A drop in migrant apprehensions along the U.S. southwest border, an uptick in migrant deportation flights, and recent Customs and Border Protection social media messaging may indicate the White House is ready to secure the border. This is after a source within CBP says migrant apprehensions dropped significantly during the first weeks of the new year in one of the nation’s busiest border sectors.
The source, not authorized to speak to the media, says the drop in migrant apprehensions began shortly before the announcement of President Joe Biden’s visit to Mexico City for the North American Leader’s Summit earlier this week. The president’s travel itinerary included a brief, first-time visit to the border in El Paso, Texas.
The source says just prior to the announcement of the president’s border visit, the frequency of large migrant groups surging across the Rio Grande ceased immediately.
“Where we would experience migrant groups of more than 500, we are now seeing less than 50 migrants at most,” the source added. As reported by Breitbart Texas, the slowdown resulted in a drastic reduction in detention levels in most Border Patrol processing facilities.
As the presidential visit neared, law enforcement agencies in El Paso began efforts to remove homeless migrants from city streets to avoid the optics of an unsecured border, sparking complaints from migrant advocates.
According to the source, the reduction in migrant encounters also extends to Unaccompanied Migrant Children. Health and Human Services (HHS) reported 6,566 migrant children were being held in shelters awaiting release to sponsors in the United States. The number of migrant children in their custody dropped nearly 40% since December. At its height, more than 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children were being detained by HHS in 2021.
The source added that pressure on Mexico to impose controls on the flow of migrants by metering the issuance of travel documents necessary to reach the U.S. border and the manning of immigration checkpoints by Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) is a small factor affecting the reduction in migrant crossings.
Another factor is the recent addition of Venezuelan, Cuban, and Nicaraguan nationals to those migrants subject to the Center for Disease Control’s Title 42 COVID-19 expulsion program. The source explained that the application of consequence showed immediate results. The move may have prompted an increase of migrants taking to the seas to reach the United States.
A notable increase in migrant landings along the Florida coastline occurred simultaneously with efforts to curb crossings along the southwest border. Rather than releasing the migrants making landfall in Florida, the administration responded by swift repatriation for those interdicted at sea.
According to flight records reviewed by Breitbart Texas, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Air Operations (IAO) aircraft increased removal flights to several airports in Cuba as the migrant incursions increased. Flight records revealed at least ten removal flights to Havana, Cuba’s Jose Marti airport since January 1.
Several ICE IAO removal flights during this time period traveled from Miami to Camaguey and Santa Clara airports in Cuba as well. ICE Air Operations contract carriers iAero Airways and World Atlantic Airlines, operate MD83 and Boeing 737 equipment. Each aircraft will carry at least 150 passengers.
On Friday, in a twitter post by Customs and Border Protection, the agency issued a warning to migrants concerning an increase in the use of expedited removal authority for those not amenable to swift expulsion under Title 42. The message warned migrants they would be subject to a five-year ban on re-entry to the United States as a consequence of expedited removal.
The source says the reduction in migrant crossings applies only to those that generally surrender in large groups hoping for immediate release into the United States. “Our highways and ranches are still inundated with migrants trying to escape arrest, those numbers have remained steady” the source emphasized.
The reduction in migrant arrests is a hopeful sign to Border Patrol agents who have been relegated to duties involving mostly transportation, processing, and providing humanitarian care for migrants surrendering in large groups. “Hopefully we are turning the corner and we can continue applying consequences to illegal entry, if not, it will be back to normal soon,” the source said in conclusion.
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.