"Children arriving without their parents are transferred to custody of the Health and Human Services Department, which tries to reunite them with family members in the U.S. Both groups have often been allowed to remain in the U.S. while their immigration cases move forward, a process that can sometimes take years.
Migrants' willingness to surrender to authorities has created a system in which smugglers need only to get their human cargo to the American side of the river, rather than guiding them to a populated area.
Just since October, the Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector has made more than 194,000 arrests, nearly triple that of any other sector. In the first week of June alone, agents in this area south of Mission arrested more than 2,800 people, most from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, making it the highest-volume arrest zone on the entire U.S. border. More than 60 percent were children.
All through the night, government buses idle near the border wall — a mile or two from the river — awaiting loads of immigrants. The zone is patrolled by no fewer than six local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies, including gunboats crewed by Texas state troopers with night-vision goggles and the Border Patrol's white and green trucks. Helicopters swoop above the winding waterway.
But there's little cat-and-mouse pursuit. Every day, hundreds of immigrants walk up to agents, wave to their remote cameras or simply wait to be picked up on the side of a road like Trevino's group in the park