Helena, Montana

Special Report: Tough problems on southern border, and no easy solutions

McALLEN, TX – As the political fight continues over security at the southern border, the struggle to manage immigration continues on the ground.

MTN News’ Russ Riesinger has been in Texas with U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) getting a first-hand look at the border with border patrol agents.

What to do about the crisis on the US-Mexico border and those who cross illegally has become a divisive political issue. 

“Here in the Rio Grande Valley we have two demographics of aliens that we apprehend,” Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz explained.

“We apprehend family units with a company of children that actively seek border patrol to be apprehended in order to claim asylum or hope for a better life in the United States. Then we have what we have people who are actively trying to avoid apprehension. They don’t want to get caught from us,” he added.

“Here we would encounter both of those groups — those who want to get away and those who don’t. They just walked up from the river and turned themselves into us. So they are just preparing to transport them so they can take them to a processing center and process them,” Ruiz said.

He told MTN News the average is about 1,000 a day. We also came across another group that had just come across the river and you could still see the smuggler on the other side of the border.

Border Patrol
What to do about the crisis on the US-Mexico border and those who cross illegally has become a divisive political issue. (MTN News photo)

A single mother who we talked with spent weeks getting to the United States and said she was looking for work so her child can have a better life.

We just don’t have the infrastructure yet. So we’ve got to make sure that when we are doing our budgeting for appropriations for the Subcommittee of Homeland Security that we allocate funds in the right spot,” Sen. Tester said.

“If they’re allocated in the wrong spot it is not going to solve this problem and  [it] will continue to get worse unless we get it solved,” he added. “I would describe it as a problem that could reach crisis proportions. But I will also tell you that I think we can’t do everything at once,” he continued.

“We need to stage the things. I think the most important thing we can do right now is to make sure that these folks have the manpower and technology they need. And we need to deal with the originating countries,” Sen. Tester told MTN News.

Whether you call it a crisis or not — one thing is clear — it’s a problem with no easy solutions.

-Russ Riesinger reporting for MTN News

Related: Special Report: At the southern border

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