By: Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor
If the current trajectory continues, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations agents are on track this fiscal year to arrest the greatest number of illegal foreign nationals with criminal convictions in recorded history.
By contrast, Border Patrol apprehensions of gang members and weapons seizures are down significantly, and a former border chief tells The Center Square those numbers are down because far fewer agents are in the field – between ports of entries – to make such seizures and apprehensions.
The majority of people with criminal convictions who are being apprehended and arrested are being caught at ports of entry, according to CBP enforcement data, where OFO agents work. Fiscal year to date, OFO agents encountered more than 15,000 people with criminal convictions, up from roughly 6,500 in fiscal 2021. In fiscal 2022, they apprehended nearly 17,000.
Among them, agents arrested 8,452 identified in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) compared to 10,389 arrested in fiscal 2022 and 5,929 arrested in fiscal 2018.
The apprehension data refers to “noncitizens who have been convicted of crime, whether in the United States or abroad, so long as the conviction is for conduct which is deemed criminal by the United States,” according to CBP.
The NCIC is the national database law enforcement officers use to share information and run background checks on individuals. CBP arrests noncitizens and citizens who are identified in the NCIC and coordinates with respective law enforcement agencies where the outstanding warrants are held.
Also this fiscal year to date, Border Patrol agents encountered 9,244 illegal foreign nationals with criminal convictions or who are wanted by law enforcement. That’s compared to 2,438 encounters with criminal noncitizens in fiscal 2020, and 12,028 in fiscal 2022.
However, BP arrests of noncitizens with outstanding wants or warrants is down significantly. Under the Trump administration, in fiscal 2019, 4,153 people were arrested in this category, the most in the past seven fiscal years. Fiscal year to date, 655 have been arrested.
Apprehensions of gang members is also down. Fiscal year to date, agents have apprehended 493 gang members compared to 751 last fiscal year. Under the Trump administration, they apprehended the most gang members of 976 in seven fiscal years.
The majority of gang members consistently being apprehended are MS-13, Paisas, and 18th Street.
Weapons and ammunition seizures have also dropped significantly. This fiscal year, 3,200 weapons and ammunition have been seized compared to nearly 14,500 seized in fiscal 2020.
Former Border Patrol and CBP chief Mark Morgan told The Center Square the reason for fewer gang members being apprehended and less weapons being seized is because fewer agents are in the field to apprehend them, not because less are coming through.
“In many areas, there are 80% or more fewer Border Patrol agents on the line because they’re relegated to doing administrative work processing and releasing the millions of illegal aliens they’ve apprehended. Fewer agents on the line means more criminals will get thorough undetected.
“It’s common sense. There have been more than 1.7 million total gotaways in the past 29 months. The number of murders, rapists, pedophiles, aggravated felons, and gang members among the gotaways who now call the U.S. home is staggering and should terrify us all.”
Since January 2021, over 8 million illegal border crossers have entered the U.S., greater than the individual populations of 38 states.