In March, two members of Texas Scorecard‘s studio team and I traveled down to the border to capture interviews and images of life in Del Rio (Val Verde County), Eagle Pass (Maverick County), and Bracketville (Kinney County)––some of the most highly trafficked areas of the border.

While listening to the stories of the locals and watching the crisis unfold before us, these are some of the points that stuck out to me the most.

The Land

This is rough, rugged, rocky, and quite frankly completely inhospitable land. It’s beautiful but deadly––infested with snakes and absolutely covered in thorns. It’s hot. It’s dusty. And I swear every plant out there can prick you. And it will.

It’s not easy to get across, and it’s not easy to determine where you are. Therefore, landmarks on private property mean smugglers will cross there, because they can use windmills and radio towers to orient themselves on a rudimentary map as they move inland. 

Smugglers are extremely aware of their surroundings and any changes made. In some cases, a game camera can keep them away, but it depends on how determined the smugglers are and likely who their cargo is. 

Sometimes, they just smile and wave.

The Life

Wherever you go––go armed. The 2nd amendment is not a privilege or a right but a downright necessity. 

Three of us walked into a Starbucks in Del Rio––fully strapped, and no one commented. 

In Austin, most Starbucks have a 30.06 sign out front banning even legally licensed citizens from carrying inside their establishment. Talk about a culture shock.  

This goes beyond adults though, children must also be fully prepared to protect themselves. 

American children—elementary school–aged children—are being taught to run from the sounds of helicopters because it means there’s been a bailout nearby. (A bailout is when a smuggler pulls over to let all of the illegal aliens they are carrying “bail out” from the car and run into the brush while the driver either keeps driving to lure law enforcement away or runs into the brush with them.) 

Children are also being forced to contemplate whether they are prepared to take a life or lose their own. 

Living on a ranch means there are still chores to be done. Kids who grew up running out to the barn or driving out to feed cannot go do so anymore without carrying. And their parents are forced to explain to them that they may have cause to use deadly force.

A 14-year-old told us he’d been jumped by a group of illegals crossing on his family’s ranch. Thankfully, the illegals ran off into the brush. But what could have happened––parents live in fear of.

The People

People are commodities and the cartels are ruthless––even to those who pay for the privilege to cross with them. And Biden’s open border means there are plenty of people willing to cross despite the dangers involved. 

Late one night, we watched as a group of around 15 swam across the river and turned themselves over to U.S. law enforcement. We could hear the coyote (smuggler) in the river, but he never came out on our side. 

Children were part of the crossing, including a baby girl about 6 months old with the biggest brown eyes you ever saw. 

Two little boys brought trucks with them, and while they waited for law enforcement in wet clothes, they drove those trucks through American soil. 

It’s certainly heartbreaking to watch, but the most heartbreaking fact is that it should have never even been an option for them. 

They say it’s humane to let them in, but there was nothing humane about this. 

Children are traipsing through jungles and being raped on the journey because America is incentivizing and allowing cartels to profit off human beings.  

Less than a mile up the road from where this group crossed, we had watched another group of military-aged men wiggle under the wall earlier that day. Three of them made it into the brush before law enforcement showed up (on the wrong side of the wall) to give chase.

No telling who they were or where they came from. Were they gang members? Were they criminals? I couldn’t tell you, and neither can the U.S. government. 

Should Life Be Like This? It Really Shouldn’t. 

If anything made me smile about this horrific state of affairs, it’s that South Texans are as tough as the land they work.

Life still goes on. Kids go to school. Parents go to work. Mom goes to the grocery store. Dad goes to the hardware store. 

But they all have a situational awareness usually only seen in military and law enforcement.

It shouldn’t be like this in America. 

Little kids shouldn’t worry about helicopters and ‘bad guys’ in the brush knocking on their windows. Parents shouldn’t have to be armed just to be able to let their kids play outside. Law enforcement shouldn’t be unable to do their job because the government refuses to follow its own laws. 

Texans are in danger. So are illegal aliens. It’s not one or the other––it’s both. 

And it’s a full failure of the Texas and U.S. governments, which are both refusing to take definitive action to stop it.

Texas Scorecard has premiered its fifth season of Exposed: Border Invasion. You can learn more about what’s happening on the border and why here

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.