Border Patrol sees jump in border-crossing numbers

FAR WEST TEXAS – U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to see a rise in individuals attempting to enter the United States through the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the latest statistics released by the agency. In April, agents along the southern border “encountered” 178,622 people, which is a three percent increase from March of this year. Customs and Border Protection uses the term “encounter” when someone who is not lawfully in the country is detained by Border Patrol agents or when someone who is trying to lawfully enter the country – say through asylum – is determined to be inadmissible.

CBP is encountering an average of 124,494 people per month for this current fiscal year, which runs from October 2020 to September 2021. This marks a significant increase from the previous fiscal year where the agency was encountering just under 54,000 people per month. While the previous year’s statistics are somewhat skewed due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s numbers are still markedly higher than 2019’s, which saw an average of around 96,000 encounters per month.

“What I’ve been told is that it’s a 20-year high,” CBP spokesman Greg Davis said. “But then there’s also information out there that it’s a record high. It’s right up there.”

The agency did encounter fewer unaccompanied children from Central America this month, reporting that there was a 12 percent decrease in those numbers.

The majority of people are being expelled under Title 42 of the Public Health Safety Act, which was enacted during former President Trump’s time in office ostensibly in order to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. In April, 111,714 people were expelled from the U.S. or turned away at the U.S.-Mexico border under Title 42.

The figures started climbing at the turn of the new year, and now the numbers from April 2021 are more than double those from December 2020. “One of the reasons we have a high number is the transnational criminal organizations are actively exploiting our immigration system as well as very proactively recruiting people from the northern triangle countries and Mexico to come to the border,” Davis said.

Last Tuesday, Big Bend Sector Border Patrol agents discovered 20 undocumented migrants hidden within the bed of a truck and inside a trailer while performing a vehicle inspection on Interstate 10 in Sierra Blanca. Two children were also found within the trailer. The driver of the vehicle was referred for prosecution.

“Human smuggling is extremely dangerous; luckily our agents and K-9 assets were able to help these individuals,” said Big Bend Sector Chief Sean McGoffin.

Then on Saturday, the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office was involved in another high speed pursuit on Highway 90 after a Black Ford Escape sped away as a deputy tried to pull the vehicle over. Once the six-mile chase came to an end, deputies found 11 undocumented migrants inside the vehicle who were all then turned over to Border Patrol agents. This is just one in a number of recent high speed pursuits in the area in which undocumented migrants were detained.

Last month CBP launched a new operation to target the transnational criminal organizations the agency suspects of smuggling migrants across the border. “In order to disrupt criminal organizations that have little regard for human life, CBP is leading the way alongside external law enforcement partners through Operation Sentinel,” a CBP senior official said.

In addition to revoking the travel documents of those associated with these smuggling operations, the agency plans on freezing bank accounts and other financial assets associated with these criminal organizations through this new multi-agency operation. To date, CBP –– in partnership with the State Department –– says it has revoked more than 130 visas as part of Operation Sentinel.