EXCLUSIVE: Most Southwest Border Patrol Sector Migrant Detention Counts Exceed COVID Capacities

Newly migrants wait to enter the intake area at the Donna Processing Center, run by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley, in Donna, Texas, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, Pool)
AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, Pool

According to a source within U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the wave of migrants crossing the border has led to overcrowding in eight of the nine southwest Border Patrol sectors. Breitbart Texas reviewed detention logs showing every sector except Big Bend is over capacity per COVID-19 guidelines.

Despite efforts to transfer detainees to other facilities operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency is currently detaining more than 15,000 migrants, according to the detention log. Border Patrol is also releasing thousands into the U.S. to clear its facilities.

Records show more than 2,000 migrants were released Wednesday, December 8. Border Patrol granted parole in some cases to speed the release process — numbering nearly 700 that day alone.

The Yuma Sector is the hardest hit by the latest surge and is more than 800 percent over the recommended COVID-19 detention capacity. In the Rio Grande Valley Sector, nearly 4,500 migrants are being detained at Border Patrol stations and temporary processing facilities, pushing the COVID-19 capacity limits to nearly 350 percent.

In the Del Rio Sector, related levels sit at 500 percent. Border Patrol agents are experiencing record crossings — some in large groups in remote areas.

There are more than 700 unaccompanied migrant children being detained by the Border Patrol as of Wednesday. Records show more than 300 were transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) where they will be released once domestic sponsors are located. A nearly equal number of unaccompanied migrant children were arrested on Wednesday, nullifying the effect of the transfers on the rolling detention totals.

Despite migrant releases and transfers outside the agency, nearly 7,000 migrants have been held in temporary detention facilities for more than 72 hours. Border Patrol stations are designed to detain migrants for less than 24 hours.

The COVID-19 detention capacities were set by CBP at the onset of the pandemic to allow for social distancing and isolation. The agency relied on the emergency authority of the CDC’s Title 42 to quickly expel migrants to Mexico within hours.

Shortly after inauguration, the Biden administration loosened the application of the order to exclude several categories of migrants including unaccompanied children and some family units.

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. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.

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