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  6. The Perils of Illegal Border Crossing

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In an effort to keep DHS.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.

The Perils of Illegal Border Crossing

Release Date: July 19, 2018

The Trump Administration has repeatedly referenced the dangers of trekking to and attempting to illegally enter the southwest border of the United States. As the perilous realities of these journeys have gone underreported, the Department of Homeland Security has compiled a list of the illegality stemming from trafficking and smuggling, the health and safety risks of entrusting someone to illegally take you across the border, and the dangerous transnational criminal organizations that exploit the porous southwest border to bolster their numbers in the interior.

On July 10, Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen met with foreign and security ministers from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico in Guatemala City, Guatemala to discuss how to expand and share joint public messaging efforts to dissuade potential migrants from taking the dangerous journey north—and work to counter-message the advertising and false information promoted by human smugglers.

Human Smugglers/Traffickers

  • July 16, 2018: U.S. Border Patrol agents discover an assortment of narcotics during a failed smuggling attempt worth over $673K.
  • July 14, 2018: ICE agents arrest 18 human smugglers, 117 illegal immigrants in Texas, New Mexico
  • July 11, 2018: Border Patrol agents across the Rio Grande Valley arrested four gang members and two sex offenders including active members of MS-13 and the 18th Street gang.
  • July 5, 2018: Border Patrol Agents Rescue 64 Illegal Aliens Trapped in Tractor Trailers
  • July 2, 2018: U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Falfurrias Checkpoint arrested two United States citizens attempting to smuggle 12 illegal aliens inside a tractor-trailer.
  • July 2, 2018: Border patrol finds two teen human trafficking victims with migrant group
  • July 2, 2018: CBP Officers at Laredo Port of Entry This Weekend Apprehend Man with Warrant for Sex-related Offenses Against a Child
  • June 30, 2018: NYT describes the perils of an El Salvadorian immigrant’s attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border with assistance from professional human traffickers whose services cost more than $12,000. Traffickers forced 70 illegal immigrants into a “stash home,” in Texas where they deprived the immigrants of food and water for 36 hours.
  • June 26, 2018: CBP arrested a US national attempting to smuggle an unaccompanied 8 year old alien from Honduras across a checkpoint near Falfurrias, TX.
  • June 20, 2018: CBP rescued a 6-year-old illegal alien from Costa Rica who had been abandoned by a smuggler near Lukeville, AZ, in temperatures over 100F.
  • June 19, 2018: Smugglers led ICE agents on a high speed chase that resulted in the death of 5 illegal aliens when their driver crashed near Eagle Pass, Texas. The SUV was carrying 13 suspected illegal aliens in total, including a juvenile, and the survivors were hospitalized.
  • June 18, 2018 : Kirstjen Nielsen Addresses Family Separation at Border: Full Transcript
  • June 15, 2018: CBP agents found 10 illegal aliens near Tucson, AZ, in a home with no air conditioning, littered with trash, decaying food and human feces.
  • June 8, 2018: CBP discovered six illegal aliens trapped inside cabinets in the back of a truck. The cabinets were closed with ratchet straps and had no air circulation on a hot day.
  • June 5, 2018: The bodies of three illegal immigrants who had been abandoned by smugglers were discovered in the Rio Grande Valley near Edinburg, TX in separate incidents.
  • May 11, 2018: CBP agents arrested a convicted sex offender from California who was attempting to smuggle four illegal aliens from Mexico west of Yuma, AZ.
  • May 8, 2018: CBP discovered a severely dehydrated illegal alien that claimed to have been assaulted by a smuggler on a ranch near Laredo, TX.
  • April 7, 2018: CBP agents discovered 9 illegal aliens near Laredo, TX, over the course of two days. Two of the illegal aliens had been abandoned by smugglers and one was severely dehydrated and in need of immediate medical attention.
  • April 2, 2018: CBP agents near Tucson, AZ rescued an injured and severely dehydrated 34-year old illegal alien from Guatemala who had been abandoned by smugglers, along with 11 other illegal aliens, two of whom had to be treated for dehydration.
  • February 2, 2018: A recent DOJ partnership with Mexico has resulted in federal prosecution of more than 50 international defendants for various roles in trafficking women and young girls. In 2017, more than 500 defendants were convicted for various human trafficking offenses.
  • October 5, 2017: Young women and girls face extraordinary risk of sexual violence on the journey to the United States.  60-80% of the women and girls who cross Mexico to get to the U.S. border are raped along the way.
  • July 28, 2017 : The deadly toll of human smuggling and trafficking in the US
  • April 21, 2017: Eight Mexican drug cartel members were convicted for participating in the trafficking of nine women, two minors, and the prostitution of a twelfth woman. The young Mexican and Guatemalan women were recruited on false promises, smuggled into the United States and sold into sex slavery in various states.

