The Border Tour

Hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies

Our next border tour is scheduled for April 2024 in the upper Rio Grande Valley. We will convene in San Antonio and then make our way west to the border region spanning from Del Rio to Eagle Pass, an area that the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has described as “the epicenter of the present migrant influx,” with nearly a quarter of all migrant entries into the United States occurring there. The Del Rio sector, which includes Eagle Pass, was recently processing 4,000 migrants a day and was the encampment location for 17,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, who poured across the Rio Grande in 2021.

In September, the Democratic mayor of Eagle Pass declared a state of emergency. The town of 28,000 residents, which has only one shelter, has been overwhelmed with arrivals from all over the world. As many as 2,500 migrants are arriving each day, impacting an area where a quarter of the residents live in poverty, with a per capita income of less than $20,000. First responders have reported finding as many as 30 bodies a month in the river since March 2022.

Our tour will examine the state-federal conflict that is playing out in Eagle Pass. As part of Operation Lone Star, which Texas launched to counter the administration’s encouragement and facilitation of illegal immigration, the Texas National Guard has deployed armed soldiers and vehicles to block the federal government from accessing the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass. This area, near the International Bridge, is no longer accessible to federal agents, and court filings challenging this move by the state of Texas are anticipated by the time of our visit. 

Additionally, the governor of Texas has installed buoys in the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass to deter crossings. We will take a look at the thousand-foot strand of large spinning buoys with submerged netting, along with other state efforts to impede drug smuggling and the illegal entry of migrants, such as the use of concertina wire and shipping containers as barriers along the border. The wire barrier has become a focal point of dispute between the Biden administration and the state of Texas and the legality of its use now appears to be headed to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Our tour will extend into Mexico, offering a firsthand perspective of the migrants planning to cross the river and head into Texas. We will speak with migrants through interpreters to better understand their reasons for undertaking the dangerous journey to the border and to learn about their experiences. We also intend to visit a migrant shelter. 

Led by Mark Krikorian and Todd Bensman, the tour will provide an invaluable look at the chaos unfolding along both sides of the border; the policies that are driving these record numbers; and the immigration issue in a broader and historic context. We will visit with Border Patrol, local law enforcement, ranchers, residents, and politicians to gain an understanding of this tragic and untenable situation.

If you are interested in joining us, please contact John Wahala at [email protected].

Accounts, Pictures, and Videos of Previous Tours

Smugglers on the Border: Reflections from Yuma, San Diego, and Mexicali

Report from the Rio Grande Valley

Dysfunction on the Border: Report from West Texas and New Mexico

A Growing Border Crisis: A report from Arizona

Unrest in the Rio Grande Valley

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

Border Tour Videos

2023 Border Tour Videos

2022 Border Tour Videos

2021 Border Tour Videos

2019 Border Tour Videos

2018 Border Tour Videos

Testimonials from Past Guests

"The trip is like doing a Rhodes Scholarship on steroids." -- Loras
"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 

“The trip was amazingly well managed. Those planning it arranged for us to see the border from so many different points of view -- U.S. side and Mexican side, urban and open country, two very different legal crossing points, the variety of ways the border can be breached, the nature of the two sides of the border in many different types of locales. We met with many interesting people working on both border and immigration issues. Excellent speakers gave us background history and current issues and problems. Intimate discussions with articulate Border Control Patrol agents and some of the people they interact with from other agencies.”  -- Norman
"You promised we would not get the usual Border Patrol spin 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