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In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, border crossings have surged in recent months. They reached a 21-year high in July, with 212,672 encounters reported by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

In crowded shelters and on the streets of small border towns, Texas Tribune reporter Lauren Santucci meets migrants seeking asylum and hears from community leaders who are on the front lines of what has become a heated political battle between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Biden administration. But the rhetoric doesn’t always match the reality on the ground.

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