By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — More than 205,000 foreign nationals were apprehended or reported as gotaways after illegally entering the southwest border in February, according to preliminary data obtained by The Center Square from a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent.
The agent provided the information on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. It only includes Border Patrol data and excludes Office of Field Operations data.
“Gotaways” refers to those known and reported to illegally enter the U.S. primarily between ports of entry, who intentionally evade capture by law enforcement and don’t return to Mexico.
In February, gotaways totaled at least 67,576, with the greatest numbers reported in the Tucson Sector of Arizona and El Paso Sector, which includes all of New Mexico and two western Texas counties. Apprehensions and gotaways combined totaled at least 205,032 last month.
In January, gotaways totaled nearly 60,000, with the greatest numbers reported in the El Paso and Del Rio sectors of Texas. Apprehensions and gotaways combined totaled at least 215,998 in January, according to the data.
Since President Joe Biden’s been in office, monthly apprehensions of illegal foreign nationals surpassed a minimum of 150,000 for 23 consecutive months, with some months, including gotaways, like last November and December, totaling over 300,000 each.
According to preliminary Border Patrol data obtained by The Center Square, Texas continues to bear the brunt of illegal entries. But since late last year, cartel operations have driven crossings and illegal entries farther west, law enforcement officials have explained, backed by reported data. In February, the El Paso Sector had the most reported apprehensions and the Tucson Sector had the most reported gotaways. The Del Rio and RGV sectors, which have historically had the highest traffic, ranked third and fifth highest for traffic.