The president-elect reiterated his pledge at a press conference Wednesday to build a “wall” – which he claims will curb illegal immigration, reduce gun violence and stop drugs from being smuggled into the country.
For now, however, the Obama administration’s leniency, combined with concerns about Trump’s crackdown, is seen as contributing to a spike in crossings from California to Texas.
“There’s definitely a percentage of folks who believed that they can beat the clock,” said Jose Villareal, chief of operations for the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector.
On a recent ride-along in south Texas, Cameron County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Robert Rodriguez told FoxNews.com he has noted an increase in the flow of border crossers since Trump’s White House win.
“I can feel the anxiety,” Rodriguez said. “You can cut it with a knife.”
He said: “We see more and more people cross every day. … The cartels are taking advantage of people being scared.”
Rodriguez patrols a patch of road that includes the most southern tip of Texas. He’s seen battered bodies float lifeless down the Rio Grande River and is no stranger to the sight of corpses – from babies to men in their 80s – littered along the land. Some were shot by drug lords, human traffickers and cartel members, while others were abandoned by their “coyotes” – paid guides to get them across the border.