MCALLEN, Texas — I was in Southern Texas covering the immigration crisis and separation of families for nearly a day when I got word that I had secured a Border Patrol ride-along.
“The Rio Grande sector accounts for about 40% of the apprehensions in the United States,” a Border Patrol agent named Chris Seiler told me as we drove away from the station a few days later. “The McAllen station specifically is about 20% of the entire nation, and we catch about 300 individuals a day just in this 50-mile span of border.”
For nearly five hours last Monday morning, I followed Seiler and another agent, Rene Quintanilla, around as they patrolled on and around the Rio Grande, which separates the US and Mexico.
Here’s what happened:
Seiler and Quintanilla first took me on a boat where I met a few more agents.
For a couple of hours, we drove up and down the Rio Grande, periodically disembarking to walk along the trails. The agents said the boats, which are loud and fast, act as a deterrent against illegal crossings.
Cartels and smuggling organizations often have spotters posted along the river to make sure the coast is clear before they send people across.
Sometimes spotters even post up in abandoned houses or other structures like the one seen below.