Hundreds of state and federal agents in black SUVs and green-and-white vans and pickups face the Rio Grande and stare down an entire country and a perceived threat of migrants.
Across the river, in the Mexican city of Piedras Negras, a caravan of about 1,800 Central American immigrants, including families with young children, arrived at the start of the month. They'd trekked more than 1,500 miles to ask the US government for asylum. Most said they were trying to escape threats of violence or death in their home countries.
From a control room in Laredo, Texas, Border Patrol agents and National Guard personnel monitor a section of the border where they control cameras. They also get inputs from seismic ground sensors that pick up footsteps and vehicle movement. If they notice anything suspicious, they immediately radio agents in the field.
A Border Patrol agent navigates a thicket. A colleague of his says migrants have the advantage: Because of the landscape, they can see the agents but the agents can't see them. And once they get to the US side, they can still evade the cameras.
Daylight and infrared cameras sit atop 120 foot towers and face up and down the Rio Grande. The footage from these cameras is what agents back at the control center are monitoring. They're looking for people swimming across the river or traversing it in canoes, inflatable rafts or inner tubes.
At the entrance to the detention center in Piedras Negras, Mexico, a big red and white sign reads "Albergue Migrante, Migrant Hostel." The entire facility is roughly the size of a football field and is encircled by a yellow chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. It's also guarded by Mexican Federal Police.
At the facility in Piedras Negras, Mexico, hundreds wait for their chance to cross the bridge to Eagle Pass, Texas. It's a decidedly low-tech affair, with people standing around for hours. The migrants say about 15 people per day are let out.