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.