1st quarter apprehensions at southwest border highest in U.S. history

Total illegal border crossers total roughly more than 11 million since January 2021.

Border fencing along New Mexico's international border with Mexico. (Shutterstock)

(The Center Square) — The number of apprehensions of illegal border crossers along the southwest border in the first quarter of fiscal 2024 (Q1 FY24) is the highest in U.S. history.

They totaled 785,422, greater than the individual populations of three U.S. states: Wyoming (586,485), Vermont (647,818), and Alaska (733,536) and nearly the population of North Dakota (788,940).

After U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas unilaterally changed law established by Congress to facilitate the greatest number of illegal crossings in U.S. history, House Republicans and retired FBI counterintelligence officials have argued the changes directly created a national security threat. Officials say they have no way of knowing who the people being let into the country are, prompting House Republicans to move to impeach Mayorkas. After the first attempt failed last week, a second is likely, they say.

In fiscal 2024, which began Oct. 1, 2023, total apprehensions of illegal border crossers at the southwest border alone have been the highest in U.S. history for each month and for the quarter overall, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, last updated Jan. 4.

In Q1 FY24, apprehensions at the southwest border alone totaled 240,981 in October, 242,407 in November and 302,034 in December.

By comparison, in Q1 FY23, apprehensions at the southwest border totaled 231,529 in October, 235,173 in November, and 252,315 in December.

In Q1 FY22, apprehensions at the southwest border totaled 164,837 in October, 174,845 in November, and 179,253 in December.

In Q1 FY21, apprehensions at the southwest border totaled 71,929 in October, 72,113 in November, and 73,994 in December.

As was the case in previous months and years under this administration, the greatest number of illegal border crossers are single adults. In Q1 FY24, apprehensions totaled over 413,000 single adults, accounting for 52% of illegal entries — nearly the population of Wyoming.

As Texas increased its border security efforts to block illegal entry, cartel activity has been pushed west into Democratic-led states that aren’t implementing similar tactics that Texas has, Texas Border Czar Mike Banks told The Center Square.

“If you look at the number of illegal border crossings today, Texas counts for 30% of those crossings,” he said. “The remaining 70% are crossing in Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Why? Because they’re not putting up the resistance that Texas is.”

Historically, Texas has borne the brunt of illegal border crossings because it shares the longest border with Mexico of 1,254 miles. Of its five CBP sectors, the Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio sectors have reported the highest numbers.

The greatest volume has shifted to Tucson. San Diego is also reporting higher numbers.

According to CBP data, apprehensions totaled 200,048 in Q1 FY24 in Tucson, up from 68,480 in Q1 FY23, a 192% increase.

Apprehensions in Q1 FY24 totaled 95,439 in the San Diego Sector, up from 53,677 in Q1 FY23, a 77% increase.

Del Rio Sector agents reported record high apprehensions of 152,252 in Q1 FY24, up from 142,664 in Q1 FY23.

While still historically high, other sectors in Texas dropped over the same time period.

Rio Grande Valley Sector reported a drop from 84,311 in Q1 FY23 to 69,092 in Q1 FY24.

El Paso Sector apprehensions dropped from 142,664 in Q1 FY23 to 78,481 in Q1 FY24. Laredo’s dropped from 13,674 to 7,904; Big Bend’s from 4,017 to 1,227, according to the data.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2024, of the nine southwest CBP sectors, the greatest number of apprehensions were reported in Tucson, followed by Del Rio, San Diego, El Paso, Rio Grande Valley, Yuma, Laredo, El Centro and Big Bend.

The apprehension data excludes known and reported gotaways, which CBP doesn’t publicly report. They are estimated to now be over two million, The Center Square has previously reported.

Including Q1 FY24 data, total illegal border crossers total roughly more than 11 million since January 2021.


Bethany Blankley
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