EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Border agents in West Texas and Southern New Mexico have come across 47 percent more unauthorized migrants in the past 11 months compared to a year ago, newly released federal data shows.
The increase is nearly 12 percentage points higher than the national average of a 35.6 percent hike in migrant encounters and is prompting two members of Congress who represent West Texas to call for a different approach to illegal immigration.
“We have built walls, separated families under the Trump administration and rapidly expelled migrants. Nothing has slowed things down or eliminated migration,” U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said on CNN this week.
She said relying exclusively on the enforcement of immigration laws at the border has been an “absolute failure of policy and imagination,” and called for a multi-pronged approach facilitating legal immigration, which includes asylum-seekers currently forced to cross the border illegally to state claims allowed under U.S. law.
“We need to change the way we process people at the border. Right now, these processing centers are mostly run by Border Patrol agents, taking them off the line, away from roles and responsibilities they were trained to do to, in order to care for vulnerable populations,” Escobar, who represents El Paso, told CNN.
Her Reimagining Asylum Processing Act filed a year ago calls for civilian federal workers to staff processing centers and for citizens of other countries to apply for asylum while still in their homeland.
U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, who represents parts of El Paso as well, also filed immigration legislation. His Security First Act calls for more border technology, funding for local police departments to augment border security, the hiring of additional border agents and designating Mexican drug cartels heavily profiting from migrant smuggling to be designated as foreign terrorists organizations.
In a statement to Border Report, Gonzales blamed President Joe Biden for the ongoing historic surge in illegal border crossings.
“For nearly two years, the Biden Administration has encouraged unprecedented levels of illegal immigration. This August was no exception with 203,597 apprehensions at our southern border – an increase of over 300 percent since August 2020,” Gonzales said.
He also warned that public health Title 42 order expulsions are decreasing dramatically. This means more migrants are being allowed to either be processed or remain in the United States, further slowing already backed up immigration courts and filling up detention centers.
In El Paso, Del Rio and Eagle Pass, Texas, migrant shelters have filled up and caused the Border Patrol to release onto the street migrants awaiting immigration hearings.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection data shows that, since April, more apprehended migrants have been placed on Title 8 proceedings than have been expelled under Title 42, and that Title 42 expulsions have fallen dramatically (more than 30 percent) since May.
“This situation is unacceptable and the only way it changes is for the Biden administration to enforce the laws against illegal immigration,” Gonzales told Border Report.