(Photo Credit: Eric Gay/The Associated Press)
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Chris Cabrera told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Wednesday he estimates that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is catching only about 40 percent of the illegal aliens that cross the Southwest U.S. border illegally each year.
Cabrera's estimate would put the total number of unaccompanied children and family units that crossed the border illegally in the first 11 months of FY2015 at more than 175,000 - or about 16,000 per month.
And that’s not including single adult aliens and the fact that there are multiple family members in each "family unit."
What’s more, Cabrera explained the illegal aliens still streaming across the border don’t seem to have been all that worried about President Obama’s promise to the American people last November, when he vowed to deport any recent border crossers before announcing a slew of executive immigration reforms.
Instead, Cabrera said, unaccompanied children and family units apprehended at the border are still telling border patrol agents they believe that if they can make it to the United States, they will be allowed to stay. From his testimony during the congressional hearing:
Most believe they will not be caught, or if they do get caught, they will not be deported back to their home country.
The UAC and family groups we detain are acutely aware we will not hold them until they are adjudicated. They know that they will be released and issued a notice to appear. What we have right now is essentially a catch-and-release policy. This, coupled with the violence and instability in their home country, is what’s driving the continued flow into the United States.
Unless we hold them until we adjudicate their cases, they will continue to come.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports the agency apprehended about 35,500 unaccompanied alien children at the Southwest U.S.-Mexico border between Oct. 1, 2014 and Aug. 31 of this year. The agency has yet to publish its apprehension numbers for September, which will close out the data for FY2015.
If Cabrera’s estimates are correct, this would put the actual number of UACs who came to the United States illegally at about 89,000 as of Aug. 31.
Similarly, Cabrera’s approximation means roughly 86,500 family units have also crossed the border unlawfully in the first 11 months of FY2015 -- more than twice the 34,565 apprehensions CBP reported as of Aug. 31.
The apprehension numbers reported by CBP are about 46 percent fewer than those reported in FY2014. According to Cabrera, this is “no cause for celebration.”
Watch Cabrera's testimony here: