Undeterred migrants flock across U.S. border

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STORY: U.S. border officials have found themselves in many moments like this recently, receiving migrants of all ages pushing across the Rio Grande, undeterred by coils of razor wire and against new rules by President Joe Biden’s administration to try and stymie illegal immigration.

Large groups have been trying their luck to cross the river into the United States near a railroad bridge in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Reuters witnessed migrants, at times including small children, navigating the strong river currents, then squeezing between razor wire laid along the banks by the Texas National Guard.

Once on U.S. soil, they wait in the hot sun to turn themselves in to border officials for processing, carrying with them little more than hope:

“That they give us a chance - we want to work, we want to succeed for our families. We want to work, we want to progress, we want a new life, we want a good future for our family, all with God's favor.”

Biden’s new rules were rolled out in May.

They order asylum-seekers to make an appointment to enter the U.S. at a legal port of entry, through a government-run mobile app.

Those who don’t could face a higher bar to asylum and potentially, swift deportation.

Migrant numbers plunged at first, as the new rules took effect.

But illegal arrivals, mostly Venezuelans who have to trek through South and Central America, have soared again.

And that’s created a new wave of political pressure on Biden, who is running for re-election next year.

His likely challenger is Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who made hardline immigration policy central to his time in office.

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott has repeatedly blasted Biden, a Democrat, for failing to curb illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

And the Democratic mayor of El Paso, Texas said over the weekend, his border city was at “breaking point” under the influx of arrivals.

Border agents are under pressure from critics like Abbott for helping the migrants.

On Tuesday, Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens pointed out, U.S. territory begins in the middle of the river.

“By the time the migrants encounter our agents, they are already in the US... If they start getting swept away by the currents, if they start succumbing to the environment, the extreme temperatures, the humidity you all feel right now, and my men and women see that, they are not going to let somebody die or get into harm's way.”

Earlier this month, at least nine people died trying to cross the river into Eagle Pass.

Still, the dangers of the journey – and Biden’s tougher consequences for illegal crossing – don’t seem to be a deterrent.

And it’s despite apparent efforts by Mexican authorities to stop migrants from traveling north to the border.

The Department of Homeland Security and Mexican immigration officials did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Meanwhile many migrants like this young mother say they would rather risk the consequences to get into the U.S. than face desperation at home.