(The Center Square) – December was another record month for Border Patrol agents tasked with apprehending foreign nationals illegally entering the U.S. through the southwest border.
Agents apprehended at least 226,050 people and reported at least 87,631 who evaded capture by law enforcement last month. Combined, they total at least 313,681 – an increase from November’s record breaking number of 306,069.
This is after a record number of apprehensions and gotaways were recorded in fiscal 2022 of over 3.3 million.
The preliminary U.S. Customs and Border Protection data was obtained by The Center Square from a Border Patrol agent and only includes Border Patrol data, not Office of Field Operations data. The official numbers, which include OFO data, once they’re released will be higher, although CBP doesn’t release the gotaway data publicly.
“Gotaways” is the official term used by CBP to describe foreign nationals who enter the U.S. illegally and don’t surrender at ports of entry but intentionally seek to evade capture from law enforcement. Unlawful border crossers directly observed making an unlawful entry, who aren’t apprehended and don’t turn back to Mexico, are defined as gotaways, according to 6 USC 223 code, which agents use to categorize unlawful entrants.
In most months, the Del Rio and Rio Grande Valley sectors in Texas experience the most traffic along the southern border. However, over the last several months, anticipating the end of Title 42, larger groups began entering through the El Paso Sector. This includes the entire state of New Mexico and two counties in far west Texas covering 264 miles of international boundary. December was another record month for this sector.
Title 42 is a Trump-era health enforcement policy that allowed border agents to more quickly expel illegal crossers for fear of spreading COVID-19. The biden administration planned to end Title 42 enforcement in December but was blocked by the courts.