Agents see increase in border crossings despite extreme heat
Despite sweltering temperatures, Border Patrol has seen an increase in undocumented immigrants crossing the border.
"I was getting paid 1,000 pesos a week and that wasn't enough to provide food for my family. So I came over here," said 20-year-old Eduardo Gasco, an undocumented immigrant from Guanajuato, Mexico.
Gasco is just one of hundreds of immigrants that continue to risk their lives attempting to cross the border, looking for work and a better opportunity. Two years ago, things were a lot worse when the Border Patrol saw a surge of unaccompanied minors and families illegally crossing the border mostly from Central America. Border Patrol says they've seen a 25% increase this fiscal year.
"We learned a lot of things with the surge in 2014. So we're actually better prepared, we've expanded the detention center. It's not something that will overwhelm us, we're prepared," said Marlene Castro, spokesperson for the Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector.
On Friday, CBS 4 News traveled with agents in Starr County just to see how things were going. The day began with agents coming upon a couple of families found around Roma.
"I was being bribed to pay money or my oldest son would've been killed. I decided to leave and meet my family over here. I just want my family to feel safe," said Margarita Calles, 38, from El Salvador.
A Roma resident that has lived in a symbolic purple home for the past 5 years tells CBS 4 News that throughout the day and night she sees undocumented immigrants crossing from behind her property all the way to the street.
"I always go inside my home when I see them, because you never know if they're dangerous people. They never bother me or my property though. Today I saw a family with kids that were drenched in sweat. That always makes me sad to see them apprehended," said Anita Loera.
Loera's neighbor says people will frequently hide from authorities under the bar in her backyard and in a room above the garage.
"It makes me feel real unsafe and it's actually disrespectful to me and to my family, because I have nothing against illegal immigrants, but when they're already coming into our property, it's personal," said Sarah Rodriguez.
According to Border Patrol, these individuals that risk it all not only to battle the dangerous heat and rugged terrain, but defend themselves from criminals.
"The atrocities committed by smugglers. We've shared several stories where they're abandoning children, teenagers, even adults out in the middle of nowhere. We've had a couple of cases where women are being raped by their smugglers," Castro said.
Border Patrol wants to remind the public to report any suspicious activity.