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Crisis on the Border - Full Coverage
Latest Post: 09/05/2014 07:21 PM First Post: 04/30/2014 03:19 PM

Latest Update Cubans Seek Help at Brownsville Shelter

09/05/2014 07:21 PM

BROWNSVILLE - Operators of a shelter for illegal immigrants say they are seeing more Cubans than Central Americans.

Deacon Robert Cano says the Cubans are migrating from Central America. He said they also are fleeing the violence in that region.

Cano said the Catholic Charities shelter keeps records of all the people they help. The illegal immigrants get food and clothing.

"We've been getting six to seven Cubans during the week," Cano said.

Cano said volunteers… Click to Read More

Records: Armed Militia Member a Felon

09/03/2014 06:47 PM

BROWNSVILLE - A militia member who came under Border Patrol gunfire Friday is a felon.

The man, John Frederick Forester, is part of a group camped out on private land near the river.

Officials said Forester was armed when a Border Patrol agent opened fire on him. The militia member was not injured.

Records show Forester has two misdemeanor convictions for theft and trespassing and felony convictions for burglary of a building. He served prison time.

State law s… Click to Read More

Technology Helps Curb Smuggling in Brooks County

09/02/2014 07:22 PM

FALFURRIAS - Technology is forcing smugglers to change their routes, Brooks County ranchers said.

The South Texas county is a major human-smuggling corridor, but two aerostats may be forcing smugglers to seek alternate routes.

Federal authorities deployed the aerostats in Brooks County to get a bird's eye view of the area.

"There's no question that it's had a positive influence on the traffic coming through Brooks County," area rancher Dr. Michael Vickers said.

Click to Read More

Driver Finds Immigrants Hiding Atop His Truck

09/02/2014 07:03 PM

EDINBURG - Two illegal immigrants stowed away in a big rig nearly cost the driver his job.

Commercial drivers are required by law to check their trucks and cargo on a regular basis. Those in the Rio Grande Valley also must check for illegal immigrants.

Crystal Luna said she used her cell phone to capture images of the immigrants stowed away atop her husband's tractor trailer.

"There were two - a female and a male," Luna said.

Luna's video shows the couple tryin… Click to Read More

Angler Helps Cubans Stranded on South Padre Island

09/02/2014 06:43 PM

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND - A Houston man on a fishing trip got more than he expected Monday.

Gustavo Burr and his girlfriend were on South Padre Island looking for the right spot to cast their lines. They noticed a strange boat near shore about 10 miles north of Beach Access 6.

The small craft looked abandoned.

"I see nobody was there, so I thought they died or something (happened) in the ocean. I just took a picture and kept doing what I was doing," Burr said.

The c… Click to Read More

Militia Leader Defends Patrols

09/02/2014 06:31 PM

BROWNSVILLE - The leader of a militia spoke about an incident in which a Border Patrol agent opened fire on one of his members.

The militia member involved in the incident was not injured.

"We're private citizens, so we don't answer to the federal government," K.C. Massey said.

Still, Massey said his group remains in communication with state and federal authorities.

The incident happened along the Rio Grande near Brownsville. Cameron County sheriff investigato… Click to Read More

Brownsville Diocese Bishop Visits Central America

08/29/2014 07:24 PM

SAN JUAN - The bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville visited Central America to get a better look at the conditions driving many away from their countries.

Bishop Daniel Ernest Flores spent six days learning more about Honduras and Guatemala. The bishop visited the region at the request of Catholic Relief Services.

"I wanted very much to get a better sense as to the conditions that are kind of the push factors ... that are affecting the lives of young people," Flores … Click to Read More

Feds Release Number of Immigrants Arrested in the Valley

08/29/2014 06:51 PM

WESLACO - Federal officials released more information about the number of illegal immigrants arrested so far this year in the Rio Grande Valley.

Recently released information puts the number at 245,000. Seventy five percent of those crossers are from countries other than Mexico. Most of those are from Central America.

The number of arrest for last year was 154,000.

"We have some from China, some from Bangladesh, some from Albania," Border Patrol Spokesman Omar Zamora s… Click to Read More

Feds May Require Bonds before Releasing Immigrants

08/28/2014 09:59 PM

WESLACO - Federal officials may start requiring illegal immigrant to post a bond before being released from Border Patrol custody.

Federal officials admit releasing illegal crossers without making them pay bond has helped fuel the crisis on the border.

The practice has been to simply issue a notice to appear, listing a future court date for an immigration hearing.

Illegal crossers held at a center in Kernes City are being told a judge may set a high bond or no bond at … Click to Read More

Human Smugglers Target Hidalgo County Neighborhood

08/28/2014 04:19 PM

MONTE ALTO - Hidalgo County deputy constables say human smugglers are targeting a neighborhood west of Monte Alto and are setting up shop there.

The trend is causing concern for area residents. It worries them because so many children live in the area.

The neighborhood is called Calle de Rosa. It's isolated and a distance from city life.

Deputy Constable Diomar Dalvan says it is the physical makeup of the area that is attracting human smugglers.

"I believe one … Click to Read More

Woman Deported After DPS Stop

08/27/2014 09:53 PM

McALLEN - A La Joya woman detained by state troopers and turned over to Border Patrol earlier this month was deported to Mexico.

The family of Isabel Barbosa and members of the immigration rights group La Union Del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, protested outside the McAllen Border Patrol headquarters after she was detained during a traffic stop.

The woman could not provide troopers with a driver's license or documentation. Barbosa lived in the Valley for 18 years. Her husband and th… Click to Read More

National Guard Arrives in Starr County

08/27/2014 09:45 PM

STARR COUNTY - Members of the Texas National Guard arrived in the Rio Grande Valley.

The troops are part of the deployment ordered by Gov. Rick Perry.

Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal said the troops started arriving in his city. Perry ordered the deployment of 1,000 troops to the Valley.

A CHANNEL 5 NEWS crew visited Fronton to see if the troops were in that area. The small community on the banks of the Rio Grande is known for drug and weapons smuggling.

Click to Read More

Police Report Spike in Gang Activity

08/26/2014 09:59 PM

PHARR - Police departments in the Rio Grande Valley are concerned about an increase in gang activity.

The San Juan Police Department reported there is an increase in three specific gangs. The department's gang unit keeps tabs on local gang activity. Investigators said they've noticed a spike in the numbers Tengo Valluco, 18th Street and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

"It's an area of concern for local agencies," a San Juan police officer said.

The officer said there has… Click to Read More

Undocumented Children Enrolled in Valley Schools

08/22/2014 08:39 PM

DONNA - Children who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are now enrolling in local schools.

"Normally we need a birth certificate. We need a Social (Security card). We need all of that," explained Ida Garcia, the director of intake and attendance at the Donna Independent School District.

She said instead students are providing notarized letters, which identify them as refugees. Garcia added parents of the children are giving custody to a relative in the U.S.

Don… Click to Read More

Immigrant Shelter Seeks More Donations

08/21/2014 08:15 PM

McALLEN - A decrease in the number of illegal crossers apprehended by Border Patrol will not put a stop to the humanitarian efforts at one local church.

Leaders at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen say there is still a need to provide for those released from Border Patrol custody.

"There's still people coming," the Sister Norma Pimentel said.

The shelter at the church helped up to 300 people a day during the peak of the immigrant surge last month. Pimentel said f… Click to Read More

Report Reveals ICE Released Detainees with Criminal Records

08/20/2014 09:56 PM

WESLACO - Department of Homeland Security investigators released a report last week on the release of more than 2,000 people already in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

The agency claims it released the immigrants to deal with a budget shortfall and a surge of undocumented immigrants.

The report states:

  • 622 of those detainees have criminal records.
  • 34 were convicted on for an aggravated felony. Aggravated felonies range from alien smuggling… Click to Read More

Brooks County Landowners Want Unified Front against Illegal Immigration

08/20/2014 07:05 PM

FALFURRIAS - Brooks County remains a busy human-smuggling corridor despite the reported drop in illegal crossings, area ranchers said.

The ranchers feel different groups along the border are sending mixed messages about the reality of the border crisis.

Recent remarks by McAllen Chamber of Commerce officials forced a group in Brooks County to draft a letter asking for the truth to be told about illegal immigration.

El Tule Ranch sits 9 miles West of Falfurrias. It cove… Click to Read More

Smuggler Uses Spikes During Chase

08/20/2014 06:41 PM

HIDALGO COUNTY - A human smuggler used spikes in an effort to flee from authorities Wednesday, officials said.

The suspect threw the three-pronged spikes, also known as caltrops, out of his pickup truck during a high-speed chase, officials said. The spikes pose a serious threat to pursuing agents and unsuspecting motorists.

Five illegal immigrants were hospitalized after the high-speed chase that ended in a rollover south of Alamo.

The chase began at approximately 10 a… Click to Read More

National Guard Troops to Arrive in Starr County

08/20/2014 06:34 PM

STARR COUNTY - National Guard troops will arrive in the Rio Grande Valley this weekend.

The troops are part of the deployment ordered by Gov. Rick Perry.

Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal said he spoke with the commanders about where to stay, the lay of the land and what to expect.

Villarreal said he expects about 250 troops in Starr County. The governor ordered the deployment of 1,000 troops to the region.

Villarreal said the troops will work with the Tex… Click to Read More

Militia Sets Up Camp in Cameron County

08/19/2014 06:56 PM

BROWNSVILLE - A Cameron County resident says he welcomes the presence of militia members on his land.

Rusty Monsees told CHANNEL 5 NEWS earlier this summer he would welcome the National Guard to his property. Monsees said he is still waiting for the guard. He has taken on another type of volunteer protection.

Monsees lives less than a mile from the Rio Grande. His land is now temporary home to a group of volunteers.

"One by one they called and said, ‘can we come … Click to Read More

Cuellar Concerned About Funding for Border Security

08/19/2014 06:42 PM

WESLACO - U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) says he is worried that the country will lose notice of the immigration crisis impacting South Texas.

Securing the border, the congressman said, will be very costly.

"People want border security, but we have to keep in mind that border security is very expensive. Right now, for border security across the nation, we spend about $18 billion a year," Cuellar said.

Part of that money is helping deploy more agents. It also is pa… Click to Read More

Texas Military Officials Mum on Guard Deployment

08/18/2014 06:29 PM

WESLACO - Texas military officials released few details about the National Guard deployment to the Rio Grande Valley.

State military officials released the following statement about the deployment:

"The role of the Texas National Guard is to support the Texas Department of Public Safety in Operation Strong Safety.

Click to Read More

Immigration Attorneys Describe Chaotic Conditions at New Mexico Detention Center

08/18/2014 04:25 PM

WESLACO - Attorneys are speaking out about their interactions with children and women at an immigration holding facility in New Mexico.

The attorneys from around the country have volunteered to help the immigrants' asylum claims.

The attorneys are posting video diaries of what they're seeing at the Artesia facility in New Mexico. The reports they've posted so far describe a place in disarray. They describe chaotic cond… Click to Read More

Troops at Lookout Towers Not Part of National Guard Deployment

08/15/2014 11:37 AM

WESLACO - The National Guard units in lookout towers along the border are not part of the governor's request for additional troops.

