At US/Mexico Border With Texas Sheriff (exclusive access)

Jul 03, 2022 5M Views 9.3K Comments

Out in West Texas is a rugged landscape full of grand vistas and big skies. It’s also a place that’s dealing with a large increase of migrants. Join me as we meet up with Sheriff Ronney Dodson of Brewster County to get a better understanding of this complex situation.

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello
► Researched by: Kymberly Redmond

(gentle guitar music)
– Here we are. Alpine, Texas,
roughly an hour and a half
from the Mexican border.
And over the last year and a half,
there’s been a huge increase in migrants
coming over the border into Texas
and the rest of the country.
Now it’s been very
difficult to get access.
I did a series last year on it.
And this video, we’re
meeting up with a sheriff,
which is next to impossible
to get on camera.
Over the last two years,
I’ve tried very many times to
get law enforcement on camera.
It’s just not possible.
Managed to get one guy in two years.
So today we have the unique privilege
of meeting up with Sheriff Dodson,
who’s gonna give us his inside
perspective on the situation.
Sheriff Dodson.
– Hang on a second. Let me have it.
– Can I get a picture?
– [Peter] Yeah, let’s do it.
This is your assistant?
– No, she is my trainee.
All right, good deal.
– Camera on a camera.
(trainee laughs)
– We’re gonna get in
this truck, right here.
– This is where we get in.
– See my…
– There we go.
Brewster County.
Guys, this is gonna be exciting.
(truck engine turns over)
All right.
You know, it’s very hard these days
to get any law enforcement on camera.
– Well, and you can imagine why.
– In most of the country,
most of the country.
– Well, you can see why though, can’t you?
– Yeah.
– I mean,
everybody’s after ’em.
As sheriff, I believe
I’m the people’s cop.
So, my job is for the people.
I don’t answer to anybody, but the people.
If I’m not doing my job,
the people get rid of me.
So, sometimes my job requires,
causes me to step in where I see
maybe something’s not
right in law enforcement,
because that’s what our job is,
versus other people who
answer to city councils
and answer to boards
or answer to something.
An elected sheriff in
Texas answers to no one,
but the people, that’s it.
We don’t have a boss.
If they don’t like ya, they
get rid of ya in four years.
– [Peter] This is a checkpoint, yeah?
– Yeah, this is the 118 checkpoint.
– [Peter] You said it’s closed?
– Yeah, it’s closed.
– [Peter] Why?
– Not enough men to man it today.
So, they’ll close it.
See those cones up there.
You can tell when it’s
closed, ’cause you don’t,
usually it’ll avert
you into the checkpoint
to do your stuff. But–
– [Peter] So don’t the
traffickers know when it’s
open and closed?
– Yeah. Oh, they do know.
Well that’s because they have scouts,
and usually these traffickers
have two vehicles,
a scout vehicle and what
their load vehicles are–
– [Peter] Can we cross?
– Yeah.
– Yeah, okay.
– So anyway, they’ll come through
when the border patrol can’t,
they know, they’re watching it right now.
This is where we need, I mean,
manpower is at our checkpoints.
– [Peter] Okay.
– And our checkpoints, we can’t man it.
We don’t have it.
And nobody’s applying,
or if they’re applying,
they’re not getting men
here fast enough to do it.
– [Peter] Okay, so
Mexico’s how far from here?
– Oh, we still got about 74 miles.
– [Peter] Are we gonna go close?
– Oh yeah. We’re going there.
– [Peter] Oh, we’re going?
– Yeah.
– Okay.
(Dodson laughs)
We’re on adventure.
– We’re on adventure. You
wanna go to see the river.
But yeah, this is where they’ll drop ’em.
They’ll drop ’em further back,
around Elephant Mountain–
– They’ll drop ’em,
you mean like they’ll be coming in a car?
– Yeah, and they’ll
unload ’em way back there,
Elephant Mountain.
And then they’ll make their way
either around this checkpoint
to Alpine or on to Marathon.
– So, let me get this straight.
Elephant Mountain’s in the US.
– Yes.
– So what do you mean,
they drop ’em there?
– They’ll pick ’em up at the border.
– Okay. On the US side.
– They’ll carry ’em.
On the US side, and drop
’em, and then their car
will come through the
checkpoint, checkpoint clears ’em
as US citizens, or whatever,
they go on and they know they
got pickup places for ’em.
– [Peter] Okay, so this is a
heavy traffic area on foot,
out in this desert?
– Yes. On both sides, really.
– [Peter] Okay.
This country, right now, has
a thirst for cheap labor.
And, also for the narcotics
that come across this border.
If we didn’t have it, if we
didn’t have jobs for ’em,
if we didn’t have the people
wanting to buy the drugs,
maybe we wouldn’t have that bad a problem.
You can take this all the
way back to prohibition
when they were smuggling
whiskey across this border,
– Right.
