by Bethany Blankley


Preliminary U.S. Customs and Border Protection data obtained by The Center Square from a border agent shows record numbers of apprehensions and gotaways at the southern border in November.

Agents apprehended 212,608 illegal foreign nationals and recorded at least 93,461 who evaded law enforcement and are now living illegally somewhere in the U.S. Combined, they total at least 306,069.

The preliminary data excludes Office of Field Operations data, meaning the official numbers, once released, will be higher, although CBP doesn’t release the gotaway data publicly.

“Gotaways” is the official term used by CBP to describe foreign nationals who enter the U.S. illegally and don’t surrender at ports of entry but intentionally seek to evade capture from law enforcement.

In most months, the Del Rio and Rio Grande Valley sectors in Texas experience the most traffic along the southern border. However, over the last several months, anticipating the end of Title 42, larger groups are entering through the El Paso Sector. This includes the entire state of New Mexico and two counties in far west Texas covering 264 miles of international boundary.

The numbers are broken down by BP sector and categories. The categories have been slightly redefined from previous months. They include apprehensions, turn backs, non-violations, outstanding, deceased. The previous category of no arrest was removed.

The gotaways (known/recorded) category has been amended to include those who evaded law enforcement who were detected close to the border and those further into the interior of the U.S. The new distinction is notable because it shows how many are reported evading capture as they make their way north despite the best efforts of BP agents and local law enforcement attempting to apprehend them.

For example, in the RGV Sector of Texas, the 1,496 recorded in the gotaway interior zone would have been identified somewhere along Highway 281, up into Brooks County several hundred miles north of the border.

As of December 5, the preliminary data for November by sector includes:

Big Bend Sector

Apprehensions – 1,880

Turn Backs – 64

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded) – 1,536

Unclassifiable Detection – 4

Gotaways Interior Zone – 241

No Violations – 12

Deceased – 0

Outstanding – 24

Del Rio Sector

Apprehensions – 48,946

Turn Backs – 220

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded) – 17,491

Unclassifiable Detection – 46

Gotaways Interior Zone – 4,486

No Violations – 133

Deceased – 1

Outstanding – 195

El Centro Sector

Apprehensions – 7,828

Turn Backs – 434

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded) – 477

Unclassifiable Detection – 0

Gotaways Interior Zone – 12

No Violations – 0

Deceased – 0

Outstanding – 2

El Paso Sector

Apprehensions – 53,574

Turnbacks – 2,860

Got Aways Border Zone (known/recorded) – 23,651

Unclassifiable Detection – 5

Gotaways Interior Zone – 473

No Violations – 40

Deceased – 1

Outstanding – 7

Laredo Sector

Apprehensions – 4,551

Turn Backs – 1,826

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded) – 1,586

Unclassifiable Detection – 165

Gotaways Interior Zone – 1,400

No Violations – 155

Deceased – 1

Outstanding – 0

RGV Sector

Apprehensions – 28,257

Turn Backs – 2,827

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded) – 2,250

Unclassifiable Detection – 178

Gotaways Interior Zone – 1,496

No Violations – 175

Deceased – 9

Outstanding – 7

San Diego Sector

Apprehensions – 17,242

Turn Backs – 394

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded) – 6,069

Unclassifiable Detection – 63

Gotaways Interior Zone – 4,424

No Violations – 29

Deceased – 2

Outstanding – 0

Tucson Sector

Apprehensions – 24,604

Turn Backs – 775

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded) – 20,803

Unclassifiable Detection – 62

Gotaways Interior Zone – 5,007

No Violations – 173

Deceased – 2

Outstanding – 20

Yuma Sector

Apprehensions – 25,726

Turn Backs – 147

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded) – 1,882

Unclassifiable Detection – 0

Gotaways Interior Zone – 177

No Violations – 32

Deceased – 0

Outstanding – 0

Apprehensions include those in the U.S. illegally who surrender or are caught by BP officers. Turn backs include those who entered illegally but returned to Mexico.

The previous category of “unresolved detection,” now “unclassified detection,” isn’t part of 6 U.S. Code, which classifies how encounters are to be reported. This and the now deleted category of “no arrests” were used as a way to lower the number of gotaways being reported, a BP officer, who talked with The Center Square on the condition of anonymity out of fear for his job, explained.

The previously deleted category of “no arrests” meant someone “was detected in a non-border zone and their presence didn’t affect Got-Away statistics,” according to the official internal tracking system definition used by agents to record data. “Unclassifiable detection” means the same thing, but the officers, for a range of reasons, couldn’t determine citizenship.

Non-violations are “deemed to have committed no infraction and don’t affect Got-Away statistics,” according to the tracking system definition. The categories of non-violations, no arrests and unclassifiable detection should actually be categorized as got-aways, the BP officer said, assuming all non-arrests were of non-citizens. However, each sector also uses unclassified detection differently, the officer added, so how the numbers are categorized isn’t actually uniform.

If the categories of unclassified detection and non-violations were included with the gotaway numbers, the total number of gotaways for November would be closer to 94,733.

However, these numbers still don’t represent the real picture, those in law enforcement have explained to The Center Square, because they don’t include those who are unknown and unrecorded. Not all gotaways are recorded and many who evade capture are unknown, meaning the number of those entering the U.S. illegally is expected to be greater than is reported.

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Bethany Blankley is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.