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Official: Gang Members Among Immigrants Surrendering to Border Patrol

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Posted: Jun 18, 2014 3:52 PM

Updated: Jul 2, 2014 7:53 AM

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 border are hoping to grow their gang roots.

"They are confirmed either by tattoos or by self admission. But since they have no criminal record in the United States, and they happen to be minors, they're reunited with their family in the U.S.," said Border Patrol Union Representative, Chris Cabrera.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reporter Erica Proffer asked Cabrera, "Does it concern you? Cabrera replied, "Yes, it does concern me because we have issues like that already in the United States. The last thing we want to do is start importing gang members."

CHANNEL 5 NEWS asked for the number of gang members crossing the border and getting released.

"We've seen a few. Not too many, but we've seen a few in the Rio Grande Valley," said Cabrera.

It's not up to the border patrol agents to ask questions.

"It all boils down to the same thing: there is violence in their home country. a lot of them claim that they will be killed if they go back," said Cabrera.

Violence back home is a story told too often. It is hard to separate who's telling the truth.

"You ask them their name and where they're from, they say that there is violence in my home country and they'll kill me if you return me," said Cabrera. "I do believe there is violence in their home country, but I also believe that a lot of them have been coached."

We're getting the inside look at what agents really see in the masses. They say they are overwhelmed and morale is low.

"We all know that if you arrest and release, then the arrest is meaningless," said Cabrera. Cabrera says some of his men are already looking for other jobs.

They do not agree with letting would-be criminals loose. Cabrera says the amount of juveniles with known gang ties is low.

Most the unaccompanied minors show no signs of a criminal past.


Congressional Research Service Report on Gangs in Central America

United Nations Report on Transnational Organized Crime in Central America and the Caribbean

Topics: illegal, immigrant, teen, gangs, minors

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