(The Center Square) – At least 164,753 foreign nationals were apprehended or reported evading capture after illegally entering the southwest border in July, according to preliminary Border Patrol data obtained by The Center Square.
This includes 137,593 apprehensions and 27,160 gotaways. “Gotaways” is the official U.S. Customs and Border Protection term that refers to the number of people who are known and reported to illegally enter the U.S. between ports of entry who intentionally try to evade capture and don’t return to Mexico. In July, the most gotaways were reported in El Paso and Tucson sectors, as they have been nearly every month this year.
CBP doesn’t publicly report gotaway data. The data was obtained by The Center Square from a U.S. Border Patrol agent who provided it on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. It only includes Border Patrol data and excludes Office of Field Operations data. Total numbers are higher once OFO data is included.
The numbers are significantly lower than previous months because the Biden administration is shifting illegal entry to the ports of entry, former acting CBP Chief and former Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan told The Center Square.
“As Border Patrol apprehensions go down [between ports of entry], the encounters at Office of Field Operations are skyrocketing,” Morgan said. “OFO apprehensions alone are on pace for one million encounters this fiscal year, a 300% increase from fiscal 2020.”
The Biden administration is “shifting the crisis from in between the ports of entry to the ports of entry themselves,” Morgan said, while at the same time calling the change “a new legal pathway and claiming victory. It’s a perversion and violation of the law. A big lie. One government sponsored shell game.”
As of August 1, the preliminary data for July in nine southwest border sectors include:
BIG BEND SECTOR
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 147
Unclassifiable Detection- 5
Gotaways Interior Zone- 21
No Violations- 0
DEL RIO SECTOR
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 3,480
Unclassifiable Detection- 33
Gotaways Interior Zone- 720
No Violations- 146
EL CENTRO SECTOR
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 163
Unclassifiable Detection- 0
Gotaways Interior Zone- 5
No Violations- 2
EL PASO SECTOR
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 6,940
Unclassifiable Detection- 7
Gotaways Interior Zone- 108
No Violations- 10
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 1,167
Unclassifiable Detection- 2
Gotaways Interior Zone- 190
No Violations- 79
RIO GRANDE VALLEY SECTOR
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 1,443
Unclassifiable Detection- 28
Gotaways Interior Zone- 365
No Violations- 91
SAN DIEGO SECTOR
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 2,518
Unclassifiable Detection- 17
Gotaways Interior Zone- 2,435
No Violations- 36
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 4,703
Unclassifiable Detection- 77
Gotaways Interior Zone- 1,091
No Violations- 71
Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 145
Unclassifiable Detection- 5
Gotaways Interior Zone- 10
No Violations- 6
Apprehensions refer to those who illegally enter the U.S. and surrender or are caught by Border Patrol agents. Turnbacks refer to those who illegally enter but turn back to Mexico. The gotaway data indicates where foreign nationals are detected illegally entering the U.S., at the Mexican border or farther north in the interior.
Unclassifiable detection isn’t part of 6 U.S. Code, which specifies how encounters are to be reported. It means agents, for a range of reasons, couldn’t determine citizenship. No-violations are individuals “deemed to have committed no infraction and don’t affect Got-Away statistics,” according to the internal tracking system Border Patrol agents use.
Both categories should be categorized as gotaways, the Border Patrol agent explained, assuming all non-arrests were of non-citizens.
The gotaway data is believed to be much higher than reported because it doesn’t include unknown and unrecorded gotaways. With the majority of agents no longer in the field, they are unable to detect how many are getting through, have no idea who or where they are.