Border Patrol agents along the northern and coastal borders of the U.S. are being asked to help colleagues at the southern border by ramping up virtual processing of migrants encountered after they’ve crossed illegally from Mexico, according to an internal agency memo obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Virtual processing involves agents in one sector meeting with illegal migrants on a video call in another sector to help relieve some of the pressure on federal authorities where the migrant is being held, Border Patrol sources have told the DCNF of the process. As of Monday morning, Border Patrol nationwide had roughly 19,000 migrants in their custody, according to the memo, which was sent Monday. (RELATED: ‘Astonishing’: DCNF Reporter Details How Rural America Is Being Overtaken By Chinese Illegal Marijuana Grows)
“We need Northern/ coastal sectors to ramp up their virtually processing support over the weekend,” the message read.
“In general, USBP [U.S. Border Patrol] did a good job managing in-custody numbers throughout the Thanksgiving week, however, the in-custody numbers have now increased due to an average number of low bookouts versus encounters,” the message read.
Migrant surges in both Eagle Pass, Texas, and Tucson, Arizona, have consumed much of Border Patrol’s resources, leading to the cancellation of some training exercises, a checkpoint closure, a pause in vehicle inspections and the temporary shut-down of some social media, according to internal agency communications recently obtained by the DCNF.
“At this time, all available personnel are needed to address the unprecedented flow,” John Modlin, Chief Patrol Agent of the Tucson Sector, tweeted late Sunday. “The social media team will return once the situation permits.”
NEW: The Border Patrol’s Tucson sector has “paused” its social media accounts due to “an ongoing migration surge” pic.twitter.com/NiBwI6qSdG
— Jennie Taer 🇮🇱🇺🇸 (@JennieSTaer) November 26, 2023
Border Patrol has used virtual processing as a tool to address the record flows of illegal immigration in recent years. The process, however, pulls necessary resources from the northern and coastal borders of the country, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd previously told the DCNF.
“This domino effect all starts on the southwest but then the effects are felt everywhere because we have to use resources to deal with what’s taking place down south and when you do that, then of course, you leave yourself wide open in other areas, and that’s what we’re seeing on the North right now,” Judd said in September 2022.
Border Patrol encounters topped 2.2 million in fiscal year 2022, followed by more than 2 million in fiscal year 2023 at the southern border.
Additionally, illegal immigration at the northern border jumped from roughly 2,000 Border Patrol encounters in fiscal year 2022 to more than 10,000 in fiscal year 2023.
“CBP [Customs and Border Protection] regularly plans for and executes contingency measures to support the overarching agency mission and ensure the safety and wellbeing of those in the agency’s custody and the public. To maximize the use of local resources including Border Patrol personnel, USBP utilizes tools like virtual processing to provide support to areas experiencing migration influxes, without having to physically detail an agent to those locations,” a CBP spokesperson told the DCNF.
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