They're part of the Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force, which arrived in the Rio Grande Valley Monday. Master Sgt. Kenneth Walker, who's part of the task force, said the guardsmen report activity to local law enforcement.

They don't have contact with people crossing the border and serve strictly as extra eyes and ears. The special task force will … Click to Read More

Congressman Demands Action on Border Crisis

08/12/2014 06:48 PM

WESLACO - U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) says President Obama needs to do something about the humanitarian and immigration crisis impacting South Texas.

Cuellar asked for a bi-partisan agreement to provide money and policy changes to the current immigration system. The congressman and some of his fellow Democrats are in support of immigration reform.

Cuellar has been vocal about the need to step up efforts in Central America to curb illegal immigration. Thousands of Centr… Click to Read More

Aerostat Launched in Roma

08/12/2014 06:45 PM

ROMA - A new surveillance aerostat now flies in the skies above Roma.

Roma residents say they hope the added surveillance will dive smugglers away from the town.

"I put these (burglar bars on the) windows here all the way around the house," Roma resident Raul Moreno said.

Moreno said smugglers are constantly trekking near his house.

"They come through here ... they got somebody with a walkie-talkie to talk to each other," he said.

Illegal immigrants cro… Click to Read More

Yturria Ranch to Arm Employees

08/12/2014 06:38 PM

WILLACY COUNTY - One of the largest ranches in South Texas is planning to arm its employees after several encounters with armed smugglers.

Dr. Frank Yturria, 91, said he has never seen so many smugglers trekking through his spread of land as he has seen this summer.

The Yturria Ranch spans for thousands of acres from north of Raymondville to Kenedy County. Yturria said he now has to protect his own borders.

"We've never seen a surge this big of illegal immigrants," Ytu… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Adds Aerostat in Roma

08/12/2014 11:21 AM

STARR COUNTY - The Border Patrol added a second aerostat in Starr County to help fight illegal activity.

Aerostats are tethered blimp-shaped balloons used for surveillance. Border Patrol agents credit them in helping catch human smugglers and drug smugglers, as well as helping to rescue illegal immigrants in danger.

There are now five aerostats in South Texas. The latest addition is in Roma. We're told it will be able to monitor a much larger area than previous aerostats.

Click to Read More

Game Wardens Face Increasing Threats from Smugglers

08/11/2014 07:10 PM

HIDALGO COUNTY - Game wardens are facing increasing threats from smugglers, officials said.

A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department captain said his wardens are attacked and threatened regularly.

"Our primary focus is hunting, fishing and water safety," TPWD Capt. James Dunks said.

Their focus is shifting.

"We have a raft that is designed for three people in our waters of this state and they have 15 people on board, with no life jackets, it becomes a water-safety… Click to Read More

Apartment Owners Prepare for Arrival of National Guard

08/04/2014 06:50 PM

McALLEN - Apartment owners and operators are preparing for the arrival of the National Guard.

The troop surge in the Rio Grande Valley could be a boon for apartment owners. It also could mean fewer places for locals to rent.

Silvia Medina, of Medina Metro Realty, owns multiple apartment buildings in McAllen. She said the industry is buzzing with news that the National Guard will rent apartments in the Hidalgo County area.

"That's not something that we had planned for, … Click to Read More

Militia Members Arrive in the Valley

08/04/2014 06:31 PM

WESLACO - Leaders with the South Texas Minuteman Civil Defense Corps say militia members from outside South Texas are arriving in the Rio Grande Valley.

Olivia Garza, spokeswoman for the militia, said a convoy arrived in the Valley this weekend. She said more will arrive throughout the week.

Garza spoke with a CHANNEL 5 NEWS in July about the influx illegal immigrants from Central America.

Garza said the militia opposes illegal immigration and the federal government's … Click to Read More

National Guard to be Made up of Volunteer Soldiers

08/01/2014 10:24 PM

WESLACO - Texas Army National Guard Troops can volunteer to be included in border initiative.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has ordered 1,000 National Guard Troops to the U.S. - Mexico Border to help with the flow of illegal crossers coming into Texas.

Lieutenant Colonel Clarence Henderson of the 3rd Battalion 41st Infantry Regiment of the Texas Army National Guard spoke about the border initiative, Henderson says, "No unit has been tasked to conduct the mission so I can't speak … Click to Read More

Game Wardens on Alert for Possible Spike in Crime on Falcon Lake

08/01/2014 05:20 PM

FALCON LAKE - The surge of state troopers, Border Patrol and National Guard into the Rio Grande Valley has law enforcement in Zapata County preparing for a possible uptick in illegal activity.

The question is whether coyotes and smugglers will use Falcon Lake to escape the surge in law enforcement in the Valley.

The lake is the international boundary between the two continues.

"We always look out for everything. ... One day we can be checking out bass fishermen and the… Click to Read More

La Posada Offers Help to Recent Immigrants

08/01/2014 03:58 PM

SAN BENITO - Operators of a Cameron County shelter say they need to expand in order to meet the growing demand as illegal immigrants cross the border.

La Posada Providencia is a long-term shelter. Their resources are being stretched to meet the demands of mothers and children coming every day from Central America.

Clients can stay for months, even a year at a time.

Today their efforts to help as many people as possible have them working around the clock to help women a… Click to Read More

Illegal Immigrant Dies in Sullivan City Due to the Heat

07/31/2014 03:50 PM

SULLIVAN CITY - Authorities recovered the body of another illegal immigrant in Hidalgo County.

The discovery brings the number of deaths involving illegal immigrants to three this week.

Sullivan City police say this is the first time they recovered a body of an illegal immigrant so close to a neighborhood.

They say a man living in the city's west side found the immigrant just a few feet from his backyard.

Police worry more immigrants will lose their lives this … Click to Read More

Immigrants to be Housed in 'Suites' Near San Antonio

07/31/2014 11:39 AM

KARNES CITY - Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Friday will open a remodeled detention center three hours north of the Rio Grande Valley.

The Karnes City center will house women and children who entered the country illegally through the Valley.

The 532-bed facility underwent a massive renovation to house women and children. The center housed only adult immigrants in the past.

Immigrants will be at the facility for an average of 23 days.

The feds said the r… Click to Read More

Rio Grande City Turns Smuggling Path into Bike Trail

07/30/2014 06:48 PM

STARR COUNTY - Rio Grande City leaders hope a new bike trail will help curb illegal activity.

Drug and human smugglers used the trail before it was converted into a recreational area.

"The origins of these trails were just that. We would come down here ... you would see the path very cut and defined between the woods and we all knew it was smuggling and human trafficking," Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal said.

The new bike trail runs along the Rio Grande, less t… Click to Read More

Military Task Force Returns to the Valley

07/30/2014 06:08 PM

WESLACO - Military troops are in the Rio Grande Valley to help patrol the areas between the ports of entry.

The little-know operation has been going on for years. The Marines and Navy sailors, active and reservists, get part of their military training along the border.

"We have had the opportunity to form a bond with Border Patrol as we conduct joint operations over the last few weeks," Cmdr. Todd Turner said.

Soldiers from Fort Bliss came to Laredo in 2012 to work wit… Click to Read More

Edinburg Mayor: Border Crisis Scares Away New Businesses

07/30/2014 04:16 PM

EDINBURG - One Rio Grande Valley mayor says the increase in illegal immigrant crossings and the arrival of the National Guard to help deal with the influx is scaring away new businesses.

Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia is concerned and hopes his message will turn things around.

During a conference call with border mayors, Garcia said the illegal immigration surge is having an impact on potential businesses.

He told the media that the deployment of the National Guard will… Click to Read More

Scheme Targets Families of Unaccompanied Minors

07/29/2014 07:03 PM

WESLACO - The FBI is asking families of unaccompanied minors to be on high alert for a new scam.

Investigators two weeks ago realized they'd found a new trend targeting families of unaccompanied minors in the United States.

According to investigators, employees or contractors at two holding facilities for unaccompanied minors are exploiting information they've learned while on the job.

They're calling the minors' families in the U.S. and telling them they need to pay h… Click to Read More

Official: Immigration Surge Draining Municipal Budgets

07/29/2014 06:51 PM

McALLEN - The cost of helping illegal immigrants could mean the end of some municipal programs, officials said.

The ongoing operation to care for illegal immigrants at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen is putting a strain on municipal resources, officials said.

"This is all coming out of local budgets," said George Garrett, director of homeland security in Weslaco. He oversees the emergency management at the center at Sacred Heart.

"We're all struggling with budg… Click to Read More

Hidalgo County on Alert for Possible Lawsuits from Immigrants

07/29/2014 06:42 PM

EDINBURG - The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department is monitoring the jail for possible litigation from illegal immigrants.

Some county jails in northern states stopped holding immigrants on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers.

The detainers keep immigrants in jail until Border Patrol agents arrive. Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department Spokesman J.P. Rodriguez said a detainer allows the jail to hold the person for no more than 48 hours.

"If they place a detaine… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Agents Rescue 2 Immigrants

07/29/2014 06:38 PM

McALLEN - Border Patrol agents rescued two immigrants from the South Texas brush in two separate incidents.

The first rescue happened Sunday evening. Authorities said a human smuggler abandoned the man near La Grulla.

The man called 911 and Starr County dispatchers relayed his general location to agents.

The agents used a helicopter and boats to find the man and give him first aid.

The second rescue happened Monday in Brooks County. Dispatchers received a call … Click to Read More

Church Worker Wants Better Treatment for Immigrants

07/29/2014 06:36 PM

McALLEN - An employee at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen is upset with the way some people view and treat illegal immigrants.

Retired Attorney Ofelia de los Santos helps out at the church where the immigrants are being cared for before their journey north.

De los Santos was a public defender. Now she works for Catholic Charities.

De los Santos said she hears stories of sacrifice and hardship.

"It's horrible to listen to these stories day after day and n… Click to Read More

Expert: Border Crisis Blown out of Proportion

07/28/2014 07:10 PM

WESLACO - An expert on border security says the threat along the U.S.-Mexican divide is being exaggerated.

Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector are apprehending more people crossing into the country illegally than ever before. Still, the overall apprehensions across the entire southern border are down from historic levels, according to Stratfor.

Scott Stewart, a terrorism and security analyst with global intelligence company, said the numbers, and the fact that… Click to Read More

Chinese Immigrants Detained in Hidalgo County

07/28/2014 06:49 PM

McALLEN - The surge of Central Americans crossing the border illegally appears to be slowing down. Now, there could be a rush of people from other countries.

A CHANNEL 5 NEWS met a group of immigrants from China during a ride-along with Border Patrol agents. The agents said people from more than 143 countries try to enter the United States illegally through the South Texas border.

The agents said the group of Chinese men and women was the second they picked up that day.

<… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Assigns More Agents to the Valley

07/28/2014 06:40 PM

WESLACO - The Border Patrol has assigned 150 more agents to the Rio Grande Valley.

Border Patrol officials say the agents are experienced, well-trained and equipped with the right skill-set.

Officials did not say how long the agents will be in the Valley.

