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Illegal immigrants from Central America cross into El Paso, union anticipates the number will rise

By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas -- Thousands of immigrants from Central America are crossing the southwest border everyday, including the border in El Paso.

The National Border Patrol Council tells KFOX 14 that the first group of immigrants from Central America crossed into El Paso over the weekend.

Stu Harris, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, said 11 immigrants crossed over the weekend., and two more groups of both adults and children crossed since then.

"What we do know is what's driving these people to come over from central America is the talk of amnesty and immigration reform that started a year or two ago," Harris said.
However, Harris said this is issue is much larger than that.

Harris said adults who cross over are turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents.

He said the immigrants get processed, released, and receive a court date. However, he said many of them disappear after that and never show up to court.

Harris said shortly after they disappear, they try to get jobs in the U.S.

"For them to get jobs and the state-sponsored benefits," Harris said. "They have to steal somebody's identity to do that and that happens a lot more often than people realize."

Harris said as these immigrants will contact their families in Central America, and even more immigrants will cross the border and do the same thing.

"Some of these countries are actually advertising their citizens to migrate illegally into the U.S.," Harris said.

He said there has also been a surge of unaccompanied children who are crossing alone in groups, because their parents are already in the U.S.

He said Border Patrol agents are working to help connect them with their families.

Harris said this is happening all over the southwest border with as many as 2,000 apprehensions in a day just in the Rio Grand Valley.

The agency said dozens of Border Patrol Agents from El Paso have been sent to the Rio Grande Valley to assist with the surge over there.

He said the 115 agents from across the southwest Mexico border who are assisting in the Rio Grande Valley are working six-day weeks.

Harris said he fears this will significantly cut into Border Patrol's budget.

"That takes away from the other issues we have on the border," Harris said.

Harris said with these immigrants disappearing shortly after they are apprehended, he fears there will not be enough resources for the agency to chase down those illegal immigrants that got away.

"This is just the beginning of a major problem," Harris said.

President Barack Obama has declared an "urgent humanitarian situation" along the southwest border.

The National Border Patrol Council said another concern with the families and children crossing over is an outbreak of scabies.

They said at least 12 border patrol agents in the Rio Grand Valley have contracted the infection.

However, Harris said they are doing everything they can to address the situation before it gets worse.