p.m.

We came across another group of 23 walking up from the river: a mix of adults and children. One family unit from Honduras said they paid $1,800 to get across the Rio Grande from Mexico. Border Patrol said the payment was likely for the whole family. The family said their destination is Maryland.

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A group of illegal aliens walk up the road after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico. Further up the road, they will board a bus bound for the Border Patrol processing facility in McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

2:30 p.m.

Another five people emerged from the riverbank: two men with two children and a woman who was eight months pregnant. The men said they were headed to Dallas, while the woman said her destination was San Francisco.

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A group of illegal aliens who have just crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

With reporting by Kimberly O’Connell.