Despite drop in numbers, Border Patrol apprehensions remain high

The number of people caught illegally crossing our southern border or deemed inadmissible to the United States has dropped for the third straight month.

However, the number of apprehensions along the border remains well above levels seen at this time last year.

During the month of October, Customs and Border Protection reported 164,303 encounters along the southern border. This number is down from 192,001 reported in September but remains a 128% increase over the numbers seen during the same month last year.

“We’re still seeing great numbers of apprehensions daily here, whether it’s a thousand apprehensions we’re seeing daily versus 1,500 or 2,000,” said Border Patrol agent Jesse Moreno.

The Rio Grande Valley sector remains the busiest sector along the entire border, reporting 45,324 encounters in October, 157% more than the same time last year.

According to CBP, nearly 26,000 family units and unaccompanied minors were caught here in the Rio Grande Valley sector in October.

“I think, with an opportunity, I can have a better life for my family, back home there’s no opportunity,” said Marvin Alvarenga, who is from Honduras.

Federal agents said Alvarenga was caught crossing the border with his wife and two children, ages four and eight. He said he was trying to reach family in Boston and is requesting asylum.

Alvarenga was among several families caught by border patrol in the town of La Joya.

Many of those who KPRC 2 spoke with said conditions in their home countries had become unlivable.

“Just the violence in my country and there are no jobs,” said Amilcar Gutierrez, who agents said was caught crossing the border with his wife and kids.

Gutierrez’s family is from El Salvador and said they’re trying to reach relatives in New Jersey.

Moreno said smuggling operations continue to exploit the large number of migrants crossing into the United States.

“These transnational criminal organizations continue to tell the migrants the border is open, and in fact, it is not,” Moreno said.

The historic number of people caught crossing the border or deemed inadmissible continues to fuel a backlog of cases in immigration court.

According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, there are nearly 1.5 million cases pending in immigration court. TRAC data shows the national average length of time a case is pending in immigration is now 933 days.

In Houston immigration courts, which are some of the busiest in the nation, the average time a case is pending is 1,205 days.

Watch the video above to see more of KPRC 2′s ride-along with Border Patrol.