Huddled against a border fence on a bitterly cold morning in El Paso, Texas, a group of 60 Guatemalan migrants, around half toddlers and children, shouted for help: “We’re cold, we’re hungry, we need shelter.”

The group was trying to surrender to U.S. Border Patrol agents and claim asylum, but the agents were too busy herding other groups along the fence that stands about 100 yards inside U.S. territory.

HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images

The 18-foot-high steel barrier is meant to deter illegal immigration. But its position inside the border has turned it into a destination for human smugglers trafficking large groups of asylum seekers fleeing poverty and violence.

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A company has offered a discounted rate of $1 billion instead of the proposed $8 billion to build 234 miles of border wall.


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