RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — After skyrocketing this summer, the number of migrant encounters along the southwest land border decreased for a third consecutive month in October.
However, tens of thousands of migrants are still crossing every month, and agents are still seeing their highest number of encounters on record.
Some lawmakers are calling it a crisis at the border and are calling on the Biden Administration to implement stricter border policies.
Border Patrol Agent Jesse Moreno has been an agent for nearly 14 years. He said the Rio Grande Valley has specifically seen an uptick in migrant crossings this year.
“Our agents have seen over 1,500 apprehensions daily in the last few days. We’ve had up to 3,000 in a single day,” Moreno said.
ValleyCentral went on a ride-along with Agent Moreno to see these encounters.
While on the ride-along, ValleyCentral witnessed 30-40 migrants apprehended by Border Patrol agents in McAllen, Texas.
These encounters took place from 5 a.m. until about 11 a.m. Border Patrol agents said early morning hours are their busiest.
“There’s inclement weather, and natural disasters that affect people wanting to leave,” Moreno said.
Moreno said criminal organizations also play a role in the large number of migrant crossings we are seeing.
“The transnational criminal organizations are telling these people that the border is open when in reality it’s not.”
Border Patrol said it is very expensive for migrants to cross into the United States illegally. We are told, everyone must pay thousands of dollars to criminal organizations because they run the surrounding areas near the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It is our understanding that these individuals are paying roughly $3,000 to $4,000 U.S. dollars to make the trip into the U.S. to the criminal organizations,” he said.
Migrants often risk their lives to cross the border, sometimes the journey is the most dangerous trek they will ever face.
Immigration attorney Alejandro San Miguel said the number of migrants crossing the border recently has been overwhelming.
“They can be experiencing instability in their home country, poverty, violence, discrimination against women or the LGBTQ community.”
On the journey over, San Miguel said migrants face exhaustion, dehydration, and violence along the way. Sometimes, this journey can take a day, or a few weeks to reach the United States, depending on which country the migrant is coming from.
“Imagine the mindset of these immigrants who are willing to risk it all to enter into the United States. So, I would say there’s something broader that is causing them that fear, that they would rather be arrested than to go back to the conditions back home.”
But not everyone who crosses will enter the United States.
Under the CDC’s Title 42 authority, it temporarily prohibits migrants from crossing into the United States because of the pandemic.
Back in September, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained in a press conference, “The Department of Homeland Security continues to expel migrants under the CDC’s Title 42 authority. Those who cannot be expelled, and this has been the case and been our policy and process for migrants coming from any country around the world — under Title 42, and who do not have a legal basis to remain [undergoes] a form of removal proceedings,” she said.
San Miguel said migrants, oftentimes do not have full clarity on the complexities of Title 42, and some do not care, making the journey anyway.
San Miguel said asylum-seekers have the best legal claim to try and make their voices heard in immigration proceedings, but “asylums typically are not applications most people get,” he said.
On the ride-along, ValleyCentral met a 35-year-old woman from El Salvador. She said she had been on the road traveling to America for more than 20 days.
When we met her, she only had her cell phone and a few small items that fit in a clear plastic bag.
This was the case for most of the migrants we encountered on our ride-along.
“In our country, life is hard. We have kids to take care of. We need to try and look for a better life for our kids,” the woman said.
She is one of the many migrants the Border Patrol has encountered this year. According to recent statistics, Border Patrol reported more than 1.6 million encounters with migrants along the U.S./Mexico border in Fiscal Year 2021.
If they are not caught by Border Patrol before they reach the border wall, many migrants scale the wall by using makeshift ladders.
“There’s these makeshift ladders and they’ll just have rope and PVC pipe and it’s meant for one foot, one at a time,” Moreno explained.
Moreno said these ladders are often destroyed before migrants cross, or after by Border Patrol agents to prevent more migrants from crossing.
Border Patrol said climbing the border wall is very dangerous for migrants and many fall.
Some parts of the wall are over 18 feet high. Oftentimes, migrants are already exhausted when they get to the wall, and many climbs at night or during the early morning hours and can’t see clearly.
But many migrants, like the woman we spoke with on the ride-along, said they take the risk for a better life.
“The journey had obstacles, but we had faith in God that we would make it,” she said.
On this side of the border, lawmakers and Governor Greg Abbott are pleading for the White House to implement harsher border policies, Governor Abbott even pushing for the state to build its own border wall.