One woman, whose Texas property has been in her family for generations, said she wants Americans to understand that the immigrants she sees on her land are fleeing devastating violence.
She has grown concerned about the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, which, until recently, separated families at the US-Mexico border.
She said the immigrants she encounters on her land aren't dangerous — they just need help. And Americans should remember that "we're human first."
MCALLEN, TEXAS — Ana's family has owned a small plot of land along the US-Mexico border in Texas for generations. For years, they've watched as immigrants crossed the Rio Grande River and passed through their property just a quarter of a mile away.
But lately, the immigrants have been traveling a little differently. Ana, who asked to be identified by only her first name, said they now arrive in the US as family units rather than as individual adults, sometimes with very young children in tow.
The immigrants are never dangerous, she says. Often they'll beg her for water or ask for directions.
Sometimes it appears that the so-called coyotes who smuggled them across the border have lied, telling them they'd be in Houston after crossing the Rio Grande River. Ana has to tell them they're in McAllen, some 300 miles away.
The challenges the immigrants face along their journey makes it all the more difficult for Ana to wrap her mind around the Trump administration's recent "zero tolerance" policy, which prosecutes every person who crosses the border illegally, and until recently, separated parents from their children.
The separations caused a public uproar as stories surfaced of frightened young children flown across the US to stay in shelters or with foster families, while their frantic parents remained in detention facilities or were deported back to their home countries.
Ana says it's frightening to see how President Donald Trump and his supporters seem incapable of putting themselves in these immigrants' shoes to understand their situations.
"I think it's heartbreaking. Seeing all those children separated, I think about my grandson," Ana said, her voice breaking. "I recently lost my mom last month. I'm 48 years old, and I miss her. Can you imagine being a three-, four- or five-year-old?"
'A little bit of heart'
Though Trump signed an executive order last week halting the family separations and seeking instead to detain entire families together, Ana says she's still concerned about his policies.
She knows there may be a few "rotten apples" amid the scores of immigrants she sees. But she doesn't think that a small minority of criminals should mean that the innocent asylum-seekers should be shut out of the country.
"I understand that there are some people who do come in here and do bad things, but eventually they're going to pay for it," Ana said. "Trump, what he needs to do is he needs to come down here himself and look at the people and talk to the people and meet the people. Everything he says is not true."
Ana says she knows there are political arguments against illegal immigration, and she's concerned how asylum-seekers might affect taxpayers, but people have to have "a little bit of heart" when it comes to immigrants in desperate circumstances — especially when kids are involved.
"The thing is, they need to understand that these people are fleeing their countries. They're being murdered," Ana said. "We're human first. We can't use kids as pawns to get a point across. It's not fair."