Here’s another signpost up ahead from America’s Twilight Zone disaster on the southern border. The Washington Post reports that what used to be record daily numbers of successful evasions have now become commonplace:
Nearly 1,000 people per day are sneaking into the United States without being identified or taken into custody because U.S. border agents are busy attending to migrant families and unaccompanied children while also trying to stop soaring numbers of male adults, according to three U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials familiar with the data.
While CBP has never claimed to interdict every border crosser, the number of so-called got aways recorded in recent weeks is the highest in recent memory, said two of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the data. The agency defines a got away as an individual who is not turned back to Mexico or apprehended, and is no longer being actively pursued by Border Patrol.
Counting got aways is not an exact science, but CBP has spent more than $1 billion over the past two decades on surveillance technology and camera networks that have given the agency far greater ability to detect illegal crossings in real time. Apprehending those individuals is another matter.
The White House keeps trying to tell voters and reporters that this wave of migrants is nothing more than a seasonal phenomenon. Border Patrol agents, meanwhile, know just how singular this surge has been — and how much worse it’s becoming. CBS reports that it’s not a seasonal issue at all:
Nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children entered U.S. custody along the southern border in March, an all-time monthly high that has forced the Biden administration to house migrant teenagers in convention centers, camps for oil workers and a military base, according to preliminary government data provided to CBS News.
The historic number eclipses previous record-high migration flows of Central American teenagers and children that strained the government’s border processing capacity under Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump in 2014 and 2019, respectively. The previous all-time monthly high came in May 2019, when nearly 12,000 unaccompanied children arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border.
U.S. agents along the southern border carried out approximately 170,000 total apprehensions in March — a 70% increase from the previous month. Nearly 100,000 of those taken into custody were single adults, whom U.S. border officials have continued to swiftly expel to Mexico or their home countries under a public health authority first invoked by the Trump administration.
And those are the numbers for the people CBP apprehended. The worse this flow gets, the more incentives people have to use the coyotes that traffic people across the border. That puts even more money into the hands of cartels and trafficking rings. The Post notes that trend, too, along with the use of these migrants as cover for their other operations:
Groups of 100 or more family members and unaccompanied minors are arriving in greater numbers, and their crossings are usually coordinated by the Mexican criminal organizations that charge transit fees or tolls to anyone crossing territory under their control, CBP officials said. The smugglers often send large groups to tie up U.S. agents in one area and create a diversion, allowing them to move narcotics or single adults at other locations, they said.
It’s a smuggler’s delight at the moment. CBP has become so overwhelmed by the migrant surge that it can’t keep up with other smuggling, which enriches and empowers the cartels more than ever. Albuquerque news station KOB calls this an “unintended consequence” of Joe Biden’s halt to the border-wall construction in New Mexico:
When construction of the Trump-era border wall was halted by President Joe Biden, it created some unintended consequences for some people living in southern New Mexico.
One New Mexico rancher says since construction stopped in January, he’s noticed an uptick in smuggling activity through his property which sits about 20 miles west of Columbus.
“I’ve got several game camera photos of all these people crossing here,” said cattle rancher Russell Johnson. “They’re all wearing the same camouflage, they’ve got the same camouflage backpacks. They’re wearing booties on their feet to conceal their tracks.”
Other parts of the border are currently facing a dramatic surge in migrant families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum. However, Johnson believes what’s happening in Luna County is a whole different type of activity, including drug trade.
These aren’t “unintended consequences.” These outcomes were entirely predictable, and indeed were predicted. That’s especially true about the suspension of the border-wall construction, which would have been effective at allowing CBP to deploy its resources more strategically. With large gaps still left, cartels can continue playing whack-a-mole with overwhelmed Homeland Security personnel and keep running drugs and people across the border.
It’s the Twilight Zone in more ways than one.