Over 264,000 apprehensions, gotaways at southern border in May



More than 264,000 people were apprehended and reported evading capture at the southern border in May, according to official data released Tuesday in addition to unofficial data obtained and reported on by The Center Square.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, there were 204,561 encounters at the Southwest border in May. The number excludes gotaways of roughly 60,300, which The Center Square exclusively reported. It also excludes apprehensions at the northern border, which are also at record highs.

As in most months, the majority of foreign nationals apprehended, 65%, were single adults, totaling 133,097. Unaccompanied minors totaled 9,943 and family units totaled 58,369.

CBP says May data is a 25% decrease from May 2022, but it’s a 337% increase from the average number of May apprehensions from 2017-2020, according to CBP data.

With May’s monthly southwest border apprehensions, apprehensions at the southwest border alone surpass well over 150,000 for 27 consecutive months for the first time in U.S. history.

When comparing officially reported data, monthly apprehensions hovered between 15,000 and roughly 60,000 from 2017-2020. After President Joe Biden took office, official apprehensions increased to several hundred thousand every month – including gotaways. Gotaways are foreign nationals who illegally enter the U.S. primarily between ports of entry and intentionally seek to evade capture. They don’t return to Mexico or Canada and they don’t claim asylum or make other types of immigration claims. They are primarily single adult military age men, officials have told The Center Square.

CBP doesn’t publicly report gotaway data. The Center Square first reported gotaway data after a Border Patrol agent provided it on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. The data The Center Square reports is preliminary compiled in an internal tracking system used by U.S. Border Patrol agents. It excludes Office of Field Operations data, meaning officially reported total numbers are always higher.

CBP’s officially reported data is consistent with The Center Square reporting every month, showing how official numbers are higher when OFO data is included. If gotaway data were officially reported, the numbers would be even higher. Last month, for example, total reported apprehensions and gotaways were over 264,000, according to the data.

With recent administration changes at CBP, May’s report released official data in a different format than previous months and cites an anonymous official instead of a commissioner. It states, “A Senior Official Performing the Duties of CBP Commissioner Troy A. Miller” claims CBP is remaining “laser-focused on our national and economic security missions this month: managing increased passenger throughput at the start of a busy summer travel season and increasing seizures of dangerous drugs by 10% over April.”

The unnamed official also claims CBP is “delivering strengthened consequences for those who cross unlawfully while expanding access to lawful pathways and processes – we will continue to monitor changes in encounter trends and adjust our response as necessary.”

Florida, Texas and other states have sued the Department of Homeland Security and CBP for implementing new policies to create “lawful pathways,” many of which have been temporarily halted by federal judges who argue they’re illegal. Twenty states have sued over what they call DHS’s “illegal visa” system. Since they sued, The Center Square uncovered that those being released into the U.S. are being given court dates to hear their claims three to four years in the future.

Since Jan. 12 through May 31, over 106,000 foreign nationals used the CBP One app, according to the report. Within two weeks last month, from May 12 to May 31, CBP ports of entry processed over 20,000 foreign nationals using the app primarily from Haiti, Venezuela and Mexico.

Texas sued attempting to halt the app’s use, claiming it’s illegal and circumvents federal immigration law.

The administration claims “scheduling an appointment in CBP One provides a safe, orderly, and humane process for noncitizens who may wish to claim asylum to access ports of entry rather than attempting to enter the United States irregularly.”

Critics argue the administration is using the app to facilitate illegal immigration for “illegal aliens,” not “non-citizens,” who don’t have a valid asylum claim. They also aren’t entering the U.S. “irregularly,” but illegally, in violation of federal law established by Congress, attorneys general who’ve sued the administration argue.

So far this year alone, illegal border crossers outnumber the individual populations of eight U.S. states.

Over a dozen AGs have called for DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to resign. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has repeatedly called on Congress to impeach him.

Mayorkas has maintained throughout his tenure that the border is closed and secure. A spokesperson from CBP has told The Center Square Mayorkas has no plans to resign.

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