EAGLE PASS, Texas — Since October of 2018, Border Patrol agents in Eagle Pass have arrested 25,000 migrants, with nearly 200 coming in every day.
The city was thrown into the national spotlight in February when thousands of migrants traveled to the border city in a caravan.
Officials said that mostly family units are crossing the Rio Grande into the U.S., an often dangerous trip.
Patrol Agent in Charge Bryan Kemmett said he sees near tragic situations every day when people are trying to cross the water.
Recently he saw a man trying to get through the raging water with a child strapped to the front of him.
“He was starting to panic and that baby kept going underwater,” said Kemmett.
Fortunately agents were able to rescue the child and the man, but images like these are difficult for agents to witness nearly every day.
“It’s very hard when you see the face of those kids, the sheer horror they’re going through,” said Kemmett. “It sticks with you.”
Kemmett described how migrant caravans arrived in Eagle Pass months ago, and agents have apprehended three times that amount.
“The vast majority of the family units are turning themselves into us once they cross the river. They will seek us out,” said Kemmett. “They know they’re going to get released.”
Kemmett said the river can be very deceiving, and appears to be shallow, but it has areas that suddenly drop-off to deep water.
“Even though it looks like it’s calm, it’s very very dangerous,” he said.
Agents in Eagle Pass are spending more and more time rescuing people every day, many of which are women and children.
Kemmett said many are taking inflatable swimming pools or using inflatable mattresses as floating devices.
“You’re trying to balance going across the water and then you have one that may know how to swim better than the other, usually things don’t end well,” said Kemmett.
And many times, those flimsy devices aren’t able to make it across the water.
A few weeks ago, Kemmett said 10 people were trying to use an air mattress to cross a section of the river when it tipped over, sending the entire group into the water.
An agent was nearby and heard the screaming and rushed to help. He was able to rescue a few.
“Unfortunately, there was a 10 month old child and a 7 month old child that did not make it,” said Kemmett.
A memory that agent will never forget.
“It’s very hard when you go home at night to erase those memories and just cope with that,” said Kemmett.
“We’re all fathers, we’re all mothers and we all have our own children and it’s very concerning to us,” he added.
And, while the surge of migrants continues to rise in Eagle Pass, the agents working this area will keep trying to protect the border, while doing everything they can to save lives.
But, it does take a toll.
“The agents go from enforcement to rescue to enforcement, and flipping that switch on and off is very difficult and it’s very stressful,” said Kemmett.
“Those are tough days,” he added.