A new Los Angeles Times report puts the number of people crossing the United States southern border into frightening perspective. At the McAllen, Texas border patrol station alone, some 1,500 people daily are occupying a space that is meant to house 250 detainees. Likewise, other smaller stations in the area are housing two or three times their capacity. On radio this morning, Sergio Sanchez of 710 KURV in McAllen called in to further discuss the crisis.
While reports put the number of illegal immigrants detained each day at 1,000 to 1,500 in McAllen, that number in no represents the number of people who are not captured daily.
“That's what they're capturing – about a thousand to 1500,” Sanchez explained. “Now, the best estimates – and this came from border patrol – about a year ago they said they used drone technology to try to determine how many people got into the country illegally… They're comfortable they catch 40% on a good day. That's a good day. They have not been having good days of late. So you can just imagine the flood of humanity that's actually getting past border patrol.”
Of those who are caught, Sanchez speculated that 20 to 30% are children. As Sanchez explained, these kids arrive with nothing more than a piece of paper in their pocket that gives the name, address, and phone number of some family member that is already in the U.S. The notes usually say something like, “Please get me there as quickly as you can.”
It is because of policies like catch and release and selective deportation that this influx has gotten so out-of-control.
“Eventually the word gets down to Central America. And I don't know what sparked it, but for the past several months, we have been seeing a flood of OTM. That's ‘Other Than Mexicans,’” Sanchez explained. “These are not Mexican immigrants that are coming in. These are Central Americans for the most part.”
“We have tens of thousands of people trekking across Mexico because somehow the message got through to them that if they come to the U.S., they have a catch and release policy. They have a selective prosecution, deportation policy,” he continued. “And if you show up and you're a kid, the chances are you're going to stay. If you're a woman with kids, chances are you're going to stay. And there is no relief in sight because what we require is leadership from the White House.”
The White House has called this most recent surge in border crossings – especially the influx of unaccompanied children – a humanitarian crisis. In that regard, Sanchez agrees with the Obama Administration.
“It's the President himself who admitted this is… a humanitarian crisis or something like that. He recognizes we have a problem down here. It's the local cities down here, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, everyone trying to do their part to feed these kids, clothe these kids, put shoes on these kids because they are here,” he explained. “These people are hungry. They survived the trip across Mexico… It's the Salvation Army that's providing overnight sheet shelter, food, clothing, shoes. There the one doing everything down here – Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army.”
Ultimately, Sanchez believes this is a problem that was created by the U.S. government’s policies, and it is a problem that can only solved through real leadership.
“This plight has been created by an administration that, again, provides no leadership,” he concluded. “It is an unofficial open invitation. We need America to wake up.”
Front page image courtesy of the AP