After a steep drop in immigration apprehensions that many attributed to President Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House, the arrests have been trending back upward .
The Rio Grande Valley has become the Border Patrol’s busiest sector — nearly half of all apprehensions along the border happen here — and the Trump administration has targeted it as a prime location for a big chunk of that wall the president keeps promising to build.
Whether a wall will happen, whether it would extend across the entire 2,000-mile border and whether it would be a solid wall or more fencing remains the subject of intense, shifting debate in Washington. But if the wall comes, will it help stop people like Perez or the drug smugglers the president says are pouring into the country virtually unfettered?
Manuel Padilla says it will. Padilla, chief of the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, which stretches for 320 river miles from the Gulf of Mexico to Falcon Lake, says the Valley has become smugglers’ favorite crossing point in part because it still lacks the barriers erected at one-time hot spots like San Diego and El Paso.
“If you look at the technology and infrastructure … this is the only place where you do not have it at those levels,” he added. “Really, this is the last stand.”
But one of his former foes on the border, Norma Armendariz, says Padilla’s wrong. The Laredo native and sister of carjacking kingpin