Illegal border crossings soar in El Paso Sector


The number of foreign nationals who illegally entered the U.S. in November and were apprehended in the El Paso Sector of the southern border, which includes all of New Mexico and two west Texas counties, totaled 53,574.

When the documented gotaway number of 24,124 is added, the total climbs to 77,698, according to preliminary Customs and Border Protection data obtained by The Center Square.

The preliminary data excludes Office of Field Operations data, meaning the official numbers, once released, will be higher, although U.S. Customs and Border Protection doesn’t make the gotaway data public.

“Gotaways” is the official term used by Border Patrol to describe foreign nationals who enter the U.S. illegally and don’t surrender at ports of entry but intentionally seek to evade capture from law enforcement. The recorded number only includes those whom agents verify escape; it doesn’t include those they don’t see – like those entering at night on private property or those who clear their tracks. It also doesn’t include the untold number being smuggled in vehicles that aren’t stopped at checkpoints or on highways and county roads. The gotaway number is always considered to be significantly higher than what’s reported, law enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents have explained to The Center Square.

Those who were apprehended and evaded capture in November alone was greater than the individual populations of 421 out of 425 cities in New Mexico and greater than the individual populations of 28 of 33 counties, according to 2022 Census data analyzed by The Center Square.

Excluding Albuquerque and Las Cruces, the number of illegal foreign nationals apprehended and who got away in November total more than the combined populations of towns where El Paso Sector NM Border Patrol stations are located: Alamogordo (30,998), Deming (14,738), Lordsburg (2,243), Truth or Consequences (5,968), and Santa Teresa (5,202).

While the Del Rio and Rio Grande Valley sectors of Texas generally experience the greatest human and drug trafficking along the southern border, in recent months, anticipating the end of Title 42, cartels have focused on driving traffic and control of entry into the U.S. to the El Paso Sector, law enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents told The Center Square on the condition of anonymity for fear of their jobs. In recent months, agents said they have seen increased traffic, especially of groups of several hundred to 1,000 at a time every day.

The El Paso Sector covers 264 miles of international boundary, including 121,000 square miles in New Mexico and 4,500 square miles in Texas. Border Patrol agents tasked with patrolling an expansive desert and mountainous-like terrain have increasingly been taken off the line of defense to process an unprecedented number of people illegally entering from all over the world.

Despite lawsuits over the administration’s reversal of detention and deportation policies, BP agents have been instructed by the Biden administration to release into the U.S. most of those they apprehend, agents say.

Only the four largest New Mexican cities – Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe – have larger populations than those who were apprehended and got away entering the El Paso Sector in November. Likewise, only the populations of Bernalillo, Dona Ana, San Juan, Sandoval, and Santa Fe counties were greater.

By comparison, the number apprehended and who got away in this sector in November alone was 15,445 times greater than the population of New Mexico’s smallest town of Trout Valley and 116 times greater than the population of its smallest county of Harding.

According to preliminary Customs and Border Protection data obtained by The Center Square, at least 212,608 people were apprehended illegally entering the U.S. in November by Border Patrol agents. Another at least 93,461 were recorded as known gotaways who evaded law enforcement and are now living somewhere unknown in the U.S.

These numbers exclude Office of Field Operation data, meaning the totals will be higher when the official numbers are released, although CBP doesn’t release gotaway data.

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