Posted: Oct 15, 2012 8:46 PM
Updated: Oct 16, 2012 12:24 AM
WESLACO - Mexican nationals studying at the University of Texas-Pan American are worried that the violence they fled from may be catching up with them on the U.S. side of the border.
"I am from Miguel Aleman ... it's a small town an hour-and-a-half away from here," one student said.
"I came for my studies," she said.
"All my family is from Mexico," the student said. She said it was a way to flee the violence gripping border regions in Mexico.
"I have to take some other precautions ... coming to school," she said.
She asked to have her identity withheld for security reasons.
"Wealthy parents that have the money for their children to come to Pan Am ... they don't want their children to risk their lives in Mexico," she said.
She said students like her are increasingly common at UTPA.
"Many of my friends are from Rio Bravo, Reynosa, China (Nuevo Leon) ... all these small towns," she said.
They cross the border to escape the cartels, kidnappings and violence.
"Then they see this and ... where am I going to be safe?" she said.
UTPA police said three men kidnapped a student from UTPA on Sept. 25. Her friends said her parents are wealthy Mexican nationals.
UTPA Police Chief Roger Lee Stearns said the kidnappers wanted to collect a ransom. He said the incident wasn't random.
"This was definitely a targeted individual," he said.
"It's pretty shocking," the student said.
UTPA official said there is only a 4 percent increase in students coming from Mexico. The police chief tells a different story.
"There is a fairly large number of Mexican students who attend here," Stearns said.
He said Mexican businessmen are still targets on this side of the border.
"If they have children ... those are potential targets for the cartels or gangs to get ransom money," he said.
He said the university is deploying more officers and student patrols. More cameras also will be installed.
He said police can protect Mexican national if they let them.
"Please reach out to us so we can talk to you one on one," he said.