The U.S. Border Patrol is having trouble shifting resources towards a heavy stream of illegal immigrants whose entry patterns are moving eastward along the Mexican border, the Associated Press reports.
The Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas has seen an accelerated influx of illegal immigrants.
Between Oct. 1 and May 17, 148,000 arrests were made at the border in the Valley, according to the AP which obtained internal documents from the Border Patrol.
That level of traffic is on pace to surpass all of last year’s arrests in the area in only eight months. Agents arrest an average of 1,100 illegal immigrants a day.
For the first time last year, the Rio Grande Valley surpassed the Tuscon, Ariz. sector in terms of arrests. Only 63,000 illegal immigrants were arrested in that area last year.
Using an internal metric to measure whether “sufficient assets” – drones, infrared cameras, and other detection equipment – are in place at various spots along the border, the Border Patrol document shows that the Rio Grande Valley has a “deployment density” of 58 percent, ranking it near the bottom compared to other sectors.
In contrast, San Diego’s “deployment density” is 100 percent.
According to the Associated Press, a group of state agricultural commissioners visiting McAllen, Tex. earlier this week. Nearly 1,000 illegal immigrants were being held, though the outpost had only a fraction of the space needed to hold them until they could be returned back across the border.
A shift in the nationalities of would-be immigrants may be at the root of at least some of the Border Patrol’s dilemma.
Historically, most immigrants originated from Mexico. But that group ranks fourth among those arrested in the Valley, the AP reports.
Hondurans, El Salvadorans, and Guatemalans make up the heaviest traffic, and southern Texas is their most direct route of entry into the U.S.
“I don’t think we have anywhere near the resources that we would require to even make a dent in what we’ve got going on here,” said Chris Cabrera, a Border Patrol agent in McAllen, Tex. told the AP.
“I think it’s common knowledge that we don’t have the resources, that’s why they’re coming in droves like they are. They’re exploiting a weakness that they’ve found and quite frankly they’re doing a good job of it.”