Illegal border crossings in Texas have gone down, but smuggling remains a problem


Data from Customs and Border Protection shows illegal border crossings have been going down since January. This data shows a drop in every sector along Texas’ border with Mexico, while sectors in Arizona and California are seeing sharp increases.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection data (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston – All rights reserved.)

CBP data shows an overall 2.5-percent drop in illegal crossings during the first six months of fiscal year 2024, when compared to the same time period last year. The largest single month drop came between December 2023 and January 2024. This data also shows what appears to be a shift in where the majority of crossings are now happening along the border. Every Border Patrol sector in Texas saw a drop this fiscal year compared to last, while the Tucson saw a 133-percent increase and the San Diego sector saw a 69-percent increase.

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U.S. Custom and Border Protection data (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston – All rights reserved.)

“In Texas alone, we’ve had a 72% decrease in illegal border crossings,” said Lt. Chris Olivarez with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

KPRC 2 recently visited Kinney and Maverick counties, which had previously been some of the most active spots along the border.

“We’re down across the board, down in pursuits, down in smuggler apprehensions, and down in bail bailouts,” said Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe.

Coe credits the efforts of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star and consistent help from Galveston County law enforcement with the drop in border-related cases. Miles of chain link fence and concertina wire have been installed near Eagle Pass, along with buoys in the river and a flood of military and state police patrols. Galveston County constables and the sheriff’s office have been sending deputies to Kinney County for more than 2 years to help the rural department keep with what had been a surge in smuggling cases, high-speed chases and trespassing.

“These people are at risk coming through here, and unless we come down here and help; they’re overwhelmed,” said Galveston County Pct. 4 Constable Justin West. “Us being here is a force multiplier for these counties.”

Olivarez said the decrease in illegal border crossings has freed up DPS resources to focus more on human smuggling operations. While smuggling is not a new problem in Texas, there has been a shift in who is willing to try to cash in on the smuggling trade.

“These are people that are not your typical criminals, they don’t have criminal backgrounds,” said Olivarez. “These are first offenders.”