WASHINGTON, DC — While Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the southern border is secure and he has a plan in place to increase surges, law enforcement says the opposite is true. Not only have Border Patrol agents lost operational control of the border, but they have also lost operational awareness and have no idea who is passing through, current and former Border Patrol agents told The Center Square .
During President Joe Biden’s first year in office, about 1 million people entered the United States illegally and evaded capture, Border Patrol agents estimate. Known as “runaways,” they are not included in arrest and enforcement data released monthly by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
There are usually two groups of people who enter the United States illegally, law enforcement said at The Center Square. Those who travel to ports of entry claiming to seek asylum or other immigration-related claims, and getaways.
Getaways are considered more dangerous, say law enforcement — from Border Patrol agents to sheriffs to local police. When captured, they often have a criminal record. Sheriffs are trying to quantify those who evaded capture through a range of methods after finding hiding places and footage of groups of people wearing camouflage and backpacks traveling on foot taken on cameras placed on properties private and other areas.
Last year, CBP “officially released the known and documented number of illegal aliens who evaded arrest at approximately 380,000 people,” retired U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott told The Center Square. “Last month we learned from a leaked Border Patrol document that there were over 300,000 known people who had evaded arrest” in the first three months of this year, he said. he declares.
“In light of these numbers and the fact that Border Patrol agents are so overstretched that very few are patrolling the border,” he said, “it would be absolutely naïve to believe that there is no not already more than a million getaways in the U.S. when Border Patrol was able to document over 300,000 known leaks with very few officers on the ground and hundreds of miles of unpoliced border.
Scott adds that while many immigrants come to America in search of a better life, those who enter illegally through the southern border do so with the help of Mexican cartels.
“The cartels are using the massive numbers of people as a weapon to overwhelm Border Patrol,” Scott said, “so they can intentionally bring in criminals, terrorists, and narcotics.
“Even though you feel sorry for these people, they willfully participate in criminal activities to bring serious threats to this country and that includes terrorists, criminals and narcotics,” he said. “They’re creating a diversion to usher in all these criminal elements.”
On Tuesday, Mayorkas released a 20-page memo detailing DHS’ border security plan. He states that DHS “has implemented a comprehensive and deliberate strategy to secure our borders and build a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.”
But that hasn’t been the case over the past year, Mayorkas’ critics claim. In Biden’s first year in office, a record number of people entered the United States illegally after Mayorkas introduced sweeping changes to immigration enforcement efforts, leading to multiple lawsuits .
In fiscal year 2021, CBP reported 1.9 million total enforcement actions. Already in fiscal year 2022, CBP reported 1.2 million enforcement actions, excluding getaways.
But even those numbers are “very misleading,” a Texas Border Patrol agent told The Center Square, speaking on condition of anonymity out of concern for his job. “On the one hand, you can argue that the border is safer due to the higher apprehensions. On the other hand, it’s less safe because there are more apprehensions – which means that if more family units are apprehended, you don’t know how many single people are passing or who they are.
In reality, the officer said: ‘We haven’t had full knowledge of the border situation since the Secure Fences Act 2006 required us to do so. We will never know who and how many came,” unless the approach to border security changes, the agent said.
Border Patrol agents estimate the number of getaways by identifying sign cuts, pedestrian traffic marks, footage captured by drawbridge cameras, footage from residents’ cameras, or a visual of groups from the towers camera, among other methods.
They also learn about getaways from local residents who call them “about their property being broken into – which is every day,” the officer said. “Residents along the border are tired of their property being broken into and/or stolen. They’re afraid to speak out because of cartel retaliation.
Retired Border Patrol Agent Frank Lopez, Jr., who filed for Texas Congressional District 23, told The Center Square, “Personnel in the field have now lost operational awareness and even less operational control because it does not patrol as before. , which means Border Patrol has no idea who is passing or how many people. The best we have are estimates.