VICTORIA, Texas – Manuel Padilla Jr., U.S. Border Patrol chief for the Rio Grande Valley, who was in Victoria Friday for an event, said his 3,300 agents are on standby should the approaching migrant caravan arrive at the South Texas border.
Padilla said he's heard reports that the migrants, who have been traveling through southern Mexico, plan to stage a rally in Mexico City.
"We may have a better idea then," Padilla said, regarding their destination along the U.S.-Mexico border.
He said as it is, the Rio Grande Valley already has seen a 113 percent increase in apprehensions of families and unaccompanied minors for fiscal year 2018.
"The whole system is maxed out," Padilla said in regards to processing and detention.
Padilla said if needed, temporary buildings could be set up and more agents brought in to assist, but he said it will take the U.S. Congress to close the loopholes in immigration laws that migrants could use.
Padilla said the migrants were typically being released to await their turn before an immigration judge, but that could take years.
Padilla said 80 percent of asylum claims are denied.
"The key is to make sure we can remove these people," Padilla said. "That is what's inciting the caravans and the large groups, is our inability that we have right now to remove people to their countries."