As elected leaders and ordinary Americans across the ideological spectrum speak out against the nation’s porous southern border, the first two weeks of the new fiscal year shed additional light on the continuing immigration crisis.
According to Jason Owens, who currently serves as U.S. Border Patrol chief, more than 18,000 so-called “gotaways” — individuals who evaded capture upon illegally crossing the border — have been reported during just the first 16 days of the 2024 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1.
“These are individuals whose identities [and] purpose we do not know,” Owens advised. “That is why we need every Border Patrol agent to be in the field and on patrol.”
Republican officials, particularly in border states, are using the latest data to highlight the need for increased security measures and greater enforcement of immigration laws.
18,000 KNOWN gotaways in 16 days
This is an existential crisis. https://t.co/7yj2YketdT
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) October 18, 2023
In addition to merely flouting the nation’s laws and disappearing within U.S. communities, the “gotaways” referenced by Owens often pose a clear threat to American citizens.
Just three days into the new fiscal year, Owens noted that authorities in El Paso, Texas, arrested a suspected Tren de Araguas gang member from Venezuela who had been convicted of murder and theft in that country.
He went on to report that during the previous weekend, Border Patrol agents prevented a quartet of undocumented migrants who had previously been expelled from re-entering the country. All four had been convicted of heinous crimes, including murder and sex offenses involving children.
The Republican National Committee seized on the latest numbers as part of a broader statement this week confirming that there “have been over 1.6 MILLION known ‘gotaways’ — people who have illegally crossed the border and escaped into the country — since Joe Biden took office.”
Noting that the amount exceeds the population of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the RNC stressed that the inability to track these individuals “should concern every American” due to the clear implications to national security.
“We have nation-state threats, we have terrorist threats … to think that there’s not just as bad or worse people in those getting away would be naive,” explained former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott.