Everywhere I look, I see headline after headline claiming that Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed by migrants crossing the border. I have come to expect this type of nonsense from right wing media outlets as their goal is to show our country being "invaded." Unfortunately, more and more, I am seeing main stream media and even left wing media not only repeating these erroneous reports without any fact checking but also using the pictures and videos of right wing outlets.
I do not believe the Border Patrol is overwhelmed. I base this off of many years as an intelligence agent for the agency and decades of studying Border Patrol statistics.
Before we get into the numbers and why I believe this is not an actual crisis, let's clear up some misconceptions that right wing media relies on. First, it's important to understand that media in general confuses Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with Border Patrol. While CBP is the parent agency for Border Patrol, they are separate agencies. CBP officers wear blue uniforms and work at the ports of entry and shipping ports. The agents in green are Border Patrol, and they work in between the ports of entry apprehending goods and persons who cross without inspection.
Secondly, there are about 50 ports of entry on our southern border. Only 8 of these ports accept asylum seekers which currently make up the majority of those seeking entry. Third, the vast majority of asylum seekers are not eligible to apply for asylum because over the last three decades, the federal government has narrowed eligibility. Lastly, although it is a crime for anyone to cross the US borders without inspection, the law states that crossing illegally is not to be considered when evaluating whether a person is eligible for asylum. Once migrants are processed and released into the US to await hearings, they are not considered undocumented or as some say "illegal."
Looking at CBP's own statistics that include Border Patrol, the numbers do appear higher than ever. Comparing this October and November for FY 2024 with the last three years, it is true that the numbers are higher. This is where right wing media is getting their statistics. However, these reports are saying that Border Patrol is overwhelmed, but the statistics they are using are both CBP encounters and Border Patrol apprehensions.
It is only once we remove CBP encounters at the ports of entry and look only at Border Patrol apprehensions, that we see the right wing media is lying. It is not a mistake or misunderstanding, this is a lie. The media claims that Border Patrol is seeing higher numbers than ever recorded is simply not true.
Additionally, when looking at southern border crossings in between the ports, it is of utmost importance to look at each sector and not just one sector or one city. What these media reports are looking at is a handful of cities and not the overall southern border. This gives the optics of an overwhelmed Border Patrol when other sectors are slow. All the video and reporting about the current crisis centers in San Diego, Tucson, El Paso and Eagle Pass. This is shown in the statistics below as San Diego Sector, Tucson Sector, El Paso Sector and Del Rio Sector respectively.
The chart above makes an additional important point: the other five sectors are relatively calmer. Border Patrol has the ability to move agents quickly from sector to sector when needed. This is often called a "detail" in the agency. Details can last for weeks or months or even years. As an agent, I was trained on checkpoint duties by agents detailed from Texas. I was also sent on detail for a month to Indio, California. This is common in the Border Patrol, but does not appear to be happening during this current crisis.
As a former station intelligence agent and a San Diego Sector intelligence agent, I can assure you that large groups of migrants cannot move through Mexico without CBP and the Border Patrol knowing about it. In addition to paid informants and foreign government officials feeding information to the agencies, Border Patrol also inserts undercover agents into migrant groups, migrant shelters and in their WhatsApp chats. The idea that the Border Patrol was caught off guard is simply not true.
The other thing that strikes me as a former intelligence agent for the agency is that these crossings in selective cities, all of whom tend to vote heavily for democrats, appear coordinated. A few weeks ago, I noticed a video from Fox News where they interviewed an asylum seeker who stated that Mexican Immigration officials gave him GPS coordinates of where to find a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico that was close to where he would cross into Eagle Pass, Texas which is one of the cities where many crossings are occurring. This suggests coordinated crossings funneling the migrants to these specific cities.
It is also important to note that the although the numbers of migrants and asylum seekers crossing is much higher than decades past, the number of Border Patrol agents is much higher as well. Today's Border Patrol has not only better technology but they have the assistance of subcontracted transportation companies, processing officers, in field processing capabilities and state and local police aiding in apprehensions. None of this existed in the 1990s and early 2000s when I was an agent. Looking at the number of agents versus apprehensions for those years, it is clear the Border Patrol is not overwhelmed.
The US Border Patrol and right wing media is playing politics. They are not overwhelmed. Main stream media and left wing media are spreading right wing propaganda and helping spread anti-immigrant hate with these reports. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Mayorkas must stop allowing Border Patrol to coordinate these created crises with right wing media, and must demand Chief Owens detail agents to the areas with many crossings.
This is a major national security issue, just not the one they want you to think it is. Fox News and other right wing media outlets started and fomented the "big lie" that the last election was stolen. This led to an insurrection. Today, these same actors continue the insurrection on our southern border. Just as Victor Orban used the optics of migrants of color coming to his country to secure his dictatorship, right wing media and the Border Patrol are helping Trump become a dictator by creating another crisis along our southern border.