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Mexico: The Torrent vs. The Flood

1 minute read

Although its name is Spanish for “Big River,” the Rio Grande is often more like a stream as it winds for 1,248 miles along the Texas-Mexico border. Each month thousands of Mexicans slip into the U.S. simply by wading across the river, often without getting their knees wet.

Now, however, heavy rains and melting snow have turned the Rio Grande into a treacherous torrent with crests of 8 ft. in some normally shallow areas, slowing the flood of illegal immigrants. While U.S. Border Patrol officers in the El Paso sector normally nab some 600 river crossers a day in December, the daily arrest rate fell to 450 last month as fewer Mexicans ventured into the water.

Some prospective immigrants have met disaster. “We have found the bodies of 40 people who have drowned trying to cross, and rescued another six,” says Captain Jose Angel Rocha, fire chief of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso. Illegal immigrants who returned to Mexico for Christmas hope the waters will recede enough in January to allow them to get back into the U.S.

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