Migrants between a rock and a hard place
For a week it seems that all eyes have been on Nashville and the upcoming weekend of TRANS protests but that is not true. Our men and women at the southern border have had their eyes on a surge of migrants coming across the mountains with their own eyes trained on the United States.
Helicopters in touch with agents on the ground are attempting to do their jobs despite the rough terrain and nocturnal runs the migrants are using to get across into the U.S. Agents are not just looking for terrorists, illegal immigrants and drugs. The other night a large search kept agents busy as they attempted to find a woman that had fallen 30 feet onto jagged rocks as she was traversing the mountainous region. The woman was eventually found but not before spending the night where she landed and suffered life-threatening injuries.
Mount Cristo Rey seems to be the path right now, a mountain that straddles two countries and is often used by transnational criminal organizations to smuggle migrants. While most Americans are not familiar with Mount Cristo Ray, they may recognize the mountain because of its unique statue.
Standing on top of the Sierra de Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, New Mexico, the 29 foot tall limestone statue of Christ is a stark landmark atop a dangerous 4,675 foot rock-covered mountain.
The El Paso Sector has already seen approximately 225,000 migrant encounters through February with a daily average of 1,153 which should put end-of-March numbers around 260,743 encounters not including the got-a-ways. This surge, despite the lack of coverage in the news, is showing a 156.2% increase over the same period last year. Border patrol points out that with the higher numbers also comes more stash houses, more rescues and more sheltering issues.
The surge in the region comes even as the number of asylum-seekers turning themselves in near the Rio Grande has plummeted after the Biden administration began requiring citizens of Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua to apply remotely, a system being criticized for not working properly and causing frustration among immigrants trying to file. With those numbers down, nobody seems to be paying attention to the higher number of those attempting trips in places like Mount Cristo Ray.
Cartels are pointing migrants toward these areas because they hold more promise of not being captured but do not tell the individuals, groups and families what the terrain is like and what they might encounter as they travel. Migrants are being instructed to travel at night as well only compounding the dangers and creating dangerous rescue situations for Border Patrol agents.
The Sunland Park area offers three routes for migrants wishing to sneak into the country. One route is through an urban area that allows the migrants to immediately disappear into the populace making capture nearly impossible for agents as they have only minutes from the time of detection to when the migrants vanish.
The second route is a rural environment where it takes hours to days to travel before a migrant may come along a source of food or water or shelter. Migrants are often found dehydrated and malnourished if not dead from making this rural trek.
The third is the mountainous regions where all bets are off and the risk of injury or death is extremely high for both the migrants and the agents attempting to rescue the unwary travelers who get caught in the rough rock-hewn areas.
While all this happens, El Paso city officials are taking steps to prepare for a new mass migrant surge on or about May 11 which is when the Biden Administration is expected to allow the Title 42 regulation to expire.
The regulation allows border agents to quickly expel most migrants coming across the border without authorization.
This week the City Council unanimously approved extending an emergency ordinance that allows the city manager to shift municipal resources and personnel in response to those mass arrivals.
That’s despite new rules by the Biden administration requiring asylum-seekers from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti to apply for asylum remotely, and a new proposed rule to turn back others who show up at the border without having sought protection in countries they traveled through before getting here.
The city is prepared to once again assist with housing, transportation and food for migrants released from federal immigration custody if need be. In the meantime, the El Paso Police Department, through Operation Stone Garden funds, is ready to assist the Border Patrol with public safety issues, such as migrants coming over the border wall and rushing busy highways.
All this to say, whether the border is being covered by the news or not, the problems and issues continue to grow on our southern border without any real end in sight.