A U.S. Border Patrol source reports the number of migrant “got-away’s” tallied by the agency surpassed 118,000 for this fiscal year. In less than six months, the “got-away” number is nearly double that for all of Fiscal Year 2020. Last year, 69,000 illegal immigrants managed to avoid apprehension by the Border Patrol. Sources report the sharpest increase began in January as President Joe Biden took office.
This particular metric is usually not released by Department of Homeland Security officials. The numbers are achieved by counting illegal immigrants who ultimately escape Border Patrol apprehension after being observed by aircraft platforms and camera systems. In addition, Border Patrol agents using traditional “sign-cutting” techniques identify footprints crossing the border and count those that elude apprehension.
“That’s where it gets tricky,” says a Border Patrol agent with knowledge of the data who is not authorized to speak in the issue. “On a small trail, dozens can walk all over each other’s footprints, so you just do your best. Often, they’ll glue carpet to the soles of their shoes making detection even harder.”
The source reports that for these reasons, the got-away count is usually lower than reality. How much so is debatable as the latter method of counting is not scientific.
The spike in got-aways comes as U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials reported the highest number of migrant apprehension totals since 2006.
Despite the current administration’s refusal to call the immigration situation on the border a crisis, the recent surges are concerning. Many believe the impetus for the surges in illegal entries is being fueled by the promise of amnesty legislation. The administration’s new policies regarding lax interior enforcement and a reduction in removals are also believed to be contributing to the surge in activity along the border.
During a recent press engagement, Texas Governor Greg Abbott elaborated on his views about the border surge, “Because of the volume of people coming across the border, the Border Patrol that makes the arrest, they have to engage quite literally in babysitting. And while they’re doing babysitting, that provides an opportunity for the cartels to be able to bring other people across the border illegally.”.
Recent reports concerning the reduced patrols being conducted by the Border Patrol are likely contributing to the surge in the got-away count. The humanitarian needs of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the border have impacted the Border Patrol’s ability to cover many remote areas. This situation is likely to worsen as the crisis develops.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas Sector.