Concerned about Border Apprehensions? You Should See the Ones Who Got Away



Each day, up to 1,000 illegal aliens – and likely many more — evade apprehension at the southern border en route into the U.S. These “got-aways” have spiked in recent weeks as more Border Patrol officers are pulled off frontline duty to tend to children and family migrants.

“Got-aways,” like illegal aliens at large in this country, are impossible to enumerate with precision. Estimates are derived by counting illegal immigrants who escape after being observed by aircraft platforms and camera systems. In addition, Border Patrol agents use sign-cutting techniques to identify footprints where cameras do not capture the crossing. 

Cochise County, which runs its own camera system in southern Arizona, figures that “got-aways” accounted for 72 percent of the migrants in its jurisdiction. In Texas’ Del Rio Sector, 1,700 “got-aways” were counted in a week when 5,700 migrants were detained – a nearly 1-in-3 ratio.

Since the Biden administration’s catch and release policies allow migrants into the U.S., many without even a Notice to Appear (NTA) in immigration court, “got-aways” may not seem like such a big deal any more.

But “got-aways” are surging, and undermining administration claims that the border is under control. For fiscal year 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that roughly 106,000 border crossers escaped apprehension. Midway through the 2021 fiscal year, “got-aways” are up to 130,000 and counting.

Mark Morgan, former acting director of CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and now a senior fellow at FAIR, noted, “Who do you think are the ones getting away? It’s not your upstanding citizens. That’s where the criminal element is coming in. That’s where the gang members are getting through.”

More than 800 criminal aliens, including 92 sex offenders and 63 gang members, were apprehended on the Texas border in recent days. How other criminals slipped through? Nobody can say for certain, but one is too many.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.