This Mexican Border City Thinks Trump’s Wall Will Be Useless (HBO)

As Trump visits McAllen on Thursday. VICE News gets the perspectives of communities in McAllen’s sister city, Reynosa.

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Border wall supporters, opponents protest in Tex.

(10 Jan 2019) Supporters and opponents of President Donald Trump’s border wall greeted the president when he arrived in McAllen, Texas on the 20th day of a partial government shutdown. (Jan. 10)

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Images of the Rio Grande along the US-Mexico border

Images of the Rio Grande seen from Anzalduas Park in McAllen, Texas which is on the US border with Mexico. President Trump travels to McAllen on Thursday and will fly down to the southern border that he described in his prime-time television address to the nation, as an open door to murderers and other criminals. IMAGES

Trump’s Border Troops Have Nothing To Do (HBO)

The Rio Grande Valley in Texas is now home to roughly 1,000 active duty US army soldiers. They’re part of the more than 5,000 troops Donald Trump deployed to the US-Mexico border ahead of the midterm elections, at an estimated cost of $200 million.

Most of the troop in the Rio Grande Valley are now living on Base Camp Donna, ten miles east of McAllen. In the last week, army engineers have built the camp up to accommodate a long-term deployment: it now has hot showers, laundry facilities, and a kitchen to produce two hot meals a day. Many of the soldiers there have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and life on Base Camp Donna is much like life on any other base — except here, there’s no enemy to fight, and the troops have almost nothing to do.

The migrant caravan they’re supposed to be responding to is weeks away and headed to Tijuana, 1,500 miles to the West. The only concrete missions the troops have engaged in so far consist of “hardening” parts of the border with concertina wire. When that’s done, said Major Derek Wamsley, a public affairs officer at the base, “we move back here and wait for the next request from Customs and Border Protection.”

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RAW: Black Hawk helicopter patrols US-Mexico border

COURTESY: Tech. Sgt. Nick Kibbey/ DVIDS

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter patrolled above US-Mexico border points of entry in support of Operation Faithful Patriot, operating near McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, as seen in footage released on Wednesday.

The aircraft was operated by the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.



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I Spent A Day With Border Patrol Agents At The US-Mexico Border

Business Insider reporter and photographer Daniel Brown recently spent a day riding along with US Border Patrol agents. He got an inside look at the busiest sector of the US-Mexico border. 

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Following is a transcript of the video:

Daniel Brown: I was recently down in McAllen, Texas, down in the Rio Grande Valley, to cover the immigration crisis that’s been going on. I reached out to the Border Patrol for that sector and tried to get a ride-along. Finally, they granted it.

US Border Patrol Agent: The Rio Grande Valley Sector accounts for about 40% of the apprehensions in the United States. 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. 

Brown: They first took me on a boat, just drove up and down the Rio Grande. They’re looking for crossers. Most people cross on rafts or boats. There are just some deflated rafts on the side of the coast there. That’s from people crossing over. We get off periodically, and just take little trails, and walk around. A lot of times they would look for tracks and see some faint ones, be like, okay, we know someone passed through here a couple days ago, or a day ago, or something like that. Their main job is, obviously, to keep the border safe and to apprehend people who are crossing illegally. But also, as they told me, it’s a humanitarian mission as well, you know. Whether it’s Mexicans or Americans, or any other citizen of the world who’s passing through, they wanna try to keep those people safe.

US Border Patrol Agent: That’s kinda one of the difficulties of the job is you have to switch on and off from humanitarian mission to, is this guy trying to take your life?

Brown: Border Patrol agents are killed, are shot at, they find dead bodies a lot, they experience, witness a lot of trauma. One agent who operates mostly on the boats, he said that sometimes they’ll find a raft or a little boat trying to get across, and they’ll be packed with 10 or more people, or something like that. Sometimes they’ll just throw a kid off into the water just ’cause they know that the agents will go for the kid right away to save ’em. We went up and down along the river there for a while. We ran into a lot of sugar cane. It’s very dense, and they were talking about the difficulties of tracking people through that, how a lot of times people can just run into that and they’ll just never find ’em, even if they have dogs.

US Border Patrol Agent: You cordon off this field and try to surround it, even when we have a canine assist come in so that the dog can follow and smell the people, he gets overloaded. So, it’s a big, big challenge, the sugar cane.

Brown: After that, we drove around for a little bit, a lot of stray dogs walking around. And the agents even said they use the dogs sometimes to kind of decipher if someone’s in the area.

US Border Patrol Agent: These dogs at times will give you a heads up, because with experience you start to see that they weren’t barking before, but then they began to bark, so they’ll kinda give you a little heads up that somebody’s in the area or something’s in the area.

Brown: The people that live along the borders, I spoke to some of them who have people crossing through their property, who’ve been there for years, and it happens almost daily, and they’ll ruin their crops. I met one family who’s shot people who cross into their property. Those landowners, when I went and visited them, they said to come back in a few hours, and I did, and that’s when they told me, “Oh, you missed it.” And then they drove me out on their little four wheeler and showed me the tracks. Those tracks were like an hour old when I took ’em. A lot of these people that are crossing over illegally or going to ports of entry, they’ve had tough lives, and they’re trying to escape violence, they’re trying to get a better life. And that’s something that I think that we should realize and understand as a country. But at the same time, you know, people, like the Border Patrol agents, their lives are at risk sometimes. People on all sides of the issue are going through tough things sometimes, and I think we need to see all aspects of that.