Crossing the Rio Grande

Border Patrol on air-boat in the Rio Grande at Laredo, Texas. Credit: Sara Zavaleta.

Abandoned clothing at the Rio Grande, Laredo, Texas. Credit: Sara Zavaleta.

A well-worn path due to illegal migration into the U.S. in Laredo, Texas. Credit: Sara Zavaleta.

Credit: Sara Zavaleta.

Bodies detected riding in truck using x-ray machines. Similar machines capture similar images at the Laredo Border Patrol checkpoint. Credit:

Written by - Anjulie Palta, Sarah Lopez

For many migrants, the experience of being detained starts with the U.S. Border Patrol. Federal Border Patrol officials apprehend and register migrants. After waiting individuals are “removed” to their country of origin, released into the community, or transported to a detention center. In Texas, the Laredo Sector of the Border Patrol has nine stations covering 110 square miles in 116 counties that stretch from Texas to the Oklahoma and Arkansas borders. Laredo North is responsible for patrolling 171 river miles. According to Border Patrol agents at Laredo North, most migrants caught illegally crossing into the U.S. wade through the Rio Grande River or ride covertly in trucks and cars. While the majority of individuals apprehended are from Mexico, migrants from war-torn, gang-ridden, and poverty-stricken countries world-wide come to Texas seeking refuge. Such individuals are referred to as “OTMs” or “Other Than Mexicans;” many of these individuals are languishing in detention centers. These images of clothes left behind, a crossing in the Rio Grande, and Laredo’s northern check-point station are paired with an image of migrants’ bodies uncovered by an x-ray machine used by Border Patrol.