Influx of migrants crossing southern border causes new challenges for Border Patrol

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It’s been a historic year for the U.S. Border Patrol, even during a pandemic.

Thousands of migrants have been detained along the southern border; many of those are unaccompanied children.

The Rio Grande Valley Sector’s Deputy Chief for Border Patrol Joel Martinez says detained children are often sick or dehydrated when found.

Martinez said that while he’s been on the job with the agency for nearly 30 years, every new increase of migrants at the border brings new challenges.

BP officials say between 1,000 to 3,000 people are detained daily. While they’ve increased the number of agents from other parts of the county, Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star has increased the number of troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“What’s helping us out a lot is Texas DPS is out there helping us,” Martinez said. “They’re one of our best partners.”

Between March 4 and May 13, state troopers referred nearly 31,000 migrants to BP, made thousands of arrests, participated in nearly 300 pursuits, and seized 7,000 pounds of marijuana.

But with the summer months approaching, BP has another concern— human smuggling using big-rigs. A smuggling tactic that BP agents warn is very dangerous and even deadly.

“It’s not worth it. The river is treacherous,” Martinez said. “The current is treacherous. That river is hard enough for a good swimmer, much less a child.”

And while some migrants wait at the border in Mexico, and many pay smugglers to cross them over, the U.S. government allows some migrants in very vulnerable situations to cross even while pandemic-related restrictions stay in place.


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