– They were doing that
in the 30s, 20s and 30s,
for the same reason, it’s
’cause we wanted ’em.
I can tell you, a lot of
the marijuana that we get
that is sent back through the mail,
that our post offices catch,
that we catch in the post,
or we know is coming back,
comes from up north where
they’re making a more quality
marijuana or whatever they make.
– Interesting.
– Because, a lot of this
weed coming up is just trash weed.
It’s cheap and–
– Break weed?
– Yeah.
And then I think a lot,
what happens with this weed,
it’s a decoy to keep us busy
while more dangerous drugs
are coming through.
– Okay.
– Their intel is as good as the best Army
or Border Patrol intel there is.
– The cartel’s?
– Yes.
You gotta remember,
across our border here,
there are villages and stuff,
and the cartel has so much
money, they help these people.
They help the village people.
They take their kids to the dentist,
they take their kids to the doctor,
they build loyalty with their service.
They’re a criminal organization,
but they’re building loyalty.
And all they ask is,
“Hey, when you see something, let us know.
When you hear something, let us know.”
And it’s all information.
I found a guy in this
brush line right here.
He was in there hidden
and I didn’t see him,
and on the way back,
there was two ladies and they’d stopped.
He had raised his hand and
they were driving slow enough
that they actually saw him.
And I got out, ’cause I thought they were
trying to climb this fence,
it’s private property.
And it turns out they had a man there
and they’d given him a
couple bottles of water
and his leg was shattered.
It was pretty cold, and he was dirty.
And I drug him under the
fence, got him on this side,
called an ambulance, and the ladies left.
Me and him had a great conversation.
I asked him how many people were with him.
He said there were 12 or 13.
But he fell off a bluff
over here on the side
and broke his leg.
And his friend said, “We’ll help you out.
We’ll carry your backpack
for you and your stuff,”
and they took off and left him,
took his water and his food.
They left him to die.
– Wow.
– So he ended up, we got
him here, and anyway,
we ended up getting to the hospital.
And when we talked to him
about, I’d say, “Your amigos,”
and he finally told me,
spoke enough English,
he’d been in the country
here before he said,
“Don’t you say that, they’re
not my amigos anymore.”
You used some bad words by
the way, when he told me that,
but he was pretty upset.
– [Peter] So you’ve
saved some of these guys
other than that one.
– Oh, yeah.
– [Peter] Over the years?
– Yeah, bunches of ’em.
And to be honest with you,
a lot of the people we catch
are what we call, give ups.
We’re driving along the road
and they’ve got their
arms, waving us down.
It’s not like we’re some kind
of superheroes chasing ’em,
they’re looking for help.
These poor people don’t fear us at all.
They’re all real happy
you saved their life
until you drive into the
board patrol station.
And they say, “Immigration?”
They say, “No, take me home.”
(laughs) “I can’t take you home.”
They gotta go there.
– [Peter] It’s not like the
cartels care about their–
– They don’t care.
– How their end
of the journey works.
– They have no heart
for any of these people.
And they just take their money,
and some of ’em still over on
the other side of the county,
still have to deal with Zetas,
and the Zetas have checkpoints.
And some of ’em get whatever
money they got left,
or any possessions they got left,
the Zetas steal it from ’em,
and beat ’em up and steal it from ’em.
And God forbid that some
of these long journeys,
that you’re single or you’re one female
with 11 or 12 guys in a group.
– [Peter] The Zetas control
this territory and the cartel?
– They’re on the other
side of the county here.
We hear less and less about ’em.
They’re still the muscle for the cartel.
They’re just put in that
category of the cartel,
but they still exist.
(indistinct radio transmission)
So tell ’em 15 minutes.
Homeland Security
apparently’s made a stop,
and I have deputies there,
we’re sittin’ on another car’s coming
with more bodies than what they’ve got.
They’ve only got a couple of bodies.
There could be a
possibility that the group
that’s caught right
now was just the decoy.
They know that the
deputies are gonna come,
have to take it and work it,
then the big load comes on through.
And like I say, that
checkpoint’s closed. (laughs)
Word’s got out. They’re gonna
be trying to move stuff.
(classic Western music)
so it’s pretty rough.
So a lot of the stuff during
the day tends to not move,
it’s later in the
evening when it cools off
that we start seeing more activity.
(classic Western music)
– [Peter] Do you know how
much they go for a night?
– [Dodson] I really don’t.
I know that some with pools
go for $300 or $400.
– So is there a divide between the locals
that have been here forever,
and then you got new people
coming in, maybe?
– Yes.
– There’s friction there.
– Well, there’s a divide.
They don’t physically get out and fight,
but you see ’em talkin’ a bunch
of trash about each other.
– Okay.
That’s a nice one.
– [Man Over Radio] 10 minutes ago,
he came from the west side,
and now he’s northbound,
out of state plate.
