Criminal JusticeFederalHealthcareImmigration & BorderIssuesSouthwest Illegal Immigration Encounters Soared Above 170,000 in March, Border Patrol Reports

There have been more than half a million enforcement encounters in the southwest region so far this fiscal year.
April 8, 2021
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported on Thursday skyrocketing numbers of enforcement encounters with illegal aliens in March as more than 172,000 individuals were apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border — about a 71 percent increase from 101,000 in February — bringing the grand total to more than half a million so far this fiscal year. 

Apprehensions of unaccompanied minors doubled to nearly 19,000 children taken into custody last month.

The border patrol agency reported 551,614 enforcement encounters for the southwest region Fiscal Year 2021-to-date, which is a 188 percent increase from the same point in Fiscal Year 2020. However, in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the agency pointed out that it’s only a 34 percent increase from 2019.

Troy Miller, a CBP senior official performing the duties of the commissioner, said the increase in encounters reflects a trend that began a year ago.

“CBP has experienced an increase in encounters and arrests. This is not new. Encounters have continued to increase since April 2020, and our past experiences have helped us be better prepared for the challenges we face this year,” Miller said in a press release.

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“We are committed to balancing the need to maintain border security, care for those in our custody, and keep the American people and our workforce safe.”

Fiscal Year 2021-to-date, there have been 15,389 enforcement encounters in the Big Bend sector, 53,661 in the Laredo sector, 68,570 in the Del Rio sector, 71,808 in the El Paso area, and 159,470 in the Rio Grande Valley.

CBP underscored that a number of factors explain the increase, which includes “violence, natural disasters, food insecurity, and poverty in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Central America.”

In a recent visit to the Rio Grande Valley, a number of Republican U.S. senators also attributed increases in illegal immigration to Biden’s decision to end the so-called remain in Mexico policy. 

Republicans also contend that in addition to turmoil abroad, policies such as the deportation freeze — which was struck down in February by a federal judge in Victoria — have incentivized illegal immigration.

Current U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership alleges that the Trump administration left them unprepared for an inevitable border surge.

Refuting claims that there is uncontrolled illegal immigration, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has asserted that the border is closed and that most single adult illegal aliens are still being deported pursuant to Title 42 of the U.S. Code, which allows the government to deny entry to individuals to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. In March, 60 percent of expulsions were under Title 42, per CBP’s data.

Though single adults remain the largest share of illegal immigrants, the number of unaccompanied minors in federal custody is ballooning beyond the ability of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to house them, leaving them in CBP custody beyond an ideal timeframe.

“Although less than 11 percent of encounters in March were unaccompanied children, they make up the largest demographic group of individuals in custody at CBP facilities,” the agency said when it announced its March numbers. “CBP works in close coordination with [HHS] officials to quickly transfer processed unaccompanied children to Care Provider Facilities.”

Illegal alien children are being housed temporarily in locations such as the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas and the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.

Gov. Greg Abbott said on Wednesday that the State of Texas has received allegations of child abuse occurring at the San Antonio facility, which Abbott said should no longer be used to house unaccompanied children. 

Though Abbott has ordered a full investigation that has not yet been conducted, he said there are credible accusations that minors are being sexually assaulted, not fed properly, and that children who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not being quarantined.

“I am calling on the Biden administration to close this facility, and I am directing the [Texas Department of Public Safety] and the Texas Rangers to immediately begin investigating these allegations,” Abbott said in a press statement. 

“President Biden’s disastrous decisions caused this crisis, and his administration must act now to protect these children, secure the border, and end this crisis.”

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.