We signed up for a free tour of the Weslaco Border Patrol Station coordinated by the events team at Llano Grande RV Resort. Our personal exposure to the U.S. Mexican border situation has been limited to print and televised news, seeing white pickup trucks with a green band, observing sections of “The Wall,” and our two border crossings at Progreso, Texas.
After registering at the front desk of the Weslaco Border Patrol facility, in groups of six we were led to a large conference room that could easily seat a hundred if needed. In front, to the left were flags, a white screen, and a lectern. I thought a Mexican flag would be appropriate, however only two out of ten illegals caught originate from Mexico. The back of this fairly large room, and along one side were personal hygiene items stacked several feet high. I also saw flats of snack pack fruit drinks, baby formula, diapers, included in this make shift warehouse. Take that stuff out and you could easily fit in another forty people. Mind you this is an active Border Patrol facility, complete with armed agents, a fortified armament room, surveillance operations, and the detainees somewhere on location.
Once assembled in the room a short introduction was made followed by a quick paced, fact filled, high level fifteen-minute video. Four agents spoke. One, a mother of five, two dads, and a young man. Each expounded on their working conditions, and personal witness of how awful humanity can treat itself. In addition to finding bodies, they have rescued crying, scared, toddlers left in the elements for days. Human trafficking, and smuggling of every kind imaginable is just another day at the office. It’s a dirty business. The presentation emphasized the scope of the Border Patrol, its challenges, and compassion.
Large numbers of families are coming because smugglers have effectively communicated across Central America that adults who travel with children will be allowed to enter and stay in the United States. During the Q&A session border patrol agents told stories of children being rented, or bought in Mexico, and then abandoned in the wilderness. As a regular Joe, raised in the America Midwest kind of guy, I find it hard to believe that someone would sell an “I don’t care if you live or die idea” to another human being. Then turn around and do it again, and again. I just don’t get it, I’m so naïve. For profit, those individuals do exist. Deal with it.
Border agents had detected nearly 2,400 “false families,” including cases in which migrants had falsely claimed to be related when they were not, or untruthfully claimed to be younger than 18. With each apprehension someone at the Border Patrol level has to search out and verify each detainee claim. Back ground checks including calls to a country’s consulate, calls to grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other references are all carried out as part of the job. Then a hand off to the next appropriate agency occurs. Those needing medical attention are first in line. This is where ICE, or any one of the many agencies including local church’s may enter the picture. This is a catch and clean operation, also known as processing . This is not a hold your hand, let me counsel you on how to enter the U.S. correctly feel good kind of place.
The Weslaco Border Patrol Station is located in the lower Rio Grande Valley between McAllen and Harlingen, Texas. The station is responsible for forty miles of river with the primary activity at the station being line watch of its river boundary and city patrol to service the surrounding cities. The agents use 4 X 4 vehicles, bikes, boats, horses, canine, sensors, night vision goggles, and infra-red scopes.
We were invited into the armament room, and surveillance section. The lights were turned off and we experienced infrared night scopes. We also watched as strategically located cameras zoomed in and out panning the border views. This was a transparent public relations success in my opinion. The most current Border Patrol activity is available on Twitter. Twitter feeds provided by “CBP RGV”, and “Chief Patrol Agent Austin Skero”. It was kind of funny. During the presentation our group was asked, “How many of you have a Twitter account? No one raised their hand.
In addition to crooks, gang members, drug smugglers making up the five percent club, there are individuals from countries very far away that are programed at a very young age blending in with the hundreds seeking asylum, and they too want access to the U.S. A very passive technique for the human, and drug traffickers, is becoming popular. Large groups consisting of one to two hundred people seeking a better life will cross the Rio Grande, find a white Border Patrol pickup truck, and ask for asylum. The agent will request assistance to help process the mob, thus exposing a larger unpatrolled territory for a greater illicit activity to be carried out.
Here is a small factoid. For years, the Weslaco facility had two porta potties to accommodate the detainees. Because of the recent influx they now have thirty. Busting at the seams, the border patrol, with assistance from the army reserves, police stations, and other law enforcement agencies assist in, “Making it work.” Just like many other work place environments, they do more with less.
Did you know there are the equivalent of 911 solar powered help stations throughout the remote areas along the border? The purpose is to aid lost, or purposely abandoned people who simply wanted a better life. Citizens, and Border Patrol agents also place water bottles in high traffic areas.
The priority mission of the Border Patrol is preventing terrorists and terrorists weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from entering the United States. Undaunted by scorching desert heat or freezing northern winters, they work tirelessly as vigilant protectors of our Nation’s borders. While the Border Patrol has changed dramatically since its inception in 1924, its primary mission remains unchanged: to detect and prevent the illegal entry of aliens into the United States.
Think about this for a second. Mom or dad go to work protecting your country’s security, and its borders. In return their child is bullied because of what they do. Shunning Border Patrol agents by their own family members, and local residents is real. We heard about it during the presentation. These are real people, real consequences, real hurt. How to manage this type of stress is every law enforcement officer/agent real life emotion.
For obvious reasons photography was not allowed inside the building, this is public knowledge. One of the individuals present was Sergio Tinoco. I could tell the Agent-In-Charge; Melissa took great pride in all the agents assigned to her watch. When she introduced Sergio as an author, I think he blushed. Sergio was raised by his maternal grandparents in a South Texas region better known as the Rio Grande Valley. After a military stint Sergio joined the U.S. Border Patrol. Being of Mexican descent, having family in South Texas, and in Mexico gave way to new issues of having to counter threats against his family. He wrote about the Ill-willed opinions of him for arresting and deporting “his own kind.” A link to his book “Proud American,” is listed below.
My take away from our tour was that ninety-five percent of the 76,000 unauthorized migrants crossing each month simply want a better life. The other five percent, well let’s just say you would not want them as your neighbor, let alone in your country. On top of people simply wanting a better life, we heard multiple times that a wall will not stop border crossings, but it will help with the manageability of individuals wanting, and desperately seeking a better life.
Melissa, my favorite Agent in Charge was asked to represent the Weslaco Station during a Presidential fact-finding meeting. You can see Melissa take command of the room on this YouTube presentation at time stamp 32:00 Click here to watch Melissa and President Trump
This is a link to a NY Times article reporting on the border crossing climate Click here for 76,000 crossing per month