Arrests of illegal immigrants crossing into the United States have nearly tripled in recent months — in anticipation of Congressional efforts to enact comprehensive immigration legislation, border patrol agents told CBS News Wednesday.
“Once the first group gets across, they call their family, they call their friends and let them know, ‘Hey the time is right, come on over,’” Border Patrol agent and union representative Chris Cabrera told CBS News.
In March, 7,500 illegals were arrested in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas — which includes McAllen — Cabrera told CBS News. That’s up from 2,800 in January.
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In February, nearly 4,800 illegals were arrested in the Rio Grande, the local news website The Monitor.com reports.
In fact, agents in McAllen used their station’s carport to process nearly 900 illegals caught over three days in March, according to the Monitor.com.
And border patrol agents have become so concerned about overcrowding and unsanitary conditions that they’ve complained to local and federal officials, the Monitor.com reports.
Many illegals are caught while traveling through the brush between Hidalgo and Sullivan City in Texas, a winding 30-mile stretch of the Rio Grande.
It’s popular with immigrants, who speed across the Rio Grande and assimilate into the small towns along the border, the Monitor.com reports.
Immigration into the United States had been slowing during the recession.
But CBS says hopes of gaining citizenship under new legislation and a rebounding U.S. economy are fueling the fresh migration.
And the CBS report included surveillance video showing more than 40 men, women and children crossing the border illegally from Mexico during the night.
Some of the illegals come from as far away as Brazil, Cabrera told CBS.
“The people in Washington think they have this idea that the border is safe, the border is secure,” the border patrol agent said. “I think they need to come down here and take a look.”
Last month, a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators introduced a comprehensive immigration reform package that would put the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally on a 13-year path to U.S. citizenship.
It would cost each illegal $2,000 in fines plus additional fees, and would begin only after steps have been taken to secure the border.
The Senate group includes GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.
“We streamlined the system so it’s a lot less bureaucratic, a lot less complicated, a lot easier to follow,” Rubio told Newsmax in an exclusive interview last month before the legislation was formally introduced on Capitol Hill.
“One of the things that’s contributed to illegal immigration is that legal immigration is so complicated and so burdensome, and we’re going to modernize the system in a way that’s pro-business, pro-economy.”
But GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama has criticized efforts by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy to rush the 844-page legislation through Congress.
Sessions also sits on the Judiciary Committee.
“We are talking about legislation that will impact virtually every aspect of our society, reshape our entire immigration system, introduce at least 30 million new foreign workers into the economy, and directly impact every single American worker and taxpayer,” Sessions said last month in a statement released to Newsmax.
And other Congress members from border states have insisted that immigration reforms be tied to adding more guards, cameras and drones.
The border patrol is shifting agents from Laredo to the Rio Grande area, CBS reports.
Meanwhile back in Texas, Juan Mercado has seen more illegals crossing on the border property that his family has owned in McAllen since the 1850s.
“I’m being invaded by people who have no permission to be on my property,” Mercado told CBS. “By smugglers, by illegals.”
And, Mercado is now relying on his own security system: a gun.
“I get a clip, and it’s ready to go,” he told CBS.
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