– Oh, that’s a good one.
They’re gonna give me the…
You might stay back behind
the truck here for a minute
till they–
– Stay behind the truck?
(indistinct radio transmissions)
(car horn beeps)
Okay, it looks like they’ve got
some guys here in the trucks.
This was the vehicle, it looks like.
Hi guys.
(truck engine turns over)
Good. Sheriff, what have we got here?
– What we’re gonna do is,
I’m gonna… Can you drive?
You got a driver’s license?
– [Peter] Yeah, of course.
– All right, you’re
gonna drive. Follow me.
– [Peter] I’m following you in this?
– You’re gonna drive,
you’re gonna follow me
to where we’re gonna go, get in.
– That’s legal?
– All right.
– [Peter] Okay, so what was
the story with those guys?
– Apparently they caught ’em,
they’d been sitting up on ’em
or something, they caught ’em.
From what it looks like it was
HSIs, they’d been detailed.
They’re from up north.
They’ve been detailed
down here to the river,
I guess to aid and help Border Patrol.
Like we said, they’re in a
bind, so they need the help.
– [Peter] So there is more
assistance these days down here?
– Well, this is the first I’ve seen ’em.
– [Peter] So who’s
determining that, the state?
– No, no.
– Or county,
it’s a county thing?
– No, it’s the federal government.
– [Peter] Ah.
– They’re the ones that have
the authority over the border,
not us.
The driver was a migrant.
We charged him with a felony smuggling.
– [Peter] So do they go to prison here?
– Yeah, they’ll go to jail
here, and then if convicted
somewhere down the line,
I mean, we got so many,
it’s gonna be years before they get–
– So they’re going to US jails?
They’re not being sent back?
– The smugglers aren’t.
These three individuals will be sent back.
– But the smugglers, no?
– No.
– Even though they’re illegal?
– Right. No, ’cause he’s going to jail.
He committed a crime.
The guy’s riding, all they’ve
committed is some civil crime,
which Border Patrol can enforce.
I can’t enforce that.
I can enforce that smuggler
because there’s a state law.
– Oh, interesting. So it’s pretty complex?
– Well really, if you
think about it, it’s not.
I mean, yeah, of “who gets
who”, that’s what we call it.
I know that if we catch a smuggler
and we call the Border Patrol
to come get the illegals,
they’ll say, “Which one’s mine?”
And we point, “That
one, that one, that one,
that one’s yours.”
And then we keep the one
that we actually have authority over.
– That’s US taxpayer money to
put them in jail, obviously.
– Oh yeah, it’s gonna, it does
cost. It cost us very much.
But, I don’t feel so
bad when it’s a felony,
putting somebody in jail.
Now this trespassing
thing, you put ’em in jail,
they’re gonna spend 24 hours.
They can’t make bond.
Our judges end up lettin’ ’em out.
And then our prosecutors don’t wanna mess,
they’re overloaded with other cases.
They don’t wanna mess with these
misdemeanor trespassing cases.
So it just becomes a time thing.
And we don’t do it in our county.
– [Peter] Okay.
– We don’t put people in for trespass,
unless they’re legitimately trespassing,
jumping a fence, taking a man’s cactus,
or doing stuff like that.
But, we catch a group
of 80, my jail holds 54,
I’ve got 53 in there.
If I have to send ’em
someplace to another jail,
at $65 a day or a hundred dollars a day,
who’s that gonna save?
– [Peter] And so meanwhile,
these Airbnbs are right here,
and this is happening right down the road
and I bet most of ’em
don’t even know, right?
– No, no, they don’t.
It doesn’t bother ’em, doesn’t phase ’em.
– [Peter] It’s like different worlds
on top of each other here.
– Yeah, it is.
– [Peter] What’s the price these days
to get over the border, do you know?
– We hear all kinds of things.
Some will tell us $5,000,
some will tell us $10,000,
some will say it’s 500
bucks, it just depends.
I don’t know that we
ever get a real story.
I always ask ’em,
“You raised $5,000
wherever you come from?”
That’s a pretty good change.
I don’t carry 5,000 with me to go,
but I think that they’ve
promised to do things
for maybe the cartel
or something like that.
And I’m sure there are
ones that have paid.
And you know what’s funny
is, a lot of times the groups
are always the same amount,
within 13 or eight kind
of the walking groups.
Now there are big groups
of a hundred, 150.
But during… When they were
having a lot of the family units
come, they would pull up
to the park in the river,
and the coyote would tell ’em,
“When you get across
the river, dial 9-1-1.”
And we’d send vans
because family units are treated different
than these just male units coming across.
– So when I saw that happening
last year in South Texas,
I was told some kids are
even like, sold or rented.
– Yes. Yeah, they were–
– Because they’re not doing DNA checks
to see if the kid is–
– Really belongs to anybody.
– Yeah.
– Yeah.
