Texas Border Agents Discover 40 Illegal Immigrants Packed Inside Metal Box

Texas Border Agents Discover 40 Illegal Immigrants Packed Inside Metal Box
A surge in asylum seekers crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley has put a strain on the immigration system. Here, migrants are on the move, in Mission, Texas, on March 17, 2021. (Los Angeles Times via TCA)
Naveen Athrappully

Agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol in Texas recently disrupted multiple human smuggling events, including one in which several migrants were transported in a metal box.

On April 26, the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint agents inspected a truck pulling a flatbed trailer carrying several large metal boxes. On one of the boxes, the agents found a vent, which, after removal, revealed 40 illegal immigrants trapped inside in a seated position. The agents then had to break the box.

“The box had no other opening or means of escape for the occupants,” an April 27 press release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stated. “Agents determined the 40 migrants are citizens of Central America and Mexico unlawfully in the U.S. while the driver was a U.S. citizen. All subjects were placed under arrest. A search of the truck revealed [a] power tool, a handgun, and loaded magazines. The Brooks County Sheriff’s Office took custody of the truck, trailer, weapon, magazines, and driver.”

Earlier on April 25, Border Patrol agents arrested a driver and two passengers during a vehicle stop. The three individuals were determined to be present in the United States illegally. That same evening, agents arrested eight illegal migrants traveling in a car.

In the 24 hours preceding the press release, agents from the Rio Grande City Station encountered two groups of 271 noncitizens near La Grulla, which included 174 single adults, 53 family members, and 44 unaccompanied children.

The U.S. Southwest border has seen increasing numbers of illegal immigrants in recent months. In March 2022, the CBP encountered 221,303 migrants along the Southwest land border, a 33 percent increase when compared to the previous month.

Of these, 28 percent of individuals had at least one prior encounter with border officials in the past 12 months. Over three quarters of encounters in the southwest land border were single adults.

Half of the illegal immigrants CBP encountered in March were processed for expulsion under the Trump-era Title 42 provision that allows Washington to expel those coming from countries where communicable diseases are present.

The Biden administration has scheduled its termination for May 23. However, a federal judge ordered the Biden administration on April 27 to temporarily halt its termination at the request of 21 states, attorneys general of which argued the implementation of the termination order violated federal law. The judge agreed.
“The plaintiff states have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits with respect to their claims that the termination order was not issued in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act,” the judge wrote, echoing his comments during a status conference in which he announced his intent to issue the restraining order.

“The court further concludes that the plaintiff states have established a substantial threat of immediate and irreparable injury resulting from the early implementation of Title 42, including unrecoverable costs on healthcare, law enforcement, detention, education, and other services for migrants, and further that the balance of harms and the public interest both favor issuance of a temporary restraining order,” he added.

“While we may likely see an increase in encounters after the CDC’s Title 42 Public Health Order is terminated on May 23rd, CBP continues to execute this Administration’s comprehensive strategy to safely, orderly, and humanely manage our borders,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in an April 18 press release.

“CBP is surging personnel and resources to the border, increasing processing capacity, securing more ground and air transportation, and increasing medical supplies, food, water, and other resources to ensure a humane environment for those being processed.”

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.