Border Patrol agents have continued to apprehend an increasing number of illegal aliens each month this year, and June was no exception.
Agents apprehended 188,829 people illegally crossing the border in June, up from 180,034 in May, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). That averages 6,294 apprehensions per day for the month.
The number of illegal aliens detected by Border Patrol but who evaded capture isn’t released, although Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said on June 24 that the number has exceeded 250,000 so far this fiscal year.
The number of people who pass undetected is impossible to estimate.
Along with the increase in crossings, more illegal immigrants are dying of heat-related exposure, dehydration, and drowning. Water is scarce, it’s not hard to get lost, and smugglers will leave illegal immigrants behind if they’re slow or injured.
In June, 109 bodies were recovered by Border Patrol, up from 61 in May, according to numbers obtained from CBP by Jaeson Jones, host of “Tripwires and Triggers.” That brings the total for fiscal 2021 to 321 bodies recovered by Border Patrol, with three months to go.
A major change to the current border flow is expected after July 21 if Title 42 is revoked, which is largely seen as the remaining tool holding back the floodgates. Title 42 allows for Border Patrol to turn back illegal border crossers almost immediately as a pandemic measure, rather than be placed in ICE custody for a more protracted process through deportation proceedings under Title 8.
“When we do lose Title 42, the number of people that were previously being expelled are going to have to be processed under Title 8, and we’re going to be spending more time with them,” Texas’s Del Rio Sector Chief Austin Skero told The Epoch Times on July 15.
“So that is going to be … increasing the amount of time that our agents are processing and decreasing the amount of time that our agents can be in the field.”
Currently, single Spanish-speaking adults and some families are still subject to Title 42 and are turned back to Mexico. Once the policy is lifted, border facilities are likely to be quickly overwhelmed.
In some border sectors, particularly the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, the Border Patrol facilities have been so overwhelmed that many individuals weren’t released with the common Notice to Appear document that states a date and time to appear in court. Rather, they received a Notice to Report, which is an honor system that requires the person to check in at their closest ICE facility within 60 days.
“Title 42 is absolutely critical,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tae Johnson said during a congressional hearing on May 13.
“There’s certainly some gaps in our ability to track” illegal immigrants after they’re released, he said.
Under the agency’s narrowed criteria for priority removal, most of those who abscond won’t be a priority for ICE to track down unless they commit an aggravated felony.
ICE had around 55,000 detention beds in 2019; however, the capacity was reduced to 30,000 beds in the fiscal 2021 appropriations package.
Newly appointed Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said the main focus for the agency is to increase the ability to process illegal immigrants faster.
“It includes speeding up the process so we’re not bogged down in these communities,” Ortiz said in Del Rio on June 24.
He said a quicker electronic system to process aliens will be rolled out in about 90 days.
“[Agents] should be able to do everything on a tablet, they sign it, you move on,” he said.
Skero told The Epoch Times that a soft-sided, 500-person processing tent had been erected in Eagle Pass to help mitigate the anticipated increase.
“One of the difficulties that we have here in the sector is managing the flow of people that are coming, managing detention and the processing, and the distribution,” he said.
“And then trying to use whatever resources we have left to get after the folks who are getting away from us, the folks who don’t want to give up, who don’t want to surrender. That’s where the criminal element is really alive and well.
“But the reality is, even now, we don’t have enough people.”