By: Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor
At least 1.2 million people have been apprehended or reported evading capture at the southern border in the first five months of this year, according to data obtained and analyzed by The Center Square.
The estimate is based on official apprehension data reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as gotaway data. A Border Patrol agent provides this data exclusively to The Center Square on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Gotaways are those who illegally enter the U.S. and intentionally seek to evade capture. Border Patrol agents report those who have illegally entered and evaded capture based on several factors. CBP doesn’t publicly report gotaway data.
Gotaways are averaging roughly 60,000 per month, according to data analyzed by The Center Square. However, these numbers are believed to be higher for several reasons, including the fact that far fewer agents are out in the field and aren’t able to identify the tracks of those who’ve gotten away. Federal, state and local law enforcement officers have no idea who or where they are, or how many of them are known, suspected terrorists or violent gang members and criminals, those in law enforcement tell The Center Square.
Combined, the monthly totals are greater than the individual populations of eight U.S. states, two states more than last month when illegal border crossers in 2023 totaled more than the populations of six states.
At least 240,256 foreign nationals were apprehended or reported evading capture after illegally entering the southwest border in May, according to preliminary data obtained by The Center Square. The preliminary data excludes Office of Field Operations data and only includes Border Patrol data. The total increases after CBP publishes its official data because it includes OFO data.
In April, those apprehended or reported evading capture totaled at least 285,000. In March, they totaled nearly 270,000; in February, they totaled roughly 205,000; in January, nearly 216,000, according to data analyzed by The Center Square.
In the first five months of this year, illegal border crossers combined totaled at least 1,216,256. That’s greater than the populations of Montana (1,139,507), Rhode Island (1,090,483), Delaware (1,031,985), South Dakota (923,484), North Dakota (780,588), Alaska (732,294), Vermont (647,156) and Wyoming (583,279).
Officials have told The Center Square people who’ve been apprehended are arriving from over 170 countries. The majority are arriving and being apprehended in Texas.
The Biden administration maintains the border is secure and closed. At least 25 Republican governors disagree. Among them are nearly a dozen who’ve so far sent their state’s National Guard troops or state law enforcement officers to Texas to assist with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security efforts, Operation Lone Star.
“While the federal government has abdicated its duties, Republican governors stand ready to protect the U.S.-Mexico border and keep families safe,” a group of 24 governors said last month in support of Abbott.
Over the past nearly two and a half years, Republican governors have provided a range of solutions for the president to consider to secure the border and haven’t received a response.