SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A growing number of people are risking their lives to attempt to enter the United States illegally.
According to US Customs and Border Protection, more adult migrants were arrested by CBP agents in March, but fewer unaccompanied minors and family members were taken into custody.
Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Don Bartletti is back at his Vista home after a two-day trip to San Luis, Arizona, where he witnessed migrants crossing into the United States.
"They found the holy grail of the US-Mexico border fence," Bartletti said.
At an undisclosed location, Bartletti said the 35-foot border fence is built well inside the geographical American border. Migrants cross the Colorado River just to get to this sliver of American soil, with the hopes of being arrested by Customs and Border Protection.
"The man is raising his arms saying, 'We are here, we are here! We're not going to run,'" Bartletti said of a photo he took of a group of young Brazilians walking along the border fence.
He also snapped a photograph of a Venezuelan man clutching a baby onesie of a grandson he's never met but hopes to hold someday in Miami.
"He broke it out, and he rubbed it on the fence and stuck his arm through it, and waved it as if sending a message, 'I'm coming, I'm coming!'" Bartletti said.
Bartletti said the most stunning moment of his two-day photo trip was when he spotted four Cuban nationals climbing the fence after four months of grueling travel.
"When these four guys came down from the top of the fence, they fell to their knees, they put their hands on US soil and began to cry," Bartletti said.
Dulce Garcia is the executive director of the humanitarian group Border Angeles. She has been in Tijuana for the last several weeks, trying to help with the migrant crisis there. Garcia said the shelters are over capacity because many migrants are expelled back into Tijuana as they wait to get their asylum cases. She said last weekend, migrants held a protest, demanding the US government reopen the borders.
"People want to be found by Border Patrol because they want to make their claim for asylum," Garcia said. "The border is closed except for some essential travel. Asylum should be considered essential. These people are not here for pleasure. They're here because they are fleeing from something horrible."
Bartletti said he stays out of politics but hopes his photos give his viewers something to think about.
"I just want you to see the faces and hear some of the anecdotes that I learn from them about who is coming because they're not a whole lot different than you and I," Bartletti said.