On the Mexico border, a surge of migrants expected before a “Trump wall”

Mexicans paint graffiti on a portrait of Donald Trump on a section of border fence.
Mexicans paint graffiti on a portrait of Donald Trump on a section of border fence.

By Joshua Partlow / Washington Post

To save time, Adriana Zavala would take a shortcut down an empty lane on the way to school, until the afternoon last September when the tattooed Salvadoran gangsters blocked her way.

The threats she began receiving that day — sell our drugs to your classmates or we’ll rape you — propelled the teenager, her father and 13-year-old sister to begin a five-month odyssey from El Salvador that has ended, for now, in McAllen, Texas. They are among thousands of migrants arriving at the U.S. border in what authorities fear could be another surge of Central American families.

On the U.S. campaign trail, illegal immigration is a hot-button topic, with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, vowing to build a 1,000-mile border wall. But along this stretch of Texas border, where migrants climb over and walk around existing fencing, such proposed solutions tend to draw scorn, even from Trump fans. And the politician’s tough talk, people here say, might actually be attracting more migrants.

Although the overall number of migrants apprehended along the border this year has not yet reached the proportions of the 2014 flood of Central Americans, some believe that could happen, with a summer surge before the presidential election in November.

“We’re definitely on track to catch up to it, which is not a good thing,” said Chris Cabrera, a Border Patrol agent and union representative here. “The political climate has a lot to do with it.”


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