Residents of a border town in Texas have revealed how police and National Guard troops have taken control, confiscating their property as migrants’ trash lines the streets.
Eagle Pass, home to 28,500 Texans, has become ground zero for political fighting across the country, as groups of lawmakers, celebrities and journalists flock to do their part in the growing migrant border crisis.
The crossing of illegal immigrants has overwhelmed nearly every sector of Eagle Pass, but so have state and federal responses, weary residents say. The Del Rio sector, including Eagle Pass, reported 16,718 migrant arrests in January.
Eagle Pass resident Jessie Fuentes, 63, a kayak business owner whose livelihood is water, told Dallas Morning News over the Rio Grande: ‘We can’t even see it. We can’t even touch it.
Eagle Pass, home to 28,500 Texans, has become ground zero in this nationwide political fight as groups of lawmakers, celebrities and journalists flock to do their part in the growing migrant border crisis.
Del Rio sector, including Eagle Pass, reported 16,718 migrant arrests in January
Because the banks and parks that flow into the river have been under state control for more than a month, Fuentes’ kayak services are currently only used by journalists. His business is failing and he’s not the only one.
Speaking of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Fuentes said: “He’s abusive, he’s cruel and he doesn’t care.” He doesn’t care what’s going on in our community. The community didn’t sign up for this.’
The National Guard invaded the 47-acre Shelby Park, land that was once prosperous and popular with locals and was an entrance to the only public boat ramp. Even federal Border Patrol agents are prohibited from entering by Abbott’s order.
Abbott said at a press conference on February 4: ‘We’re not going to limit ourselves to just this park. “We are expanding into more areas to ensure we expand our level of deterrence and denial of illegal entry into the United States.”
He said Shelby Park will remain under state control “as long as necessary to maintain safety and eliminate crossings.”
Locals Magali Urbina and her husband, Hugo, own a walnut orchard on the Rio Grande, but the movement of people from the border has made their lives miserable.
Not only did migrants cross directly through his land, but it also became burdensome when Operation Lone Star was forced to enter his property to quell the situation.
Laurel Cadena, a 22-year-old Eagle Pass resident, often enjoys going to the Main Street shopping area with her newborn daughter, and said she has noticed an increase in immigrant customers coming to buy all their essentials after arriving. . In the USA
Magali Urbina stands near a gate on a pecan farm that has been demolished, locked and lined with concertina wire along the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass.
The National Guard frequently detains immigrants on their property, but the couple has also been detained and questioned for being on their own land.
Urbina told the Dallas Morning News: ‘It bothers me. I want you all off my property,’ she said. ‘I want my property back. “They are assuming power because they want to.”
He said areas of his land have been razed, closed off and lined with barbed wire in part of the effort to stop the movement of people.
While some residents welcome Texas’ actions, the city will need to rethink major events planned for Shelby Park next year, including a festival in March and a solar eclipse in April that could draw 50,000 visitors, said Margie Montoya, interim executive director of the Eagle Pass Chamber of Commerce said.
Children’s baseball leagues will start soon and will likely need to find other places to play, he said.
Laurel Cadena, a 22-year-old Eagle Pass resident, often enjoys going to the Main Street shopping area with her newborn daughter, and said she has noticed an increase in immigrant customers coming to buy all their essentials after arriving. . the United States.
In addition to the local park, the city’s hotel parking lots have been invaded by Texas Department of Public Safety personnel and their all-terrain vehicles, while restaurant chains such as Chick-fil-A and Starbucks are inundated with police and soldiers. .
Hospital rooms are full due to the thousands of immigrants arriving, and the trash that comes with their dangerous journey has also become controversial for Eagle Pass residents.
Honduran migrant Irma Yolani Cruz (right), 31, cries as she approaches the riverbank holding her one-year-old daughter Ariany and her 11-year-old son, with her husband Jaimie Ariel Rapalo, 32 years old, and his eight-year-old son, as migrants. cross the big river
Protesters gather in downtown Eagle Pass in opposition to the Texas governor’s visit. Abbott to Shelby Park for a press conference along with several other governors.
Protesters gather outside Shelby Park
Police arrest illegal immigrants for criminal trespass in Eagle Pass
Piles of dirty, wet clothes are strewn along the roads, while teddy bears and other possessions that have made the border trip are cluttered on the sidewalks.
Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas said: ‘(Mexico) is being more aggressive in its tactics to prevent people from coming to the border.
‘I’m not happy with the federal government, and when there are thousands of people crossing without consequences, I’m not in favor of that. However, the city didn’t come out and say, “Hey, please take our park.”
Not only has Eagle Pass become a backdrop for politicians to fly in, make a statement and leave, but staunch Republicans and individuals who are against migrant crossings have also come to town.
Over the weekend, hundreds of anti-illegal immigration protesters traveled to a ranch near Eagle Pass to show support for Trump, a hardliner on immigration and the Republican Party’s leading candidate to challenge Biden.
Some protesters drove through downtown on Sunday in vans decorated with pro-Trump and far-right messages. Biden edged out Trump in Maverick County, where Eagle Pass is located, in 2020, despite losing the state to Trump.
Despite the intense political climate, the number of migrants attempting to cross the border fell in January, particularly in and around Eagle Pass.
The decline was largely linked to a drop in the number of Venezuelan migrants following an effort by U.S. and Mexican authorities to disrupt the smuggling networks transporting them, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official told Reuters. requesting anonymity to discuss non-public information.
A spokesperson for Mexico’s migration agency said migrant arrivals “had decreased significantly” from December to today amid intensified enforcement.
After Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador agreed in mid-December to open a new crackdown on migration, Mexican authorities increased their efforts to prevent migrants from riding on top of trains and sent to migrants from northern Mexico to the south of the country by plane. and bus.
In Piedras Negras on Sunday, Mexican National Guard troops guarded the river in front of mounds of barbed wire on the American side.
Migrants standing outside a nearby shelter said arrivals had plummeted in January. Some said they were trying to enter the U.S. using the CBP One app, a Biden administration program that opens 1,450 slots a day for migrants to approach a legal border crossing and request entry.