Articles in the national and international media have again turned the spotlight on Texas-Mexico border crossing problems.
Last month the New York Times reported, “With border authorities in South Texas overwhelmed by a surge of young illegal migrants traveling by themselves, the Department of Homeland Security declared a crisis this week and moved to set up an emergency shelter for the youths at an Air Force base in San Antonio, officials said.
“After seeing children packed in a Border Patrol station in McAllen, during a visit last Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Monday declared ‘a level-four condition of readiness’ in the Rio Grande Valley. The alert was an official recognition that federal agencies overseeing borders, immigration enforcement and child welfare had been outstripped by a sudden increase in unaccompanied minors in recent weeks.”
Reuters quickly followed: “Tens of thousands of children unaccompanied by parents or relatives are flooding across the southern U.S. border illegally, forcing the Obama administration and Congress to grapple with both a humanitarian crisis and a budget dilemma.
“An estimated 60,000 such children will pour into the United States this year, according to the administration, up from about 6,000 in 2011. Now, Washington is trying to figure out how to pay for their food, housing and transportation once they are taken into custody.”
Other newspapers and websites have published stories and leaked federal government photos revealing children, many from Honduras and El Salvador, being warehoused in crowded U.S. cells, leaving the Border Patrol overwhelmed.
Although some ranch owners in South Texas have discovered children’s clothing at makeshift campsites on their property, local law enforcement officers report that only a few youngsters have been found in Bee County.
“It’s not a real issue,” Deputy Lt. Ronnie Jones said of finding unaccompanied children. Most of those who have crossed the border illegally have been adults. And their numbers are increasing a great deal, he said.
What’s especially troubling is the ruthless nature of the “coyotes,” the smugglers who are paid to bring these children and adults across the border. Many young people have been robbed, abused, some even raped, while making the difficult journey to America’s cities.
Whether this disturbing trend is linked to unrest in Central American countries or blamed on President Obama’s immigration policy in 2012 with deferred deportation for minors, his administration needs to act, swiftly and demonstrably, to enforce this nation’s laws and stem this tide.
Until then, we citizens need to be cautious on South Texas roads for coyote teams and overloaded vehicles trying to blend in with the Eagle Ford traffic. And be especially careful to lock up your cars and trucks. A major problem caused by those entering the country illegally has been auto burglaries and thefts.