Migrants brave Rio Grande looking towards Eagle Pass, Texas



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After traveling more than a thousand kilometers, the Piedras Negras immigrants to Mexico, mainly from Honduras, go to this region: the banks of the Rio Grande. Just beyond is Eagle Pass, Texas, and the entire United States.

This looks deceptively simple, as if you could just swim. Perhaps this is what, combined with despair, has caused so many immigrants to try to do it, some alone, some with their young children and babies.

"As you can see, the Rio Grande is not a small river," said Matthew Hudak, Acting Chief Border Patrol Officer for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Hudak says that more and more families are trying to cross here. "We did five times more rescues this year than last year."

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No day can shed more light on the danger this year than Valentine's Day. Border patrol officers saved not one group, but three, trying to cross the river, 17 people in total. Seven of them were children, ranging in age from just one year old to 17 years old.

Even though daytime temperatures were in the 70s, the water itself is cold and has strong currents.

"It's treacherous. It's dangerous, "said Louie Wayne Collins, division chief of CBP.

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Collins described a rescue last week: "They went down to the middle of the river and they can not go forward or back." It was a family of five, three adults and two young children.

In the past two weeks, officers have reported saving a total of 35 people. It is unclear if any of them have ever been part of the caravan that arrived in Piedras Negras last week or are simply part of small groups arrived alone.

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Traffic in the region has been stable for months.

On Valentine's Day, one of the men who tried to cross did not succeed. The crews pulled his body from the river.

"Honestly, I can tell you that this is not the first," said Eagle Pass Fire Chief Manuel Mello. And indeed, border patrol officers said that there had been four deaths of immigrants in the river in this region since last October.

"We have been recovering bodily for a while," said Mello. "And I know it will not be the last either."

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