EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso chief Border Patrol agent Gloria Chavez was gracious enough to sit down with the ABC-7 Sunday Xtra host Saul Saenz for a one-on-one interview.
But after the interview, the discussion with Chavez continued, with the chief pointing out the number of unaccompanied migrant children apprehended could break records this year.
"Right, the children we had about a 327 per cent increase. How much? From last year, 327 percent increase from last year to this year. That's 11,000 children in fiscal year 2021. And Saul in 2019, the whole year of 2019, we had 16,000. So we're very close to surpassing that 16,000, so its concerning, it's a vulnerable population. 327 percent."
ABC-7 asked the chief if parents have ever told agents why they just send the kids off on their own to the U.S.
"No, I think that one of the biggest challenges we have is that there are so many reason why families send their children north. The children are so small that we can only get so much information from them, right. So we work very closely with the consulate to try and get more information, why this child was sent north? Who are the Mexican authorities, because many times Mexican authorities do make contact with those families on the south side. So we try to get as much, but for us its just concerning because it's a vulnerable population. And I just hope that between now and then it slows down a little because, for us its worrisome. Many of these children are coming from countries like Ecuador. That's too far."
ABC-7 also asked about the two Ecuadorian sisters who were literally dropped from the top of a 14-foot borer barrier in late March. Back then, the chief vowed to find the smugglers to bring them to justice.
"So we do have information. We have still some dialogue going on with Mexico. There are some suspects individuals that they think, because the image was at night and we couldn't get any facial recognitions. But we're close, we're close. I'm just waiting to see 'hey how much longer before we can confirm anything."
The chief also elaborated on the impact Covid-19 has had on Border Patrol agents.
"Well, thank you for asking about that. So you know Covid-19 still continues to affect us. We have 18 agents right now that are recovering at home, away from Covid. I also have some at the hospital. One of them concerning. As you know we just laid to rest, our brother Freddy Vasquez. He passed a couple of weeks ago. And its just very difficult to accept, you know. Our agents are very resilient. They never say no. They're out there 24/7. And they're also human. I always say, you know, our Border Patrol academy in Artesia, New Mexico builds heroes. And super heroes, right. But these super heroes are human. And a lot of times they make encounters providing service for this country. and they encounter in their duties, encounter and exposure like that and then tragically, you know, many have died."
You can watch the entire interview with Chief Gloria Chavez Sunday on ABC 7 Xtra at 10:35 p.m.