Border Patrol agents in Calif. take fire from Mexican side of border while apprehending migrants

U.S. Border Patrol agents operating in a California mountain range to apprehend migrants who cross into the country illegally were fired on by someone across the border in Mexico last week, reports said on Sunday.

The incident is among the latest act of violence directed at U.S. immigration agents and officials along the border, the agency noted, adding that there have been no arrests made in connection with the shooting.

According to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Saturday, Border Patrol agents “were the target of multiple shots” fired at them near Otay Mountain around 9 p.m. on Aug. 9. The range includes the highest peak of the San Ysidro Mountains, which are located in San Diego County.

The statement is in Spanish, though it’s not clear why.

According to reports, the hail of bullets was fired at the agents as they detained a group of illegal aliens about 2 miles east of the Otay Mesa entry and some 250 yards inside the U.S., north of the international boundary.

As the agents were escorting the migrants to waiting vehicles, they reported hearing gunfire and shots impacting in their vicinity, CBP said.

Immediately, agents ordered the migrants to take cover as they also sought cover themselves. According to a Fox News report citing the statement, Marine Air Operations (AMO) and the Border Patrol’s tactical unit (BORTAC) responded to the incident right away, but could not locate the shooters.

The agency’s international liaison division asked for help from Mexican authorities as well. They responded to the region south of the border where the shots were believed to have come from, CBP said. Witnesses in Mexico told authorities they saw several people escape the area following the shots in a pickup truck and by motorcycle, but that’s all the information Mexican authorities were able to obtain.

“Border violence is a serious threat to public safety, and to border agents responsible for national security. This incident is another example of the dangers our officers face every day,” said San Diego Sector Border Patrol Chief Aaron Heitke in a statement. “We are taking this event very seriously.”

The incident remains under investigation. CBP said that patrols in the area have increased, and have asked for anyone with information to contact the San Diego Sector Intelligence Center at the number (619) 216-4180.

Those shots were fired three days after Border Patrol agents in the El Paso sector reported a separate shooting in Texas. Reports said that operators manning security cameras saw two subjects firing into the U.S. with high-caliber rifles.

The ramp-up in violence comes amid near-record numbers of migrants crossing illegally into the U.S. after President Joe Biden reversed nearly all of former President Donald Trump’s border enforcement policies upon taking office.

According to reported figures, the number of illegal immigrants has reached the highest in more than two decades. Department of Homeland Security officials said that immigration agents had encountered more than 213,000 migrants in July alone, or roughly three ties the number encountered in January when Biden took over. In June, border agents encountered more than 190,000 migrants.

Jon Dougherty

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