Texas Border Encounters Continue Decline as Illegal Entries Shift to California, Arizona

Craig Bannister | March 26, 2024
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The number of Border Patrol encounters with illegal aliens in Texas continued to plunge in February, thanks to the effectiveness of Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star. Meanwhile, encounters spiked again in California and Arizona, where Democrat governors are in charge, as illegal aliens increasingly turned their focus to more welcoming borders.

Border Encounters Bar Chart

Through Operation Lone Star, Gov. Abbott has installed wire fencing at the border, deployed floating border barriers and called out the Texas National Guard to deter illegal immigration.

And, his efforts have been successful.

Through the first five months of Fiscal Year 2024 (Oct.-Feb.), the number of encounters of illegal aliens between ports of entry in Texas have declined 28% (from 560,920 to 406,458) compared to the same period year-ago. Four of the state’s five Border Patrol sectors recorded steep declines: El Paso (-47%), Big Bend (-65%), Laredo (-38%) and Rio Grande Valley (23%).

In the fifth sector, Del Rio, encounters were down a more modest six percent for the first five months of the fiscal year. But, border security has improved significantly in recent months.

In early January, Texas closed off the Del Rio Sector’s Shelby Park in Eagle Pass and, for the month, the number of illegal alien encounters plummeted 325% from the previous month and 41% from January 2023. In February of this year, encounters in Del Rio Sector declined 39% from the same period year-ago.

Last month, illegal alien encounters in Texas dropped 30%, compared to the previous February, with all five sectors recording declines, ranging from 20% in Rio Grande Valley to 42% in Big Bend.

Meanwhile, border agent encounters between ports of entry in California, a self-professed “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants, are up 35% through the first five months of the fiscal year (from 118,304 in FY2023 to 160,080). In February, illegal alien encounters were 60% higher, compared to the same month the previous year (32,771 vs. 20,525 in Feb. 2023).

In February of 2023, illegal alien encounters in two Texas sectors – Del Rio (22,939) and El Paso (32,911) – each exceeded those in the entire state of California (20,525). But, by February of this year, the counts for both Del Rio (14,109) and El Paso (23,916) had fallen well below California’s tally of 32,711.

In Arizona, led by Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs, illegal alien encounters between ports of entry has surged 52% to 327,913 through the first five months of FY2024, up from 215,642 in the same period a year earlier.

The increase is entirely due to an onslaught of illegal aliens trying to sneak into the U.S. across the border in the Tucson Sector. In the first five months of FY2024, encounters in this sector are up 167%, from 112,301 to 300,063, compared to a year earlier. In every one of the five months, border encounters have surged by at least 110%, compared to the same month a year earlier.

While Arizona has not openly declared that it welcomes illegal immigration, Gov. Hobbs has not taken steps similar to those of Gov. Abbott to secure the border.

Thus, now that breaking into the country through the Texas border has become a much more daunting task, illegal aliens appear to be migrating westward to enter through states that are less zealous about securing their borders.