Dangerous Means of Transportation

  • July 12, 2018 : Border Patrol Arrests Kansas Man Smuggling Two and Recover Stolen Vehicle
  • July 11, 2018 : Human smuggling by boat has increased in Southern California
  • July 9, 2018 : Border patrol discovers a roughly $133,122 worth of narcotics in vehicle’s front floorboards.
  • July 3, 2018 : Laredo Sector Border Patrol Agents Discover Illegal Aliens Concealed Inside Duffle Bags
  • July 2, 2018 : Willcox Border Patrol agents arrested seven Mexican nationals on interstate during attempt to smuggle six persons inside 2003 Chrysler 300 trunk.
  • June 22, 2018: Border Patrol rescued an illegal alien from Mexico off of the top of a train he had jumped on to, sustaining injuries to his ankle and ribcage.
  • June 19, 2018 : Louisiana State Police rescue 25 immigrants, including 2 children, from human trafficking operation
  • June 19, 2018: CBP agents discovered 18 illegal aliens inside a utility truck near Tucson, AZ, including two children. The truck had no source of light, fresh air ventilation or air conditioning, water or any means of escape from the inside.
  • March 7, 2018: During January and February alone, CBP rescued 448 illegal aliens being smuggled in tractor trailers in the South Texas Corridor.
  • July 24, 2017: A tractor-trailer filled with at least 90 illegal aliens was discovered in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, TX, with temperatures around 101F. 10 of illegal aliens died as a result of severe dehydration and lack of oxygen, with an additional 20 in “dire condition” and suffering from heatstroke.


  • June 29, 2018: CBP encountered 31 illegal aliens near the Rio Grande in Texas, primarily comprised of families and unaccompanied children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
  •  June 29, 2018: CBP agents rescued four illegal aliens who had been swept away by a river on separate occasions, the body of one illegal alien floating in the Rio Grande near Peñitas, Texas and, at a later occasions, an alien from Honduras who was pronounced dead when agents arrived on scene near Falfurrias, Texas.
  • June 28, 2018: CBP rescued six illegal aliens from Mexico and Honduras, three of whom were rescued from the peak of the Mohawk mountains and had to be treated for dehydration.
  • June 26, 2018: The number of migrants dying from extreme heat on the U.S.-Mexico border rose 55 percent in the past nine months from 31 deaths during the same period in 2017 to 48 in 2018.
  • June 23, 2018: CBP rescued 57 aliens who were abandoned by their smuggler guides during a record heatwave of 108F in the Arizona desert. The group included 36 minors, 17 of whom were unaccompanied including a one-year-old toddler. An underage pregnant female had to be provided with intravenous fluids by CBP EMTs.
  • June 26, 2018: CBP rescued a previously deported illegal immigrant from Honduras who was drowning in the Yuma River near Yuma, AZ.
  • June 11, 2018: CBP reported that 11 illegal aliens had lost their lives due to heat exhaustion near Del Rio, Texas since October of 2017.
  • May 23, 2018: 80 illegal immigrants were found in the rear of a tractor trailer, 50 miles from the Mexican border, after being detained, many were treated for dehydration.
  • May 11, 2018: CBP intercepted a teenage girl attempting to smuggle fentanyl across an immigration checkpoint near Tucson, AZ.
  • March 2, 2018: CBP rescued an illegal alien from Mexico who had fallen 35 feet from a cliff near Tucson, AZ.
  • February 27, 2018: CBP rescued three illegal aliens from drowning near Calexico, CA.
  • February 20, 2018: CBP rescued a suspected illegal alien who was drowning in the New River, along the US-Mexico border.
  • February 15, 2018: CBP discovered the body of an illegal alien who had previously been injured and most likely fell into a canyon while attempting to transit with a group of migrants.
  • February 8, 2018: CBP found an injured illegal alien from Mexico and her teenaged son, in the wash near Douglas, AZ.
  • February 6, 2018: 412 migrants died attempting to cross into the United States illegally in 2017, this number is a small increase above the 398 deaths that occurs in 2016, but is relatively high compared with year-to-year border apprehensions which fell 44 percent between 2016-2017. The report notes documentation of 1,468 immigrant deaths on the U.S.-Mexico border since 2014.
  • February 6, 2018: 191 immigrants perished in 2017 attempting to cross into the United States over the Rio Grande River, a 26 percent increase over the 151 fatalities recorded in Texas in 2016. The cause of the increase has been attributed to increased rainfall in 2016 which caused the Rio Grande to flow faster and deeper than in past years.
  • December 18, 2017: CBP agents found ten illegal aliens who had frozen to death on separate occasions.

Dangers Posed by Other Illegal Aliens Entering Via Similar Routes

  • July 13, 2018 : 8 MS-13 members indicted in Dallas on charges including racketeering conspiracy, attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon
  • June 29, 2018: CBP arrested two illegal aliens who were convicted child molesters on separate occasions near Donna and Falfurrias, Texas.
  • June 22, 2018: CBP officers in Laredo Texas apprehended two individuals with outstanding warrants for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault of a child, respectively, on two separate occasions.
  • June 18, 2018: CBP officers near Del Rio, Texas apprehended a Honduran national who had been convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child, and was attempting to re-enter the country after having been previously deported.
  • June 1, 2018: Within the span of three days, CBP officers in Texas arrested four criminal aliens who had prior convictions for child molestation.
Last Updated: 01/30/2024
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