TUCSON, Arizona — Breitbart Texas observed a constant stream of fully loaded buses carrying migrants from a Border Patrol processing facility to the Casa Alitas Migrant Welcome Center in Tucson. As each bus carrying migrants released by the Border Patrol arrived at the center on Wednesday, a simultaneous flow of buses, taxis, and travel vans shuttled newly released migrants to other destinations farther inland — some destined for the Tucson International Airport to begin their journey to cities across the nation.
According to a source within CBP, not authorized to speak to the media, the latest border surge places the Tucson Border Patrol Sector atop the list of those along the southwest border for migrant apprehensions. On Tuesday, 10,400 migrants were arrested by the Border Patrol along the southwest border. On Wednesday, the total number arrested dropped to slightly more than 8,000 bringing the two-day total to 19,000 migrant arrests nationwide.
The source says the current migrant surge resulted in nearly 70 percent of all migrants taken into custody by the Border Patrol being released to pursue asylum claims in the United States. Once released from federal custody, the migrants are free to travel anywhere in the country.
Breitbart Texas posted at the border within the Tucson Border Patrol Sector and observed the dilemma faced by the agency as they cope with thousands of migrant crossings daily. Processing facilities operated by the Border Patrol have exceeded their capacity to detain and process migrants in recent days. According to the source, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Air Operations branch resources have been redirected to fly migrants to areas experiencing fewer migrant crossings, such as El Paso and McAllen, Texas, to alleviate the strain on Tucson Border Patrol facilities.
The source says most migrant removals currently involve Mexican citizens opting to return to their country voluntarily and those nationals from the Central American Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Flight tracking software indicates two outbound removal flights conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contract air carrier Swift Airlines to Guatemala and one to Honduras on Thursday. None were recorded to countries outside the hemisphere.
The source says removing migrants from countries outside the hemisphere is nearly impossible due to the lack of diplomatic issues in some cases and the limited availability of ICE-contracted aircraft to adequately address the increase in migrant crossings along the southwest border.
In Lukeville, Arizona, the flow of migrants has resulted in hundreds of migrants being detained outdoors in the Organ Pipe National Monument reserve at the base of the border wall. As reported by Breitbart Texas, a similar practice has been observed in the Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector, where one busy crossing point along the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, is also inundated with migrant crossings. There, migrants are left to wait for hours outdoors to be transported to Border Patrol facilities facing issues of overcrowding.
The increase in migrant releases into the United States likely spells continued woes for New York City and other metropolitan areas far from the border. Nearly 4,000 migrants released at the southern border arrived in New York City last week, according to city officials. The city has estimated the cost to care for the more than 100,000 migrants that arrived since 2022 to be more than $12 billion through 2025.
The expense incurred by non-government shelters in border cities, such as Tucson’s Casa Alitas shelter run by the Catholic Community Services of Arizona, is proving costly as well. Non-government migrant welcome centers within the Tucson Border Patrol sector received more than $7 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Shelter and Services program in 2023 to shelter and coordinate travel for migrants released into the United States.
According to a recent report by the GOP majority on the Committee on Homeland Security, officials estimate the cost to taxpayers to provide services to migrants across the country could reach $451 billion per year to provide education, law enforcement, healthcare, and other services.
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.