How Border Patrol is combating environmental obstacles in RGV

The Rio Grande Valley sector is one of the busiest corridors for illegal immigration with about 220,000 apprehensions each year.

Action 4 witnessed firsthand just what the boots on the ground are doing to tackle the problem. Agent Joe Gutierrez is one of 3,000 Border Patrol agents permanently stationed in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

"But since big influx of people coming in, we've started detailing more agents from less busier sectors like from San Diego, Laredo, Tucson. We've been bringing them in to help us with fast operational tempo," he explained.

The Rio Grande Valley is currently the busiest sector in the nation for apprehensions and the second for drug-related arrests.

Gutierrez, who is also a Border Patrol spokesperson, said one of the biggest challenges is the environment-the winding river makes building a wall not cost-effective, and the brush makes it difficult to locate groups of undocumented immigrants crossing.

It's not uncommon to find articles of clothing are left behind by groups of people who recently crossed the river, but Gutierrez said these shirts hanging along trails are markers signaling and pointing the way for those straggling behind.

Visibility of the area is key, explained Gutierrez, and having different techniques makes all the difference in tracking undocumented immigrants.

Gutierrez said, "it shortens down response time for us to get to immigrants that are in distress or to respond to traffic."

There are several ways agents do this, "aerostats, we have ground seismic sensors, we have RVSS cameras that we use to patrol the border."

But one of the most effective is the oldest methods in the book.

Agents tow tires behind their vehicles to leave a clean undisturbed path behind them, which making it easier to follow fresh footprints.

This is something that is never going to get old, this is something we are always going to use because it TMs very effective," said Gutierrez.

He added agents are posted up along the border to provide security... their other objective is to save lives.

"All the agents-we're fathers, we're mothers, we are all family-we have family here. So we see them and we want to take care of them, our basic goal is to provide their safety," said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez also told Action4 that having different resources available to agents helps cut down response times, it TMs also why that the Department of Defense is utilizing equipment once used in Iraq and Afghanistan and putting it toward border security operations in the Rio Grande Valley.