Former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Chief Mark Morgan estimates the number of people who entered the U.S. illegally and evaded capture in fiscal 2023 is closer to one million, much higher than the “over 600,000” that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told U.S. senators at a Tuesday hearing.
Morgan told The Center Square Wednesday in response to questions about Mayorkas’ testimony that official known gotaway data could hit one million in fiscal 2023, and the nearly 1.7 million gotaways since January 2021 is underreported by at least 20%.
It’s “closer to over 2 million,” he said of the gotaway numbers since President Joe Biden first took office.
Gotaways is the official term used by Customs and Border Protection to describe foreign nationals who illegally enter the U.S. primarily between ports of entry and don’t return to Mexico or Canada. They generally don’t file asylum or other immigration-related claims and intentionally illegally enter to avoid being caught. Many have criminal records, and run when pursued by Border Patrol agents or others in law enforcement, officials have told The Center Square.
“The question Secretary Mayorkas should be providing the American people an answer to is how many aliens on the Terror Watchlist or Special Interest Aliens, who come from countries we know sponsor or harbor terrorist organizations, are among the [close to 1.7 million] known gotaways who have entered our country under his watch,” he told The Center Square.
“The answer is – he has no idea. It’s not if, and when, the threat arrives in our homeland. It’s already here.”
Mayorkas testified Tuesday before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, saying there were over 600,000 gotaways reported in fiscal 2023, a low estimate compared to data first reported by The Center Square.
U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, asked Mayorkas how many gotaways U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported in 2023. Mayorkas replied, “I believe that number is over 600,000. I am sure you are well aware the phenomenon of gotaways is something that has been a challenge for the Department of Homeland Security for decades. In fact, it is a powerful example of a broken immigration system.”
According to preliminary data obtained by The Center Square, Border Patrol agents reported at least 769,174 gotaways in nine southwest border sectors in fiscal 2023. This excludes Office of Field Operations data and data from the remaining 11 CBP sectors nationwide (there are 20), including at the northern border.
Border Patrol agents in one northern border sector alone reported roughly 4,000 gotaways in fiscal 2023, the highest in northern border history.
The nearly 770,000 gotaways are included in the roughly 4 million illegal border crossers reported in fiscal 2023 and more than 10 million since January 2021, when President Joe Biden first took office.
These are the highest numbers of illegal border crossers reported in recorded U.S. history. By contrast, there were at least 308,655 known, reported gotaways in fiscal 2021 and 606,150 reported in fiscal 2022, as first reported by The Center Square.
In fiscal 2023, 736 known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) were apprehended at the northern and southern borders, according to CBP data. The number of KSTs who were among the gotaway numbers is unknown.
The majority of gotaways are single, military age men. However, they also include women and children, many who are smuggled, law enforcement officers say.
Former ICE Chief Tom Homan not only disagrees with Mayorkas’ claim about gotaways representing a “broken immigration system” but says the issue isn’t about immigration but about national security.
“If you don’t think a single one of the 1.7 million [gotaways] is coming from a country that sponsors terrorism, then you’re ignoring the data,” he said. “That’s what makes this a huge national security issue.”
Homan maintains that Mayorkas destroyed the system he and others put in place during the Trump administration and Biden administration border policies “are the greatest national security threat since 9/11.”
As a result, he says, Mayorkas should be impeached.
“Based on recently released data on the border numbers,” including “over 900,000 illegal aliens released in the U.S.” and the more than 600,000 gotaways Mayorkas claims were reported in one year, he said, “DHS Secretary Mayorkas needs to be impeached.”
Homan also says he’s been calling on Congress to impeach Mayorkas for over two years. Several Congressional Republicans and state attorneys general, led by Florida AG Ashley Moody, have called for him to be impeached.
Republicans on the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, led by committee chairman Mark Green, R-Tennessee, are continuing to hold hearings and issue reports to support their claim that Mayorkas is derelict in his duty and must be removed from office. Green, a retired U.S. Army Major and West Point graduate, says Mayorkas is derelict not only for helping to create the border crisis but also for DHS not properly vetting Afghan “refugees” brought to the U.S. after Biden’s deadly and chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021.
The Center Square has been reporting preliminary Border Patrol data, excluding OFO data, obtained from a Border Patrol agent on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Official data is still a best guess, officials say, because agents aren’t able to report everyone who gets away for several reasons. Former Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz previously testified to Congress that gotaway data is underreported by between 10% and 20%.
Ultimately, law enforcement officials say they have no idea how many gotaways are in the U.S., where or who they are.
The Border Report: #Gotaways caught on camera primarily in Terrell County in Big Bend Sector of Texas. Border Patrol agents, law enforcement, Homeland Security—tasked w defending the homeland—have no idea who or where they are. Nearly 1.6 million, => ind populations of 11 states. pic.twitter.com/PHnXFWrOFR— Bethany Blankley (@BethanyBlankley) August 24, 2023