For the first time in over a decade, the Texas Rio Grande Valley has overtaken Arizona as the most popular crossing for illegal aliens.
The government tries to explain this shift as a combination of tighter security in Arizona on top of slight economic growth. Rio Grande Valley residents say White House policy is to blame.
“We've had border patrol state that when the illegals are caught, they specifically say they'll get amnesty or Obama will let them go,” says Susan Durham with the South Texans' Property Rights Association.
Homeland Security insists overall illegal crossings are down in recent years, but Durham argues without counting those who got away, the numbers are skewed.
“We've had a pretty steady flow,” she tells KTRH News. “From 2011 through 2012 we've had a significant uptick.”
The debate has fueled talks over immigration reform in Washington where Texas Senator John Cornyn has continued to push for increased border security funding.
“If we don't guarantee to the American people that we actually are going to get serious about stopping the flow of people illegally crossing our Southwestern border,” Cornyn said from the Senate floor last week. “I think we guarantee the failure of bi-partisan immigration reform.”
Because many of those crossing the border are from Central or South America, critics blame Mexico's own porous southern border, saying Mexico needs to either fix the situation or pay the U.S. the cost for handling illegal aliens.
“Maybe its time we start back-charging them for these costs associated with the apprehension of an illegal crosser which they're doing nothing about,” said Nelson Balido, a consultant formerly with the Border Trade Alliance.