McALLEN, Texas — America's battle over immigration becomes starkly personal when accompanying U.S. Border Patrol agents in McAllen, Texas. Adults and children spoke somberly and through tears about why they had undertaken the dangerous crossing into the U.S., days before Donald Trump becomes president.
Most of the group were from Central America.
"The young children, especially, when they start turning 7 or 8, they force them to join gangs or if not, they kill them," said a mother, holding her son tightly against her chest. "Si no, los matan," if not they kill them," said one mom. "I didn't want that for my son."
NBC News had accompanied the U.S. Border Patrol in the area. Within a few hours, an agent had apprehended the group, which included unaccompanied teens.
"I worked to be able to get to my mom," said a young woman through tears.
Some said they were trying to get to the U.S. before Donald Trump became president, though one woman said immigrants "should be scared of Trump."
As NBC News recently reported, apprehensions on the Southwest border are rising. There were about 46,000 in October of 2016 — almost 20,000 more than during the same month two years ago and the largest spike since the massive surge of unaccompanied minors during the summer of 2014.