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For many migrants, the need to escape current conditions makes risk of US detainment worth it

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BY GENEVIEVE CURTIS, KFOX

EL PASO, Texas (CIRCA via KFOX) -- Since Wednesday began, hundreds of migrants from Central America turned themselves in at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, according to Border Patrol.

“It has been a constant flow of people,” said Supervisory Agent Joe Romero with the U.S. Border Patrol.

Before sun broke Wednesday morning, hundreds surrendered at the border.

Fresh footprints can be seen along a dirt embankment alongside the Rio Grande River near the Chihuahuita neighborhood in south-central El Paso.

“So far it’s been a really busy day,” said Romero.

Border Patrol said agents apprehended a group of 112 migrants at the border wall near downtown El Paso just after midnight, when at about the same time agents working further east were processing a group of 252 migrants apprehended at the border just west of Bowie High School.

Border Patrol said throughout the morning hours several smaller groups also arrived at multiple locations along the border in the El Paso metropolitan area, with the total number in custody exceeding 700.

Circa partner KFOX was with agents waiting with a group of 11 men, women and children from Guatemala. They turned themselves in at the fence along the border highway, near Riverside High School.

“What these barriers do allow us to do, it allows us to deal with large groups of people on our terms, not the smugglers' terms,” said Romero, referring to the fencing along the border.

On another side of town, a group of Hondurans turn themselves in. Their journey has been long and hard, they tell KFOX.

Reporter Genevieve Curtis asked how many days they traveled to make the 1,700-mile journey.

“We’ve lost count already. We have been traveling awhile, many days walking,” said Armando, who was with his 14-year-old son.

Jaime carried her baby in her arms. “The hardest thing was having to leave my other two daughters,” she said.

They tell Genevieve they are fleeing violence in their home country.

“There is so much crime we can’t live over there anymore,” says Armando.

Another migrant, with her 6-year-old daughter, tells Genevieve, “God has given us the strength to get here, with our children and God granted, we will put up with anything.”

While these families are looking for safety, agents say they are also being exploited by smugglers.

“We’ve had sexual predators we've arrested today. We’ve had gang members. We have all kinds of bad people, people who have been in the United States before with active warrants, trying to sneak in using these people as cover,” said Romero.

Border Patrol said that on Wednesday, among the migrants attempting to enter the U.S., they arrested two convicted sex offenders who had previously served time in jail before being deported from the U.S.

A 28-year-old U.S. citizen was arrested among a group in far east El Paso County, according to Border Patrol. Border Patrol said that individual was a self-proclaimed gang member who was found to have an outstanding federal warrant for escape and a lengthy criminal record, and was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

“They try to draw our agents and create gaps in our coverage,” said Romero.

According to Border Patrol, an unaccompanied 2-year-old child was found among one of the groups. Border Patrol said it is currently working with international and domestic agencies in order to locate the parent(s).

While patrolling with agents, our cameras capture a smuggler directing another family across the Rio Grande between Juarez and El Paso.

Two women from Honduras and their three children make their way across. No sooner have they crossed, then another group is spotted yards up the road.

One agent is responsible for this coverage area.

“It’s a challenge for us, it's no doubt a challenge for us,” said Romero.

The migrants are being taken to the Border Patrol stations to be processed, according to Romero. ICE then makes the determination on their next steps.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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