Yeah, we saw some of that,
where they would just use a kid.
And the kid would say, “That’s
not my dad.” (chuckles)
– [Peter] Lajitas General Store.
So we’re close now, right?
– Right there?
– Yeah.
How you doin’?
– How you doin’?
– I’m good.
– [Peter] You know everyone
out here, huh, Sheriff?
– How’s it goin’?
– What y’all doin’?
– I’m goin’ home. (laughs)
– Home, for the day?
– Yeah, for me.
– Oh, that one here.
– Hello.
(woman laughs)
– Where’s she from?
– New York.
– I just met a bunch
of guys from New York.
– Oh yeah?
– Yeah, you better keep an eye on ’em.
– All those HSI agents,
they’re all from New York.
And I said, well, I couldn’t talk to them.
I have to talk to somebody from Texas,
’cause I couldn’t understand ’em.
– [Woman] Yeah. (laughs)
– [Peter] The agents are from New York?
– Yeah, those agents.
– [Peter] ‘Cause that was a lot of force
for just one car, wasn’t
it, a lot of people?
– Well, in the eyes of
the federal government,
it was about right.
– [Peter] Okay.
– And if it was here, it’d
probably be just him or him.
– [Peter] Just two of you?
– No, normally one.
– It’s usually just one of us.
– [Peter] Just one on a car like that?
– Oh yeah.
– [Peter] That seems
quite dangerous, yeah?
– We just don’t have enough,
there’s not enough people.
– Normally, he catches ’em
all the time, right here.
– [Peter] Okay.
– And I’m coming from, you saw
the Terlingua Ranch, right?
– [Peter] Yep.
– Well, that’s my normal area.
So, if he stops someone, I may have to run
all the way from there
to here to help him,
because I have to come take,
usually I take custody
of whoever he arrests,
like the driver, I’ll take custody of him.
– So, how, maybe scary is the wrong word,
but how scary is that to
come up on a bunch of guys,
just you, yourself?
It’s like, you gotta
be on your toes, right?
– Well, I mean, most of the
people are armed nowadays, so.
– [Peter] Most of ’em are armed?
– I got some armed ones, so
it’s a common practice now.
– [Peter] Are they all cooperating
with you, or it depends?
– No, it depends.
– They run, get a lotta runners.
Once they bail outta the
car, they take off running,
and you got one guy,
and he can’t catch 10.
He catches some give ups, or
people that just don’t want to.
– Yeah.
– But usually, he’s
looking for the driver.
When people were talking
about building a wall,
and I would say, “Well, we’re
not really for a wall here,”
oh, I caught a lotta criticism,
but people haven’t been here.
You can’t rope off our river,
just to give it to Mexico.
Wall, everywhere I’ve been,
is built back into the United States.
– Oh yeah.
– You see?
– [Peter] Good point.
– We’re a big tourist, we
got Big Bed National Park.
What are you gonna do, build
the wall so far back in
that nobody can access the river anymore?
– [Peter] Oh, good point, good point.
Yeah, I never thought of that.
– Some of our places are big
wall canyons that need a wall.
But if you did that,
then all these business
you saw down around here
that were the river rafting
companies and stuff,
they’re gone.
– [Peter] So the wall is really,
it really depends where you’re at.
– Yes.
– [Peter] ‘Cause in South Texas–
– They could use a wall,
if they want one, yeah.
– [Peter] A lot of people
are big fans of it.
I could see the, how it would help them,
with the technology on the wall.
– Right.
– Especially.
But here, that’s an interesting point.
– It would devastate our county.
– [Peter] This is the
Rio Grande right here.
– Yeah. See how the river’s
growing right in there?
– [Peter] Oh, is that,
that little trickle?
– [Dodson] Yeah, that’s the river.
– [Peter] So this is all Mexico?
– That’s all Mexico here.
– [Peter] So to come to the
states, you pretty much just
take a few steps over.
– Yeah, and there’s places
over here where they’ve just, it’s trails.
– [Peter] That’s almost
unbelievable. Mexico, USA.
Can we go down there?
– Yeah, we’ll drive over here,
go down there to the water.
Let’s drive down there.
– [Peter] Okay.
This your buddy’s house.
– [Dodson] Yeah.
– [Peter] Here we go. It’s
just a pond, it’s a pond now.
– [Dodson] Yeah.
– [Peter] So you’re saying
when you were young,
you used to dive off here?
– Right over here. Jump
right off in that water.
See these ledges–
– Dive off this ledge?
– See these ledges right here.
– [Peter] Okay, and it was deep enough.
– Yeah. But, I mean, this is seasonal.
We’re in a drought. We’re
in a bad, bad drought.
– [Peter] Oh, nice place.
So people are just
coming here for vacation?
– Yeah.
– [Peter] It’s okay to go in?
– He’s probably expecting some guests.
– [Peter] So this is a for-rent Airbnb.
