Surge of migrants illegally crossing U.S.-Mexico border ahead of election

MCALLEN, Texas -- Every day, dozens of men, women and children stream through the streets of McAllen, Texas to a migrant center at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.   

They have just illegally crossed into the U.S. and have been released by border patrol, with ankle monitors, while they file for asylum.

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Migrants in McAllen, Texas

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Brenda Aguilar, who fled violence in her home nation of Honduras, said she is a single mother, looking for work.

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Agent Chris Cabrera

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“We’re getting mass spikes of people crossing and turning themselves in,” said Agent Chris Cabrera, who is with the local border patrol union.

Cabrera said on some days, they’ve encountered up to a thousand immigrants along this stretch of the border. He said the election is partly to blame for the surge.

“The smugglers are telling them if Hillary gets elected, that there’ll be some sort of amnesty, that they need to get here by a certain date. They’re also being told that if Trump gets elected, there’s going to be some magical wall that pops up overnight and once that wall gets up, nobody will ever get in again,” Cabrera said.

The proposed border wall is something Edward Cerritos of El Salvador fears.   

“If Trump wins, we won’t be able to come in and ask for asylum,” he said.

At the church, it’s time for a group to head to the bus depot. The routes scribbled on envelopes show they’re continuing the journey north.  

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A migrant’s bus itinerary

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The numbers are not expected to simply drop after Election Day. Experts say as long as violence and poverty persist south of the Rio Grande, smugglers will find another reason to convince people it’s time to cross.