EXCLUSIVE: Migrants from Uzbekistan, Eritrea Appear at Texas Border

Migrant families crossing border in South Texas. (File Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Rio Grande Valley Sector)
File Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Rio Grande Valley Sector

EAGLE PASS, Texas — In separate events, local Border Patrol Agents and their Brackettville-stationed colleagues apprehended migrants from two counties designated by the Department of Homeland Security as “special interest.” The arrests triggered immediate reporting to DHS headquarters. According to a source within Customs and Border Protection, the incidents occurred on Monday and involved one group of 13 Eritreans and a separate family of three from Uzbekistan.

The source says the first arrests took place in Eagle Pass when agents spotted 13 mostly male Eritrean nationals attempting to evade arrest. The Eritreans were in a residential neighborhood several miles from the Rio Grande.

In an unrelated event, three members of an Uzbek family were arrested by Border Patrol in Brackettville. The Uzbek nationals traveled more than 25 miles inland after crossing near Eagle Pass. The familynconsisted of a mother and two children. According to the source, the Uzbek mother paid smugglers nearly $15,000 to reach the U.S. border.

The Uzbek woman told Border Patrol agents she was a schoolteacher and moved her two children from Uzbekistan to Turkey, Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, and Mexico, eventually reaching the United States.

The U.S. State Department currently lists Uzbekistan and Eritrea as a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” countries.

Eritrea and Uzbekistan are on the Department of Homeland Security’s list of special interest countries. The designation of special interest migrant is related to the travel pattern and conditions within the home country, rather than specific threats.

According to DHS, the designation of special interest migrant is different than the designation of an individual migrant known or suspected of terrorism. The term “Special Interest Migrant” and “Known or Suspected Terrorist” (KST) are not interchangeable.

Randy Clark
 is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.

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