We just want to know America has our back,’ Texas border agent says
Border Patrol agents trek through a rain soaked field in the dead of night.
They are tracking one of dozens of groups of migrants that will cross illegally in the course of a day here.
"So far two apprehensions. They are Mexican males 23 years old. This plays out every day, every hour," says Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz of the Rio Grande Valley Sector.
Ortiz believes the others in the group who ran from agents, have likely made it to a nearby stash house.
If they are not caught, most will find their way to larger cities and disappear, he says.
While agents search and handcuff two men, surveillance quickly spots more rafts full of migrants on the river trying to make landfall.
A smuggler can be seen keeping watch from the Mexico side.
The smuggler's goal is for migrants to put their feet on U.S. soil, before agents can turn them around.
"We probably have just in this one station 100 people crossing right now. They are mostly coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador,” says Ortiz.
“A wall would have slowed them down considerably,” he said.
On the journey, some are hurt, many report they are raped, most have traveled for weeks through many countries to get here.
Like the tens of thousands of others who will sneak around legal ports of entry this month, Oscar turns himself in and plans to seek asylum.
He says he does not expect to get deported.
"Even if I have to spend 25 or 30 years on prison, I will not return to Honduras, says Oscar.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, only 1.4 percent of all Central American family units will be sent back to their home countries."
The Rio Grande Valley sector is the busiest in the U.S. for illegal entries. Ortiz estimates there are currently about 850 arrests a day here and counting. Agents here say the numbers are not sustainable or safe.
Ortiz estimates about a hundred migrants a day who cross illegally here, go undetected or escape.
To slow the constant flow of illegal traffic, U.S. Border Patrol wants more people, more technology and more wall to nab or deter those avoiding legal points of entry.
"Ninety-four percent of my traffic happens on the west side where I have very little infrastructure and almost no permanent technology whatsoever,” says Ortiz."
Ortiz made the case to President Donald Trump, who recently visited the southern border saying, "Just yesterday, we apprehended 133 people from countries other than Central America and Mexico. That includes individuals from India, Pakistan, China, Romania, Ecuador, Nicaragua, on and on and on."
Though Democrats are fighting the president’s demands for a border wall, construction is moving forward here on 33 miles of new barriers that Congress funded last year.
"I’m not a believer that you need to build infrastructure everywhere. But in areas where you have populations where you were very close to the river on both sides, you certainly need to have something to slow the traffic down. That’s what’s going to happen here,” says Ortiz.
But both sides agree even a barrier along the entire U.S. Mexico border won't stop everyone.
But Ortiz says it would help agents do their jobs better.
"We just want to know America has our back," says Ortiz.
Meanwhile, as the debate rages on in Washington, D.C., President Trump's Emergency Declaration could free up money to build hundreds more miles of barrier here without approval from Congress.