Rising Rio Grande Puts Undocumented Immigrants in Danger
EAGLE PASS, Texas – In recent weeks water levels of the Rio Grande River have risen to well above normal height. Increased water volume strengthens the river current and puts anyone attempting to illegally cross in jeopardy.
On Jan. 25, at approximately 9 a.m., U.S. Border Patrol agents from Eagle Pass rescued seven children and one mother, all undocumented immigrants, who were stranded in the river.
“Crossing into the United States has always been hazardous,” stated Acting Chief Patrol Agent Matthew J. Hudak in response to the incident. “With the river level being dangerously high, I have directed agents at the Del Rio Sector to remain vigilant and prioritize safety for all people in close proximity to the Rio Grande.”
Shortly before the rescue, Eagle Pass agents had apprehended one undocumented immigrant on a ranch north of the city. The subject indicated that there were seven other people stuck on an island, where he had crossed, who were screaming for help. Eagle Pass ground agents, Border Patrol marine units, and Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue quickly responded and located the stranded individuals. Unable to navigate the high water, the undocumented immigrants were pulled from the river and transported by Border Patrol boat to dry land.
In total, eight people were saved from the river; six unaccompanied children (ages 13 to 16) and a 24-year-old mother with her one-year-old daughter. All were from Central American countries and were abandoned by their smuggler once they had reached the water. All were transported to the Eagle Pass South Station for processing, per CBP guidelines.
Over the last two weeks, multiple rescues and emergencies related to the abnormally high river level have occurred. On Jan. 23, a Honduran man apprehended in Eagle Pass reported that his 16-year-old son had been lost in the river while crossing from the Mexican side. Despite an exhaustive search, the child has yet to be located. On Jan. 12, a stranded 11-year-old girl from Honduras was rescued by Eagle Pass marine units (click here for story). On Jan. 24, a human smuggler was also pulled from the water after a failed attempt to swim back to the Mexican side (click here for story).
Data from the International Boundary and Water Commission indicates that the current river volume may be nine times its normal. Measured in the rate of water that is released from the Lake Amistad Dam in Del Rio, the water is currently flowing at 220 cubic meters per second. The average output for 2016 was 23 cubic meters per second. The rate of water release is relative to local weather expectancy, reserve amounts, as well as electricity demand and increased flow rates are common in this time of year.
“I encourage everyone to spread the word about the dangers of crossing the Rio Grande River,” (A)CPA Hudak continued. “Del Rio Sector will continue to steadfastly guard our borders at all times and work to prevent any senseless loss of life.”