Rio Grande Valley Border Tour

The 2018 trip is sold out. If you would like to be placed on a wait list or sign up to receive information on future tours, please email John Wahala at

This coming April, we will return to the Rio Grande Valley for our next border tour. At the southernmost tip of Texas, the Valley is a 4,872 square mile semi-tropical flood plain on the northern bank of the Rio Grande, flanked by the Gulf of Mexico to the east and Mexico to the south and west. It is an area rich in history and intrigue.

Long the site of smuggling of contraband and human beings, the region became the epicenter for illicit crossings after the Obama administration began illegally resettling Central American migrants into the United States instead of returning them to their home countries, as the law stipulates. The administration's decision led to hundreds of thousands crossings over the last few years, creating disturbance and upheaval in the region. Despite recent efforts by the Trump administration to enforce the law, the Rio Grande Valley is still experiencing high levels of illegal crossings.

We will see the struggles of securing this part of the border firsthand. The trip will be led by Jerry Kammer, our Senior Research Fellow who has organized six previous tours spanning nearly the entire southwest border and part of our northern boundary with Canada. This tour will begin and end in San Antonio. Over the course of a week, we will travel to the border at McAllen, head upriver to Rio Grande City and Roma, and then downriver all the way to Brownsville and the Gulf of Mexico.

We will learn about the border wall prototypes commissioned by the federal government and the latest on plans to construct a fortified barrier across most of the southwest border, including the area in and around Brownsville. We will visit the Border Patrol checkpoint at Falfurrias and will receive extensive briefings from the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, which has for the past few years run Operation Secure Texas. We will also meet with local law enforcement and prominent citizens who are experts in the Valley’s history and culture. We will experience the unique geography of the region, including an excursion to Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge and an optional trip to the beaches of South Padre Island.

If you are interested in joining us, please contact John Wahala at 







Read accounts and view pictures of past tours

Diligence on a Changing Canadian Border
Constant Activity on the California Border
Holding Steady in West Texas
A Washington Narrative Meets Reality
Sunshine, Saguaros, and Smugglers
Reflections from the Border

Testimonials from past guests


"All I can say is top notch, incredibly well-done. These tours are can't miss." - Jim


"These tours are intense and joyous adventures packed with knowledge, uncommon scenery, and ebullient mealtimes. The work done in preparation is awe-making. The folks at CIS take care of every detail, enhancing the roster of learning and experiencing with piquant extras. I, inveterate traveler, feel safe, confident, and dazzled from start to finish." - Marion


"You promised we would not get the usual Border Patrol spin job or fed the Janet Napolitano line about how border security has improved, and you were right. We heard and saw at many dangerous border sites from local ranchers, a veteran customs agent, border residents and brave journalists who really knew their stuff, the dismal truth about how our federal government has failed to protect American citizens." - Don


"We thought the arrangements to meet these extraordinary people were superb, as was the guidance and logistics on the entire trip. Thanks for all you did to make our visits such memorable experiences." - Don


"It was an outstanding trip. So much experience and information packed into just a few days. Thanks for the excellent arrangements!" - Sarah


"The various people we met brought into stark relief the magnitude of the problems the nation faces arising from illegal immigration." - Allan


"Every American should come see the state of the southwest border." - Linda