Rio Grande Is New Hot Spot for Border Crossings

Tops Tucson crossings for first time in two decades

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 17, 2013 4:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – Unauthorized border crossings from Mexico to Tucson are so 2012. In 2013, it's all about Texas' Rio Grande Valley, which has topped Tucson's apprehension figures for the first time in 20 years, the New York Times reports. Since October 2012, 94,305 people have been apprehended crossing in the area. Apprehensions at the Mexican border in general are up 55% this year after years in decline, though still well below the peak of 1.6 million in 2000. Officials say the increase in traffic is not due to more Mexicans crossing, but rather people coming via Mexico from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

More resources and Border Patrol agents have been allocated to the Rio Grande to meet the increased numbers, but budget cuts and corruption are making it difficult to keep up. The area is also just difficult to patrol, filled with sugar cane fields and citrus trees. Local authorities are feeling the pressure, too, facing more dead bodies turning up on local farms and high-speed car chases. "There is just so much happening at the same time—it is overwhelming," the chief deputy sheriff from a county near the border tells the Times, adding, "This is a humanitarian issue. People are dying right out on the land here."

US Customs and Border Patrol agent Sanchez patrols along the Rio Grande, in Penitas, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
US Border Patrol Agents cross the Rio Grande River from Big Bend National Park, Texas to Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico.   (AP Photo/The San Antonio Express-News, Edward A. Ornelas)
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