EDINBURG, Texas (Border Report) — Even though the number of migrants encountered by U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector dropped for the third straight month in July, apprehensions still average about 1,300 per day, Border Report has learned.
In July, Border Patrol agents in this part of South Texas came across migrants crossing the border 35,108 times, down 21% from 46,666 encounters in June, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data recently released.
However, the number of migrants who crossed in the Del Rio, Texas, area in July — 49,563 — increased from June. And In July, the region was the No. 1 area where migrants tried to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico, CBP data shows.
U.S. Border Patrol Supervisory Agent Omar Medina blamed the shift in numbers on transnational criminal organizations, also commonly called “coyotes” who guide migrants illegally across the border and who look for the areas where law enforcement is stretched thin.
“The transnational organizations are going to try to move migrants, humans anywhere they can with the least resistance. So the pattern shifts. Right now it’s going to Del Rio. As we have been down you’ve seen those numbers increased over there,” Medina told Border Report on Wednesday from the RGV headquarters in Edinburg, Texas.
The July numbers came out this week. And overall showed crossings fell across the border but remain high.
U.S. authorities stopped migrants 199,976 times in July, down 3.8% from 207,933 in June and down 6.8% from 213,593% in July 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
A lot of this is due to Title 42 pandemic-related rules still in place that prevent asylum seekers from crossing the border. Most migrants know that if they cross they will likely be sent back.
The RGV Sector has long been No. 1 for migrants trying to illegally cross the border from Mexico. But in July the region took second place for the first time in a long time.
Crossings in the RGV were down nearly 24% from May when over 46,000 migrants crossed here.
But apprehensions still average about 1,300 encounters per day in the RGV, Medina said. And at this rate, the sector could see the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, with about the same overall numbers as last year, he said.
“Currently right now the RGV has seen over 412,000 migrants from October to the end of July. Last fiscal year we were at nearly 550,000 migrants and so with two months left to go in this fiscal year,” Medina said, “We may get to it.”
So far, there have been 140 migrants who have died in the RGV sector, including over 70 in Brooks County, due to dehydration or injury in this barren part of deep South Texas.
And RGV Border Patrol agents have helped with 1,200 rescues, either from those lost in the brush, or those nearly drowning in the Rio Grande, Medina said.
But he said morale is up compared to last year when a surge of migrants overwhelmed agents here.
A big problem for agents last summer was that 70% of them were taken out of the field processing paperwork and other administrative duties related to migrant care and detention. This summer, however, help has come in the form of what Medina calls “DHS volunteers” from other federal agencies who are helping to pick up some of the slack.
“We do have a lot of DHS components that do come in and they come from anywhere in the country and they help us with processing, coordinating and logistics so all that helps an agent that would be doing those duties onto the field to do their enforcement duties,” Medina said.
This includes members of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and other DHS umbrella organizations, he said.
“So our agents can go out and do their primary missions. That’s what they want. That’s what they signed up for: to be out there in the field,” he said.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com