As many as 1.2 million illegal immigrants may have evaded detection and sneaked into the country over the last year and more will come if they hear about plans to pay $450,000 to some migrants, a top Border Patrol union official said in a new podcast released Friday by Sen. Marsha Blackburn and provided first to The Washington Times.
Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council’s Rio Grande Valley chapter and spokesman for the national organization, said the public figure is 400,000 “gotaways,” but given the realities of the border right now, that’s a serious undercount.
There’s no way we’re anywhere near that low of a number. That number is at least twice if not three times that number. There’s a huge number of gotaways,” he told Ms. Blackburn for her “Unmuted with Marsha” podcast.
The Tennessee Republican and the agent reviewed the latest happenings on the border and in particular was worried Biden administration negotiations to pay some illegal immigrants $450,000 in compensation for having been part of family separations during the Trump era will entice still more people to come.
“I would think that the news that is spreading about the Biden administration negotiating with those that were briefly separated at the border and the 450,000 per person payout — I would think that, that is probably having an adverse impact,” the senator said.
President Biden this week said the report of payments was “garbage.” But Mr. Cabrera said it doesn’t even matter whether the payments actually happen.
“The word is out there, and people are hearing that, and they’re interpreting it as they’re going to get some type of reward for coming here, so it’s going to mobilize people,” he said, adding that the smugglers will use the reports as a marketing strategy to recruit more people to come.
It’s tough to imagine things could get worse.
Agents set a new record for apprehensions with nearly 1.7 million arrests along the southern border in fiscal year 2021, which ended Sept. 30. Of those, most were expelled back into Mexico. But about 500,000 were either caught and released or sent to other federal agencies with no quick path to deportation.
Beyond those, however, are the migrants that weren’t caught.
Border law enforcement officials have estimates of how many they detected crossing but didn’t catch. That’s the 400,000 figure that’s floating around.
But then there are the ones Homeland Security never detected, and that’s where Mr. Cabrera said the numbers are likely far in excess of the official estimate.
If his figure of two to three times the official figure is accurate, it means between 800,000 and 1.2 million total evasions.
There is some evidence to back up that speculation.
A new report this week by the Center for Immigration Studies, using the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data, found the foreign-born population of the U.S. leaped by 1.6 million people between September 2020 and this September.
Steven A. Camarota, the center’s demographer, said the population survey shows a lot of month-to-month variation and more data will be needed, but the “dramatic” increase reflects the Biden border migrant surge, as well as the administration’s moves to open the aperture on legal immigrants.
Mr. Cabrera said given what’s happening at the border, “it’s much easier to come in illegally than it is coming in legally so people are going to take advantage of that.”
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