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US border agents overwhelmed by smugglers at remote Arizona crossing

CBP said it is focusing on thwarting smugglers and transportation networks.

Published: December 11, 2023 11:58am

Smugglers are bringing illegal immigrants to a remote area of Arizona's border with Mexico, overwhelming U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to the point that officials closed down an official crossing nearby to reassign agents to help arrest and process the new arrivals. 

Illegal immigrants from countries beyond South and Central America, including Senegal, Bangladesh and China, are coming to a gap in the remote border wall and walking about 14 miles to surrender to Border Patrol officials, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

As hundreds of immigrants illegally cross every day into the remote area, the government indefinitely shut down the nearby crossing between Lukeville, Arizona, and Sonoyta, Mexico, to reassign border officers from the entry port to help grapple with the influx of illegal immigrants. 

The agency also partially closed down other ports of entry in recent months.

Customs and Border Protection said Sunday that it "continues to surge personnel and resources to the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector to expeditiously take migrants into custody."

In October, the latest month for which data is available, the Tucson sector saw more than 55,000 encounters with illegal immigrants, a more than 140% increase from the same time last year. 

"The fact is we are enforcing the law, and there are consequences for those who fail to use lawful pathways," Customs and Border Protection also said. "Individuals encountered at the border are screened and vetted, and those without a legal basis to stay are removed."

The agency also said it is focusing on thwarting smugglers and transportation networks, including bus lines that transport illegal immigrants through northern Mexico.

Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and the state's senators, Democrat Mark Kelly and independent Krysten Sinema, both criticized the decision to close the Lukeville crossing.

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