A Guard's Perspective: Crisis at the Border with Cheryl Jennings

MCALLEN, Texas (KGO) -- Congresswoman Jackie Speier says $1 million is being offered to provide rapid DNA analyzers to enforce quick reunification of border children with their families.

ABC7 News Anchor Cheryl Jennings was invited to meet Speier during her investigation of conditions at detention centers for children and families in Texas. She talked exclusively with a border guard to hear what the tense situation is like from his perspective.

VIDEO: Bay Area congresswomen outraged by Texas detention centers
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ABC7's Cheryl Jennings traveled to the Texas town of McAllen, where a delegation of lawmakers investigated facilities for undocumented children and adults. She says legislators were outraged by what they witnessed.

"We see terrible, terrible things that people do to each other," said Chris Cabrera, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection guard.

Cabrera is a father of four. He agreed to meet with ABC7 News to talk about what it's like from a border guard's perspective as the controversy swirls over immigration issues, especially the separation of undocumented children and families and the conditions in which they're detained.

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"They're cages. This is not the way we treat people who seek asylum. Border patrol and all the agents are doing their job. But they are a criminal enforcement agency," said Speier. "From my view, they have treated some of these children and families as you would treat a criminal."

Cabrera says most people don't know that many undocumented immigrants turn themselves in to the guards."If they thought we were that bad, obviously their family members had experience with us, why would they seek us out?" he said. "They know we're not bad folks. They know we're here to help them get started on the process."

VIDEO: Cheryl Jennings interviews Congresswoman Jackie Speier at the border
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ABC7's Cheryl Jennings has just arrived at the border with a group of Bay Area moms. Follow Cheryl and ABC7 News as we bring you the story of the Crisis at the Border.

ABC7 News found a young mother and child who escaped from Honduras at the local bus station. Jasmaree turned herself in to border patrol and was detained for three days. But she did not lose touch with her child.

"Thank god the new law was in place and I was not separated from my child," she said.

They're taking a bus to California to live with a family member. She did not complain about her stay at the McCallen Facility.

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"We have children, we have family members. You gotta treat people the way you want to be treated," said Cabrera "And if we were in that situation, we'd want to be treated accordingly."

The debate over the fate of undocumented children is raging all over the country while lawmakers try to come up with plans to ease the situation.

Follow Cheryl and ABC7 News as we bring you the story of the Crisis at the Border.
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