PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Coahuila — In Piedras Negras, Mexico, where migrants once surged into the city after disembarking from freight trains, the streets were void of the arrivals that had become commonplace during the recent months’ migrant crisis. The precipitous drop comes as authorities in Mexico began removing migrants from a train route known as “La Bestia.” Breitbart visited Piedras Negras, Mexico, this week only to find increased military patrols and only a very small number of migrants poised to cross into the United States into Eagle Pass.
Where Breitbart Texas once stood on the Mexican bank of the Rio Grande and watched as single migrant groups of more than 2,000 pushed into the United States near Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, now, hastily set up Army National Guard posts ensure migrants are no longer able to reach the bank of the river. A lieutenant with the Mexican Army spoke freely with Breitbart Texas, saying his unit is supporting operations throughout the Mexican State of Coahuila, including the enhanced freight train operations in Monclova, Coahuila. The lieutenant was not aware of efforts taking place in other parts of Mexico.
At Casa del Migrante, a migrant shelter less than 100 yards from the Rio Grande, capacity issues forced them to turn away migrants arriving by the thousands in December. Only a handful of migrants could be seen coming and going from the shelter. Breitbart Texas spoke to several of the migrants who recounted the swift enforcement actions by the Mexican Guardia Nacional to remove large migrant groups from the train, keeping them from reaching the border city.
Francisca, one migrant Breitbart Texas spoke to, was removed from the freight train in Monclova along with her husband and 13-year-old son. She says she was separated from them several days ago by authorities in Mexico who stole all of her belongings. She recounted the event and said the authorities, who she described as being members of the military, forced the migrants from the train. She explained that she did not know what happened to her son and husband, whom she had not seen since.
Another family at the shelter, a young Honduran man sporting arms full of tattoos, including one of an AK-47 and a Santa Muerte tattoo, said he was recently deported from Houston, Texas, and is hoping to return soon. Miguel, who refused to allow his picture to be taken, says he, his wife, and her young daughter ran from Mexican authorities in Monclova, hiding in a ditch as hundreds of migrants were removed from “La Bestia” freight train. He confidently told Breitbart Texas he expects to be back in Houston soon.
On the road to one busy migrant crossing point south of the city, Breitbart Texas encountered two migrants from Mexico who, when questioned about their intentions, seemed eager to jump in the back seat of our vehicle, as if they had been waiting for a smuggler to move them closer to a crossing point on the river. The two men said they were hoping to cross into the United States and did not know where they would be headed afterward. At that very crossing, Breitbart Texas posted in September as more than 2,000 migrants in a single group forded the Rio Grande and entered Eagle Pass near Shelby Park.
Where thousands were crossing the Rio Grande in December, less than one dozen could be seen in the Mexican border city of more than 200,000 residents. As Breitbart Texas observed activities across from the heavily patrolled and fortified Shelby Park, five migrants were engaged in a waiting game at the base of the concertina wire and “no-climb” fencing as Texas and Florida State authorities held them at bay.
From the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, just outside Shelby Park, Breitbart Texas observed a section of the border almost void of any law enforcement presence. A lone Border Patrol agent stood guard near the fencing and concertina wire barrier installed by the State of Texas, which remains strewn with debris from the December crossings, which have now disappeared as a result of the increased operations in Mexico.
The drastic reductions in Migrant crossings into Eagle Pass became apparent shortly after meetings between the Biden Administration and Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) in late December. After the meetings with Mexico aimed at reducing illegal migration, unofficial migrant apprehension reports reviewed by Breitbart Texas show a reduction from 4,400 migrants crossing, mostly into Eagle Pass, on December 19 by almost 90 percent to 454 by January 1, 2024.
The apprehension statistics, provided to Breitbart Texas by a source within Customs and Border Protection, not authorized to speak to the media, clearly show the drastic reduction in migrant crossings is the result of the December meetings between Biden officials and Obrador’s government.
The most notable change in posture by the Mexican Government was the rounding up and expelling of migrants from the border city of Piedras Negras by air. On December 22, the first flight of migrants left Piedras Negras in a campaign to repatriate some of the migrants to their home country and others to southern Mexico.
What was promised in return for drastic enforcement changes in Mexico is unknown; however, within a week of the meeting, AMLO requested $20 billion in U.S. financial assistance for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. AMLO also requested the lifting of sanctions on Venezuela and the easing of an embargo on Cuba.
The drastic drop in migrant traffic near Eagle Pass after the Biden administration’s meetings with AMLO was noted in a posting on X (formerly Twitter) by U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, who, along with 64 other Republican legislators, visited Eagle Pass only to find the Border Patrol detention facility near Eagle Pass nearly empty and the Shelby Park area completely void of migrants.
Here is Eagle Pass just weeks ago vs. yesterday.
The Biden Administration decided to divert the flood of illegal immigrants to another location in order to keep them out of the camera shots during @HouseGOP’s visit to Eagle Pass. Don’t be fooled, they are still being released… pic.twitter.com/XzjPVq5xxB
— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) January 2, 2024
Despite a request by Speaker Johnson sent to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas concerning any efforts to stop, delay, or re-route migrant traffic into the Eagle Pass area, no details have emerged concerning any details of the December meetings or what was promised to AMLO for actions that have seen migrant crossings drop even further since the bi-national meetings. By January 31, the daily migrant crossings for the entire 210 miles of the border surrounding Eagle Pass had dropped to 195, a reduction of 95 percent from the December high of 4,400 on December 19.
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.