Story by the Associated Press; curated by Zach Noble
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The number of Border Patrol agents roughly doubled over the last decade to more than 21,000, but many of them work where illegal crossings are relatively low. The imbalance has become increasingly clear since Central Americans began pouring into Texas' Rio Grande Valley by the thousands. Here are some numbers from Customs and Border Protection's website and internal documents reviewed by The Associated Press:
ARREST NUMBERS: The Rio Grande Valley sector is by far the leader in the number of arrests of people entering the country illegally. The sector made 194,015 arrests from the start of the fiscal year Oct. 1 through June 24. Tucson, Arizona, was second-busiest with 71,654, followed by Laredo, Texas, 34,001; San Diego, 22,701 Del Rio, Texas, 19,304; El Centro, California, 11,052; El Paso, Texas, 9,223; Yuma, Arizona, 4,821; and Big Bend, Texas, 3,167.
In this June 5, 2014 picture, a Border Patrol agent uses a headset and computer to conduct a long distance interview by video with a person arrested crossing the border in Texas, from a facility in San Diego. Hit with a dramatic increase of Central Americans crossing in South Texas, the Border Patrol is relieving staffing woes by enlisting agents in less busy sectors to process arrests through video interviews. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
STAFFING LEVELS: The agency's staffing levels aren't always in line with arrest numbers. Despite being the busiest sector, the Rio Grande Valley doesn't have the most agents. Tucson was the most heavily staffed, with 4,135 agents in September, the latest published figures. Rio Grande Valley was second with 3,086 agents, followed by El Paso, 2,631; San Diego, 2,572; Laredo, 1,804; Del Rio, 1,598; El Centro, 1,141; Yuma, 911; Big Bend, 623.
Tucson, Arizona. (Image via Steven Martin / flickr)
RECENT SURGE: The recent surge of immigrants from Central America into Texas has laid bare the imbalance even more. The Border Patrol made 1,422 arrests in the Rio Grande Valley sector on June 14. On the same day, Tucson made 226 arrests, followed by Del Rio, 128; Laredo, 123: San Diego, 97; El Centro, 39; El Paso, 22; Big Bend, 20; and Yuma, 15.