US-Mexico border migrants say Donald Trump's intention to deploy military won't deter them

Texas: On Tuesday, the same day that US president Donald Trump announced his intention to deploy military to help patrol the US-Mexico border, Edwin Valdez and four other Central American migrants were walking through dense brush at a south Texas wildlife reserve, hoping to escape notice.

The men had illegally crossed into the United States that morning, guided by a smuggler who had since abandoned them. Now they were lost and uncertain how to proceed.

 US-Mexico border migrants say Donald Trumps intention to deploy military wont deter them

File image of Donald Trump. AP

In vehicles nearby, US Border Patrol agents had been alerted to migrants moving through the area, and after detecting movement in the bushes, they swooped in to arrest the men.

It was business as usual in the Rio Grande Valley, one of the busiest crossing points for migrants trying to enter the United States illegally.

In just a few hours that morning, 61 migrants, including Valdez, were rounded up in the area. Ten, including four from China, were caught with the help of a tracking dog in a sugar cane field. Two Hondurans were taken into custody at a public park.

Several of those caught said they were unfazed by tough talk from Trump, who has made headlines around the world with tweets railing about border security and threatening to end the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) unless Mexico does more to “stop the big drug and people flows.”

Trump’s renewed frustration about border security, rekindled over the weekend by news of a “caravan” of Central American migrants moving through Mexico toward the U.S. border, reflects the broader frustration of his administration.

In the months after Trump took office, the number of migrants caught along the US-Mexico border fell dramatically, hitting a low of about 15,700 in April, from more than 42,400 in January 2017, US Customs and Border Protection data shows.

But arrests have crept back up since, and in the first months of 2018 have reached levels at, or near, those seen during the last year of his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

Rising arrests of families and unaccompanied minors along the border are a particular concern.

In March, their numbers surpassed the previous three years and “rivaled fiscal year 2014, when we had a crisis,” Manuel Padilla, chief of the border patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector, said in an interview with Reuters.

He said about families with children, who are more difficult to deport quickly, form about 49 percent of the current apprehensions in his region. He said they often walk up to the first U.S. officials they find to ask for help.

“It doesn’t matter how many agents are out there,” when it comes to families, he said, “because this population is turning themselves in.”

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Updated Date: Apr 04, 2018 19:34:00 IST