/ Modified apr 12, 2019 4:47 p.m.

New Border Patrol Sector Chief Discusses Challenges with Surge in Families

Plus, hearing from the deputy commander of BORSTAR about heightened risks of crossing during the summer.

This week, Arizona 360 heard from the new chief patrol agent of Border Patrol's Tucson Sector. Roy Villareal took his post about a month ago to oversee the sector's 3,900 agents. He spoke to Lorraine Rivera about challenges with the ongoing influx of families seeking asylum from Central America, which he referred to as both a humanitarian and border security crisis.

"That vulnerable demographic of family units and unaccompanied children is what is causing our system to grind to a halt. Our facilities, the detention, the laws were all designed principally for single adults," Villareal said. "Until there is some sort of legislative change we're going to be in this quagmire in that we can't adjust quickly enough to address the flow."

During his 30 years with the agency, Villareal helped launch the Border Safety Initiative, which includes BORSTAR, the Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue Team. The team provides first aid and performs rescues for immigrants crossing the desert. Deputy Commander Kelly Kirby said he believes the Border Patrol is prepared for the possibility that agents will likely encounter more Central American migrants in the desert during the summer months.

"As a team, we know that the majority of these people are coming from a tropic or subtropic environment into this arid environment, which increases the risk. They've also traveled a long way to get here," Kirby said. "I think this sector is prepared. It's got measures in place as well. We've handled the influx back when we had the crisis of Guatemalan children coming up from Central America when we handled it back four, five years ago."

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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