by Bethany Blankley
There were nearly 270,000 apprehensions and gotaways reported of foreign nationals who illegally entered the U.S. at the southern border last month, according to official data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and data The Center Square obtained from a Border Patrol agent.
CBP reported that encounters of illegal foreign nationals processed at ports of entry in all nine southwest Border Patrol sectors in March totaled 191,900, up nearly 23% from 156,138 in February.
However, these numbers don’t include data on gotaways, those who illegally enter between ports of entry and actively seek to evade capture of law enforcement who are reported by Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations officers in an internal system. Earlier this month, The Center Square reported on preliminary data that showed there were nearly 245,000 apprehensions and gotaways reported at the southern border. That number is actually higher because it excludes Office of Field Operations data.
But CBP official data is also higher, with it reporting 191,900 apprehensions. Combined with at least 74,924 known gotaways reported, total encounters last month were at least 266,824.
While Biden administration officials have claimed the majority of people from all over the world are arriving at ports of entry, CBP data refutes this claim.
In March, nearly all of the foreign nationals who illegally entered the U.S. did so between ports of entry – 162,317 – up 25% from 130,024 last month, according to CBP data.
And the majority of them were single adults. Over two-thirds, 69%, of all southwest land border encounters were single adults, with 133,256 encounters in March, a 19% increase compared to February, according to CBP data.
Among them, law enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents have told The Center Square, the majority they are apprehending are single, military age men.
Unaccompanied children apprehensions also increased by 14% over the month, totaling 12,374 compared to 10,845 in February. Encounters of family unit individuals increased by 38% from 33,291 in February to 45,964 in March.
As more people illegally enter, fewer Border Patrol agents are on the ground, as the agency continues to face one of the worst crises of morale in its history, agents told The Center Square. The ongoing issues are contributing to agents retiring and fewer people seeking to join, they say.
The National Border Patrol Council, the union representing agents nationwide, tweeted about staffing levels being at record lows as illegal entries are at record highs.
“Congratulations Biden, Harris and Mayorkas,” the NBPC tweeted. “BP has hit another low while border chaos is at an all-time high. There are now less than 19k agents. Congress had a FLOOR of 21,370 agents. The complete erasure of our border by the worst admin in history is despicable. GREAT JOB!”
What the data doesn’t show is where the majority of illegal entries are occurring.
The El Paso Sector, which includes two west Texas counties and all of New Mexico, had the most apprehensions totaling nearly 40,000 last month, with nearly 18,000 gotaways reported by Border Patrol agents – data The Center Square exclusively reported earlier this month.
Tucson Sector agents reported the second greatest number of nearly 36,000 apprehensions and 23,000 known gotaways; San Diego agents reported over 24,000 apprehensions and over 9,000 gotaways, according to the data.
As Texas’ Operation Lone Star continues to push back against cartel activity, what law enforcement officers have explained is that people and drugs continue to move west to Arizona and California. While the numbers are still high and border-related crime is rampant in Texas, the data shows a trend of more illegal entries and apprehensions occurring in the El Paso Sector, followed by the Tucson and San Diego sectors.
Tucson Sector Chief John Modlin explained the situation to Congress in February. “The vast majority of encounters are single adult males attempting to avoid detection. The smuggling organizations to our south are very well organized and resourceful,” he said, referring to Mexican cartels. “Each and every person crossing through the Tucson Sector must pay these criminal organizations. These criminal organizations employ various tactics to move thousands of migrants illegally across the border.”
He reiterated that the majority coming through are single men of military age wearing camouflage to avoid detection by law enforcement.
“The migrants we encounter are completely outfitted in camouflage by the smuggling organizations before they cross,” he said. “Most run from and fight our agents to avoid apprehension. Many are previously deported felons who know they are inadmissible to the United States and many pose a serious threat to our communities.”
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