A shift by immigrant smugglers to target the tough-to-defend U.S.-Mexico border in southernmost Texas has accelerated this year as the Border Patrol scrambles to shift its resources from states farther west, according to an internal agency report obtained by The Associated Press.
From Oct. 1 through May 17, agents in the southernmost tip of Texas made more than 148,000 arrests, on pace to match last year’s total in less than eight months, according to the intelligence report. That compares with nearly 63,000 arrests in the Tucson, Arizona, sector, which it surpassed for the first time just last year. The Rio Grande Valley sector averaged nearly 1,100 arrests per day from May 11-17, according to the document.
What these numbers look like on the ground is a near-constant flow of people across the Rio Grande. The arrests do not represent the full level of traffic, only those who are caught, but the report’s hourly breakdowns showed the arrests never stopped. Heat maps illustrating concentrations of arrests glowed bright red along miles of the Rio Grande south of McAllen.