Very nice place. Quality.
I’ll get the link from you.
– Okay.
– I’ll put it in the description, guys.
You wanna stay in a very
unique place in this world,
in Texas, with Mexico out your front door,
this is the place.
Wow. What an interesting
part of the country.
– All got together here and
they crossed back and forth
and ate each other’s
barbecue and stuff like that.
– [Peter] There used
to be a festival here?
– It was, they probably, they
may have it again this year,
but COVID’s messed it up, so.
– [Peter] Oh, so everyone
just hangs out together?
– Yeah, and they get in
the water when water’s here
and they all play and splash.
The people from that side
and this side all meet here.
– Oh, that’s cool. So what’s the law–
– And there’s family, see
there’s family that live here,
that have family that live there.
I mean, they can’t help it,
they’re just right there, so.
– [Peter] So do you think
any of ’em like at night
cross over to see their
family and cross back?
– There are people that do.
But nobody really cares ’cause they come,
they go and they come.
– [Peter] Okay.
– They’re not coming and staying.
– [Peter] Gotcha.
– I actually believe there are people
that still work on this
side, they cross back over.
There’s another crossing way down there.
We can go to this
crossing’s all walk here.
– [Peter] Oh, we can walk the crossing?
– Yeah.
– Okay.
– [Peter] No, but you
can’t walk into Mexico.
You can walk in, you just can’t come back.
– Can’t come back.
– No.
– [Peter] So sheriff, if I
went across the other side,
you wouldn’t let me back?
– No, I’d say, “Stay there.” (laughs)
– [Peter] That’s some tough love. Okay.
– Yeah, I would take a
picture of you in Mexico
and say, “Look.” (laughs)
– [Peter] You ready for this?
– Go ahead. Watch out for the ants.
– All right. Ants in my pants.
All right. (groans)
Okay, this is the border. That’s it.
So there we go, Mexico,
United States.
If I walk to this little
plant here, legally,
I’m not allowed back
into the United States.
I gotta go through Mexico.
– Right. Through a port of entry.
– But if we just toe it up
to here, I’m still legal.
– All right.
– [Peter] Center of the river.
Your coworkers, at the market,
were saying in this county,
there’s only three of you
patrolling this border?
– Today there is, ’cause
I’m down here with you.
But, for the most part,
there’s only one at a time.
– [Peter] For how many miles?
– Well, there’s 193 miles of border,
and these guys cover a certain section,
and the other section’s not covered.
We’ve got some cameras
and we got some day guys
going down there, but, and
someone set it off, they respond.
– Yeah.
– But there’s nobody there.
– [Peter] How do you feel
about that as a sheriff?
– God, man, I wish we
had, that’s their job,
it’s the government’s
job secure this border.
And they don’t have the men to do it.
They pay ’em good.
The job, I guess, just
isn’t that glamorous.
I don’t know what it is.
– [Peter] So people don’t
wanna sign up for the job?
– They’re not signing up for it.
In this area, it’s changing,
a little bit of changing,
but the thing that’s changing is,
our people aren’t switching
to become Republicans.
They’re still Democrats,
they’re just very conservative.
– Okay. Yeah.
And how do they feel about border policy?
Most people living around here.
– Not down here so much,
but like in Alpine,
they don’t want the illegal immigration.
I’m talking, even our Hispanics.
They’re saying, “We don’t
want illegal immigration.”
I think they would be just like anybody.
If you had a, like we talked
about, a port of entry
where we could hire people,
come and put people to work legitimately.
Pay ’em a real wage,
don’t do ’em like the old
days where they brought ’em in
and paid ’em a dollar a day.
– Right.
– Pay ’em a real wage.
If we had some help, some people move in,
I mean we need help.
We need help.
And if you go to Lubbock or
Amarillo, Odessa, Midland,
Dallas, if you go into
their restaurants and stuff
and you go in the back
kitchens, that’s what’s there.
– Illegal migrants.
– Illegal migrants.
– Okay.
– Yeah.
But, there’s no border patrolmen there.
– [Peter] Yep.
– There’s no border patrol and no ICE,
no customs there working
those restaurants.
Down here, and we call ourselves
the occupied territory.
I own a little ranch on the
other side of the park here,
and I need fence built and stuff,
and if I hired somebody
and if they were illegal,
man, my butt would be in jail.
But you can go to Odessa,
you can go to Houston,
and go to Home Depot and
hire any bunch of illegals
you want to come dig–
– [Peter] Why can they do it?
– Because there’s nobody enforcing it.
State peace officers
have no authority over–
– [Peter] Okay, what about ICE?
– Well, is there enough of ’em?
– [Peter] Okay.
– And they have things called
job site work enforcement.
They have some rules.
And they’re very constrictive to ICE,
and you need to ask them about it.
But I understand that they just,
I’ve seen ’em come in,
ask an employer, say,
“Hey, do you have all your
I-99s for all your employees?”
