The new year is showing signs of the same old tactics at the southern border, as Rio Grande Valley Sector (RGV) Border Patrol agents in Texas, along with state and local law enforcement departments, say human smuggling is on the rise after they interdicted seven groups leading to 36 arrests, including four rescues from under a Port of Entry bridge.
President Joe Biden announced new immigration restrictions Thursday, including the expansion of programs to remove people quickly without letting them seek asylum, in an attempt to address one of his administration’s most politically vulnerable issues while the nation’s attention is focused on Republican disarray in Congress.
Also on Thursday, the Mexican army captured Ovidio Guzmán, an alleged drug trafficker and son of notorious kingpin Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, just days before Biden is scheduled to make his first visit to the United States’ southern neighbor.
Biden on announced a weekend visit to the Texas-Mexico border, along with a new immigration plan that would allow 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to enter the country and be able to work legally for up to two years.
In order to qualify, those migrants must apply from their home countries.
As part of the plan, the Biden administration also will begin to use the emergency health order known as Title 42 to expel the same number of migrants from those four countries to Mexico if they attempt to enter the U.S. illegally.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, Mexico has agreed to accept up to 30,000 migrants a month from those countries under Title 42.
Ovidio Guzmán is one of several sons of El Chapo who have allegedly assumed prominent roles in the Sinaloa cartel since their father was extradited to the United States in 2017. Mexican authorities have accused him of being a major fentanyl trafficker. The U.S. government has sought his extradition for years.
Mexico has become the principal supplier of fentanyl to the U.S., overtaking China, a development that has alarmed American authorities. U.S. fatalities from drug overdoses topped 107,000 in 2021, the highest ever. Two-thirds of the deaths involved fentanyl.
Biden is scheduled to arrive Monday in Mexico for a bilateral meeting with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in which the fentanyl crisis is expected to be an important topic.
Biden will then hold a summit with the Mexican and Canadian leaders Tuesday.
On December 31, Kingsville Border Patrol Station (KIN) agents working at the Javier Vega Jr. Immigration Checkpoint apprehended four migrants from a tractor-trailer.
Federal agents referred the vehicle to the secondary inspection area following a K-9 alert and discovered the migrants in the trailer concealed between pallets of produce. The driver, and migrants who were unlawfully present in the U.S., were placed under arrest.
Later that evening, Falfurrias Border Patrol Station (FLF) agents at the Falfurrias Immigration Checkpoint arrested a U.S. citizen driving a Ford Explorer and three passengers, who were unlawfully present in the U.S. Agents found a gram of methamphetamine on the driver who was then turned over to Brooks County Sheriff’s Office to face state charges.
On January 1, Harlingen Border Patrol Station discovered four migrants stuck on a pillar underneath the Los Indios, Texas, Port of Entry bridge.
The Harlingen Fire Department assisted in safely lowering the subjects from the pillar.
On January 2, McAllen Border Patrol Station agents, responding to illicit activity in Los Ebanos, observed two vehicles departing a known human smuggling location. The two vehicles failed to yield after agents attempted to conduct vehicle stops.
Additional agents, a CBP Air and Marine Operations helicopter, and Sullivan City Police Department responded to assist the vehicle pursuits until the occupants of both vehicles bailed out near Sullivan City. Agents apprehended 19 migrants unlawfully present in the U.S. The drivers were not located.
Later that night, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers advised FLF agents they observed a Dodge Durango load up suspected migrants and were engaged in a vehicle pursuit. Agents responded and assisted with the pursuit. The vehicle drove through three ranch fences before coming to a stop, when two occupants bailed out. They were not located.
Also on January 2, KIN agents conducted a vehicle stop on a vehicle after it made a U-turn just before arriving at the Javier Vega Jr. Immigration Checkpoint. Agents determined the driver and three passengers were unlawfully present in the U.S. and were placed under arrest. Agents seized a loaded 7.62 semi-automatic rifle in the vehicle. The driver was turned over to Kenedy County Sheriff’s Office.
All subjects were processed accordingly, according to RGV Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez.