U.S. Border Patrol officials closed all highway immigration checkpoints operating in the Laredo Sector on Friday evening in response to the Haitian migrant crisis unfolding in Del Rio, Texas, according to a source within Customs and Border Protection. The Laredo Sector operates six permanent checkpoints including one of the busiest checkpoints in the nation located on the I-35 Interstate corridor between Laredo and San Antonio.
Laredo Sector Border Patrol highway checkpoints inspect thousands of vehicles daily. Staffing normally reserved for the inspections that result in the seizure of countless migrants and illicit narcotics will be diverted to assist with the care, transport, and processing of more than 10,000 mostly Haitian migrants detained under the Del Rio International Bridge.
According to the source, who is not authorized to speak to the media, the shutdown began late Friday afternoon. Border Patrol agents normally assigned to the checkpoints are headed to assist with the thousands of mostly Haitian migrants being detained at the encampment there.
The immigration checkpoints are the last line of defense for the Border Patrol and an integral part of their national security strategy.
In addition to a brief citizenship inspection at the checkpoints, the Border Patrol deploys canines trained to detect concealed humans and narcotics. Non-Intrusive backscatter x-ray inspections of vehicles are used to scan for concealed humans and narcotics as well. Radiation detection equipment is used to look for radioactive materials and is critical to the United States’ national security interests.
In all, Border Patrol completely closed six Laredo Sector checkpoints to augment Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agents. According to the source, the I-35 Border Patrol checkpoint screens more than 6,000 passenger vehicles, and more than 4,000 commercial tractor-trailer trucks that transit through the checkpoint daily. As reported by Breitbart Texas, the checkpoints have seen an increase in the interdiction of narcotics smuggling and in dangerous large volume human trafficking attempts using commercial vehicles.
The Border Patrol also shut down all checkpoints in the Del Rio Sector in order to dedicate more resources to address the growing population at the camp in Del Rio. The migrant encampment population on Friday was more than 12,000 mostly Haitian migrants.
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.