Border authorities see increase in migrant apprehensions near Valentine

VALENTINE — Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection saw a “significant increase” in arrests of migrants across the Big Bend Sector after they say smugglers pushed large groups of people through the Valentine, Texas, area.

In just around 48 hours last week, Border Patrol Agents arrested over 100 undocumented migrants near Valentine. The migrants were traversing the rugged terrain in large groups.

Last Wednesday morning, working with K-9 dogs, technology and tracking techniques, Border Patrol agents apprehended the largest group of nearly 50 people. Five smugglers were also arrested and turned over to investigative authorities.

This massive influx of people was caused by a push by “transnational criminal organizations,” CBP stated in a news release. The influx is “especially concerning,” the agency stated, “due to the extreme cold weather” and the “the impact of COVID-19” on West Texas residents.

All subjects were processed according to Big Bend Sector protocols for immediate removal or further criminal prosecution. Under Title 42, a section of federal law invoked by the administration of former President Donald Trump in March, migrants and other international travelers can be barred entry if the U.S. Surgeon General determines there is a “serious danger” of communicable disease spreading across U.S. borders, such as during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Title 42, the CBP stated in its news release, helps the agency “ensure that COVID-19 is not further introduced into the United States.”

“Together,” the agency stated, “we can continue to uphold national security and combat illicit activity.”