MISSION, Texas — The wave of undocumented immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border continues to grow, with more than 88,000 families apprehended in May. A 42% jump compared to April, according to the latest numbers provided by Customs and Border Protection this week.
Border agents say they can’t keep up and are pleading to Congress for help.
Ground zero for undocumented border crossings is an area known as Rincon Village, located south the border city of Mission, Texas.
Specifically, it’s an area with defined dirt roads, under the Anzalduas International Bridge that has become the main landing pad for undocumented families who just crossed the border. For the U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley sector, it’s become a staging area to round them up.
“Stations are full,” said Acting Deputy Chief Patrol Agent for the RGV Sector John Morris. “We’re currently holding 8,500 aliens and our capacity is only 3,300. So, they’re in tents, they’re in parking lots, they’re under metal sheds, wherever we can put them.”
Morris and his agents set up a tent, tables, and a water station where they perform preliminary screenings. Migrants are checked for health issues, familial relationships, and any signs of trauma.
It’s the focus on this part of the job that Morris said is taking away from their primary mission: securing the border.
“Back in 2014, this – what we call humanitarian traffic – only crossed right here in this ‘Rincon’ area, noted Morris. “Right now, we have about six areas in our entire area of responsibility where this is happening.”
Miriam Cazares, a Honduran who traveled with her son and nephew for a month before arriving to Rincon Village explained crime and gang threats are what pushed her our of her country.
“It’s hard… life is hard now. There’s too many killings,” said Cazares.
The Central American exodus is one pull factor, but rather than pouring more resources at the border, Morris believes the bigger fix is in Washington.
“More resources are only treating the symptoms. The cause of this is the loophole within the law. We need some help from congress. They need to fix that,” said Morris.
Migrants keep looking for ways to make a better life in the US, while the government figures out how to deal with the humanitarian crisis.