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Close To 300 Women, Children Caught Along Texas-Mexico Border

MISSION, TEXAS (KRLD) -- A day after Texas state leaders approved a border security surge, news comes out of Mission, Texas that close to 300 women and children have been caught trying to cross illegally into the U.S.

"I talked to a Border Patrol agent yesterday and he told me that in one group -- not several groups -- but in one group, 280 mothers and children were caught; they turned themselves in," says Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo). "That shows you the magnitude of what's happening down there."

He says the word is out that sanctuary can be found in the U.S. if you cross the Mexican border.

"The message is out. This is not just happening by accident. Criminal organizations know that if you're a woman or a child, you are going to stay in the U.S. You're given a piece of paper called a notice to appear [before ICE] and told you can travel anywhere in the United States," says Cuellar. "But after they travel for such a long time they're not going to turn themselves in later on, so they became part of the 11 or 12 million illegal immigrants here."

Women, Children Caught Along Texas-Mexico Border

Cuellar says the U.S. has a "Cuban policy defacto."

"Because that's what we do with the Cubans, and that's what's happening right now."

George Grayson, a Professor Emeritus in Latin American Studies at the College of William and Mary, says the amount of illegal immigrants crossing the border now could seem like a drop in the bucket down the line.

"They will seek to have their families join them in the country... more migrants will be encouraged to reach the southwest border," says Grayson. "Citizens from around the world are watching, and how many hundreds of thousands of desperate people do you think would like to flock to Central America, seek the services of a smuggler and make a bee line for the U.S. border? What's now a wave of people at the frontier will become possibly a tsunami."

MORE: Border Security 'Surge' Could Create Ghost Towns Along Rio Grande

You can follow Joe Gomez on Twitter at @JoeGomezKRLD.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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