Militia Member Speaks About Group's Mission

07/28/2014 06:27 PM

McALLEN - A member of the South Texas Minuteman Civil Defense Corps says her group seeks to help authorities by observing and reporting what happens along the Rio Grande.

Olivia Garza is one of approximately 80 members the group has from Corpus Christi to La Joya.

Garza, a Brownsville native, said she wants to set the record straight about her organization in the wake of criticism from some Valley residents.

"What we'd like to let the public know, especially local citi… Click to Read More

National Guard Will Have Authority to Make Arrests

07/28/2014 04:22 PM

WESLACO - National Guard troops will have the authority to make arrests once they are deployed to the Rio Grande Valley.

Gov. Rick Perry announced last week he was sending up to 1,000 troops to help secure the border.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS on Monday asked the Texas military forces if the troops will make arrests. Officials responded with a short e-mail.

"As guardsmen, our troops can be activated with a law enforcement mission if directed by the governor to do so," the stateme… Click to Read More

Mexican Railway Company Seeks To Reduce Number of Stowaways

07/25/2014 06:11 PM

WESLACO - The Mexican train used by countless Central Americans to reach the United States-Mexico border will increase its speed to reduce the number of stowaways.

The cargo train, called La Bestia (the beast), typically travels at 6 miles per hour in areas where the Central Americans climb aboard. The company that operates the train plans to increase that speed to about 18 miles per hour.

Central Americans run alongside the train to climb aboard the rail cars. The practice is… Click to Read More

Rio Grande City Police See a Decline in Illegal Border Crossings

07/25/2014 04:11 PM

RIO GRANDE CITY - Rio Grande City police officers are noticing a decline in the number of families crossing the border illegally.

The agency says they are seeing men crossing more often than families.

Police, however, are staying busy.

RGC police stepped up to help U.S. Border Patrol agents with the increase in illegal immigrants by helping detain them until agents arrive. Now it's a different scenario.

Rio Grande City Assistant Police Chief Noe Castillo has no… Click to Read More

Business Leaders Seek to Improve Valley's Image

07/24/2014 06:51 PM

McALLEN - Rio Grande Valley government and business leaders are asking Gov. Rick Perry to reconsider his decision to deploy the National Guard to the region. They say the move will send the wrong message about safety in the area.

Perry ordered the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the Valley. Members of the Rio South Texas Economic Council say that may have an adverse effect on businesses considering moving to the region.

"We tell folks, ‘how would you like to… Click to Read More

Honduran Journalist Sheds Light into Migration Crisis

07/24/2014 06:48 PM

WESLACO - A journalist in Honduras shed more light into the migration crisis impacting her nation.

Marilyn Mendez, with La Prensa of Honduras, said the United States doesn't fully understand what is happening in Central America.

Mendez said the much-vaunted U.S. government campaign to dissuade people from migrating to the South Texas border is non existent in her country.

U.S. federal officials said the television, radio and print ads are running through out Central Am… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Says the Number of Illegal Immigrants Continues to Rise

07/24/2014 03:12 PM

RIO GRANDE VALLEY - Families are still streaming into the McAllen bus station, almost two months after U.S. Border Patrol began dropping them off there.

It is where families wait before they continue on their long journey.

The Border Patrol says, since the beginning of 2014, they picked up more than 42,000 families along the Rio Grande Valley's border with Mexico. That is more than eleven times the number of families from the same time last year.

"It's been pretty stea… Click to Read More

Committee to Discuss Human Smuggling

07/24/2014 11:53 AM

McALLEN - State health and law enforcement officials are in the Rio Grande Valley to speak about human trafficking before a panel of state lawmakers.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission will speak to the Joint Interim Committee to study human trafficking.

The committee will discuss ways to combat human trafficking and services currently available in Texas for its victims.

Click to Read More

Official: Team Sent to Texas to Evaluate Need for National Guard

07/23/2014 11:12 PM

TEXAS - A team sent by President Obama is coming to Texas to evaluate the need for National Guard presence.

The team will determine if the National Guard will help resolve the Crisis on the Border, a White House Official confirmed to ABC News.

Texas Governor Rick Perry recently ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to be deployed to the Texas-Mexico border. The deployment is estimated to cost $12 Million a month.

Nuevo Progreso Residents Deny Reports of Violence

07/23/2014 06:33 PM

NUEVO PROGRESO - At least 10 people died Tuesday night in shootouts in and around Nuevo Progreso.

The firefights started in Rio Bravo and spread to Nuevo Progreso and the highway connecting Reynosa and Matamoros.

On Wednesday, Nuevo Progreso residents denied there was ever a firefight in the city.

"Stuff like that happens ... but not in this town. It's just too small of a town for them to create any type of chaos like that," Juan Ricardo Badillo said.

Badillo m… Click to Read More

Smuggler Attacks Game Warden

07/23/2014 11:35 AM

HIDALGO COUNTY - A human smuggler attacked a Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife game warden Tuesday night at a wildlife refuge.

The attack happened at 7:30 p.m. near the Rio Grande at a wildlife refuge near Hidalgo. The game warden wasn't injured.

The smuggler was arrested and charged with the assault on the officer, evading arrest, resisting arrest and human smuggling.

MS-13 Member Arrested in Rio Grande City

07/22/2014 11:11 AM

STARR COUNTY - Rio Grande City police detained a member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) after a noise complaint early this morning.

The incident happened at approximately 1 a.m. Officers were dispatched to a home where they noticed two men and two women outside. One of the women and both men ran into the house as the officer approached.

The officer questioned the woman that remained outside the house. She identified herself as the owner of the home.

The woman told… Click to Read More

Jim Hogg County Residents Speak Out about Illegal Immigration

07/21/2014 09:58 PM

HEBBRONVILLE - Residents in Jim Hogg County are dealing with their share of the crisis on the border.

Two highways lead north from the border toward the county seat in Hebbronville.

Traveling north on FM 649, there is no sign of any effort at border security. The ranch fences, though, reveal the damage ranchers say is caused by illegal immigrants.

Ranchers say immigrants jump fences to circumvent the Border Patrol checkpoint.

"At the Border Patrol station, I kn… Click to Read More

Brownsville Man Wants National Guard on His Land

07/21/2014 09:54 PM

BROWNSVILLE - A Brownsville man says he is anxious for the arrival of National Guards troops.

Rusty Monsees said he hopes some of the troops will be deployed near his land along the Rio Grande.

Gov. Rick Perry on Monday ordered the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the South Texas border.

"I think it's a good idea," Monsees said.

He would like to have some troops on his land.

"All they have to do is pick up their trash. ... They can utilize t… Click to Read More

Firefight Breaks out Across the Border from Rincon

07/21/2014 07:21 PM

PHARR - A Pharr resident said he heard a firefight happening on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande south of Granjeno.

Lorenzo Anzaldua was on his family's property Thursday providing interviews for national media when the firefight broke out.

Anzaldua, a former soldier, said heavy weapons were used during the clash.

"It was pretty long, as far (as a) battle is concerned," Anzaldua said.

"I didn't hear small-gun fire returned. I just heard that Ma Deuce (.50 BMG… Click to Read More

Border Expert: National Guard Provides False Sense of Security

07/21/2014 06:37 PM

BROWNSVILLE - A University of Texas at Brownsville border security expert says deploying National Guard troops to the region may not have the impact many are expecting.

Gov. Rick Perry on Monday ordered the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the border.

Guadalupe Correa Cabrera said the National Guard may bring a false sense of security to many residents.

"The National Guard doesn't do much to solve a problem on the ground. They are not qualified to do ma… Click to Read More

Rio Grande City Mayor Welcomes National Guard Deployment

07/21/2014 06:28 PM

RIO GRANDE CITY - Mayor Ruben Villarreal welcomed the governor's decision to deploy the National Guard to the border.

The Rio Grande City mayor said the recent surge in illegal immigration is draining law enforcement resources in his city.

Villarreal said police often are tied up waiting for overwhelmed Border Patrol agents to pick people who have crossed illegally into the United States.

The immigration surge is keeping officers away from their regular patrols, the ma… Click to Read More

Report Debunks Explanation behind Mass Exodus from Central America

07/21/2014 06:23 PM

WESLACO - A new intelligence report reveals more information about the recent wave of immigrants crossing illegally into the United States.

The report also sheds some light into the possible motive behind the illegal crossings.

Officials have said illegal immigrants from Central America are crossing the border to flee violence in their countries. The report, on the other hand, states that most of those people are here to reunite with their families and better themselves financ… Click to Read More

Veteran: Immigration Crisis Overshadows VA Problems

07/18/2014 07:18 PM

McALLEN - A veteran says the immigration crisis impacting the Rio Grande Valley is overshadowing problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Juan Garcia served two tours of duty during the Vietnam War. He is one of the countless veterans who continue struggling with the VA for medical care.

"I finally had it done this Tuesday, almost three months after my doctor wanted me to get an MRI," Garcia said.

Garcia wants to know why those who crossed into the United States… Click to Read More

Immigrants Use Pipeline Path to Circumvent Checkpoint

07/18/2014 07:13 PM

BROOKS COUNTY - A natural gas pipeline has become a back road around a Border Patrol checkpoint near Falfurrias.

The construction for the pipeline cut a path along the rugged South Texas brush. Brooks County ranchers say illegal immigrants now are using that path.

The region still posses a serious threat to those who try to circumvent the Border Patrol checkpoint. One rancher set up multiple water stations in an effort to prevent more deaths.

Lavoyger Durham manages a … Click to Read More

Sheriffs Visit Falfurrias to Learn About Immigration Surge

07/18/2014 07:07 PM

FALFURRIAS - Sheriffs from throughout the nation gathered in Brooks County to learn more about the immigration crisis affecting South Texas.

The sheriffs said the surge in immigration represents a threat to their communities.

Brooks County Rancher Dr. Mike Vickers and his wife Linda gave the lawmen a quick glimpse into the crisis.

"We have four deputies to cover 1,000 miles. It's one man per shift. We are pretty much on our own," Vickers told the sheriffs

"They… Click to Read More

Landowners Apprehensive About Militia's Presence in the Valley

07/18/2014 06:51 PM

HIDALGO COUNTY - Some landowners say they will not welcome a civilian militia onto their lands.

The landowners said the Minutemen militia will bring only problems to the region.

State law enforcement officials confirmed the presence of the militia in the region.

The group was initially trying to set up camp earlier this week near the international bridge in Pharr. They left after property owners said they didn't want them on their land.

Authorities say the grou… Click to Read More

Militia Seeks to Set Up Camp in Hidalgo County

07/18/2014 03:23 PM

HIDALGO COUNTY - State law enforcement officials confirmed the presence of a civilian militia in the Rio Grande Valley.

The group, however, has not made contact with any law enforcement group.

The group, known as the Minutemen, was initially trying to set up camp earlier this week near the international bridge in Pharr. They left after property owners said they didn't want them on their land.

Authorities say the group headed west.

Valley Residents React to DPS Surge

07/17/2014 06:37 PM

WESLACO - The Texas Department of Public Safety trooper surge along the Rio Grande Valley has drawn mixed reactions from residents and business owners.

