News / USA

Illegal Immigrants Face Danger in Hot Texas Border Region

Illegal Immigrants Face Danger in Hot Texas Border Regioni
X
August 07, 2014 2:04 AM
Over the last 16 years, according to U.S. government records, more than 6,000 people have died after crossing the U.S. border illegally from Mexico and finding themselves in a dangerous environment. Yet illegal immigrants, mostly from Central America, continue to cross the border in south Texas where temperatures are soaring. VOA's Greg Flakus has more from Houston.
Greg Flakus

Over the last 16 years, according to U.S. government records, more than 6,000 people have died after crossing the U.S. border illegally from Mexico and finding themselves in a dangerous environment. Yet illegal immigrants, mostly from Central America, continue to cross the border in south Texas, where temperatures are soaring.

In south Texas, the Rio Grande river that marks the border with Mexico is fairly easy to cross.

But once across, the undocumented immigrants find little water, heavy brush and many small creatures with nasty bites.

U.S. Border Patrol agent Jason Owens said smugglers often leave people on their own here.

"The guides that bring them across, if they can't keep up, they leave them behind; they walk around lost… no water, no idea where they are supposed to go, no form of communication. This close to the river a lot of people can find themselves in trouble and die," said Owens.

Owens said the human smugglers are part of a Mexican criminal world that includes drug trafficking cartels responsible for killing thousands of people.

"Among the smuggling groups you see infighting with the cartels, the cartel fighting with the Mexican authorities, who are doing their best over there to get control of the situation and then they come over here and a lot of time you have the same thing," continued Owens.

Hundreds of unidentified bodies have been discovered in south Texas. Many of them were dug out of the ground by a volunteer forensic team from Baylor University.

Those who come from Central America are fleeing drug gang violence and poverty in countries like Honduras.

On the long journey through Mexico, many are robbed and abused, including children who travel alone.

Border Patrol spokesman Peter Bidegain said that once they cross, the child immigrants often seek the protection of the agents and confide in them.

"A lot of times when you ask them about their journey, they start to cry.  It is very emotional; it is emotional for the agents, it's emotional for the kids," said Bidegain.

Tony Payan, who heads the Mexico Center at Rice University's Baker Institute, said child smugglers face little danger of being caught.

"What these guys do is take the child to the US/Mexico border and then they push them across the river without having to cross themselves, so they are not exposing themselves to being arrested and detained," said Payan.

As long as many people are able to make it across the border and stay, experts say people in Central America will continue to pay smugglers thousands of dollars per person.

Despite the dangers, Payan said what many immigrants face at home is worse.

"Enormous, very deep poverty in Central America, and hopelessness and when people are hopeless they are going to move.  It has been the history of mankind," said Payan.

In Texas, Border Patrol agents continue to lookout for drug smugglers and for those who cross the border illegally and risk their lives in a harsh environment.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs