As Washington struggles to find a solution to the federal budget cuts in the recent sequester, the U.S. Border Patrol has begun to cut back, and the numbers are already beginning show immigrants are taking advantage of it.
Border Patrol stats leaked to our newsroom show the RGV sector detained almost twice as many immigrants in February as they did in January.
While Border Patrol agents will likely lose overtime and face up to 14 furlough days, one south Texas rancher says he TMs going to lose too, security he depends on.
Just 4.5 miles north of the Falfurrias checkpoint, Mike and Linda Vickers live on a 1,000 acre ranch in Brooks County.
When Mike moved to the ranch in the 1980 TMs he says he would see about two or three immigrants crossing his property each week.
Today he sees about 20 or 30 a day, tearing up his fences, breaking water pipes, some even breaking into his house.
The fences are cut, the property TMs trashed out, Mike said. We have traffic absolutely every day, big groups, small groups."
At some point they will come out to the highway and get picked up north of the checkpoint, Mike said.
Most he said are heading to Houston.
Not only are crossings more abundant, Mike said those who trespass today are more violent.
Rather than get caught they will fight with the border patrol, Mike said. We have had a number of incidents where the Border Patrol have been assaulted by these people out here.
Now that the federal agency has to cut more than $750 million from its budget before October, Vickers said it will only get worse.
On Sunday February 24, Mike spotted six groups on his ranch.
We went out and had found out where they came through, large numbers of track, big groups. They came through undetected because the border patrol was overwhelmed that day, Mike said.
It may surprise you were these immigrants come from.
There are people from central America, India, Pakistan, all over the planet, Mike said.
Speaking with immigrants who he finds crossing his property, Vickers has learned more about how the immigrants travel.
Mike says well over half of those he meets are not Mexican, some coming from as far away as China, paying up to $50,000 for the journey.
And the Indians are paying $20,000. Central Americans are paying between $6,000 to $7,500 hundred. So it TMs big money.
While many of their friends are moving north, Mike and Linda say they aren TMt going anywhere.
We TMre not leaving. We going to stay and fight this thing. It TMs a battle, it TMs a war, there is no question, Mike said. We have no intention to leave but we have a lot of friends that are leaving and some have already lefttheir ranch because of the threat.
To help them protect their land they have a whole team of dogs.
The Vickers dogs caught 101 illegal immigrants on their property just in 2012 that Border Patrol apprehended.
Linda drives around the pasture near the home everyday to check for foot traffic.
She relies on the agents TM swift response to keep her safe.
I TMm here by myself most of the time so I appreciate their promptness, Linda said. When you are one female sitting with eight guys, and they are giving you the ~mal ojo, TM it TMs kind of nerve racking.
But if too many hours are cut back, the wait time may increase.
A couple of hours may be too late because a lot of these people do have criminal intent, Mike said.
Members of the Texas Border Volunteers, the Vickers say the agents have expressed a lot of frustration over the cuts.
(Texas Border Volunteers broke off from the Minute Men in 2006 and aligned themselves with law enforcement.)
I TMm told that the agents on the ground are really demoralized, they are really upset with what is happening, mike said.
It TMs not just pay the agents stand to lose but the resources they need to do their job.
Other things will be cut back that enable them to maneuver on the sand on these private properties and this brush to make apprehensions, Mike said. So we are concerned. It TMs going to get worse before it gets better.
While local Border Patrol officials cannot comment on the cuts directly, they tell Action 4 News their job will not change.
"As long as the Border Patrol is out there, we are going to continue to make arrests, we are going to continue to detain, and we will continue to hand folks over for removal operations and for removal from the country, RGV sector spokesman Henry Mendiola Jr. said.
If it weren TMt for Border Patrol, the Vickers say their way of life would not be possible.
They deserve an increase in pay, not a deduction in pay, Vickers said. These guys put their lives on the line out here. We appreciate everything they do. They deserve a pat on the back not a stab in the back.
Whether they can continue to respond as they have in the past or not, the Vickers will continue to call.