The $1.3-million-a-week surge seeks to close gaps in patrols and cut cartel smuggling routes, state officials said.

A Progreso Lakes couple said they see constant illegal activity near their home.

"I call it my window into the illegal activity ... because that's what you see," the woman said.

The couple moved in… Click to Read More

New Immigrant Facility to Open in McAllen

07/17/2014 04:38 PM

McALLEN - A new immigrant processing facility is set to open Friday in McAllen.

The facility is at the intersection of Ware Road and Ursula Avenue and will cater to unaccompanied minors.

Starting Friday, the Border Patrol will be able to handle up to 1,000 unaccompanied minors inside the 55,000-square-foot facility.

The facility is a system of wire mesh cages in four separate pods. The children will sleep on foam rubber mats on the floor. Each pod will have an elevated… Click to Read More

Report Sheds Light into Immigration Court Procedures

07/16/2014 06:57 PM

WESLACO - A new report sheds some light into the plight unaccompanied minors experience in the immigration court system.

The report done by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse revealed that one factor alone may tip the scales in the children's favor.

The organization collects monthly statistics from immigration courts and provides a snapshot of how the courts are working.

To get the clearest picture, the group excluded unaccompanied minors from Mexico, since… Click to Read More

Smugglers Operate in Plain Sight Across the River from Roma

07/16/2014 06:32 PM

ROMA - Smugglers are operating in plain view and during the day along the Mexican side of the Rio Grande across the border from Roma.

A CHANNEL 5 NEWS crew watched as the smugglers blew up rafts, took payments and sent men floating across the river.

The smugglers threatened the news crews.

Dozen of vehicles circled the river bank on the Mexican side all day. Many of the vehicles had Texas license plates.

Less than a mile away, it was business as usual at Riverv… Click to Read More

2 Harlingen Buildings to Become Centers for Young Illegal Immigrants

07/16/2014 04:20 PM

HARLINGEN - Two buildings in Harlingen will be converted into processing centers for young illegal immigrants.

The structures are on North 77 Sunshine Strip, according to city records. The sites will not be used to house immigrants.

"The plans show that there are six classrooms, three medical offices, a dining area and a couple of intake rooms or processing centers. That's in one of the buildings," city of Harlingen Spokesman David Ralph said.

The other building will … Click to Read More

BCFS Walks Away from Palm Aire Hotel Project

07/16/2014 02:38 PM

WESLACO - BCFS Health and Human Services on Wednesday withdrew a proposal to turn a Weslaco hotel into a facility for young illegal immigrants.

A media release from the group of non-profit agencies cited "negative backlash caused by information misreported to the public" as the reason for walking away from the project.

BCFS last week submitted a request for a conditional use permit to relocate its facility from Harlingen to Weslaco. The agency had agreed to use $3.8 million in… Click to Read More

Immigration Advocate Speaks About Airport Incident

07/16/2014 11:37 AM

WESLACO - An immigration advocate detained at McAllen-Miller International Airport Tuesday said the incident was not a publicity stunt.

Border Patrol officials released Jose Antonio Vargas a few hours after his detention. Vargas was trying to board a flight to California.

Vargas is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and has been living in the United States illegally since he was a child.

He was asked on CNN how it was possible that he didn't know he would get extra sc… Click to Read More

Couple Accused of Harboring Illegal Immigrants

07/15/2014 07:15 PM

McALLEN - A federal judge on Tuesday ordered a husband and wife be held without bond for their alleged roles in the kidnapping of three illegal immigrants.

Authorities say the alleged human smugglers held three people from Honduras in a house in Penitas. They are accused of calling the immigrants' families to demand thousands of dollars for their release.

The suspects allegedly told one family in Virginia that they would sell their daughter to a brothel if they didn't pay.

Click to Read More

MS-13 Member Arrested in La Grulla

07/15/2014 07:04 PM

STARR COUNTY - La Grulla police found a member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang among several illegal immigrants.

A La Grulla police officer pulled over a vehicle after a traffic violation. The officer discovered several undocumented immigrants.

The officer said he was shocked to find a member of the hyper-violent gang among the immigrants. He said the 26-year-old illegal immigrant from El Salvador was covered in tattoos linking him to the criminal organization.

Th… Click to Read More

Immigrants Diagnosed with Chicken Pox in McAllen

07/15/2014 06:57 PM

McALLEN - Eight illegal immigrants being housed at Sacred Heart Catholic Church were diagnosed with chicken pox.

Officials said the immigrants are in remission.

Several other immigrants were diagnosed with scabies and lice.

McAllen Doctor a Target of 'Virtual Kidnapping'

07/15/2014 06:50 PM

McALLEN - Federal authorities say physicians may be the newest target of drug cartels in the Rio Grande Valley.

Dr. Noel Lopez said he received a call from a man claiming to be a member of the Zetas drug cartel. The caller demanded money from Lopez in exchange for his daughter's life.

"Let me talk to my daughter; I want to hear her voice," Lopez said.

Lopez received another call at his McAllen office. The man at the other end of the line claimed to be a physician. Lope… Click to Read More

Immigration Activist Detained in McAllen

07/15/2014 11:16 AM

McALLEN (AP) - Immigration activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who has lived and worked in the U.S. without legal documentation for years, was detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents on Tuesday at McAllen-Miller International Airport.

Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora said Vargas was in custody after being stopped going through security at the airport. Zamora said he had no other details about the case.

Vargas had been visiting the borde… Click to Read More

Police: Smugglers Resorting to Desperate Escape Tactics

07/14/2014 07:39 PM

WESLACO - The increase in patrols along the border may be driving criminals to resort to dangerous getaway tactics, police said.

The San Juan Police Department is on alert after a driver used spikes against Border Patrol agents.

Area law enforcement agencies found out about the spikes incident via an e-mail sent over the weekend.

"The e-mails go out to let us know about what's happening," San Juan Police Sgt. Rolando Garcia said.

Border Patrol agents were chasi… Click to Read More

RV Parks Uncertain About Impact of Immigration Crisis on Winter Texans

07/14/2014 07:21 PM

SOUTH OF MERCEDES - Winter Texans are keeping a close eye on the immigration crisis unfolding in the Rio Grande Valley.

Llano Grande RV Park and Resort resident Roger Sefton said it's unclear how illegal immigration will impact the Winter Texan numbers in the region.

Sefton patrols the RV park.

"We check everybody in. We take their license number, ask them where they're going ... the purpose of their visit," Sefton said.

The RV park is about three quarters of a… Click to Read More

Hotel to Undergo Transformation into Immigrant Center

07/14/2014 06:38 PM

WESLACO - A center for unaccompanied minors set to open in Weslaco later this year will be the first of its kind in the nation, officials with a network of non-profits said.

BCFS Health and Human Services secured a multi-million federal contract to house young illegal immigrants at the site of the current Palm Aire Hotel and Suites on FM 1015.

Representatives with BCFS said the Palm Aire will undergo a multi-million dollar transformation.

BCFS runs a temporary detentio… Click to Read More

UN: Humanitarian Crisis a Multi-National Problem

07/14/2014 06:26 PM

WESLACO - The United States is not the only nation facing an influx of unaccompanied children, United Nations officials said.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to the UN to learn more about the migration phenomenon.

The UN is tracking the increase in young children leaving their home countries alone. They say the United States is receiving the highest numbers of those children.

The UN in 2009 started tracking increasing numbers of unaccompanied children leaving Central Americ… Click to Read More

BCFS Reveals Plans for Palm Aire Hotel

07/14/2014 03:22 PM

WESLACO - BCFS Health and Human Services secured a $50-million federal contract to house young illegal immigrants in Weslaco.

The network of non-profit agencies will take over the Palm Aire Hotel and Suites on FM 1015.

BCFS officials say they plan to have 600 beds once the hotel is turned into immigrant housing. They say 650 jobs will be created at the site.

BCFS is the agency that set up a temporary detention cent… Click to Read More

Rep. Hinojosa Visits Valley to Assess Recent Surge in Illegal Immigration

07/12/2014 07:23 PM

EDINBURG - Congressman Ruben Hinojosa visited the Rio Grande Valley today concerning the unaccompanied minors situation along the border.

During a press conference he said many of the people fLeeing to our southern border are doing so out of fear and desperation due to the threat of violence in their home countries.

Hinojosa is one of the many lawmakers who has recently visited the Valley concerning the surge of undocumented immigrants.

The issue has generated nationwi… Click to Read More

Los Ebanos Residents On Edge as Immigration Flow Increases

07/10/2014 06:37 PM

LOS EBANOS - Hundreds of illegal immigrants use Anzalduas Park to cross into the United States every day. Others choose more secluded areas, like the small community of Los Ebanos.

Residents of the small town are concerned about the increase in illegal activity. Still, they are not sure about the involvement of civil militias.

Families in Los Ebanos say their neighborhoods used to be peaceful and safe. Now, they're in the midst of a national crisis and face threats of danger e… Click to Read More

Massachusetts Sheriff Says Immigration Surge is Impacting his County

07/09/2014 09:45 PM

WESLACO - A sheriff in a county more than 1,500 miles from the Rio Grande Valley says his state and other states are becoming surrogate border states.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said he and other sheriffs from across the country plan to visit South Texas next week to learn more about how authorities are dealing with along the border.

Hodgson said plane loads of unaccompanied children have been flown to Massachusetts without the government notifying local authorities… Click to Read More

Professor Criticizes Obama's Decision to Stay Away from the Border

07/09/2014 06:45 PM

EDINBURG - A University of Texas-Pan American political science professor says it's important for the president to visit the border.

Dr. Jerry Polinard said President Obama's presence in the Rio Grande Valley would have been symbolic and politically important.

"We are the most Democratic part of a Republican state. I think that it would be important for him to make an appearance," Polinard said.

Polinard said it's a big mistake for Obama not to come to the border a… Click to Read More

Hidalgo County Judge Defends President's Decision Not to Visit the Valley

07/09/2014 06:42 PM

EDINBURG - The Hidalgo County judge says it is not necessary for President Obama to visit the Rio Grande Valley to witness the current immigration crisis.

Judge Ramon Garcia said the president is working to get additional resources to deal with the issue.

"He requested $2 billion from Congress to appropriate for this issue, as a result from getting information from his administrative assistants, from congressmen, from the committees, from somewhere. He now has upped that reque… Click to Read More

Residents Question President's Reluctance to Visit the Valley

07/09/2014 06:33 PM

McALLEN - Rio Grande Valley residents are questioning President Obama's decision not to visit the border during his trip to Texas.

Monica Weisberg-Stewart, with the Texas Border Coalition, said it was disappointing to find out that the president would not visit the region. She lobbies in Washington for immigration reform.

"Being in Texas and seeing an issue firsthand, a catastrophic issue ... a short flight from Dallas, would be just very nice to see him see this situation fir… Click to Read More

Obama Defends Decision Not to Visit Border

07/09/2014 06:13 PM

DALLAS (AP) - President Barack Obama, seeking to keep a humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border from becoming a deeper political liability, pushed back Wednesday at critics who have cast his administration's response to the influx of unaccompanied children as slow and ineffective.

