The tide of 'illegals' -- a firsthand record

My view is from a partially hidden location under a burning Texas sun. The Rio Grande flows by a few hundred yards away. On the other side is Mexico.

In the distance, I can make out three men on the Mexican shore walking toward the river's edge. They have one inner tube. Their laughter and talk drifts across the water as they remove clothing and stuff it into a large plastic bag.

The trio enters the water, one seated on the inner tube, the others swimming alongside. As the tube nears the US bank, the three walk casually through the shallow water and head for the underbrush, where they put on the clothing kept dry in the bag.

US Border Patrolmen move in. Later in the day, these three, plus a number of others apprehended that day, are in the Border Patrol's processing room in Laredo.

It's another day, 40 miles north, near Encinal, Texas. I'm in a low-flying Border Patrol plane as it spots a man and woman huddled in a railroad car. The pair hopped the slow-moving freight in Laredo. Their hope, doubtless, is to travel north toward San Antonio's promising job market.

Realizing they've been spotted, the two leap from the train. The man helps the woman to her feet, and they run for nearby trees.

Border Patrol cars wait on the other side of the train, getting updates from the pilot overhead.

When the train finally passes, the officials move in. These two, like the three men who floated the Rio Grande, will be apprehended. But as the statistics clearly show, many more won't be.

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