Fearing Trump win, illegal immigrants surge to border
“Smugglers are telling them that they need to come across now, while there’s a chance,” explained U.S. Border Patrol Agent Art Del Cueto, who works out of Tucson, Arizona.
Chris Cabrera, a U.S. Border Patrol agent who is based in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, says that many hoping to cross the border fear that Trump will build an impenetrable wall that will make future illegal crossing impossible. He says other are trying to escape Mexico to take advantage of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s lax immigration policy.
“People think if one candidate wins, certain things will happen – like a giant wall being built – and then they can never get through,” Cabrera insisted, according to Fox News. “Another faction believes that if the other candidate wins, they’ll get amnesty if they’re here by a certain date.”
The contrast between Trump’s immigration policy and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s is enough to boost immigration numbers higher than the U.S. Border Patrol has seen in years in various sectors along the border.
“We are overwhelmed,” one veteran Border Patrol agent located in McAllen, Texas, expressed. “We are seeing 800 to 1,000 apprehensions every night.”
According to government statistics, the numbers of those surging to enter the U.S. at the border this year – due to fears that immigration laws will be enforced by Trump – are staggering.
“In fiscal 2016, the Border Patrol apprehended 117,200 immigrants from Central America – almost one-third of all apprehensions border-wide — and 5,000 more than during the so-called surge of 2014,” Fox News reports. “The agency also apprehended 5,000 Haitians – up from just 700 last year. The number of immigrants claiming to be from Africa and Asia also is up.”
Tucson Border Patrol Sector Chief Paul Beeson stresses that political developments can indeed affect activity at the border, as well as various pull factors, such as the availability of good-paying American jobs, not to mention work permits and freedoms that are included in the immigration policy – which can be extended while courts adjudicate asylum claims.
“There are always going to be push and pull factors that influence an individual’s decision to make that trek,” Beeson noted, adding that violence and poverty south of the border also play a factor in the northward push.
Cabrera says many around the border make bogus claims that they seek to enter the U.S. illegally out of fear for their lives.
“When you stop somebody, you ask their name and the first thing they tell you is – ‘I’m here for asylum, I can’t go home because they’ll kill me,’” he shared. “When it takes a good five or six minutes just to get their name out of them, they have a rehearsed story … Once they get those papers saying they can pass through our checkpoint, we’ll never see them again.”
According to Del Cueto, the Obama administration does nothing to remedy the illegal immigration problem at the border.
“[Agents are] not getting any backing [from Washington, and] we need to start enforcing every single immigration law we have on the books,” Del Cueto insisted.
Both Del Cueto and Cabrera are part of the National Border Patrol Council, which was established to represent the 18,000 field agents of the Border Patrol – all of whom are prohibited from speaking openly with the media regarding conditions at the border.
Bigger problem than many think
U.S. Border Patrol agents explained that even though Texas’ largest resource challenge involves Central American immigrants, California and Arizona are struggling with Haitians flocking to ports of entry along their borders with Mexico.
“Last year, the U.S. saw a 500-percent increase of Haitians admitted to the U.S. – double that in San Diego, where right now, 2,000 are waiting outside the port in San Ysidro,” La Jeunesse informed. “According to Homeland Security sources, another 2,000 are in Mexicali and several hundred are in San Luis – just south of Yuma, where Del Cueto says immigrants are sleeping in a church parking lot. Further east in Nogales, Mexico, 150 are waiting to cross into the U.S. They are camped next to the border fence, waiting for Customs and Border Protection officers to process them as refugees. Some had jewelry and one woman had an iPad. The men surrounded the women, who huddled around a pile of boxes containing water and food.”
A middle-aged man seeking to enter the U.S. displayed patience in his quest to leave Mexico.
“We’ve been in Nogales 20 days,” the aspiring immigrant wearing a striped shirt said in broken English, according to Fox News. “We need help crossing the border.”
The soon-to-be illegal alien shared that every immigrant paid a $4,000 to $6,000 smuggling fee for help getting across the border. He maintained that the Mexican government had given each paying immigrant a number once they got to the Mexican border – based on their time of arrival.
Beeson indicates that the surge of immigrants at the border is taking agents away from the front lines.
“We are seeing an uptick in the number of Haitians that are looking for an immigration benefit,” Beeson conceded.
Many who fled the Haitian earthquake have added to the immigration problem.
“Following the earthquake several years ago, Haitians were allowed to immigrate and stay in the U.S. under a program known as ’Temporary Protected Status,’” La Jeunesse pointed out. “Earlier this year, the U.S. ended that protection, leaving some Haitians in the pipeline traveling through Mexico, where, according to officials there, roughly 8,000 are on their way to the border.”
Cott Stewart, who serves with the defense and security think tank, Stratfor, contended that even though the immigration policy of the next president is extremely important in dealing with the problem, conditions south of the border must also change.
“There’s really no easy answer to it because there are just deeper issues,” Stewart concluded. “You have pervasive corruption, where you see all levels of government are involved in, you know, drug dealing and other criminal activity … So these things all tie together and make it a very difficult place for people to live and survive, and because of that, it’s very understandable why people would want to migrate from those conditions up to the United States.”