To those pressing Obama to visit the border during his two-day trip to Texas, he retorted: "This is not theater. This is a problem."

Among Obama's harshest critics has been Texas Gov. R… Click to Read More

Obama heads to Texas with no plans to visit RGV

07/09/2014 06:39 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is increasingly becoming a political liability for President Barack Obama, giving Republicans a fresh opportunity to question his administration's competence and complicating the debate over the nation's fractured immigration laws.

Still, Obama is resisting calls to visit the border during his two-day fundraising trip to Texas, where he arrives Wednesday evening. Instead, he will hold a meeting hundreds of miles a… Click to Read More

Militia Intent on Patrolling the Border

07/08/2014 09:45 PM

VON ORMY - Members of a militia say they are preparing a military style operation to help secure the Texas border with Mexico.

The group is organizing in Van Ormy, just south of San Antonio.

The militia's commander, Chris Davis, spoke with CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

"We are here to assist law enforcement due to various reasons. One (reason is the) cost in overtime and stuff for Border Patrol and all these extra agents that are being sent down there. Two, they lack the manpower to… Click to Read More

Parents Call Local Court Searching for Young Immigrants

07/08/2014 06:47 PM

EDINBURG - The influx of young illegal immigrants into the Rio Grande Valley has the phones at the 449th District Court ringing nonstop, officials said.

Judge Jesse Contreras said people from Central America call constantly asking for children who have crossed the border illegally.

Contreras said many of the cases in his court are teens accused of smuggling.

"There's been a steady increase for the past two years of that type of, I guess, force into smuggling of persons… Click to Read More

Official: Immigration Surge a Windfall for Smugglers

07/08/2014 06:36 PM

WESLACO - The surge in illegal immigration in South Texas is resulting in big profits for smugglers.

Illegal immigrants pay thousands of dollars to get from their homeland to the U.S.-Mexico border. Once they get to the Rio Grande, they're finding out that their costly journey is not always paying off like they hoped.

Illegal immigrants often end up on their own once their cross into the United States. Border Patrol agents arrest many of them.

Border Patrol agent Joe G… Click to Read More

Testy Exchange Between Perry, Obama over Immigration Crisis

07/08/2014 06:29 PM

WESLACO - A testy exchange of letters happened Tuesday between Gov. Rick Perry and President Obama over the surge of illegal immigration in South Texas.

The president visited Austin for a political fund-raising event. He agreed to meet with Perry in Dallas to discuss the immigration crisis. Perry wants him to visit the Rio Grande Valley to witness the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.

The first volley came from Perry, who said he'd already asked the president severa… Click to Read More

Interim Sheriff: Militias not Needed

07/08/2014 06:23 PM

EDINBURG - Hidalgo County's interim sheriff said he does not need militias to help patrol the region.

Interim Sheriff Jose Eduardo Guerra said militias from Texas and other parts of the country have contacted him. He said they offered to help deal with influx of illegal immigrants.

Guerra said he has gotten letters from anti-government organizations.

Guerra said the militias' growing interest in the region is due to the increased national attention on the surge in ille… Click to Read More

Militia Sets Up Command Center South of San Antonio

07/08/2014 06:16 PM

VON ORMY - A militia is gathering south of San Antonio to prepare for what they say is a mission to secure the border.

A leader with the group said they will deploy to Laredo first and spread from there to other parts of the border. The group set up a command center in Von Ormy to train and get organized.

The group has a website called Patriot Information Hotline. The group will not say how many members make up the militia.

The commander is a man named Chris Davis.

Click to Read More

President Requests More Funds for Immigration Crisis

07/08/2014 04:30 PM

WESLACO - President Obama is nearly doubling the amount of money he's requesting from Congress to help in the humanitarian crisis caused by the surge in illegal immigration.

The request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding comes as the president travels to Texas on a fund-raising trip. Obama agreed to meet with Gov. Rick Perry Wednesday in Dallas to talk about the crisis, but refused to travel to South Texas.

A large part of the proposed border budget would go to caring for t… Click to Read More

Immigration Surge Draining Police Department's Budget

07/07/2014 06:45 PM

SAN JUAN - Police officials with the city of San Juan want lawmakers to see firsthand how the immigration surge is impacting their budget.

Sgt. Rolando Garcia said the massive numbers of illegal immigrants from Central America trekking through the city are draining the department's budget.

Garcia said overtime funds meant to keep drugs, weapons and other criminal activity off the streets are being used to deal with the illegal-immigrant problem.

"With the increase of s… Click to Read More

Hearings Shed Light on DPS Surge Along the Border

07/07/2014 06:18 PM

WESLACO - The state of Texas is conducting one of the most robust security operations to shut down Mexican drug cartels along the border, officials said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has a $1.3-million-a-week budget specifically for that purpose, state leaders said.

Hours of congressional testimony shed some light on where that money is being spent. CHANNEL 5 NEWS compared the current strategy to a 21-day operation held in the region in 2013.

"If you can coord… Click to Read More

CBP Ads in Central America Aim to Deter Illegal Immigration

07/07/2014 11:49 AM

WESLACO - Customs and Border Protection officials are advertising in Central America to deter people from trying to cross into the U.S. illegally. The campaign is intended to show the dangers to children and families.

The ads will run through the summer. A recent tide of Central Americans illegally entering the U.S. has overwhelmed the federal immigration system. Unlike undocumented Mexican immigrants, who are often immediately deported, the U.S. detains and processes Central American… Click to Read More

Mission Popular Crossing Area for Illegal Immigrants

07/07/2014 06:12 AM

MISSION - Since October, Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley detained more than 194,000 people. That's nearly triple the number of any other sector.

Agents have zeroed in on the most popular place to cross. It's a 5-mile strip along the river, south of Mission.

In the first week of June, more than 2,800 people turned themselves in. Border Patrol considers the area the highest-volume arrest zone on the entire U.S. border.

Hidalgo County Republican Party Demands Action on Immigration Crisis

07/01/2014 09:31 PM

EDINBURG - The Hidalgo County Republican Party sent a letter to President Obama asking for action to mitigate the immigration crisis gripping the region.

Party members urged the president to "adhere to current immigration law and to direct all agencies in charge ... to provide safe transport back to the countries of origin, rather than a resettlement within U.S. borders."

The letter states th… Click to Read More

Smugglers Threaten Landowners in Cameron County

07/01/2014 07:07 PM

BROWNSVILLE - Ranchers along the Rio Grande say immigrant smugglers threaten them constantly.

One Cameron County rancher said smugglers ordered him to look the other way or face the consequences.

The landowner said smugglers are using trails on his property to bring illegal immigrants into the country.

The rancher said he fears for his safety.

"You don't see anything; you don't talk to anybody," he said.

He said smugglers stop at nothing to get the immi… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Agents Worry About Contagious Diseases

07/01/2014 06:48 PM

WESLACO - The spread of scabies, chicken pox and other diseases within Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol facilities may be getting out of control, a leader with the agents' union said.

National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 Vice President Christopher Cabrera said the federal government is not serious about solving the problem.

Cabrera said agents have to deal with health issues affecting the immigrants. He said agents are encountering many sick immigrants, including women and… Click to Read More

Mother Asked Young Migrant Not to Leave Home

07/01/2014 06:27 PM

WESLACO - The mother of an 11-year-old boy who died near the banks of the Rio Grande said she urged him not to leave their native Guatemala.

Authorities say Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez succumbed to heatstroke about a mile away from houses near La Joya. An area resident discovered the body on June 16.

Gilberto's body will be sent back to Guatemala once Hidalgo County issues a death certificate.

A telephone number on the back of Gilberto's belt buckle helped Hidalgo … Click to Read More

DPS Officials to Testify about Border Surge Operation

07/01/2014 07:37 AM

AUSTIN - Beefed up state patrols along the Texas-Mexico border are back in the spotlight. Two weeks ago, Governor Rick Perry authorized an additional $1.3 million a week for a border surge operation, which would increase state patrols along the border.

Texas Department of Public Safety officials will testify about the new operation in Austin today. They'll address the Texas House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.

President to Redirect Federal Resources to Border, Requests Emergency Funding

07/01/2014 07:18 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Barack Obama said he's done waiting for Congress to act on immigration. He plans to do what he can on his own.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS has reported on the waves of Central American mothers and children arriving in the Rio Grande Valley. The president called the crowded cells filled with young children a humanitarian crisis that can only be fixed by immigration reform.

The first executive action is the deployment of all available interior resources to the so… Click to Read More

Illegal Immigrant on Edge as DPS Patrols Increase

06/30/2014 07:00 PM

HARLINGEN - An illegal immigrant fears the increased presence of Texas Department of Public Safety troopers in the Rio Grande Valley may cost him his livelihood.

The man said he also fears for his family's wellbeing.

"I crossed for the first time in 2000 and (again) in 2003," the man said.

The man, known only as Jesus, is from El Salvador.

"My experiences are very sad. The first time I crossed it was sad and fast. I waited a few days at someone's house," he sai… Click to Read More

Body Discovery Unsettles Residents Near La Joya

06/30/2014 06:57 PM

McALLEN - A young illegal immigrant died yards away from houses near La Joya. Those who live in the area believe he may have been searching for help.

Area residents think 11-year-old Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez got lost in the brush. The Guatemalan boy's body was found on June 15. Authorities said the body was badly decomposed. They used a telephone number they found on the back of his belt buckle to contact relatives and make a positive identification.

Jose Castaneda live… Click to Read More

Telephone Number Helps Investigators Identify Immigrant's Body

06/30/2014 06:15 PM

EDINBURG - A telephone number on the back of a belt buckle helped Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department investigators identify the body of a young illegal immigrant.

Interim Sheriff Jose E. Guerra said the body was badly decomposed. The telephone number on the buckle led them to the 11-year-old boy's brother in Chicago.

"Three phone numbers were located on the body. One in particular was located behind the belt buckle. Through further investigation, contact was made via one of t… Click to Read More

Startled Horse Leads to Boy's Body

06/30/2014 03:21 PM

HIDALGO COUNTY - A startled horse led to the discovery of a young illegal immigrant's body earlier this month near La Joya.

The 11-year-old boy's body was found less than 100 yards away from several houses and 2 miles from the river.

A family who lives nearby raises horses.

"The horse came to the body and started kicking and everything. We came and we saw the body. The horse was kicking and everything, it got scared," Jose Castaneda said.

Castaneda said he ran … Click to Read More

Decomposed Body Identified as 11-Year-old Guatemalan Boy

06/30/2014 11:21 AM

LA JOYA - The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office identified a body found earlier this month as an 11-year-old boy from Guatemala.

The remains of 11-year-old Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez were found outside La Joya on June 15. Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said this is the first time his officers found someone so young dead in the brush.

Authorities learned his age, name and native county with the help of a phone number he had on him and the Guatemalan consulate's office. … Click to Read More

Homeland Security Secretary Returns to McAllen

06/30/2014 11:19 AM

MCALLEN - U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is touring a Border Patrol immigrant holding facility in McAllen.

Johnson's visit comes on the heels of a visit just two weeks ago, when the media was not allowed to question him at all. It also follows two new developments in the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S. illegally.

