“We still have all summer through September to go”: Laredo sector BP chief discusses immigration data

Chief Hudak says, “if we continue on this current trend, we’re heading into some dangerous situations.”
Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 10:09 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - You can hear it a mile away: agents patrolling the Rio Grande by boat.

Whether by water or land, Border Patrol for the Laredo sector has reported more than 54,000 apprehensions between October 2020 and February 2021 -- a 140% increase compared to this time last year, according to the area’s Border Patrol Chief Matthew Hudak.

“Going all the way back to 2009, it’s higher than any of those years, and in perspective we’re not even seven months into this fiscal year, so we still have all summer through September to go,” Chief Hudak said.

It’s almost as high as the nearly 57,000 apprehensions in fiscal year 2007.

Each sector along the U.S.-Mexico border encounters a different makeup of illegal immigrants.

About 94% of those for the Laredo sector are single adults, according to Chief Hudak.

“The single adults, it’s a challenge in its own right because that is all being driven by the criminal organizations. These people are paying very high smuggling fees. They’re being smuggled in often very dangerous situations, whether that be the tractor trailers, tankers, rail cars. So it’s a very different situation from what we’re seeing elsewhere.”

Elsewhere, illegal immigrants may turn themselves into agents.

In the Laredo sector, that’s not typical, Chief Hudak says.

When asked if he thinks his staff is strained on resources and manpower, he said: “Most certainly. Seeing an increase like this puts stress on our manpower…”

At a late March city council meeting, members voted on an agenda item to “set the record straight regarding recent allegations that Laredo is one of the battlegrounds of our nation’s border crisis.”

They voted unanimously to declare Laredo safe.

“So I think Laredo’s safe, but I would assure everybody that that does not happen by accident. That is because of the men and women out here every day, 24 hours a day,” Chief Hudak said.

To put some of these numbers into perspective, here is a graph from CBP that shows the total southwest border encounters between fiscal years 2018 and 2021:

FY Southwest Land Border Encounters by Month
FY Southwest Land Border Encounters by Month(KGNS)

This orange line is fiscal year 2019 where you can see an increase in illegal immigration encounters, with the highest being in may at more than 144,000.

This isn’t just the Laredo sector, but it is for all of the southwest border.

The line in blue represents fiscal year 2021 up until February, which already surpasses some of those 2019 numbers.

Our Ashley Soriano created the graph below using data from CBP dating back to fiscal year 2000:

Keep in mind that this represents just the Laredo sector apprehensions.

You’ll see a spike in 2000 when it was at nearly 109,000.

Chief Hudak says the process was different back then.

Another high was in fiscal year 2006 at nearly 75,000 apprehensions.

In fiscal year 2013, it was nearly 51,000.

Numbers started to drop with a few fluctuations.

Chief Hudak says, “if we continue on this current trend, we’re heading into some dangerous situations.”

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