Ryan Lovelace, National Review, June 13, 2014
Border Patrol officials struggling to keep up with the increasing number of minors illegally crossing the Mexican border are not turning away persons with known gang affiliations. Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley, explained that a Border Patrol agent he represents helped reunite a teenage gang member with his family in the United States. Cabrera notes the young member of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a transnational criminal gang, had no criminal record in the U.S., but asks, “If he’s a confirmed gang member in his own country, why are we letting him in here?”
“I’ve heard people come in and say, ‘You’re going to let me go, just like you let my mother go, just like you let my sister go. You’re going to let me go as well, and the government’s going to take care of us,’” Cabrera says. “Until we start mandatory detentions, mandatory removals, I don’t think anything is going to change. As a matter of fact, I think it’s going to get worse.”
Both Cabrera and Cueto said local Central American media have played a role in encouraging the children to cross the border. Cabrera says he knows of television commercial spots that encourage people to go to the U.S. with their children because they won’t be turned away. KRGV Channel 5 News, in the Rio Grande Valley, reported that a mother and daughter traveled to America because they believed America’s borders to be open after Guatemalan news reports that said mothers and small children are getting bus tickets. “I said I need to act right now because this will end and my girl won’t have a future,” the mother said in Spanish to KRGV. Cueto says when he asked a group of children about their motivation, they spoke of the “announcer on the radio” who encouraged them to head for the United States. Cueto says Central American radio, television, other media, and religious groups have all encouraged people to move north to the United States.