The first is the death of an 11-year-old child who was crossing into the United States. He was found days before Johnson's last vi… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Investigating Alleged Sexual Attack Inside Facility

06/29/2014 09:50 PM

STARR COUNTY - The Sheriff's Office in Starr County is investigating a case of alleged sexual assault, inside a Border Patrol facility.

Information is limited because this case involves two juveniles. We do know the victim and alleged suspect were both illegal immigrants being held for processing.

The Starr County Sheriff's Office says the alleged incident happened inside the holding facility at the Rio Grande City Border Patrol station.

They say both illegal immigrant… Click to Read More

Body of 11-Year-Old Illegal Immigrant Found

06/29/2014 09:42 PM

LA JOYA - The body of an 11-year-old boy has been found in La Joya.

The body was found in the brush near South Patricio Perez street in La Joya on June 15, but we are just getting a word from the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department.

The department says they have reason to believe the 11-year-old was an unaccompanied boy from Guatamala.

More details will be released Monday morning.

Immigration Attorney Discusses Politicians Courting Immigration Issue

06/28/2014 08:02 PM

RIO GRANDE VALLEY - Immigration attorney Lionel Perez spent decades representing illegal immigrants in asylum hearings here in the Valley.

He says he's been watching the recent increase of illegal alien crossings and has mixed feelings about whether or not they should be allowed to stay.

"My legal brain says the law says no and my human brain says they deserve a break. Somewhere in there lies the truth," said Perez.

Perez says the recent surge of politicians coming to … Click to Read More

Illegal Immigrant Speaks About Politicians Visiting Border Patrol Facilities

06/28/2014 07:41 PM

MCALLEN - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is the latest high profile politician to visit the immigration children at the Border Patrol facilities.

CHANNEL FIVE's Lauren Kendrick went to a shelter to see what illegal immigrants have to say about politicians visiting.

Since we've been reporting on the surge of illegal immigrants coming into the Rio Grande Valley, we've told you about the living quarters these immigrants are staying in.

We've seen pictures of cramped r… Click to Read More

Few Young Illegal Immigrants Tested for HIV

06/27/2014 09:21 PM

McALLEN - Children entering the country illegally are being tested for things like scabies and lice. Most, however, are not being tested for HIV.

The Valley AIDS Council is only testing children that may remain in the United States long-term.

"What's important for folks to realize is that those youths are going to be here long-term," said Oscar Lopez, director of education and prevention at VIC.

"They do get screened and get a fantastic education with the different pro… Click to Read More

Abbott: More Immigrants Surrendering to Border Patrol

06/27/2014 09:17 PM

McALLEN - The number of illegal immigrants surrendering to Border Patrol has hit an all-time high, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said.

Abbott said the state will spend millions in an effort to secure the Rio Grande Valley. The AG said the federal government will ultimately be responsible for reimbursing the state that money.

Abbott is the latest official to tour Border Patrol processing centers in the Valley. He said the number of illegal immigrants surrendering in the Va… Click to Read More

Volunteer Sets up Water Stations in Brooks County

06/27/2014 07:07 PM

FALFURRIAS - A volunteer in Brooks County is setting out water bottles in the vast rangelands to help the illegal immigrants trekking through the region.

Brooks County is one of the major human smuggling corridors in South Texas. Countless bodies have been recovered from the inhospitable brush.

"Most people don't want people to die in their ranches," volunteer Eddie Canales said.

Canales began installing water stations six months ago. The stations consist of gallon-jug… Click to Read More

Expert: Asylum Petition Outcomes Vary Widely

06/27/2014 06:41 PM

McALLEN - The outcome of an asylum request varies widely all across the country, legal experts said.

An immigrant's chances of being granted asylum depend on the section of the country where the immigration court is located. Even the specific courtroom can have an impact on the outcome.

The numbers are literally all over the map when it comes to asylum grant rates.

The numbers of asylum petitions granted from 2007 to 2012 range from zero for one judge and 95 percent fo… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Agents Try to Dissuade Central Americans from Migrating

06/27/2014 06:31 PM

WESLACO - Border Patrol agents say drug cartels are taking advantage of the recent surge of unaccompanied minors into the United States.

The cartels' reach extends the length of the border between Mexico and the United States.

A news crew for an Arizona television station recently toured the desert with a Border Patrol spokesman near Tucson. The agent said they are not seeing the same type of surge of immigrants from countries other than Mexico, like in the Rio Grande Valley.<… Click to Read More

Smuggler Attacks Game Warden

06/27/2014 04:55 PM

HIDALGO COUNTY - State officials say a human smuggler attacked a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden on the Rio Grande near Anzalduas Dam.

Authorities arrested Ramon Lopez, 31, on multiple charges, including assault of a public servant.

Game wardens say this is the first time they file state charges on a suspected human smuggler.

Officials say Lopez was trying to cross more than 10 people in a rubber raft. The game warden placed him on the state's boat and … Click to Read More

Catholic Charities to Open Hub to Help Illegal Immigrants

06/27/2014 04:36 PM

HARLINGEN - Catholic Charities is searching for a building to serve as a hub for services for illegal immigrants coming into the Rio Grande Valley.

Officials with the agency said the building is in Harlingen, but did not disclose the exact location.

Catholic Charities works with Border Patrol to provide services for illegal immigrants released from custody. The immigrants are released at the bus stations in Brownsville and McAllen.

"These individuals are tired. They've… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Chief Thanks Hidalgo County Leaders, Civic Organizations

06/27/2014 04:08 PM

McALLEN - The Border Patrol sector chief for the Rio Grande Valley issued a letter thanking city of McAllen and Hidalgo County leaders for their help with the ongoing immigration crisis.

Kevin Oaks also thanked non-government and faith-based organizations for providing care for the thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America that have arrived in the region.

Oaks said Border Patrol will continue to bring more resources and to th… Click to Read More

Intelligence Company Says Drug Cartels Exploit Illegal Immigrants

06/27/2014 04:07 PM

AUSTIN - A Texas based global intelligence firm agrees drug cartels exploit immigrants.

Tristan Reed of Stratfor from Austin says cartels are not fueling the recent surge in Central Americans, but they are taking advantage of situation.

He says immigrants mean big cash for the cartels.

"They (immigrants) are victimized along the way. Sometimes they are held in a safe house and more money is demanded from the family," said Reed. "Sometimes, as migrants come across they'… Click to Read More

Increase in Illegal Immigrant Children Affects Other Border States

06/27/2014 01:42 PM

RIO GRANDE VALLEY - The effect of unaccompanied children into the U.S. reaches far beyond the Rio Grande Valley.

It runs all the way to Arizona, but with one major difference.

A news crew with an Arizona television station recently drove into the desert with a spokesman with U.S. Border Patrol.

They talked about drug cartels' control of smuggling routes, and the risks of walking for days in 115 degree heat.

Arizona Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame says they h… Click to Read More

Immigration Rights Groups Hold Vigil for Central American Children

06/27/2014 12:28 PM

MCALLEN - Immigration rights organizations in the Rio Grande Valley are doing their part to draw attention to the plight of unaccompanied Central American children entering the U.S.

They held a vigil today in front of McAllen's Sacred Heart Church. Members of ARISE, LUPE, and their supporters read from biblical passages, then called upon officials to make several changes to address the issue.

Their recommendations include special immigrant status for abused or neglected childr… Click to Read More

McAllen Not Ready To Declare State of Emergency

06/26/2014 09:32 PM

McALLEN - McAllen City Attorney Kevin Pagan says the city is not declaring a state of emergency for the humanitarian crisis since there is currently no threat to public health, and no increase in crime within the city.

Pagan said city officials hope to get federal help without declaring an emergency.

Pagan said the option is re-evaluated daily. He said it's not something that should be taken lightly.

"Declaring an emergency is not an automatic path to resources. Not de… Click to Read More

Volunteers Focus on Humanitarian Effort

06/26/2014 09:28 PM

McALLEN - Volunteers at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen are offering transportation, meals and medical treatment to dozens of illegal immigrants being released by Border Patrol.

The volunteer group continues to grow at the church. They are helping Central Americans crossing the border illegally. The city of McAllen is part of the effort.

Kevin Pagan, McAllen's emergency manager and city attorney, said he is not concerned with any possible liability.

"Providing … Click to Read More

Businesses Benefit from Surge in Law Enforcement

06/26/2014 06:49 PM

McALLEN - The increase in the number of federal and state law enforcers in the region is turning into extra profits for local businesses.

The troopers and agents are bringing extra profits for restaurants, hotels and even dry cleaners.

Felipe Avila said his cleaners are getting more Border Patrol uniforms. Hotel operators said the law enforcers' arrival is helping offset what is typically their slow time of the year.

Border Patrol deployed an additional 100 agents to t… Click to Read More

Immigration Surge Poses Different Challenges for Brownsville and McAllen

06/26/2014 06:42 PM

BROWNSVILLE - The cities of Brownsville and McAllen are pitching in to help illegal immigrants released from Border Patrol custody. Each city, though, faces unique challenges.

"McAllen has a very unique and different situation than Brownsville does. While there are a lot of similarities of what is happening, there are differences," Brownsville Emergency Manager Jeff Johnston said.

One of the main differences lies in each city's bus station and how long immigrants have to wait … Click to Read More

Honduran Delegation Visits Hidalgo County

06/26/2014 06:25 PM

McALLEN - A Honduran delegation, headed by that country's first lady, arrived in Hidalgo County Thursday to learn more about the wave of illegal immigrants impacting the region.

Honduras First Lady Ana Garcia de Hernandez echoed U.S. officials by calling the surge in immigration a humanitarian issue. She said the crisis also is affecting her country.

Garcia said she wants to find out what both nations can do to find solutions.

Garcia and the Honduran delegation got a f… Click to Read More

Brooks County Ranchers Worry About Criminal Immigrants

06/26/2014 06:16 PM

FALFURRIAS - Sex offenders, murder suspects and gang members are making their way through the vast rangelands of Brooks County.

The Vickers ranch is one of the many land spreads affected by the surge in illegal immigration. What is more concerning to the ranch owners is the type of people trekking through their land.

Linda Vickers never wanders away from her house without her trusty canine companions - Blitz, Elsa, Schotten and Tinkerbell.

The dogs provide a sense of s… Click to Read More

City of Brownsville Retrofitting Building to Care for Illegal Immigrants

06/26/2014 04:15 PM

BROWNSVILLE - Officials with the city of Brownsville are remodeling a downtown building to provide services to illegal immigrants being released from Border Patrol custody.

The building would provide added space and augment the efforts going on at Immaculate Conception Church.

City officials said work started at the old store to make the structure code-compliant. The municipality bought the Casa del Nylon building on Adams Street years ago, but it was never occupied.

W… Click to Read More

Attorney: Asylum Requests on the Rise

06/26/2014 04:11 PM

WESLACO - The wave of illegal immigrants continues to push through the Rio Grande Valley. Now, many of those people are petitioning for asylum.

Immigration Attorney Carlos Garcia said most of his clients seeking asylum are from Central America.

"About 75 percent of our clients are Central Americans," Garcia said.

