‘Dangerous Uptick’ in Illegal Immigration Attempts by Train: CBP

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in El Paso, Texas, have noted a significant increase in attempts to illegally enter the United States by train in the past year. The border control agency has warned hopeful aliens not to do so because the practice is highly dangerous.

“It is happening almost every time CBP officers in El Paso process an arriving freight train from Mexico,” a CBP release states. “Migrants are discovered attempting to use the railroad system to enter the country undetected.”

The illegal aliens come mainly from Mexico and Central America.

Officers working at two downtown rail crossings say they have found and removed 292 illegal aliens from trains since the start of the current fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2020. The figure is up more than 60 percent from the same period last year, when they found 181 illegal aliens.

For the entirety of the 2019 fiscal year, only 50 illegal aliens were found trying to illegally enter the United States without inspection via the rail crossings.

“We cannot stress how dangerous of a practice this is and we encourage any considering this to not proceed with their plans,” Hector Mancha, the CBP director of field operations, said in a statement. “People are climbing on rail cars and hiding in places not designed to accommodate human beings.

“Fortunately, we have yet to encounter anyone who has been maimed while attempting this but I am afraid that at some point we will.”

The crossings often take place when it is dark, bringing added danger, the CBP noted.

“The potential for a misstep is greater when it is dark and visibility is limited,” Mancha said.

About 6,500 rail cars enter El Paso from Mexico every month. CBP officers are responsible for processing railcars that arrive south of downtown El Paso, at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific crossings on either side of the Paso Del Norte international bridge.

Officers use non-intrusive x-ray technology to check every rail car and also inspect the rail cars visually as they slowly enter the country from Mexico. Canine teams often support the inspection efforts.

During these checks, officers have found migrants riding “on top of rail cars, in naturally occurring voids, holding onto the undercarriage, within brand new vehicles that are being shipped north, and other locations on and within the rail cars.”

Those who are arrested are generally immediately processed to go back to Mexico. There are sometimes exceptions that require other consequences to the illegal alien, such as if the person is someone who is wanted for a crime, or was previously formally removed from the country but was found trying to reenter.

“CBP officers remain vigilant in their efforts to stop this practice. We are also in regular communication with the rail companies and our counterparts in Mexico to work together to stop this dangerous practice,” Mancha said.

“Despite our best efforts it does not appear to be slowing down at all. We hope that through publicity people will realize that they are risking their lives and in turn will not consider this as an option.”

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Mimi Nguyen Ly
Author: Mimi Nguyen Ly

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