And they go, “Yeah,
yeah, yeah, we got ’em.”
“Well, tomorrow we’ll be
back, to look at ’em.”
Well, tomorrow you come back,
there’s only three guys working there.
– [Peter] Right.
– So they basically, it’s
not the ICE guy’s fault,
it’s the way the government’s
told ’em they gotta do it.
– From what I understand,
it doesn’t really benefit
anyone because look,
I hold nothing against the
migrants that come here
for a better life, I
would do the same thing.
Like, I’d wanna make more
money and provide more
for my family.
But they come in, they’re illegal,
they get pulled over in three years,
they could be deported, right?
– Right, exactly.
– So they built a family a
little bit up here, a life,
and then they don’t have the
stability in this country.
We don’t, in this country,
have the stability of knowing
that people are legal or illegal.
It benefits nobody.
– I’ve seen guys here 20 years
and get pulled over one night
for a taillight, up north
in Chicago and stuff,
and they deport ’em back here.
Well, they don’t even
have a life here anymore.
– [Peter] Right. That’s brutal.
– And then they’re stuck.
– Yeah.
– And then if they come
back, they’re aliens,
criminal aliens entering
the country, reentries.
And they get, oh, I’m telling you,
more than one time in the last month,
we’ve caught people that
that’s happened to ’em,
and they speak as good
a English as you do.
– Geez.
– They’re just stuck, so.
– Wow.
The simple solution is make
an easier legal pathway,
but enforce it, instead
of have this open border
sort of quasi cat-and-mouse game, and–
– I wouldn’t even start to say.
I mean, that’s just one of the–
– Okay.
– I think that’s
one of the ways to do it.
You still gotta make sure,
you’re not gonna wanna
let murders and rapists
and drug dealers
in the country.
– Of course, yeah.
– And you gotta remember,
you’re mixing a culture
that’s way different than your culture.
It’s not about race,
it’s all about culture.
Their culture, for example,
marrying girls that’s a lot
younger than in your culture,
marrying girls here.
– [Peter] How young does it go?
– Some of ’em are 15 years old.
– [Peter] Right.
– And if you come over here,
and if you’re a 35-year-old man
with a 15-year-old girl,
you’re going to jail.
– [Peter] Right, so different values.
– There is.
– Systems, yeah.
– It’s a whole different culture.
Even amongst our Hispanics
in the United States
versus the Hispanics in Mexico.
Yes, they have heritage,
but the culture’s so much different.
And once we learn how to
get those cultures together,
we’ll get better.
But, that’s where it is.
– [Peter] Yeah, serious ants, huh?
– [Dodson] Here, you need some help?
Hold that.
– Here we go.
So you were saying you’re a big TikToker?
– Well, yeah, I started.
I don’t have a Facebook or anything.
I got a little Instagram thing,
I can share pictures of
my grandson with people,
and fishing trips.
But I believe Facebook,
probably, and social media’s
done a huge damage to our country.
– [Peter] Yeah.
– Because you can get on
there and be Facebook tough,
talk bad about people, make up lies.
– Facebook tough.
– Facebook tough.
– I like that.
– Be what they’d like to be.
– Right, so tough until
you have to actually
deal with the problem.
– Yeah.
– [Peter] So a scout car is what exactly?
– It’ll come down and
see where the cops are,
what the situation is.
They report back,
’cause they’ve got a little
cell phone service here.
Like I told you, they got a network.
– [Peter] So your partner down
here thinks he found a scout?
– Yeah, well we saw it
go by and I thought,
but he ran the tag and
it comes back to a town
that’s fairly close.
Gotta remember, rooms here
are $350, $400 a night.
So, when a vehicle that pulls in here
doesn’t match something
that would come this way.
– [Peter] Okay.
– See it over there?
– [Peter] What, where
the lady just came out?
– Yeah.
She sure is interested in what I’m doing.
(radio beeps)
Hey, did you run this tag?
– [Man Over Radio] Sheriff,
when I ran that Camaro
it came back to Odessa.
– Okay. 10-4.
One went inside, she was pretty interested
in what I was doing.
The other one’s sitting in the car.
– [Peter] You want me to
go check if she’s doing it?
– The desk will tell us.
– [Peter] Oh.
– We not only employ us,
but we’ve got the help
of some of the community
that help us a lot.
Get in a chase within the next 15 minutes
so I can come back.
– I’ll do that. Don’t worry, I’ll do that.
(both officers laugh)
– [Man Over Radio] 10-4, sir.
– (laughs) He’s going back
to Alpine, he can take her.
We don’t have to get her.
– [Peter] So your hunch was right?
– Yeah, she’s wanted.
We didn’t catch her smuggling,
but we did catch her,
she’s wanted out of another county.
They’ll leave this road
that we just came off of it,
and they’ll take this.