Garcia said the U.S. Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights P… Click to Read More

First Lady of Honduras Visiting the RGV

06/26/2014 08:35 AM

WESLACO - The first lady of Honduras is visiting the United States as part of the country's task force on child migration. A wave of unaccompanied minors from Central America has been crossing illegally into the U.S. Authorities are scrambling to set up facilities to house and process the children.

First Lady of Honduras Ana Garcia de Hernandez joined others, like the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, in calling the issue a humanitarian crisis. She'll be visiting housing facilities… Click to Read More

Building Plans Revealed for Unaccompanied Minors' Temporary Housing

06/25/2014 08:01 PM

MCALLEN - Construction crews are working to turn an old warehouse into a new processing center for unaccompanied children who entered the U.S. illegally.

Jorge Kuri works near the site. "Well, I know they are preparing for something," he told us. "For the last years... it's been empty."

Kuri isn't sure what used to be in the building. Documents show the site was used for "industrial manufacturing" and "low hazard storage."

The General Services Administration is now lea… Click to Read More

List Shows Illegal Immigrants Preparing for Border Patrol Questions

06/25/2014 06:46 PM

WESLACO - People crossing the border illegally are getting prepped for questions they'll get once they reach the United States.

A Border Patrol agent stationed in the Rio Grande Valley sent CHANNEL 5 NEWS a photo of a piece of paper with the list of questions. The list is in Spanish and typed.

Questions include:
Do you have family in the United States?
Have you ever lived here?
Is this the first time you've entered this country?
Did someone tell you if you … Click to Read More

Park Experience Different with Increased DPS Patrols

06/25/2014 06:45 PM

MISSION - DPS troopers are changing Anzalduas Park in Mission into a border security stronghold.

Families at the park who used to visit to barbecue, fish and relax said it's not the same. Monica Tatum returned to the park with her son. It's been 20 years since her last visit.

"It is a lot different. ... We used to come and have a good time here," she told us. "I wanted to take him here and let him see the stuff that I grew up with and how different it is from back then and… Click to Read More

Documents Needed to Start Investigation into Mass Graves

06/25/2014 06:44 PM

FALFURRIAS - Texas Rangers will investigate the handling and processing of the remains of unidentified illegal immigrants found in Brooks County. It's been two weeks since anthropologists exhumed more than 100 unidentified bodies from a mass gravesite.

Since then, Brooks County officials have been bombarded with questions. For years, there wasn't a procedure on how to deal with unidentified bodies. In fact, the county doesn't know who owns the cemetery the bodies were found in.

<… Click to Read More

DHS Secretary Warns illegal Immigrants About Rumors Concerning Crossing the Border

06/25/2014 03:42 PM

RIO GRANDE VALLEY - Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson wrote to Central American parents who are considering sending their children to the United States in the hand of smugglers.

He is asking them to think twice.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS obtained a copy of that letter, which is eight paragraphs long.

In the letter Secretary Johnson said the risk of sending a child alone to the United States is far greater than the reward, and could result in death rather than… Click to Read More

Flu Vaccines Shipped to Lackland to Treat Immigrant Children

06/25/2014 03:11 PM

SAN ANTONIO - Texas is sending 2,000 flu vaccines to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

That's where hundreds of immigrants and unaccompanied children are being held after illegally crossing the border.

CHANNEL 5's Joe Augustine says a child at the base was recently diagnosed with H1N1.

We confirmed the H1N1 case with the Department of Health and Human Services earlier today.

A spokesman in Washington D.C. says a child was recently hospitalized and diagno… Click to Read More

Unaccompanied Minor Sent to Air Base Tested Positive for H1N1

06/25/2014 02:30 PM

SAN ANTONIO - A representative from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed one of the unaccompanied minors at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio has H1N1 flu.

A surge of children have been crossing alone and illegally into the United States. They've been transferred to Lackland Air Force Base.

The state department of health confirmed 2,000 H1N1 vaccinations were approved for shipment to the air base.

Brownsville Catholic Charities Volunteers Experience Heavy Workload

06/25/2014 02:23 PM

BROWNSVILLE - Volunteers at the Immaculate Conception Church in Brownsville have been working hard to provide help for illegal immigrants passing through Brownsville.

Catholic Charities officials say they will do all they can, but they are worried their volunteers may not be able to keep up.

Deacon Roberto Cano said, "The volunteers put in so many hours at the center, that by 10 or 11:30pm, they get burned out."

Deacon Cano said they are short on volunteers. Many volun… Click to Read More

Evidence Illegal Immigrants Are Being Coached Before Crossing the Border

06/25/2014 01:56 PM

RIO GRANDE VALLEY - Evidence obtained by CHANNEL 5 NEWS shows immigrants are being told how to answer questions from Border Patrol when they cross the river.

A Border Patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley sent CHANNEL 5 NEWS a picture of a piece of paper found on a detained immigrant.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS obtained a picture that shows a list of questions typed in Spanish that people are expecting to answer, once they turn themselves in to Border Patrol.

Thousands of people, … Click to Read More

Mexican Official Visits Immigration Detention Center in McAllen

06/24/2014 09:52 PM

McALLEN - Mexico's foreign relations minister visited McAllen Tuesday to meet with U.S. immigration officials and tour a detention center.

Jose Antonio Meade also met with leaders of non-profit agencies helping with the immigration crisis in the region.

Meade visited a detention center to oversee the administrative processes and confirm that the facilities meet safety and health protocols. Meade said Mexico's government wants to ensure the immigrants' human rights are not viol… Click to Read More

Immigrants Get Fresh Clothes at Brownsville Church

06/24/2014 09:40 PM

BROWNSVILLE - Volunteers at Immaculate Conception Church in Brownsville are packing dozens of bags of clothing destined for the landfill.

The countless pieces of clothing belonged to illegal immigrants. Some immigrants said it felt good to get rid of the old apparel.

"We spent five days without changing our clothes since we were detained in immigration. It's horrible to have the same underwear for five days. My child got a rash," a woman named Mirna said.

The woman and… Click to Read More

Families Search for Immigrants in Valley Shelters

06/24/2014 07:19 PM

BROWNSVILLE - Families from across the United States are calling shelters in the Rio Grande Valley looking for loved ones who crossed the border illegally.

Workers at one shelter in Brownsville said the calls are constant.

One of the illegal immigrants at a Brownsville shelter said she left El Salvador 15 days ago. She said her destination is New York, where her relatives live.

"I have six brothers and an aunt (there)," Arelis Vasquez said.

Vasquez was getting … Click to Read More

Church Becomes Epicenter of Humanitarian Effort in McAllen

06/24/2014 04:29 PM

McALLEN - Officials with a Catholic church in McAllen say their involvement in the illegal-immigrant crisis has not affected Mass schedules.

The parish hall at Sacred Heart Catholic Church is ground zero for donations and outreach to the hundreds of illegal immigrants released by Border Patrol at the McAllen bus station.

The parking lot is filled with tents, portable toilets and showers.

Game Wardens to Help Border Patrol Track Smugglers

06/24/2014 04:26 PM

WESLACO - Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens are pitching in to help Border Patrol with the surge in illegal immigration in the Rio Grande Valley.

The game wardens will be looking for drug traffickers, officials said. The overwhelming numbers of immigrants being processed are keeping federal agents from the front lines, officials said.

"In this situation, they are trying to cross a lot of illegals, go up and down the river and try to cross narcotics because Borde… Click to Read More

Homeland Security Secretary Addresses Committee about Wave of Unaccompanied Children

06/24/2014 12:05 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Obama administration is looking at "every possible option to help respond to a flood of immigrants crossing the border illegally in southern Texas." That's according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

It was part of his prepared testimony for today's hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee. Since the start of the budget year in October, the Border Patrol has caught more than 52,000 immigrant children traveling alone into the U.S. Most are f… Click to Read More

Permits Submitted for New Border Patrol Processing Facility

06/24/2014 11:50 AM

MCALLEN - Federal officials are working to prepare a new processing facility for unaccompanied immigrant children in McAllen.

The abandoned warehouse off Ware Road isn't far from the current Border Patrol station in McAllen. The site will be used only to process unaccompanied minors.

The U.S. General Services Administration leased the 55,000-square foot building and applied for permits with the city to remodel it. There's no word yet when the facility will be ready for use.Click to Read More

Starr County Officials Demand Feds Secure Border

06/23/2014 09:24 PM

RIO GRANDE CITY - Starr County is dealing with a high number of illegal crossings. Area leaders say it's going to take more than just a meeting with state leaders to fix the problem.

City officials in Rio Grande City say they are happy the state is helping out, but they want federal officials to do more. Area residents said they are worried about the influx of illegal immigrants and the impact they will have on the county.

"I don't think it is right for everybody to come in he… Click to Read More

Feds to Convert McAllen Warehouse into Immigrant-Processing Facility

06/23/2014 09:15 PM

McALLEN - The federal government has plans to turn an empty warehouse in McAllen into a processing facility for unaccompanied children.

The city of McAllen revealed construction permits for four fence-enclosed pods inside the warehouse.

The warehouse is less than a mile from the current Border Patrol station. Once renovations of the building are complete, the new processing center will be able to accommodate about 1,000 children at a time.

The young illegal immigrants … Click to Read More

Officials: Immigration Crisis Not Yet a Disaster

06/23/2014 06:43 PM

McALLEN - Local governments have not spent enough in the illegal immigration crisis to meet the criteria for a disaster declaration, officials said.

Officials said it is much easier to get help from the state. Getting funds from the federal government takes a much longer process, they said.

Local officials said they have to provide services to the illegal immigrants being released from Border Patrol custody.

"If we don't help them ... then it becomes a problem at the b… Click to Read More

Officials Tap into Emergency Funds to Deal with Immigration Crisis

06/23/2014 06:20 PM

McALLEN - Local governments are using money set aside for emergencies to care for illegal immigrants being released from Border Patrol custody.

McAllen officials said they spent nearly $16,000 in just six days.

The immigrants are being released at the McAllen bus station. Officials said there aren't enough bus runs out of the city to take all the immigrants to their destinations. The problem is forcing the illegal immigrants to stay longer, mostly overnight.

A church n… Click to Read More

Perry: Cartels Take Advantage of Surge in Illegal Immigration

06/23/2014 06:10 PM

WESLACO - Gov. Rick Perry and the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety say cartels are exploiting the United States' immigration system.

Perry and DPS Director Steve McCraw held a news conference Monday in Weslaco to address the issue.

The officials said drug cartels are using unaccompanied children to overwhelm Border Patrol to keep them from stopping the drug loads.

Last week, Perry approved a $1.3-million-a-week border security program for the region. T… Click to Read More

UTPA Collects Supplies for Illegal Immigrants

06/23/2014 04:28 PM

EDINBURG - The University of Texas-Pan American has set up collection boxes to help the hundreds of illegal immigrants coming across the border.

The College of Health Sciences and Human Services is asking for a variety of hygiene-related items. Dr. John Ronau said officials asked for the help.

