Migrant families, mostly from Central American countries, wade through shallow waters after being delivered by smugglers on small inflatable rafts on U.S. soil in Roma, Texas, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. As soon as the sun sets, at least 100 migrants crossed through the Rio Grande river by smugglers into the United States. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
(AP) — A small border town in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley has become the latest epicenter of illegal crossings, where growing numbers of families and children enter the United States to seek asylum.
A smuggler takes migrants, mostly from Central American countries, on a small inflatable raft towards U.S. soil in Roma, Texas, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. The head of Homeland Security acknowledged the severity of the problem but insisted it’s under control and said he won’t revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
Within an hour of darkness Wednesday, about 100 people have been ferried in rafts across the Rio Grande and into the U.S. in Roma, including many families with toddlers and children as young as 7 traveling alone. They wear numbered wristbands that say “deliveries” in Spanish, apparently a way for smugglers to keep track of them.
U.S. authorities have reported more than 100,000 encounters on the southern border in February, the highest since a four-month surge in 2019.