Tough Questions: How secure is the U.S. border? - CBS46 News

Tough Questions: How secure is the U.S. border?

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

CBS Atlanta News reporter Jennifer Mayerle travels to the Texas-Mexico border to get tough questions answered about security at our national border.

Illegal immigrant Jesus Jimenez was deported after committing a crime in metro Atlanta. He returned to the U.S. illegally, only to be accused of committing another crime. Jimenez is in jail charged with murdering his wife. Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard thinks that may be the main reason he illegally crossed the border again.

The role of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is to prevent anyone and anything from coming into the country illegally. The fact that Jimenez was able to come back raises the Tough Questions: How secure is the border? How did this happen? Could a similar situation happen again?

Liliana Ruiz was a mother of three and a victim of domestic violence. A November 2009 911 call placed by her then 7-year-old son details the abuse.

"My dad is killing my mom," said the boy during the call.

Pictures obtained by CBS Atlanta News show the injuries Ruiz told police she received from her husband, Jimenez. He was carted off to jail. A police report shows he said he would get out and "beat my wife again."

Jimenez pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor crime.

"He was punished in some way in state court," said Ballard.

"And then deported," said Mayerle.

"And then deported. And then low and behold, he's back and she's dead," said Ballard.

Ballard is now prosecuting Jimenez for murder. Those words Jimenez said that day proved to be true, but this time he didn't just beat Ruiz - Jimenez admits he stabbed her to death.

Jimenez crossed the U.S. border illegally to get to Ruiz. At the time, there was a warrant out for his arrest. 

"Jesus Jimenez was here illegally and in fact came back over the border, you believe, to commit this crime," Mayerle said to Ballard.

"I think he came back specifically to kill her and certainly when he went over to the house that day he intended to kill her because he had written a note that he was apologetic for what he was about to do," said Ballard.

It's a tragedy that raises tough questions about border security.

"Certainly somebody in the federal government has got to get a handle on this issue. We just cannot be preyed upon by criminals who come back for the sole purpose of committing a crime when they're here," said Ballard.

The role of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is to prevent anything from coming into the country illegally, whether it be drugs, weapons of mass destruction, or in this case, an illegal immigrant.

Mayerle traveled to the Texas-Mexico border to get our tough questions answered. About 2,400 agents patrol 316 border miles of the Rio Grande Valley sector. About 52 miles are covered by a fence.

"What are some of the challenges to securing the border?" asked Mayerle.

"The terrain. The terrain is definitely a challenge. We have our agents working but it's still a large area to cover, so sometimes we can't get to certain areas in time to prevent them from getting across," said Border Patrol Agent Rosie Huey.

Agents like Huey work around the clock to catch illegals from coming in, and they do, but they readily admit they can't catch everyone. The next person that slips through could be a criminal.

"Is it possible that a person with a criminal history gets by us, yes. It's possible, but we are trying to catch as many people as possible," said Huey.

"Could that happen again?" asked Mayerle.

"It is possible that it could happen again," said Huey.

That answer weighs on Ballard's mind, that the next time a person crosses the border illegally could end with another innocent victim like Ruiz.

"Do you think this case highlights the need for tougher border security?" asked Mayerle.

"It's certainly one of many," said Ballard.

Huey said in their sector alone, they caught nearly 60,000 illegal immigrants last year alone. Many of them had criminal records.

CBS Atlanta will continue to follow issues along the border. Tune in to CBS Atlanta News Tuesday and Wednesday night at 11 p.m.

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