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HOUSTON -- From ICE to DPS, agents tell KHOU11 News that they have seen a rise in the number of illegal immigrants entering the Houston area.

Retired HPD officer TJ Salazar, an expert in international auto theft, has spent a career tracking vehicles and the people they hide.

Houston has been the hub, not only for drugs, but also for human trafficking, Salazar said.

He said Ford F 250s are often stolen for the purpose of transporting illegal immigrants.

He also said some people are willing to pay $500 and up to be smuggled in for an opportunity to live in the United States.

And with Houston s east-west access along Interstate-10 and interior route along Interstate-45, the city has become an attractive destination.

It s not going to stop anytime soon, Salazar said.

For the immigrants who stay, however, life can be a gamble. Some are dropped off in fields, whereas others are sometimes held against their will in so-called drop houses.

LULAC director Herlinda Garcia said she wishes it were easier for immigrants to receive work permits, so that they did not have to resort to paying the coyotes who transport them.

That s the bad way to do it, she said. They re coming into this country illegally, and then they are taking a chance with their lives that they ll even make it up here.

It is a risk that can sometimes turn deadly.

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