SAN ANTONIO — U.S. Border Patrol says it had a very busy July—it's busiest month in 21 years.
So, what does that look like day to day? Certainly no day is the exactly the same. The KENS 5 crew spent Friday morning with the U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley.
We followed Border Patrol agents around the area to see what they see.
At first, nothing was really happening at 5:30 a.m. We passed foot tracks which were fairly fresh, according to Agent Jesse Moreno with Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley, and some ladders moved away from the wall by his colleagues.
Then we heard a camera operator in one of the fields who spotted what looked like 10 to 12 people making their way in.
When we arrived, agents found a group of 22 people. Some were hiding in the cotton fields, some in the ditch filled with water. The men and women were from Central America and Mexico.
“Both of these guys were apprehended earlier this week,” Moreno said, pointing to some men in the group. "And the other, about a few weeks ago.”
A smaller group, comparatively speaking. This year, Moreno told us, Border Patrol has encountered more than 97 large groups of 100 people or more.
“Most of those groups are family members and that alone puts a great strain on our agents resources, processing, manpower,” Moreno said.
According to the latest border-crossing numbers released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, agents encountered 212,672 people in July along the Southwest Border, this includes Texas, California, Arizona. Twenty seven percent of them - migrants who’ve crossed at least once before and were expelled.
“They're fleeing violence, and they're fleeing death, and they're fleeing persecution and torture,” said Lindsay Gray, an immigration attorney and CEO of VECINA, which provides mentorship and training to pro bono attorneys representing asylum seekers and other marginalized immigrants. “And so, this whole sort of rhetoric around, 'We'll just turn people away and they'll go home' is, in fact, a nonstarter.”
“We absolutely do have the capacity to let everyone in, as we have done for the last 40 years,” Gray said. “And when I say everyone, I mean someone who comes to the southern border and either at a port of entry or near the border presents themselves and request asylum says they fear persecution in their home country.”
“And allow us to live up to who we are as a nation,” she added.
Border Patrol in the Valley is open about its struggle to keep up with the current flow of people and the flow is not letting up.
“We are thin in some areas,” Moreno said.
Other agencies have been stepping in to help for months. If July is any indication, August is expected to be very busy as well.