In the middle of the
night, it’s real great,
it’s not patrolled, it’s
hard to be detected on.
It’s used pretty frequently.
– [Peter] How does the
migration route work?
Like, they go here and then
where, like to Odessa, or?
– If they get past Interstate 10,
they’ve pretty much got it beat.
Because there’s no Border Patrol,
there’s nothing up in those area.
There’s some, but they’re very scattered,
very, very seldom seen.
But once they make it that far, they just,
it’s like they’ve got a free reign.
And we’re talking from here, 130 miles.
If they can make that 130 miles,
they’ve almost got it licked.
– So in this area of Texas,
since we’re close to the border,
they wanna get through here
as quickly as possible.
– Yes, they’re not staying.
– No one’s hanging out
around town.
– No.
No, there’s no jobs here.
When people talk to me about
what’s the illegal immigrant
problem in my communities,
and there’s none, we don’t have it.
They move on.
They move on to the
towns that have the jobs,
the bigger cities.
– [Peter] What’s going on here?
It means something to somebody,
the way they’ve stacked the
rocks, it means something.
And so they know this is the path,
they’re on the right track
where they’re supposed to be going.
– [Peter] In a car or by foot here?
– In a car. That’s why it’s so big.
A lot of the foot ones’ll be smaller,
and they’ll be closer
to the trails and stuff.
– [Peter] Okay. So what do
you do with these? You just–
– I just leave ’em.
Most of the smugglers have quit using ’em.
– [Peter] Right.
Beautiful country out here.
It really gets nice on this road.
Do you ever just stay
like out here waiting?
Or it’s just too infrequent?
You’re gonna get a car whenever.
– You could set out here a
week, month, and nothing happen.
And the day you leave, they’ll all come.
You can’t predict it.
That’s why we use the
camera system we’ve got now,
’cause it’s a whole lot easier.
– [Peter] Okay, yeah.
– I don’t have to get
outta bed for an hour.
If I have a camera here and it goes off,
fix me a car up, I can get down get,
and catch him up on the highway.
There’s no sense.
Yeah, we’re working this
thing a whole lot better
than we used to.
Instead of chasing, we’re catching.
– [Peter] So the road
goes right into the park.
– Yeah, it drives right
across the top of the park.
– [Peter] Oh, like
something might be dead?
Are those turkey vultures? What are those?
– Yeah. They may get on one snake.
All of ’em looking to fight for food.
I don’t see no,
see there’s blood here.
That’s probably what
they’ve got, something,
either a lion or
somethin’ killed somethin’
and drug it up there and
them buzzards are eating it
up in that brush.
– [Peter] A lion?
– The mountain lions.
– [Peter] Oh, gotcha.
– ‘Cause there’s blood in
there, but there’s no bones,
but you can see a drag.
See where it drug it?
See a drag?
– Yeah. Oh yeah.
What’s up here, Sheriff?
– There used to be a camera there.
Looks like somebody stole it.
– [Peter] Whose camera?
– Probably a Border Patrol camera.
– [Peter] But a private
residence back there, huh?
– There’s a road that goes back there
to a private residence.
– [Peter] On a national park?
– No, it’s not on a national park.
You just have to go through
the park to get to it.
– [Peter] Gotcha.
– There’s actually a ranch
in the middle of this park
over here, the Rosillos Ranch,
that’s the Rosillos Mountains,
and that ranch is in
the middle of the park.
There’s another couple
of places in the park
that are like 640 acre spots
that actually just
belong to private people.
(classic Western music)
– [Peter] Cameras?
– That one’s mine.
– [Peter] That one’s yours.
– Yeah, that’s the one I monitor.
– [Peter] You’re sitting back in Alpine,
which is like an hour away,
looking at those cameras?
– Two hours away.
– [Peter] Two hours away?
– Yeah, there’s people back there.
The jail’s watching it right now.
All the cameras, the hundred
or so cameras we got out,
they’re watching ’em.
– [Peter] And this, we’re
coming up on Mexico again,
– Yeah.
– [Peter] So there used
to be a crossing here?
That’s all on the Mexican
side, they scavenged it
and they took it and
used it at other places
and stuff like that.
They shut this down, closed it down.
A couple years ago, we had
two drunks come full speed
and hit this.
– [Peter] Are there
many cameras down here?
– Yeah, maybe.
– [Peter] Maybe. Okay.
(both laugh)
– Now on this crossing here,
we ended up, a lot of times
when the Mexican army shows up,
it’s not many days after that
we used to get drug crossings.
It was almost like the Mexican army
fronted the drugs to come here.
And we’d encounter ’em a
lotta times sitting over here.
And then, two or three
days later after they left,
then we’d either catch
a big marijuana load
or something like that up the road there.
So, a tad bit of corruption.
– [Peter] So this is one
of the popular places,
or not so much these days?
– [Dodson] Yes, this is very popular.
