MISSION, Texas (KVEO) — The immigration issue has forced the U.S.- Mexico border into the national spotlight, but it’s the people that call South Texas home that has seen the impacts more than anyone.
That’s the case for many that live and work in the Rio Grande Valley.
One woman who lives in Mission said she hasn’t been able to sleep at night after a sharp increase in undocumented immigrants jumping over her fence and into her backyard after crossing the border illegally.
“The security footage shows about 300 a week coming through,” said Karen Soltis, who lives in a gated community in Mission for residents 55 years old and over.
“We get knocks on the door in the middle of the night, they ask for water, they ask to use your cell phone,” said Soltis, “There’s face-to-face encounters, it occurs.”
Every day and night it’s happening in her small back patio near Bentsen Road.
“The security cameras on my neighbor’s house picked up a group coming through their yard, 20 minutes later it showed those same people exiting, but where they had gone for 20 minutes was right next to that person’s bedroom window where they were asleep,” said Soltis.
She said it’s the same for her neighbors and now more than ever, they’re seeing these groups in their backyard.
“We are to the point now that we call Border Patrol and they can’t respond because they don’t have enough people, so we don’t even have anyone to call when there is an issue and that is very concerning for us,” said Soltis.
She said these aren’t the same people that are turning themselves into U.S. Border Patrol.
“We’ve seen all kind of apprehensions here, we’ve seen them all, what we haven’t seen is a cooperative group of family units that will sit down and accept processing the way we see on the news with asylum seekers because we don’t have the family units,” said Soltis.
Even though the community is gated, she said people will jump the gate and has the security tape to prove it.
“We don’t know how they’re opening the gate, either they jump over it or they know the code, either way, we are all concerned. I’m concerned,” said Soltis, “We do now also see pickup vehicles that come into our neighborhood to pick people up, that is something that is brand new.”
She wishes more was being done to protect her and her neighbors.
“There is a problem. Nothing is being done about it and all the authorities from the top-down, political authorities, are pretty much saying there isn’t a problem and nothing’s wrong,” said Soltis.
KVEO reached out to City of Mission Mayor Dr. Armando O’Caña about the issue.
He deferred us to U.S. Customs and Border Protection who tell us there has been an increase in traffic in that area and advise residents to not engage with border crossers.
For the month of April, Customs and Border Protection encountered over 178,000 people attempting entry along the Southwest Border.
Data shows single adults continue to make up most of these encounters.
Since October, CBP has already had over 749,600 encounters with immigrants.
The Rio Grande Valley continues to be the area with the most illegal border crossings and drug seizures, CBP says.
Now, apprehension numbers show the busiest border traffic in more than 20 years.
173,460 people were encountered by Border Patrol agents in April were up 3% from March, marking the highest level since April 2000.