EL CENTRO, Calif. (Border Report) – Members of the media and the public were crammed into the trunks of cars, SUVs and trailers to get a sensation for what migrants go through as they’re smuggled into the U.S.
It was part of an event highlighting the dangers of human smuggling Tuesday morning at the El Centro, California Border Patrol training facility.
“It was hard to breathe,” said an unidentified woman.
One of the agents conducting the exercises was Jose Enriquez.
“Migrants don’t get a choice whether they want to do it, they don’t get a choice, they have to go in there, their lives are in the hands of a smuggler, they don’t care about the individual, all they care about is getting that dollar,” said Enriquez.
Participants also got a chance to see what it’s like to confront an armed smuggler who starts shooting instead of giving up.
“As you can see, the smuggler is already showing a gun,” said Agent Jose Enriquez. “Migrants are often caught in the crossfire and don’t know what to do.”
Every year, the El Centro Border Patrol Sector puts on simulations to demonstrate what agents and migrants go through along the U.S. southern border.
“This event, just to put it in stark terms, is about saving lives so people don’t die,” said Chief Border Patrol Agent Gregory Bovino.
Bovino called his sector a unique and treacherous place to try and cross the border.
“A lot of people have died in the past,” he said. “This is the one where in July it is 120 degrees, 140 or 150 in that trunk.”
This training took place just days before Title 42 is set to end.
The directive, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was adopted by the Trump administration at the beginning of the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It gave Customs and Border Protection officers and agents permission to expel migrants almost immediately after being apprehended, preventing the migrants from seeking asylum.
This order is set to end May 11.
Many fear that because migrants won’t be expelled right away, more asylum seekers will try to cross the border legally or otherwise.
“Title 42 or not, I would put the message out to the smugglers that I’d be very hesitant of utilizing anything if you think you’re going to get an advantage, whether it’d be a Title 42 or anything else, this is not the place to cross,” said Bovino.