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Presidio Officials Worry Transmigrante Traffic Could Soon Be Headed To The Region

By Sally Beauvais

Residents in the border town of Presidio could soon see a new kind of traffic crossing through the local port of entry: lines of Central American citizens known as transmigrantes, drivers who make a living towing junk cars from the U.S. to their home countries where they sell them for a profit.

Currently, the only approved route from the U.S. into Mexico for transmigrantes runs through Los Indios, a small town in South Texas. But Mexican officials are considering diverting a percentage—or all—of that traffic through Presidio, according to city administrator Jose Portillo. At a recent county meeting, Portillo said he’s still waiting on official word from the Mexican government. He cited criminal activity along the current route through Mexico as one of the motivating factors behind the possible change. 

Talks of the Presidio port of entry becoming a path for transmigrante traffic have been happening for a few years now. But Portillo says it could happen officially as early as January 2020. The move could mean hundreds of drivers traveling through the local port daily. 

The possibility has Presidio officials scrambling to come up with a plan to accommodate the potential jump in traffic.

“To have all of those vehicles parked all over the place, if we don’t regulate this, then it would be a concern,” Portillo said during a recent county meeting. “I can see where it could affect the quality of life.”

According to Portillo, over 100 thousand transmigrantes passed through Los Indios in the 2018 budget. 

Often you’ll see transmigrante traffic come through the Big Bend, as drivers head from Interstate 10 on to I-90 toward Los Indios. The pickup trucks are hauling other vehicles that are normally filled with bicycles, washing machines, car parts and any items transmigrantes might be able to sell in their home countries.

Sally Beauvais is a reporter at Marfa Public Radio.