By Casey Harper (The Center Square)
At least 156,274 people entered the US illegally in January, down 40% from 251,978 in December 2022, according to US Customs and Border Protection data published Friday. The data excludes Gotaway numbers that refer to those known and reported to enter illegally between ports of entry, avoid seizure by law enforcement, and not return to Mexico or Canada.
In December, at least 87,631 shipments were reported in nine southern border zones, according to data obtained by The Center Square from Border Patrol agents. The agent provided information on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation; It includes only Border Patrol data and excludes Office of Field Operations data.
In January, nearly 60,000 were reported, with the highest numbers reported in the El Paso and Del Rio sectors of Texas. According to the data, apprehensions and departures combined were at least 215,998 in January.
“January’s monthly operations update clearly illustrates that the new border enforcement measures are working with lower levels of border patrol encounters between ports of entry beginning in February 2021,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller. Those trends continued in February, with average encounters with Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans.
According to CBP data, the monthly number is almost as high as the total apprehensions of the nine Southwest Regions reported in fiscal year 2017, excluding getaways of 303,916. January’s monthly total is higher than the total numbers seized in fiscal year 1970 and every fiscal year through 1960, when the Border Patrol began reporting data by region.
Since President Biden has been in office, monthly apprehensions of illegal aliens have exceeded at least 150,000 for 23 consecutive months, including some months as recent as last November and December that totaled more than 300,000.
According to preliminary Border Patrol data obtained by The Center Square, Texas continued to bear the brunt of illegal entries, with the El Paso and Del Rio sectors seeing the most traffic.
As of February 2, sector-wise preliminary data for January includes:
Big Bend Sector
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 631
Unclassifiable detection- 11
Gotaways Inner Zone- 78
No violations – 10
Del Rio Sector
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 13,303
Unclassifiable detection- 53
Gotaways Inner Circle- 2,787
No violations- 88
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 318
Unclassifiable detection- 0
Gotaways Inner Circle- 7
No violations – 1
Best – 4
The Step Sector
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 16,607
Unclassifiable detection- 5
Gotaways Inner Circle- 196
No violations- 54
Best – 46
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 1,230
Unclassifiable detection- 15
Gotaways Inner Zone- 581
No Violations- 116
Deceased – 1
Best – 0
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 1,728
Unclassifiable detection- 44
Gotaways Inner Circle- 687
No violations- 136
Best – 33
San Diego Sector
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 4,567
Unclassifiable detection- 3
Gotaways Inner Circle- 3,036
No violations – 11
Best – 85
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 10,824
Unclassifiable detection- 65
Gotaways Inner Circle- 2,433
No violations- 126
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 673
Unclassifiable detection- 8
Gotaways Inner Zone- 38
No violations – 13
Deceased – 1
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Concerns include those who surrender illegally in the US or are caught by BP officials. Turnbacks include those who entered illegally but returned to Mexico.
The getaways are being reported in two ways to show how many evade capture on their way north despite attempts by BP agents and local law enforcement to arrest them.
For example, in the RGV sector of Texas, the 687 recorded in the Gotaway Interior Zone was spotted somewhere along Highway 281, hundreds of miles north of the Brooks County border.
An unclassifiable find (formerly an “unresolved find”) is not part of 6 US Code, which categorizes how encounters must be reported. This and the now-deleted “no arrests” category were used as a way to reduce the number of getaways being reported, a BP agent explained to The Center Square on condition of anonymity for fear of the agent’s job.
The previously deleted “no arrests” category meant someone was “found in a non-border zone and their presence does not affect the got-away statistics,” according to the official internal tracking system definition used by agents to record the data. An “unclassifiable find” means the same thing, but the authorities, for a number of reasons, have been unable to determine citizenship.
As per the tracking system definition any violations are considered as “no violation is committed and the got-away statistics are not affected”. The no-violations categories, no arrests and unclassifiable detections should actually be classified as catch-aways, assuming all non-arrests are non-citizens, the BP official said. However, each sector uses unclassified detection differently, so how the numbers are classified is not actually uniform, the official added.
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Including the categories of unclassified detections and violations with the Gotaway numbers, the number of locations in January totaled close to 60,483.
However, these numbers still don’t represent the true picture, law enforcement officials explained to Center Square, because they don’t include the unknown and undocumented. Not all departures are recorded because agents and law enforcement officials don’t spot all of them on the ground, meaning the number of people entering the US illegally is expected to be higher than reported.
Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.