Del Rio paramedic on border crisis: ‘We were good until this administration took over. They were waiting across the border’

Del Rio paramedic on border crisis: ‘We were good until this administration took over. They were waiting across the border’_60f1ba4084818.jpeg

The crisis at the U.S.-Mexican border is very personal for Angela Prather.

The Del Rio resident and paramedic told Dallas Express that she is seeing the impact on her community and is fearful of how much worse things could get.

“I do not feel safe. I have family friends and personal friends that have been broken into, ranches trashed and livestock let free due to broken fences,” Prather said. “The roadway is dangerous due to the coyotes (people who drive undocumented immigrants across or near the border) erratically driving, seriously injuring and killing innocent people. Not to mention the entire COVID-19 health aspect and overdoses.”

She is not alone in her concerns.

A recent Pew study revealed more than two-thirds (68%) of Americans think the current administration is doing a “bad job” at dealing with the border crisis and nearly eight in 10 (79%) of respondents believe it is very or somewhat important to reduce the number of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexican border.

Prather doesn’t only rely on news reports and stories from friends. A licensed paramedic who leads her local EMS service, she is speaking as an individual who has had personal experience tied to the border crisis.

“I was there on the call that a San Antonio TV station covered, the high-speed accident that killed eight people and seriously injured three,” Prather said. “Two of those, a father and daughter, were coming to our beautiful lake to have a father-daughter weekend. I cannot give details, but this will never be forgotten by any of the first responders and funeral homes. This overwhelmed an already overwhelmed system due to everyone is at the border.”

There have been multiple drownings as well, she said, and further problems caused by the massive influx of people trying to get across the border.

“The hotels are overrun with the people crossing,” Prather said. “We are a normally safe community, I call Val Verde County a diamond in the rough. It is a wonderful place, people come to enjoy all our local resources, lake, rivers, historic landscapes.

“Hotels are full of immigrants, (and) camping along some of these great areas are where the ones come across that do not want to be caught,” she said. “We want our diamond back to share with all who come to enjoy, partake in the amazing history and beauty.”

Prather said President Joe Biden is responsible for the increased problems.

“This is a direct result of removing a system that was working and in place,” she said. “A true dereliction of duties for a political gain. Lives don’t matter to them, only power. We were good until this administration took over. They were waiting across the border.”

Few people would say the Trump administration was doing a perfect job with this highly sensitive issue. But a Department of Homeland Security assessment says Trump’s migrant protection protocols (MPP) or the “Remain in Mexico” policy were effective in limiting illegal immigration, empowering the Mexican government, and quickly processing meritorious claims for relief.

In a recent accounting to public policy experts reported by The Cannon, Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez points to the MPP as a “rare example of DC-driven immigration success” while lamenting the rushed canceling of the policy — without notice to local law enforcement — by the Biden administration.

Since Biden’s inauguration, the U.S. Border Patrol has reported nearly 900,000 land border encounters along the nation’s southern border, representing a 291% spike in encounters in all of fiscal year 2020.

Texas Democrats have been critical of the Biden administration’s handling of the crisis at the border.

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who represents Texas’ 15th District, told the Washington Post in late March that Biden had created a “system that incentivizes people to come across” and was sending a message to “that if you come across you can stay.” For Gonzalez, the fix must be “by changing the policy at our doorstep,” without which the flow “isn’t going to stop or slow down.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who represents Texas’ 28th District, has been raising the alarm for months. Cuellar told the Post that he told the Biden administration early on that “we need to get a handle on this before it gets out of hand.”

More recently, Cuellar has continued his criticism of the Biden administration’s lack of attention to this issue. The Texan reports that although he thanked Vice President Kamala Harris for discouraging “potential illegal immigrants from attempting to travel to the U.S.,” Cuellar said “somebody needs to listen to our local communities.” 

Along with a spike in illegal immigration, the crisis at the border has brought an increase in other crimes related to cartel criminal enterprise. Prather said the evidence is overwhelming.

“We have a great relationship with our sister city, Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. Now it is overrun with cartels and people much beyond the Hispanics,” she said. “They are from all over. Haiti, Cuba, Russia, Iran, Yemen, the list goes on. They just tell you it is South America. They are not speaking the full realm. 

“A lot of these people are dying, being trafficked, raped,” Prather added. “The cartels are not their friends. Some are truly innocent, being used as the bad people come in other hidden areas. This administration is aiding and abetting a true crime syndicate, while costing lives from all nations and letting the truly bad get in.”

National and state immigration officials do not include Russia, Iran and Yemen as a cause of border problems.

The West RGV News reported earlier this year that longtime South Texas rancher Whit Jones III noted that immediately following the Biden administration rollback of Trump-era policies, he has seen a “significant increase” of human trafficking and smuggling.

According to Reuters, many cartels in Mexico who previously stole oil and sold drugs are shifting to a new line of work — human trafficking. Mexico is an origin, transit and destination country for the sex-trafficking industry, and has recently seen an uptick in gangs shifting to dealing in people.

Cartels that have shifted to the human trafficking industry include the oil pipeline tapping and Guanajuato-based Santa Rosa de Lima gang, as well as the Mexico City Tepito Union drug gang.

Fox News recently reported that Mexican cartels make as much as $14 million a day smuggling individuals across the border and into the United States.

Retired Tucson Border Patrol chief Roy Villareal recently said that trafficked individuals become slaves to pay to be smuggled across the U.S. border. 

“A lot of these vulnerable populations use their life savings,” Villarreal said. “Some are essentially indentured servants and they’re working off this debt for a long period of time. In other cases some of these migrants are asked to transport narcotics or some form of crime to work off a different part of their debt.”

Santiago Nieto, head of Mexico’s financial intelligence unit, is heavily involved in the investigation and arrest of cartel members. He recently stated that many gangs are shifting to sex trafficking as their predominant source of revenue, making it the third-most-profitable illegal endeavor behind drugs and guns.

“A lot of criminal groups are mutating … when one possibility ends … they start to link up with other kinds of criminal activities,” Nieto said.

Prather, 55, has lived in Del Rio for 15 years.

“This is always been our home away from home as I come from a military family,” she said.

The border issue must be addressed, she said.

“This is not just a huge local crisis,” Prather said. “This is a national crisis.” 

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