Video Shows Dozens of Families Walk Illegally Around Border Fence and Into the United States

September 2, 2019 Updated: September 2, 2019

Border officials have released footage of dozens of people, mostly families, crossing into the United States illegally where the pedestrian border fence ends in the Arizona desert.

The black and white video, released on Aug. 30 by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in Arizona, shows a line of people making their way along a path on the Mexico side of the border near Sasabe on Aug. 27 before they approach the fence, when the video cuts out.

“Wednesday morning a group of 66 people, mostly family units, crossed the border where the fence ends east of Sasabe,” said the Arizona CBP in a statement. “Video shows the group approaching the fence and walking to the end. Thirty percent of apprehensions in the Tucson Sector are family units surrendering to Border Patrol.”

Eight people were hospitalized on June 6, when 134 people made the same journey at the remote location where the pedestrian fence gives way to a vehicle barrier, according to the CBP, before immediately surrendering to authorities. Video shows them simply walk around the end of the fence and into the United States across the border.

According to the CBP website, there are approximately 300 miles of vehicle barriers along the southwest border, and 354 miles of pedestrian barriers for a total of 654 miles of the 1,954-mile border. It is unclear whether this has been updated to reflect recent developments in border security.

The fence ends about three miles east of the nearby twin town of Sasabe, which straddles the border with its American and Mexican alter egos, where immigrants can be processed at the entry barrier.

Instead of waiting at the official ports of entry, some brave the heat and desolation of the desert.

The massive border fence erected by the United States to deter illegal immigration is replaced by a vehicle barrier where it ends near Sasabe, Arizona, on June 1, 2010. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“They kind of know to just expect a free ride to the processing area,” Border Patrol Agent Joe Curran told ABC in June. “They know we’re going to pick them up. They see our vehicles, and that’s their beacon of hope.”

The temperatures in the Arizona desert can reach well over 100 degrees in the summer.

A 7-year-old Indian national was found dead about 100 miles to the east of Sasabe in Lukeville on June 13, after being dropped off with four others by smugglers, and left to cross the border.

CBP said in a statement that they were unable to reach the girl in time after being alerted by her family who said they had lost contact with her in the arid desert.

In previous years, attempts to cross have peaked in the milder weather of early spring and mid-autumn. However, according to ABC, this year a record number of apprehensions were reported by Border Patrol in May.

Humanitarian groups who put out potentially life-saving jugs of water say that they have noticed the shift in pattern, according to ABC.

To the west of Sasabe, the pedestrian fence also stops as the border runs for 75 miles through the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The tribe’s remote territory sits in both Mexico and the United States, and it has been opposed to the construction of a proposed 30-foot-high wall, saying it will nonetheless cooperate closely with Border Patrol to ensure the border is secure.

“The Nation has been on the frontline of border issues for over 160 years and takes these issues very seriously,” said a statement (pdf) by the Nation in response to an executive order declared in Jan. 2017 by President Trump. “While the Nation does not support a large-scale fortified wall, it has worked closely for decades with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and other agencies to secure the U.S. homeland.”

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