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U.S. immigration law keeps border residents in

Most of us are familiar with border checkpoints designed to prevent illegal immigrants from traversing the border between the United States and Mexico. What you might not realize, however, is the ubiquity of another type of checkpoint: those that are located on major thoroughfares within the U.S. itself. Reports from southeastern Texas indicate that scores of illegal immigrants are confined to a relatively small land area because they are concerned about encounters at these interior checkpoints. This immigration barrier has led to some grim consequences, causing far southeast Texas to become one of the poorest regions in the nation.

Scores of undocumented immigrants are confined to a relatively small area along the border. Sometimes referred to as Northern Mexico, the Rio Grande Valley is about 7,000 square miles of modest border towns and desolate Texas scrub. One woman has gone so far as to call that area her "cage." If those individuals leave that area, however, they can be subject to searches at checkpoints leading out of the valley -- which could mean deportation or worse.

Residents in the valley say that they are accustomed to the ever-present threat of Border Patrol actions, but they co-exist with that government agency. The ever-present fear of deportation hangs over these immigrants' heads, however, leaving them with few professional and personal options. Many of these residents long to visit their families in Mexico or the rest of the U.S., but the risk is simply too great.

Programs are available to help such undocumented immigrants gain access to a path to citizenship. For example, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program provides options for young people who were brought to the U.S. before they could decide on their own. Immigrants who feel hopeless about their immigration status may benefit from learning more about this program and others like it.

Source: The World, "Trapped in Texas: Tens of thousands of immigrants are stuck in the borderlands" Jason Margolis, Aug. 11, 2014

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