A completely unprecedented border migration surge notwithstanding, The Wall Street Journal reports today that U.S. Border Patrol will no longer prosecute first-time border crossers in West Texas's pivotal Del Rio Sector. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data from last month, the Del Rio Sector saw an 82% year-over-year increase in unaccompanied alien children apprehensions.
Per The Journal:
The Trump administration has curtailed a key component of its "zero tolerance" immigration policy, no longer charging first-time illegal border crossers with a crime along a busy stretch of West Texas.
Prosecutions of single migrant adults caught crossing the border for the first time in and around Del Rio, Texas, were suspended in February amid lack of jail space, said a U.S. Border Patrol official. The policy change hasn’t been previously reported.
Instead of being charged with a misdemeanor, most single migrants, or adults traveling without children, apprehended crossing the border illegally for the first time will face swift deportation without criminal charges. The official said Border Patrol has ceased charging those illegal immigrants amid the increasing number of families crossing the border and seeking asylum and an uptick in other criminal cases that have left them with no detention space.
As The Journal notes, Del Rio Sector prosecutions initially increased during the Bush administration — the 43rd president oversaw border agents who made about 68,000 arrests in the Sector during the federal government's fiscal year 2005. But arrests in the Sector have not eclipsed 25,000 in a given fiscal year since 2007.
"The suspension of misdemeanor prosecutions in Del Rio is another setback for the Trump administration in its efforts to crack down on illegal immigration," The Journal concludes.
As The Daily Wire has previously reported, Customs and Border Protection data on border activity last month were so eye-gouging as to leave The Washington Post's national security reporter specializing in immigration enforcement and drug trafficking with only one appropriate word: "Bonkers."
If anything, it looks like March's border numbers will be even worse. Customs and Border Protection tweeted on Wednesday: "[email protected]_McAleenan: We are now on pace for over 100,000 apprehensions and encounters with migrants—with 90% (90,000) crossing the border illegally between ports of entry. March will be the highest month in over a decade."
Daniel Horowitz of Conservative Review spoke with Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, about placing the March border numbers in a broader context:
Just how bad is it? Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told me emphatically that this is the "absolute worst" he’s seen it in 21 years of his work on the border. "We have never seen what we are dealing with today. It’s unprecedented and we’re in uncharted waters."
Judd stressed the fact that while there were years where we had up to 1.5 million apprehensions during the 1990s and early 2000s, those were total arrests, not total number of people arrested. That is because almost all of those crossing were single adults from Mexico who were repatriated back to Mexico almost immediately. As such, many tried to come back again, and Border Patrol counted news arrests of the same individual multiple times. "Last decade, we arrested the same people multiple times in one year. For example, I caught the same group of seven people three times in the same shift, so although I made 21 arrests, it was still only seven people."
As The Daily Wire has also reported, the National ICE Council, which is the union representing about 7,600 officers and agents who work for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recently sent a harshly critical letter to President Trump regarding the administration's current catch-and-release policies wreaking havoc at the southwestern border.