With two months still left in this fiscal year, the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) border sector has already set an all-time annual record for apprehensions at the border. According to a source in Border Patrol, this week, the total apprehensions in the RGV passed 301,000. That is an all-time record for this sector since Border Patrol began collecting records. The previous record was in 2014 during the first Central American migration, mainly of unaccompanied minors. 256K were apprehended in 2014 and 244k in 1997, the previous records for this sector.
Where is Congress? On vacation.
Earlier today, Rep. Chip Roy tweeted out this fact:
I am told the RGV Sector of our southern border just cracked 301,000 apprehensions – dwarfing any full year previous totals. Meanwhile @HouseDemocrats have left town and ignored our calls to stay in town to #DoWhatWeSaid & #EndBorderCrisisNow.
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) July 30, 2019
Why is Roy the only Texas official who actually feels a sense of urgency with record illegal immigration pouring into his state? Where are the state’s two senators? Why are they not holding up the budget deal for a better agreement on border wall funding and ICE detention and removal funding?
The RGV sector’s border comprises 320 miles of river bends and labyrinths that are hard to patrol yet has the fewest miles of fencing of any busy border sector. Republicans and the president agreed to a budget bill in February that barred construction of the border wall in the most important areas.
In June, roughly 1,500 illegal aliens were apprehended every day in this sector. However, because of the mandates being placed on the agents dealing with the sensitive job of caring for thousands of children, they are tied down and barely patrolling the line. There are only about 10 agents per 60 miles in parts of the RGV. So how many drug smugglers, gang members, and previously deported criminals are getting in as a result of this flow, which is more consuming than the waves during the 1990s and early 2000s?
There is more manpower and technology than ever before, but thanks to executive and judicial policies not to hold the line and turn people back but rather process and release them, the border funding is not going toward deterrent. The funding is all going toward caring for illegal aliens, which further drains resources away from patrolling.
I asked one veteran RGV agent what he thought of the 301K apprehensions and whether the numbers dropped at all in July. “What’s happening now is that we have no manpower dealing with the seams in the border while we are processing all the family units,” lamented the senior agent, who must remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the media on this point. “So yes, the numbers have gone down since the peak in May, but we literally have minimal idea who is getting past us. That is likely a partial factor in the dropping numbers. As more perceive that they won’t be able to get asylum any more, more are likely resorting to running from us rather than surrendering. But because we still do have plenty of family units to process, we still have less manpower to deal with the runners.”
Every day, Border Patrol counts hundreds of “gotaways” just at one station in the RGV based on the sensors, cameras, and footprints.
The purpose of the Border Patrol was very clearly spelled out in the Labor Appropriation Act of 1924: “Preventing the unlawful entry” of mainly Chinese nationals and deporting anyone who was caught. The Department of Labor was given funding for “the operation of horse and motor vehicles.” It was all for deportation. Nothing more, nothing less. But our agents are being used for babysitting duty.
Despite the deal announced with Guatemala to send asylum-seekers back south, no new guidance appears to be in place on the ground. Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan said that the deal would be completed sometime in August. It remains to be seen whether migrants will actually be turned back at the border or whether the processing will continue. If it is the latter, the agents will continue to be stretched thin, and we won’t even know who comes into our country.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.