Del Rio, Texas, as a border town, is not at all immune to issues arising from illegal immigration. While illegal border crossings have always occurred in and around Del Rio, as in every border town, the recent wave of illegal traffic along the US-Mexico border since the election of President Biden has resulted in Del Rio, Texas – among many other border towns, especially in Arizona and Texas – making national headlines on a near daily-basis.
Videos of illegal immigrants freely crossing shallow water of the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico onto US soil along Vega Verde Road in Del Rio and immediately surrendering to awaiting Border Patrol and local law enforcement have captured the attention of millions of Americans. Human traffickers in plain sight, escorting illegal immigrants from over 70 countries, wait on the river on the Mexican side, free to conduct their booming enterprise without fear of apprehension by US law enforcement.
Bus stops and the surrounding stores, fast-food restaurants, and sidewalks in Del Rio, Texas are crowded with illegal family units – many from countries such as Haiti, Venezuela, and several African countries. Many have several young children, and some of the ladies also appear pregnant. Locals (who are very against illegal immigration) don’t even pay too much attention anymore, and law enforcement drives right on past unless a big issue arises – it’s just another day since the crisis began.
So, what is life like in Del Rio, Texas, in the mix of this surge?
Many people who have just moved to the area, or are visiting, have told me that they expected Del Rio to be a tightly-gripped police-state, practically under martial law. From the various media outlets’ portrayal of the border issues, I can see how that impression might be given. But it’s not true, not for Del Rio.
In fact, I’ve never felt safer. I’ve never felt unsafe in Del Rio – even for my family’s sake. I’ve lived in places where murders and armed robberies were a practical nightly occurrence. Del Rio has never been like that, and continues to rank as one of the safest cities in Texas.
Not only has Governor Greg Abbott sent hundreds (to thousands) of Texas State Troopers and other state law enforcement officers to the border to protect Texas state sovereignty (he even plans on funding President Trump’s border wall), but law enforcement officers from around the country are also prevalent in Del Rio – Florida State Police, Ohio Highway Patrol, Nebraska State Police, and Iowa State Police. I’ve even seen a sheriff’s jeep from somewhere in Florida driving through town. Both Governor Abbot and Governor DeSantis of Florida have visited Del Rio, and held a joint conference at the airport.
Hotels in Del Rio are filled to maximum capacity, with almost nothing but Texas DPS cruisers in every parking spot. In a five-minute drive down Veteran’s Boulevard (Highway 90) the other day, I counted six DPS troopers patrolling the roadway. While driving west toward Comstock, Texas, the roadsides – which would normally be spattered with Border Patrol, were packed with both marked and unmarked law enforcement vehicles.
These troopers are here because while Border Patrol is so busy apprehending docile family units crossing illegally at the Rio Grande, human smugglers and drug-traffickers are having a heyday transporting contraband (including humans against their will). But the increased law enforcement presence is attempting to curb that.
Governor Greg Abbott (Texas, right) and Governor Ron DeSantis (Florida, center) holding a joint conference at Del Rio International Airport. Florida, among other states, have sent law enforcement personnel and resources to aid Texas in the state's response to the surge in illegal immigration and drug/human trafficking. Source; Texas.gov
Truly, it would be almost impossible to get away with anything illegal in Del Rio right now.
It’s not unsafe at all, here. I rode my bicycle a few months back along Vega Verde Road, just for exercise. I road past the now-famous location seen on Fox News where thousands of illegals are seen wading across the Rio Grande. On the Mexican side, Mexican families were enjoying a day at the river. On the American side, patriotic Americans had US and Texas flags flying on their boat docks. Just another day on the river.
In town, the influx of law enforcement has allowed some of the city police and county deputies to return to their normal duties of patrolling the city and county. While the Val Verde County Sheriff’s Office remains heavily taxed, especially due to the jailing of so many captured human smugglers, Del Rio Police Department has largely been able to keep a handle on the day-to-day patrolling of the city limits – and there hasn’t been any notable increase in crime.
The reason is two-fold.
First, the vast majority of illegal immigrants are not criminals. They don’t want trouble, and they are respectful, well-mannered people. They are simply fleeing their broken countries. I don’t have to agree with their reason for illegally entering the United States under broken immigration policies to understand that they are humans, and that they ultimately just want a better life for their families. They don’t cause trouble. And, Del Rio does a great job of processing illegal immigrants, and send them on their way. The illegal immigrants really aren’t interested in settling in Del Rio, so every effort is made to get them on a bus and sent to San Antonio, where they disperse to their destination of choice. They don’t have time to cause any trouble, even if they actually wanted to.
Second, Del Rio sits on the border-side of the highway checkpoints. Border Patrol checkpoints require all vehicle traffic to stop for inspection. They are a second-layer of protection between the Customs checkpoint at the actual border and the rest of the United States. Between the border and these checkpoints, organized criminal activity does everything it can to fly under-the-radar. They don’t cause issues. There is simply too much surveillance and law enforcement. These criminals do everything in their power to get their contraband on the other side of the checkpoint as quickly and quietly as possible, where they can then freely operate across the United States under far less law enforcement pressure. This makes Del Rio very safe, but surrounding towns outside of the checkpoints much more dangerous.
So, all-in-all, while the media has the story partially correct, Del Rio remains a safe place – perhaps safer than ever. Those who need to be most concerned about reaping the first, second, and third-order consequences of this crisis of illegal immigration are those in the cities removed from the border.