Border agents drove their patrol vehicles one recent day at dusk through this spit of land on the bank of the Rio Grande. Here, in a place known as the Devil’s Corner, smugglers on the Mexican side have chosen to bring thousands of women and children to American soil.
After only a few minutes scouting the dirt roads, the agents came upon a cluster of illegal migrants, huddled in tall grass under palm trees, seeking respite from the baking heat. They made no effort to flee as the Border Patrol drove up.
“Where are your parents, Alex?” Chief Ortiz asked, using a nickname to put the boy at ease.The border patrol agent told the reporter that he suspected that there was someone else in the group to whom Alejandro was attached, such as a neighbor or a cousin. Sorting that out would be part of the lengthy process that would take place once they got them back to the station.
“In San Antonio,” he said.
But the child had no address for his family in the Texas city 250 miles to the north, or for an aunt in Maryland, which he thought was just as close. The agents gave him water and the boy smiled gratefully, not knowing that his journey, already three weeks long, would likely be a lot longer.
Families and children have become a high-profit, low-risk business for Mexican narcotics cartel bosses who, Chief Ortiz said, have taken control of human smuggling across the Rio Grande. They now offer family packages, migrants said, charging up to $7,500 to bring a minor alone or a mother with children from Central America to the American side of the river.
As is being frequently reported there is something of a flood of women and children from Central America crossing the border. Many of the children are traveling on this very dangerous journey without their parents.
More than 52,000 minors traveling without their parents have been caught crossing the southwest border illegally since October, including 9,000 in May alone, a record.Children being on their own as refugees and/or immigrants is nothing new. However, it is a situation with which most Americans have not come in contact. When I look at that picture, I find it impossible to view the situation in terms of impersonal statistics.