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Texas officials report dramatic drop in illegal border crossings at Eagle Pass park

Texas officials report dramatic drop in illegal border crossings at Eagle Pass park
Texas officials report dramatic drop in illegal border crossings at Eagle Pass park 03:20

EAGLE PASS — Texas officials are reporting a dramatic decrease in illegal border crossing at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass the same spot that became the focus of the nationwide debate over illegal immigration.  

Previously, this same area had reached a boiling point with unprecedented amounts of migrants who crossed the border illegally.  

CBS News Texas revisited Shelby Park to see it for ourselves. From the air and on the ground it was obvious the activity had calmed.  

The Texas Department of Public Safety Officials said in the last two years they would average anywhere between two to three thousand illegal border crossings in the Eagle Pass area and Shelby Park.  

Now it's down to about five daily encounters with migrants in the same area, according to Texas DPS officials.  

Lt. Chris Olivarez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety and Operation Lonestar offered this statement in response to the plunge in numbers: 

"We attribute the decrease in illegal entries at Shelby Park and Eagle Pass to the presence of Texas DPS and National Guard…it's a much safer location because…we have been there and [provide] barriers and consequences to those who cross illegally." 

Governor Greg Abbott also updated recent numbers for the entire stretch of the border in Texas with Mexico.  

"Since the beginning of Operation Lonestar a couple of years ago more than half a million undocumented migrants have been apprehended for crossing the border illegally," Abbott said.

Some immigrant advocates don't believe the Texas government alone contributed to the drop in numbers.  

Eagle Pass Border Coalition member America Garcia-Grewal says Mexico should also be credited for their increased enforcement efforts on the other side of the border.   

"They are being stopped by Mexico before they get to the north," said Garcia-Grewal. "And every step of the way, it's making it harder to get up here." 

As the debate on who's to credit continues, the numbers show that there has been a 90 percent decrease in migrants attempting to cross.  

Now, people like Garcia-Grewal are asking for the Texas Military Department and Texas DPS officials to leave the park and release it completely without restriction back to the residents of Eagle Pass.  

"We have seen a lot of problems go away, and our expectation is that Gov. Abbott is going to run out of money and run out of political oomph and people will see through his political theatre," Garcia-Grewal said. "And we think they are going to yank the rug out from Gov. Abbott and say give these poor people their park back." 

With the major decrease in illegal border crossings, people living in the border town of Eagle Pass are now more concerned about whether Texas' immigration law, SB4, which would allow state officials to arrest and deport migrants who they believe crossed illegally, will clear the appeals court and be enforced in the future.  

The future of SB4 is still being debated.  

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