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ABC-7 Xtra: ‘American Dream or Border Nightmare?’

SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico (KVIA)-- Bordering the Texas State line is Sunland Park, New Mexico, a town with fewer than 20,000 residents, but for agents patrolling the border, the area can pose several challenges.

According to Border Patrol officials, Sunland Park is the busiest and most heavily-trafficked for undocumented migrants in the El Paso Sector. Refugio Corrales, Border Patrol Spokesperson, said that means a heavier workload for agents.

"A lot of the people with immigration histories, or criminal histories typically come through here because according to them, it's easier, versus in El Paso, all the people that are coming in, they're just giving up," said Corrales.

Corrales said agents are seeing roughly 940 encounters per day, a decrease from last fiscal year where they saw about 119,000 encounters.

ABC-7 rode with agents patrolling the border, and encountered human smugglers and migrants attempting to evade arrest in the Sunland Park area.

Beginning the day, ABC-7 crews joined Border Patrol as they received a call of 11 migrants turning themselves into agents. Many traveled for 15 days, coming from Honduras, Guatemala and Ecuador.

In tears, one migrant told ABC-7 he misses his family and was hoping to get a job in the U.S. to send them money they desperately need.

Along the border wall, agents encountered a makeshift ladder made from rebar. They said migrants typically makes the ladder with a hook to attached to the top of the border wall, about 18 feet tall and attempt to cross over.

"This height right here doesn't seem too high, but this will break some bones if you fall off the top of that," said Corrales, "It could probably kill you too."

About two hours into our ride, Border Patrol received more reports of migrants, only this time entering through a hole in the border wall.

"They saw a bus, stopping nearby, and dropping off these individuals," said Agent Claudio Herrera-Baeza. "Some of the migrants in this group they were going to start running but they saw our agents here so they stopped."

Herrera said 22 migrants were later apprehend, including a family of three who told ABC-7 they made the journey from Ecuador with their 8-year-old son who has cancer and other illnesses.

His mother, Victoria, said he has already lost an eye due to his illness and was hoping to get treatment for him in the U.S. that they don't offer in her country.

"He'll be screened at the station, and then screened again at the processing center and their the ones that make the ultimate decision on what to do from there," said Corrales. "Its hard to see that, the kids."

Border Patrol later spotted a group of seven suspected smugglers hiding in the mountains on the Mexico side of the border.

Agents said they call them scouters or lookouts.

"We have seen how they start throwing rocks at us, our units. We have seen some agents being assaulted unfortunately," said Herrera-Baeza.

The scouters told agents they had just pushed a group of five migrants across the border.

During an interview, ABC-7 crews later spotted two migrants walking passed agents. Minutes later, agents apprehended them.

"Transnational Criminal Organizations, these people they just don't care about their [migrants] lives. They just want to make profit out of them. and the reality is that a simple American dream can become an easy nightmare," said Herrera-Baeza.

Article Topic Follows: On the Border

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Brianna Perez


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