"Our local, county, state and national authorities are doing all that they possibly can to meet the needs, but there are just so many people and not enough materials to help out," Ronau … Click to Read More

Aerial Camera Documents Humanitarian Efforts in McAllen

06/23/2014 03:31 PM

McALLEN - The Pharr Emergency Management Technical Response Team is using a remotely operated aerial camera to document the relief efforts at a McAllen church.

The church assists illegal immigrants who are dropped off by Border Patrol at the local bus station.

The remote controlled camera sends back videos to give officials a better idea of how the tents, bathrooms and mobile units are positioned on the property. Officials use the information to document the best use of land o… Click to Read More

Officials Seek to Dispel Rumors Surrounding Surge in Illegal Immigration

06/23/2014 03:27 PM

EDINBURG - Hidalgo County leaders say they are trying to dispel rumors that have surfaced amid the surge in illegal immigration in the region.

Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia and McAllen Mayor Jim Darling hosted a meeting to address residents' concerns.

County officials confirmed that approximately 40,000 illegal immigrants, mostly Central Americans, were detained in the region during May. Twenty percent of those detained are unaccompanied minors. Officials said the numbers … Click to Read More

Perry Visits Immigration Detention Center

06/23/2014 03:24 PM

WESLACO - Gov. Rick Perry on Monday visited the Rio Grande Valley to tour a detention center for unaccompanied young illegal immigrants. He also met with Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw to discuss steps to secure the region.

McCraw informed Perry about a surge in DPS patrols in the Valley. Last week, Perry approved a $1.3-million-a-week border security program for the region. The increased patrols are expected to last through the end of the year.

Perry … Click to Read More

Governor to Visit Federal Housing Facility in RGV

06/23/2014 07:12 AM

WESLACO - Governor Rick Perry will be in the Rio Grande Valley to tour a federal facility housing children caught crossing the border alone. He'll also visit the DPS Region 3 headquarters in Weslaco.

Perry is scheduled for an afternoon briefing by DPS Director Steve McCraw regarding the state's new border surge operation. Perry recently granted DPS $1.3 million a week to fund the operation. The money will be used to increase state patrols on the border.

A lot of information ab… Click to Read More

Border Patrol shelves plans for California flights

06/23/2014 06:45 AM

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The Border Patrol on Sunday canceled flights scheduled to bring nearly 300 Central American migrants from south Texas to California for processing, but the plans could be reinstated, an official said.

It was unclear why Monday's flights for San Diego and El Centro, about 100 miles of east of San Diego, were shelved, said Ralph DeSio, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol's parent agency.

"This whole thing is in a very fluid s… Click to Read More

Weslaco Official Vow to Try Again and Seek Federal Funds for Detention Center

06/22/2014 07:24 PM

WESLACO - Officials say they tried warning the federal government about the illegal immigrant surge.

They asked for money to build a holding center, years ago.

They hope this time the government will listen.

David Suarez was elected Weslaco mayor in November 2013. He knew undocumented families crossed illegally on a daily basis.

He says it was a problem highlighted years ago.

"We don't get the attention or the help that's need down here," said Suarez.Click to Read More

McAllen Church Expands its Help to Illegal Immigrants

06/22/2014 07:06 PM

MCALLEN - A small McAllen church is expanding it's operation to clothe, feed and provide medical aid to illegal immigrants.

A fence divides a simple Sunday service from an emergency relief operation.

Priests and parishioners at Sacred Heart Catholic Church were forced to walk on the sidewalk as their parking lot filled with humanitarian aid volunteers.

Sister Norma Pimental said "This is something new. This is not something that has ever happened before."

Click to Read More

More Immigrant Flights Planned

06/22/2014 09:01 AM

RIO GRANDE VALLEY - Flights filled with illegal immigrants will be a regular occurrence.

Paul Beeson, the chief of the Border Patrol's San Diego sector, says the next two flights will leave for california tomorrow.

Nearly three hundred undocumented immigrants will be flown out, 140 on each flight. They'll be taken to processing centers in San Diego and El Centro, California.

Its all in an effort to ease the workload on Border Patrol agents stationed in the Rio Grande V… Click to Read More

Police on Alert for Illegal Immigrants with Criminal Records

06/20/2014 09:33 PM

HIDALGO COUNTY - The Hidalgo police chief says his department is working to keep illegal immigrants with criminal records off the streets.

Many of those immigrants have reentered the country after they were deported. Several of those criminals were in courts in Hidalgo and Cameron counties on Friday. Their crimes ranged from assaults to indecency with a child.

"We continue to work at it on a daily basis to try and intervene and even apprehend these whoever is attempting to cro… Click to Read More

Federal Patrols to Increase in Starr County

06/20/2014 05:58 PM

RIO GRANDE CITY - Starr County soon will see an increase in the number of federal agents in the region.

The increase in patrols is the result of numerous requests by state lawmakers to federal officials to do more to secure the region.

The initiative, called Boot Foot Print, calls for more surveillance and the deployment of two additional helicopters to Starr County.

Department of Homeland Security Director Visits McAllen

06/20/2014 03:11 PM

MCALLEN - Once again, officials in Washington, D.C. are addressing the wave of illegal immigrants and unaccompanied minors crossing our border.

The largest numbers are seen right here in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Border Patrol stations, used to process the unaccompanied minors, have received several government visitors over the past few weeks. Today's visitor was Department of Homeland Security Director, Jeh Johnson. He was at the McAllen station Friday morning to tour the … Click to Read More

Chamber of Commerce Offers Backpacks to Immigrant Children

06/20/2014 03:06 PM

MCALLEN - The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is stepping up and packing up, in order to help kids crossing the border.

The commerce is collecting backpacks for thousands of children crossing the border each day.

The backpacks will be filled with snacks, fresh clothes and other items

Steve Ahleniun, Mcallen Chamber of Commerce spokesperson said, "Regardless of the politics, regardless of if you agree with United States immigration, you have human beings that we are dea… Click to Read More

Special Border Patrol Team Helps Rescue Immigrants in Distress

06/19/2014 06:48 PM

BROOKS COUNTY - As more illegal immigrants cross the border, the risk of death is becoming greater.

Border Patrol officials deployed more agents trained in search and rescue to scour the brush in Brooks County for those who are lost and in need of help.

The agents are emergency medical technicians or paramedics. They are learning the lay of the land, while racing to save lives.

Border Patrol agents in Brooks County recently used a search dog to search for a woman in di… Click to Read More

Official: Gang Members Among Immigrants Surrendering to Border Patrol

06/18/2014 03:52 PM

RIO GRANDE VALLEY - Border patrol agents say gang members are crossing our border illegally, turning themselves in and getting the green light into our country.

They are unaccompanied minors.

If they don't have a criminal record inside the U.S., then they are processed as any other juvenile.

It doesn't matter if they have tattoos or even admit they are gang members.

Not everyone wants a better life.

Border patrol agents say some teens crossing the borde… Click to Read More

Cuellar Urges Mexico to Create a Border Patrol

06/03/2014 07:07 PM

BROOKS COUNTY - U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) is urging the Mexican government to establish its own border patrol.

Cuellar said it would help stop the increasing flow of illegal immigrants from Central America.

Many of those illegal immigrants from Central America end up in Brooks County. Some die in the brush. More than 200 bodies were pulled out of the brush since 2012.

Cuellar said he is helping Mexico establish its own border patrol. He is in Mexico helping of… Click to Read More

Baptist Group Helps Border Patrol Deal with Young Illegal Immigrants

06/02/2014 07:12 PM

BROWNSVILLE - The Federal Emergency Management Administration asked the Texas Baptist Men for help to deal with children who enter the country illegally.

The Baptist group helped agents at the Fort Brown Border Patrol Station. The volunteers brought trailers equipped with showers and washers and dryers.

Federal laws require that illegal immigrants be bathed and fed within 72 hours of being taken into custody.

The Baptist group spent more than two weeks in Brownsville c… Click to Read More

Homeland Security Secretary Cancels Border Patrol News Conference

05/30/2014 12:00 PM

LAREDO - The Border Patrol abruptly canceled a news conference in Laredo this morning. It was a direct order from U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jay Johnson. The agency was scheduled to discuss their efforts to deal with a surge in immigrants. The Border Patrol in South Texas said a huge increase in immigrant arrests this year overwhelmed them. The RGV sector reports they've made nearly 160,000 arrests since October 1. That's more than double any other sector on the southwest border.

GSA to Work with Border Patrol to Relieve Overcrowding at McAllen Station

05/29/2014 10:13 PM

McALLEN - The U.S. General Services Administration is helping solve the overcrowding at the McAllen Border Patrol Station.

The GSA on Thursday sent CHANNEL 5 NEWS the following statement:

"The needs of the Department of Homeland Security in McAllen, TX, are growing rapidly to address the influx of traffic coming into the United States. GSA is responsible for responding to the need by providing work spaces to accommodate this growth.

We are working closely … Click to Read More

Border Patrol Union Wants Tougher Stance on Illegal Crossings

05/28/2014 06:38 PM

McALLEN - Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector are calling for authorities to do something about the increase in illegal border crossings.

The agents said they want relief from an overwhelming number of illegal immigrants clogging the Border Patrol station in McAllen.

Border Patrol officials said they will install portable buildings at the station to relieve overcrowding. The agents say that is not enough.

The sector is experiencing a massive influx of … Click to Read More

Border Patrol to Use Portable Buildings at McAllen Station

05/28/2014 04:29 PM

McALLEN - Border Patrol officials will bring portable buildings to McAllen to relieve illegal immigrant overcrowding at their station.

McAllen city officials are working with the feds drawing up plans for new water lines so the portable buildings can go up at the McAllen station.

McAllen Fire Marshall Juan Salinas said the station has 40 acres of open property.

Plans are in place to bring up to four portable buildings from a Border Patrol facility in Arizona.

T… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Flying Immigrants to El Paso for Processing

05/07/2014 12:00 PM

MCALLEN - Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley will send a planeload of immigrants to El Paso for processing. The transport is expected to expedite processing needed after a surge of arrests, which have averaged about 1,000 per day.

Border Patrol spokesman Daniel Tirado said the flight will leave Brownsville this afternoon. We're told about 100 people will be flown to El Paso.

Agents arrested more than 130,000 since October 1. That's about a 67-percent increase from t… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Controls Scabies Outbreak at McAllen Station

05/05/2014 07:05 PM

McALLEN - Hundreds of illegal immigrants are back at a Border Patrol station after a scabies outbreak.

The immigrants were moved to other sites for about 24 hours after the outbreak.

Border Patrol officials said it's unclear where the scabies outbreak started.

"The processing facility was sterilized, sanitized," Border Patrol Spokesman Daniel Tirado said.

The illegal immigrants were driven to other stations in and out of the Valley.

"Every individual th… Click to Read More

Border Patrol Reports Scabies Outbreak Among Detained Immigrants

04/30/2014 03:19 PM

McALLEN - Border Patrol officials are dealing with a scabies outbreak among some detained illegal immigrants.

Border Patrol agents on Tuesday identified several detainees with the skin condition. Scabies is a highly-contagious skin infection spread by a mite.

It is not known how many people are infected, but those who tested positive were isolated and are getting medical treatment.

Border Patrol said no agents have tested positives for scabies.

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