EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The El Paso Sector continues to lead the county in migrant apprehensions, as Mexican nationals looking for work are now coming across the border in greater numbers.

Border agents in February took into custody 32,233 foreign nationals in a sector that straddles Far West Texas and New Mexico, U.S. Customs and Border Protection data shows. That’s almost 9,000 more than were apprehended in the Tucson, Arizona, Sector and nearly 10,000 more than Del Rio, Texas.

The data shows virtually 50 percent of the apprehensions in El Paso involved Mexicans and 75 percent consist of single adults. Most are not seeking asylum and two out of three ended up being expelled under Title 42 public health authority in February, the data shows.

Year-to-date migrant apprehensions between ports of entry. (CBP graphic)

Federal officials on Thursday confirmed the trend first reported last month in the El Paso Sector. The increase in Mexican foot traffic across the border is typical of the start of agriculture and construction cycles in the interior of the United States, border agents and migration experts have told Border Report.

“The U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector continues to see record numbers in migrant encounters compared to previous fiscal years. Since the beginning of fiscal year 2023 to February, the (sector) has recorded 224,893 migrant encounters, primarily single adults evading arrest,” the agency said in an email Thursday.

The top five nationalities encountered in the sector are Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia and Guatemala. And since March 1, the agency has seen the daily number of apprehensions increase to 1,130.

Migrant demographics, El Paso Sector, February 2023 only. (CBP graphic)

The numbers tell a much different story at ports of entry. All four CBP Office of Field Operations sectors – San Diego, Tucson, El Paso and Laredo – are reporting triple-digit increases in migrant encounters year-to-date, mostly involving asylum-seekers.

The outcome of migrant encounters at established land ports differs greatly from the fate that befalls those coming over the border wall or the desert. Thirty-seven percent of migrants taken by the Border Patrol have been expelled this fiscal year compared to only 7 percent of those who make it to the ports of entry, CBP data shows. More than nine out of 10 migrants encountered at ports of entry are processed under Title 8 authority, which can lead to the detention or release on parole of the migrant.

Migrant encounters at Southwest ports of entry, fiscal year 2023. (CBP graphic)

According to CBP’s latest monthly operational update, the data of those processed as ports of entry includes individuals who had scheduled appointments for asylum or exceptions to Title 42 expulsions.