Del Rio Ranks Third In Migrant Apprehensions, Chief Addresses Community On Daily Challenges | Texas Public Radio

Del Rio Ranks Third In Migrant Apprehensions, Chief Addresses Community On Daily Challenges

Jul 18, 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported its agents apprehended more than 800,000 migrants since last October along the U.S.-Mexico border, and many took place in the Border Patrol's Del Rio sector.

The Del Rio Sector stretches across 210 miles along the southern border, from Terrell County to Webb County. Raul Ortiz, Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent, said the rural region saw some of the highest foot traffic of asylum-seeking migrants.

During a State of the Border Address Thursday at the Del Rio Civic Center, Ortiz reported agents made 45,000 apprehensions in the Del Rio Sector this year, up from 13,000 the previous year.

The sector is ranked third in the country in daily apprehensions and second when it comes to migrant detention. Ortiz said the numbers dropped slightly in June — a common trend for the hot summer months — but he also credited his neighbors to the south.

“I think that what the Mexicans have done over the last several weeks has impacted and reduced the number of people that are coming across that river," he said. "And so hopefully they can sustain that.”

A new Trump administration policy now requires immigrants to apply for asylum in another country before they arrive at the U.S. southern border. Ortiz said policy details have not yet been completely shared.

Chief Ortiz debriefed the public of the border’s current border condition on the U.S./Mexico border. Agents have made 45,000 apprehensions in the Del Rio Sector this fiscal year, up from 13,000 the previous year.
Credit Lauren Terrazas / Texas Public Radio

“They’re still working on negotiating the final pieces of that proposal," he explained. "And so implementation hasn’t been pushed down to the local levels.”

Ortiz expects the new asylum policy to have an impact on their day-to-day operations once its implemented. In the meantime, he is hopeful the Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico” policy, will soon be extended to the Del Rio Sector and would help alleviate the strain on resources and personnel.

He also said training tactics are evolving to deal with an unprecedented number of migrant family units and unaccompanied children.

“We’ve expanded our training to 117-day training cycle," he said. "And it’s a scenario-based training, and so the agents that are going through our academy now are trained much differently than they were probably five and ten years ago.”

Ortiz is a Del Rio native and has been with CBP for over 20 years. He said the event was an opportunity for the agency to connect with the community and to inform them about what is happening right in their region and the challenges his agents face every day.

Lauren Terrazas can be reached at Lauren@TPR.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren.