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A fundamental truth underlies the nation's collective failure to stop illegal immigration and smuggling over the southern border: The United States demands the cheap labor and drugs. Read more»

José Santoyo at his mother's home in Corsicana on Oct. 23, 2016.

Some undocumented immigrants brought here as kids were granted a sort of legal status by President Barack Obama. They're in a state of shock and panic now that Donald Trump has won the White House. Read more»

People wade across the Suchiate River separating Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, and Tecun Uman, Guatemala, carrying their shoes, clothes, and bundles of goods.

In southern Mexico, locals say some migrants fleeing Central America are staying put instead of traveling on to the United States. They're blamed for taking jobs, driving down wages and taxing social services — familiar complaints in our country's immigration debate. This story is part of Tribune's yearlong Bordering on Insecurity project. Read more»

Rafts made of inflatable tires and wooden slats ferry people and goods across the Suchiate River separating Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, and Tecun Uman, Guatemala, with the international bridge connecting the two countries in the background.

Under pressure from the United States, Mexico has tried to cut down the flow of Central American immigrants passing through on their way to the southern U.S. border. Read more»

A gang sign for the Mara Salvatrucha gang in Soyapango, El Salvador.

Only about 800 of the estimated 20,000 gang members in the Houston area belong to the MS-13, but police consider them a top-level threat to public safety in Texas. The El Salvador-based criminal organization is thought to reach across Texas and into 44 other states. Read more»

A Policia Nacional Civil patrol in the La Campanera neighborhood of Soyapango, just outside of San Salvador, El Salvador. The neighborhood is known to be controlled by the Calle 18 gang.

Bloody gang conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and sparked a years-long exodus from El Salvador. The current “war” takes place in a country where memories of an earlier 12-year civil struggle still cut deeply. This story is part of the Tribune's yearlong Bordering on Insecurity project Read more»

Suspects (l-r) Aaron Rodriguez Medellin, Eduardo Luna Rodriguez and Joel Luna Rodriguez stand before District 107 Judge Benjamin Euresti on Thursday for their arraignment on murder charges.

The brother of a U.S. Border Patrol agent charged with capital murder in an alleged Mexican drug cartel hit struck a surprise deal Thursday to help prosecutors build their case against his siblings and other defendants. Read more»

A U.S. Army soldier of the Texas Army National Guard and U.S. Border Patrol Agent Chad Wamsley observe as Ricky I, a Belgian Malinois detection dog, checks a tractor-trailer for indications of drugs or concealed people at the U.S. Border Patrol's Interstate 35 checkpoint north of Laredo, Texas, on July 14, 2006.

Reporter Julian Aguilar answers a reader's question about what powers border agents have when questioning people at checkpoints. Read more» 3

About 90 percent of the corruption cases brought against the agents and officials charged with securing the nation's borders end with convictions. But two cases in particular illustrate how federal officials intent on weeding out corruption sometimes embark on enigmatic quests. This story is part of our "Bordering on Insecurity" series. Read more»

When the agents charged with policing the nation's southern border have family ties on both sides, the lines between right and wrong can blur.

David Cruz joined the U.S. Border Patrol because he wanted to be "part of the best." But family pressures, disillusionment, love and greed drove him to begin taking bribes to help immigrants enter the country illegally Read more»

Border Patrol agent Joel Luna Rodriguez confers with his attorney Carlos A. Gardcia after his arraignment in Brownsville by District 107 Judge Benjamin Euresti on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016

When Franky Palacios Paz was found naked and decapitated floating off South Padre Island, the local sheriff thought the murder would lead investigators back to Mexican drug cartel violence. He didn’t expect a U.S. Border Patrol agent to be among those arrested. Read more»

United States Border Patrol agents patrol a portion of the Rio Grande river between Roma, Texas and Miguel Aléman, Tamaulipas.

Keeping people and drugs from crossing illegally into the United States requires more than boots on the ground. In the busy smuggling corridor of Starr County, Texas, it also takes boats in the water. Read more»

Marcus Francisco Valencia Rodriguez, 19 years old, in the courtyard at the Casa del Migrante migrant shleter in Matamoros, Mexico, on Nov. 2, 2015.

Marcos Valencia was raised in Indiana, but in the eyes of the law, his home is the cartel-infested state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, where he was born. Now he's stuck in Mexico, unable to return to the country where he grew up from the age of three. Read more»