US Asylum Waiting in Mexico

Migrants wait to cross the U.S.-Mexico border from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, next to U.S. Border Patrol vehicles in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

(The Center Square) – A record number of illegal foreign nationals were apprehended or recorded evading capture by Border Patrol agents in fiscal year 2022, surpassing 3 million, according to data obtained by The Center Square.

In October, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 2.7 million encounters and apprehensions of foreign nationals illegally entering the U.S., which included data from Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations and excluded known and reported gotaways.

At least 637,170 gotaways – foreign nationals who illegally entered the U.S. in between ports of entry and evaded capture by law enforcement – were reported by Border Patrol agents in nine southwestern border sectors, according to data obtained by The Center Square.

This number excludes illegal entries that are unknown and unrecorded, meaning not all gotaways are recorded because many who evade capture aren’t tracked or caught. As a result, the number of those entering the U.S. illegally is expected to be far greater than reported.

Law enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents have expressed concerns about gotaways because federal, state and local authorities don’t know who or where they are. They didn’t enter through legal ports of entry. They didn’t claim asylum or make other immigration claims. They actively evaded law enforcement as they made their way north, and many are likely working with cartels and gangs, engaging in human and drug trafficking, intent on committing other crimes in the U.S., law enforcement officers have explained to The Center Square.

Combined apprehensions and gotaways in fiscal 2022 totaled at least 3,337,170.

The Center Square previously reported that nearly 5 million people from over 150 countries were apprehended illegally entering the U.S. from January 2020 to August 2022, greater than the individual populations of 25 U.S. states – up from 23 states reported in June.

The fiscal 2022 total of 3.337 million is greater than the individual populations of every city in the United States except for Los Angeles and New York City, according to Census data.

It’s greater than the populations of Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose.

It also totals more than the individual populations of 20 states.

Put another way, in one fiscal year, the number of people who illegally entered the U.S. was enough to populate nearly six Wyomings, over five Vermonts, 4.5 Alaskas, over four North Dakotas, nearly four South Dakotas, over three Delawares, over three Montanas, over three Rhode Islands, over two Maines, two New Hampshires, and two Hawaiis.

Across all nine southern border sectors, Border Patrol agents apprehended 2,162,037 people, including reporting 637,170 gotaways, according to data obtained by The Center Square, which excludes Office of Field Operations data. The nine southwestern sectors are divided by five located in Texas, and two each in Arizona and California.

Border Patrol agents in Texas’ five sectors apprehended the most of over 1.42 million people from over 150 countries and recorded over 353,000 gotaways.

Arizona BP agents apprehended over 591,000 illegal foreign nationals and recorded at least 224,250 gotaways; California BP agents apprehended over 242,000 and reported over 59,000 gotaways.

Unless action is taken by courts in several pending cases brought by Texas and other states, or action is taken by Congress, or the governors of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California take action to prevent illegal entry into their states, fiscal 2023 numbers are expected to far exceed fiscal 2022 totals, border agents tell The Center Square.

The Biden administration maintains the border is secure. The president has yet to visit the border despite invitations to do so by both Republican and Democratic officials, arguing he has “more important things to do.”

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill, which funds border security measures for multiple countries, including allocating another $45 billion to Ukraine, while prohibiting some CBP funding for U.S. border security.

They did so as the Border Patrol union said, “No administration in modern history of this country has done more damage, killed the morale of Border Patrol agents and unleashed death, destruction, rapes, murders and mayhem at our border like the Biden administration.”