EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The year 2022 ended much like it started, when the number of migrant encounters shattered records at the U.S.-Mexico border, and Texas began busing migrants to cities like New York and Chicago.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the evening of Dec. 23 released its Monthly Operational Update for November 2022, which showed a new record for migrant encounters nationwide (283,189), the majority of which took place at the Southwest border (233,740).
The following night, Christmas Eve, Texas officials sent busloads of migrants to Washington, D.C., and had them dropped near the home of Vice President Kamala Harris.
And with time winding down in 2022, the Supreme Court kept pandemic-era limits on asylum in place, at least temporarily, dealing a blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to end Title 42.
Although immigration continues to dominate the headlines, Border Report’s most-viewed story for 2022 came ahead of a frightening weekend just south of the border in Tijuana.
Below are Border Report’s Top 10 stories of 2022:
10. Arrest of cartel leaders leads to shootouts, burning of vehicles in 2 Mexican states
The President of Mexico blamed the arrest of high-level cartel leaders for violence that included shootouts with police, the burning of cars and storefronts in the states of Jalisco and Guanajuato.
The violence prompted the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara to issue this alert: “Local authorities and media are reporting multiple road blockades, burning vehicles and shootouts between Mexican security forces and unspecified criminal elements in various parts of the Guadalajara metropolitan area. The U.S. Consulate General in Guadalajara has instructed employees to follow the advice of local authorities and shelter in place until further notice.”
9. El Paso residents near border say migrants are coming up to their homes asking for help
An El Paso neighborhood next to the Border Highway saw a dramatic increase in migrants in December. Reporters witnessed a group of about 15 migrants climbing through a hole in the fence into a neighborhood off Fonseca Drive after running across the Cesar Chavez Border Highway, which runs along the U.S.-Mexico border from Downtown to El Paso’s Lower Valley.
8. 21 dead in ’84 McDonald’s massacre a distant memory for border community
Like Uvalde, Texas, this year, all eyes were on San Ysidro, California, some 38 years ago when a lone gunman shot dozens of people inside a McDonald’s in the small community about a mile from the border.
Armed with several weapons, including an Uzi and a shotgun, James Huberty, 41, walked into the restaurant at 3:56 p.m. on Wednesday, July 18, 1984, and went on a killing spree, reportedly telling his wife beforehand that he was going “hunting for humans.”
7. Texas-born drug lord ‘La Barbie’ no longer in U.S. custody, his whereabouts unknown
Drug trafficker Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as “La Barbie,” is no longer listed as being held by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Valdez was extradited to Georgia from Mexico seven years ago and had received a 49-year prison term after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and launder money.
He was also ordered to pay $192 million in restitution to the U.S. Government.
According to his sentencing documents, Valdez’s release date was set for July 27, 2057.
But inexplicably, he is no longer being held and is listed as “Not in BOP custody” in the Bureau of Prisons database.
6. Cartel member who dissolved hundreds of cadavers in acid gets more prison time
Santiago Meza López, who admitted to dissolving at least 300 bodies in acid for a Tijuana drug cartel, will have to remain in prison a while longer. Meza, 57, known as “El Pozolero,” or someone who makes pozole — a Mexican stew made with hominy, chicken, pork and vegetables — was told he was being denied a shot at freedom because he has yet to be sentenced for additional crimes.
5. Migrants hopping off Operation Lone Star buses ahead of their final destination
While the state of Texas has spent more than $12 million to send migrants to cities such as New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago, some migrants are bailing before the buses reach their final destination.
An inside look at migrant busing from the southern border
Migrants are given the choice of whether to get on the buses, and are allowed to get off anywhere and at any time.
*5. Migrant crossings plummet as Texas guard expands barbwire fence
Migrant crossings plummeted down a mile-long stretch of Downtown El Paso where the Texas Army National Guard set up concertina wire and portable fencing along the Rio Grande.
The guard began setting up the barrier in late December at a gap in the border wall west of the Paso del Norte port of entry. In the span of eight days, the barbed wire has nearly reached a second port of entry and a chain-link fence anchored by sandbags extends even farther. The result is that asylum-seekers can no longer walk across ankle-deep water in the Rio Grande and surrender to Border Patrol agents waiting in that area.
4. Government’s private border wall lawsuit inches closer to dismissal
At the start of the year, the federal government’s 2-year-old lawsuit against the contractor of a private border wall built in South Texas was close to being resolved and could’ve been dismissed “within 60 days,” according to testimony given in federal court in McAllen.
The federal government in December 2019 filed a lawsuit against Fisher Industries and Fisher Sand and Gravel, which built the 3.5-mile section of wall on private farmlands along the Rio Grande. The farmer that gave up the riverfront land, and the nonprofit group We Build The Wall, an organization that crowdsourced to raise millions of dollars in private donations for the construction, also were originally part of the lawsuit.
3. Governor says Texas crowdsourcing for migrant bus fares to DC after being ‘overwhelmed’ by donations
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that the state had been “overwhelmed” with people from across the country wanting to help bus migrants to Washington, D.C, and that is why they launched an online website to accept donations.
“As soon as the announcement was made we were overwhelmed with phone calls, with letters, with requests about people providing buses, people driving buses, people paying for buses and we got to thinking if people all across the country are so eager to participate in this then we should put a website link up and let them participate and as soon as we did that the donations have come in,” Abbott said during a visit to McAllen where he received an award for helping with broadband connectivity to students in the Rio Grande Valley.
2. Migrant encounters top 2 million in calendar year 2021, on pace for repeat in 2022
U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures now show that more than 2 million unauthorized migrants came across the Mexican border in the calendar year and were apprehended or turned themselves in – in addition to those not stopped or detected.
The latest figures come amid accusations from Republicans that the Biden administration somehow propitiated the mass migration and hasn’t done enough to stem it. They also come amid an outcry from advocates unhappy with the hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and economic migrants being summarily expelled under the Title 42 public health order to prevent cross-border spread of COVID-19.
1. Cartel threatens weekend of mass violence in all of Northern Baja
The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) sent a warning threatening mass violence against anyone roaming the streets the second weekend of August in cities throughout Northern Baja California.
The message in Spanish read: “Be warned. As of Friday at 10 p.m. through Sunday at 3 a.m. we’re going to create mayhem so the (expletive) government frees our people. We’re the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, we don’t want to hurt good people but it’s best they don’t go outside, we’re going to attack anyone we see on the streets on these days.”
*Editor’s note: This article has been updated to show that a story published on Dec. 27, 2022, was Border Report’s fifth most-viewed but was mistakenly left out of our top stories list. Here’s a link to that story: Migrant crossings plummet as Texas guard expands barbwire fence