As many as 1.2 million people may have evaded detection and sneaked into the U.S. 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 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.” Given the realities of the border right now, he said, 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,” Mr. Cabrera told Ms. Blackburn for her “Unmuted with Marsha” podcast.
The Tennessee Republican and the agent reviewed the latest happenings on the border and expressed worry that Biden administration negotiations to pay some illegal immigrants $450,000 in compensation for family separations during the Trump era will entice even 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 said last week that the report of payments was “garbage,” but Mr. Cabrera said it doesn’t matter whether immigrants get the money.
“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.
Smugglers, he said, will use the reports in a marketing strategy to recruit clients.
It’s tough to imagine that the border crisis could get worse.
Agents broke a record for apprehensions with nearly 1.7 million arrests along the southern border in fiscal year 2021, which ended Sept. 30. Of those arrested, most were expelled back to Mexico. 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 who weren’t caught.
Border enforcement officials estimated how many they detected crossing but didn’t catch. That’s the 400,000 figure.
Then there are the ones Homeland Security never detected, and that’s where Mr. Cabrera said the numbers are likely far higher than the official estimate.
If his estimate of two to three times the official figure is accurate, it means 800,000 to 1.2 million total evasions. Evidence backs it up.
A report last week by the Center for Immigration Studies, using the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data, found that the foreign-born population of the U.S. leaped by 1.6 million from September 2020 to this September.
Steven A. Camarota, the center’s demographer, said the population survey shows a lot of month-to-month variation. More data will be needed, he said, but the dramatic increase reflects the Biden border migrant surge and moves to open the aperture on legal immigrants.
Given what’s happening at the border, Mr. Cabrera said, “it’s much easier to come in illegally than it is coming in legally, so people are going to take advantage of that.”