Large groups of migrants continue to illegally cross border into NM's Bootheel | KOB 4
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Large groups of migrants continue to illegally cross border into NM's Bootheel

Nathan O'Neal
February 13, 2019 10:09 PM

HIDALGO CO., N.M.- At least 28 large groups of migrants have been taken into custody along the border in southwest New Mexico since October, authorities said.

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On Tuesday night, border agents encountered a small group of women and children, including a mother and her 13-year-old daughter who made a 15-day journey from Guatemala. The group jumped the border fence in Antelope Wells in New Mexico’s Bootheel and immediately turned themselves over to Border Patrol. The group announced their intent to seek asylum to escape violence in their home country.

Authorities said Tuesday’s group is small compared to what border agents have been seeing lately. Since October, Border Patrol reports apprehending 28 large groups consisting of more than 100 migrants in the area.

“On average it’s been about two large groups a week,” said Border Patrol agent Fidel Baca. “For a while, it was like clockwork on Tuesday and Thursdays.”

Agent Baca said the groups are made up mostly of families from Central America and the groups immediately surrender themselves over to authorities.

The Antelope Wells area is the same area where a seven-year-old girl from Guatemala was picked up last December and later died in U.S. custody.

“You’ll see right off the bat, we’ll ask does anybody here need medical attention and you’ll see the hands that go up,” agent Baca said.

Last month, Border Patrol set up new permanent onsite EMTs to conduct medical screening the moments illegal crossers are taken into custody.

Agent Baca said it’s unclear why the area has seen a surge in large migrant groups crossing through Antelope Wells, adding that a criminal element takes advantage of the fact that it is a remote and desolate area.

“These people are smuggled. It’s not a coincidence that these people are out here at the same time,” agent Baca said.

Credits

Nathan O'Neal

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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