EL PASO, Texas (NewsNation Now) — When you pass over the border from El Paso, Texas into Juarez, Mexico the first thing you notice is the wall.
Many parts are high with barbed wire. But in areas where the wall is lower, people were spotted Monday trying to illegally cross.
Two men walked through a creek up to the wall with what appeared to be a ladder device. They hid in the brush as U.S. Border Patrol drove by and did not spot them.
A woman with a baby was also spotted by border patrol and stopped before crossing.
People who live near the wall in the Juarez area say illegal crossings have been on the rise since President Biden took office. Some of the people are from Central America and hoping to claim asylum.
Illegal border crossings were up 6% in January over the prior month, according to U.S. Border Patrol. Some experts attribute the uptick to a belief among people crossing that they will get better treatment from the Biden administration.
On the outskirts of Juarez in an area called Anapra, a local human smuggler says migrants pay him anywhere from $600 to $1000 to cross. He lives near the wall and monitors border patrol and Mexican police activity to organize the illegal crossings.
“We have seen an uptick in people crossing since President Biden won. I have been watching that on the news every day, but they are not all arriving with me,” the smuggler told NewsNation.
He says he has been illegally moving immigrants into the U.S. for 10 years.
While there has been an uptick in crossings, he says more people are trying to cross on their own and not hiring smugglers like him.
“Actually, we have been seeing less people because President Biden is giving the option of asylum to migrants,” he said.
The smuggler says he has 10 safe houses in the area where immigrants wait for their chance to cross. They gather in crowded rooms and cook outside.
One of the men waiting said he has been waiting for 15 days and hopes to cross as soon as possible. Another man said he hopes to travel to Austin, Texas and work as a roofer.
The smuggler said he usually moves around 30 people across the border each month.
The Biden administration has started a process to allow migrants seeking asylum to wait in the United States while their cases are reviewed. But only small numbers are let in at a time.