February 27, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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For the first time, abuses are depicted: how migrants trying to cross the border between Mexico and Texas are treated

For the first time, abuses are depicted: how migrants trying to cross the border between Mexico and Texas are treated

Migrants almost tackled to the ground, children separated from their parents in the chaos and migrants pushed into the river. U.S. soldiers don't know what to make of the number of immigrants on the border with Mexico.

Migrants prepare to cross

Across the Rio Grande, the border river that separates Mexico from the United States, it becomes clear how dire the situation is. A muddy field on the banks of a river. High fences have been built and barbed wire fences across the river. There are power poles with cameras everywhere, and a Humvee with heavily armed soldiers every 20 meters.

Hundreds of migrants have gathered here: many women and children trying to reach America with a bag on their head through the fast-flowing waters of the Rio Grande. A soldier says these numbers are not special. He sees thousands of immigrants entering the United States every day at this point alone.

Suddenly panic sets in

On the other side of the river they encounter coils of razor barbed wire. It is an obstacle that most immigrants cannot cross without deep wounds. The atmosphere suddenly changes as a group of migrants panic. Soldiers run in with shields and do everything they can to stop the settlers.

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Panic is palpable among migrants who dare to cross.

A migrant is roughly tackled to the ground, while a screaming woman is pushed down. Confused, a young woman walks by crying. She managed to get through the barbed wire, but her parents were still on the other side.

Powerlessness and frustration among veterans

The exact cause of the fire is not known. It is clear that the military does not know what to do with the large number of migrants. When calm returns, one of the soldiers walks to the gate with teary eyes. He is clearly affected by what just happened and wants to talk.

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“We're not trained for this, we have to do this job. If you look closely, especially the young players here don't know how to deal with it.” He has been stationed at the border for 1 year and is clearly not happy about it. “I've been away from my wife and kids for 1 year to do something I don't support.”

'Every day we see people drowning before our eyes'

Other players also say their work is tough. They travel across the river in airboats with large propellers to intercept the migrants and rescue them if things go wrong. “The river is not deep, but the current is strong and most of the migrants cannot swim.”

“Every day we see people drowning in front of our eyes and it's hard. Sometimes ten people go down at once and only two can be saved.” They say almost half of the soldiers volunteered for the job. The other half is here by force.


A massive migrant crisis

America is facing its largest immigrant crisis ever. According to the US government, 2.5 million migrants have crossed the Mexico-US border illegally this year alone. Last year, 2.2 million people attempted the same crossing. According to the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM), the border between the two countries is the most dangerous land border in the world. In 2022, nearly 700 migrants died at the border. According to experts, this is only the tip of the iceberg and the actual number is probably much higher.

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Free game for players

The Texas governor's deployment of troops here is controversial because it is officially the national government's job. Their existence is made possible by a loophole in the law. Since 2021, ten thousand soldiers and agents have been sent to the border. They are only allowed to patrol the border on privately owned land for which they have been granted permission.

In this case, it's the 160-acre Heavenly Farms pecan orchard owned by husband-and-wife team Magali Urbina and Hugo Urbina in Eagle Pass, Texas. Every day, hundreds of thousands of migrants cross the border from Mexico to the United States.

People from all over the world

“I saw countless families, but many destitute children, elderly and disabled people. People from all over the world,” says Magali Urbina. Their garden is littered with clothes and rubbish left behind by displaced people. Drowned people wash every week.

“I've been crossing the border here all my life, but this is different. What I'm seeing now is horrible. The numbers, the injuries, the drowning. And then the National Guard on the sidewalk. It's very dangerous. Stay here,” Magali said. “It's a form of PTSD that I don't think I'll ever relate to. I see it not only in myself, but in the emergency services.”

'Started when Joe Biden took office'

Eagle Pass is at the center of this crisis. The city's mayor declared a state of emergency in September after nearly 30,000 migrants arrived in his city in two days. Residents mainly blame President Biden. He is said to have opened the doors to America and now he is on the sidelines. That criticism comes from both Democratic and Republican residents.

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“It started when Joe Biden took office and got a new president. The numbers went up and nothing was done about it. The situation got worse. The border is open. Come to my backyard and you'll see,” says Magali Urbina. “Every time you pass an immigrant, they say, thank you, Joe Biden.”


Residents of Eagle Pass feel abandoned. “I think the president needs to be more involved in this issue. He's keeping his distance, and I understand why. It's not an easy issue,” says Jesse Fuentes. He lives down the road in Eagle Pass and runs a kayaking company.

Due to the flow of immigrants and all the measures against it, travel through the Rio Grande is almost impossible. “You see a lot there. Dead bodies. Drowned. Drowned. Unhelped. It's sad,” he says emotionally.

'Have beer, talk'

“I like the president and the governor to talk. Have a beer and talk. I don't mind, but working together,” Jesse says. That collaboration is far from over for now.

The US Department of Justice is taking Texas to court to remove illegally placed orange buoys. Also, in 2024, there will be a presidential election in the United States. The migrant crisis will continue to be a divisive issue.

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Residents of Eagle Pass feel abandoned.

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