DALLAS, Texas (1080 KRLD) – As we enter the merciless summer months where temperatures average well above 100 degrees along the Texas Mexico border, the possibility exist for a larger wave of causalities among illegal immigrants trying to gain access to the United States.
With the oppressive summer heat “it’s going to be very, very dangerous in this part of the country to have young kids women and other folks to come in,” says Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo, TX).
On Monday a South Texas sheriff announced the discovery of a 11 year old Guatemalan boys body about a mile from the border. Cuellar said the discovery of the boys body reinforces just how perilous the journey is into the US.
“Certainly I hope they stop coming because we probably will have more deaths as the hot weather continues,” says Cuellar. “It’s not just the heat that could kill them but there are other dangers. Officials at Lackland Air Force Base told us that one-third of young girls that come across – and they were just like little babies; 10, 11, 14 years of age. That about one third of them get raped and/or abused on the way here.”
Cuellar says that as he was speaking to Customs and Border Patrol agents he was also discovering a disturbing trend of adults “renting” children in Central America in order to increase their chances of being able to stay in the U.S. once they cross over.
“I was talking to somebody that worked for Border Patrol, and he said that in the late 80’s there were a lot of kids from El Salvador coming in and what they were doing is they had a ‘rent-a-kid’ program.” says Cuellar “In other words they said ‘oh if I come in and I have a kid with me they’ll let me go.” And the Border Agent told him “Henry, I’m seeing this again, I cannot believe it.”
“This is a phenomenon that has gone on for years if not decades,” says George Grayson a Professor of Latin American Politics at William & Mary “As far as I know they pay the families (and remember these economies are in sad shape) and therefore to get maybe a few hundred dollars you’re willing to give up your 7th or 8th child.”
Grayson says that coyotes (smugglers) will often use children as a distraction, “Because your heart goes out to children. If the same group of organized criminals is trying to move drugs you can distract them by having a group of children moving into one part of the McAllen corridor into Texas and then you have your drugs moving in a few miles away.”
Meanwhile Cuellar goes onto say that the wave of illegal immigrants coming across the Southern Texas border has not ebbed at all.
“It still is bad… about 1,200 to 1,500 people they’re catching a day and about 20 to 30 percent of them are kids with no parents.”
Follow 1080 KRLD reporter Joe Gomez on Twitter @JoeGomezKRLD
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