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Medical Plaza at the Center of Smuggling Corridor

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Posted: Apr 8, 2013 6:38 PM

Updated: Apr 8, 2013 6:54 PM

HIDALGO COUNTY - Border Patrol agents on Monday arrested several immigrants at a busy medical center in Penitas. Those who work at the center say the area has become a human-smuggling corridor.

Workers at Saenz Medical Center said they see immigrants darting behind cars and hiding in the dumpster.

"We started hearing the helicopters, and when we hear that we know that something is going on," Mary Segura said. She works at the medical plaza.

She witnessed Monday's arrests.

"A little boy was running across the parking lot here, jumping on top of a car. I guess he was so desperate ... he was trying to do anything to get away from the agent," Segura said.

Segura said the chases and arrests are an almost-daily occurrence.

"We see this, I want to say, maybe three or four times a week," she said.

Carlos, a 21-year-old from El Salvador, was part of the group captured Monday. Still, he managed to get away.

"They got them, but not me. I was lost and I was walking for about two hours," Carlos said.

His plan is to meet with his father who already is living in Maryland.

Some of the clinics in the medical plaza lock their doors to prevent runners from trying to hide inside. Segura said it can be worrisome for potential patients.

"I'm sure that they do get kind of scared, because these are desperate people. And when we're walking in here we also get scared. But we have to come to work, so it's risk we got to take," Segura said.

Segura said she feels compassion for the immigrants.

"We don't want to get in trouble, but to see them like that ... at least give them a bottle of water," she said.

She decided to help Carlos by giving him her lunch.

Carlos said he would surrender to Border Patrol agents. A CHANNEL 5 NEWS crew, however, spotted him hiding in the medical plaza's dumpster.

Topics: saenz medical, plaza, penitas, immigrants, smuggling, mary segura

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