– Say I’m Nicaraguan,
Guatemalan, Honduran, whatever.
I come up, I make it over. I get caught.
What happens?
– Well, you’re probably gonna,
you’re gonna be processed
if you’re caught, processed,
and then they’ll probably give you a,
we’ll call it a citation,
to appear before an administrative judge.
And it could be anywhere,
your ticket could say Dallas,
Chicago, someplace,
someplace where they have an
opening on a certain date.
And you may make the date,
you may never make the date.
But, they give you
that, and then trust you
that you’re gonna show
up for that court date.
– [Peter] What percentage
of people, migrants show up,
or it’s unknown?
– I mean, it’s really unknown.
Because sometimes the
date could be 18 months.
– Okay, so say, I’m
basically caught, I’m let go,
I have a court hearing in
18 months, maybe, then what?
Like what?
– Well, the best thing, what
they usually will do is like,
if we catch someone, and we
turn ’em over to Border Patrol,
Border Patrol processes
’em, they then in turn
take ’em to a bigger
processing place in El Paso.
And at that point in time,
a lot of these Catholic relief
organizations will come,
pick ’em up, and then further
’em into the United States
to where, possibly they
have family already
and aunts and uncles and try
to move ’em to those areas
where these people have somebody
that they can live with.
– [Peter] What if they
don’t have aunts and uncles
or family?
– I guess they help ’em establish
some kind of place to stay.
– [Peter] So the federal government
gives the Catholic charities
money to deal with that work?
– I’d have to say they
do something like that
because I don’t know where the,
unless the Catholics are spending
their own money to do it.
– [Peter] Okay. Gotcha.
So how is traffic right
now? Is it the worst ever?
– This is the worst we’ve ever seen it.
I guess people have
argued, “Well, it’s because
you got more people out there
and you’re catching ’em.”
I don’t think so.
We’ve just never seen it
this many people coming.
And next week when the Title 42…
We understand that in
certain places on the river,
there’s over a 100,000
and then further west of us,
there’s probably 60,000 to 80,000
that are gonna cross.
Let’s hope they don’t
cross all at one time,
’cause I don’t know how
we’d deal with it.
– That’s next week?
– Yeah. Title 42 disappears.
– [Peter] And Title 42 is
basically some COVID provision.
– Well, it’s basically
from the health and safety,
and it’s COVID-related.
They wouldn’t let ’em,
they have to remain in
Mexico type of deal, so.
– [Peter] But, so many have
gotten over even despite 42.
– Oh yeah. A lot’s gotten over with 42.
And you gotta understand,
when you look at our Facebook page,
you look at Border Patrol’s, and you say,
“God, look at all the people they caught,”
man, that is a small percentage.
That’s a small, there’s a
lot that we don’t catch.
– Thank you, sheriff,
for bringing us in.
– Hey, no problem.
– Because it’s very hard
to get access these days.
– Well, the people just need to know.
And if you’re the guy
getting the word out,
that’s what we need.
It’s not all about flying helicopters
and getting great stories.
It’s about what’s really
happening on the ground.
– Okay guys, few closing thoughts here.
What an amazing experience
and window into a world
that well, we’re just
not really gonna get.
And the longer I go into
this type of content,
I did a border series last year,
this is just a one-off
video of the border now.
But I learned things along the way,
and my opinion changes on things.
So, what I learned today
that changed something in me
was the wall.
When I was in South Texas,
a lot of the people I talked
to were big proponents
of the wall, because it
enabled the technology
to be put in one easy place.
It made it much easier for
Customs and Border Protection.
And talking with the sheriff
today, Sheriff Dodson,
it’s like, “The wall here,
wow, it would really just
pretty much ruin and spoil our area,
and push the river away from us.”
Very interesting perspective.
So now I’m standing at, well,
it really depends where.
So with all of my content,
watch other content,
I don’t have all the answers.
This is one perspective in,
there are many other perspectives in.
What I’m trying to do
is get on the ground,
feel the pulse of these situations.
I feel with the media,
if you wanna watch content on the border,
say if you watch Fox, it’s
gonna be pure trigger bait.
It’s gonna create a
lot of fear or emotion.
And if you wanna watch,
pretty much on all the
other mainstream networks,
if you wanna look at The
New York Times or CNN,
you’re not gonna get
much of a story at all.
It is a very big story.
These regions of the country
are dealing with something
at a scale they’ve
never dealt with before.
And the very interesting part too is,
the migrants coming over are going
throughout the whole country.
And I think it’s a
discussion and a conversation
we need to have as a country.
It shouldn’t be a Republican
or a Democratic issue.
It should be, we have a serious problem
and what’s the best
solution forward with this?
All right, guys, thanks for coming along.
Hope you got something out of that.
I also shot a series about the border
last year in South Texas.
I’ll leave that playlist
here on the screen.
Until the next one.
(classic Western music)

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