A remote part of the Arizona border is being overrun by a massive surge of mainly adult male migrants from across the globe, including countries in Africa and the Middle East — just as the state’s Tucson Sector has seen record numbers of crossings in recent days.
Fox News was on the ground in Lukeville, Arizona, where Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have been forced to close the local port of entry due to the surge in illegal entries. Fox footage showed that, as of Tuesday morning, hundreds of single military-age men camped out against the border wall waiting to be processed into the U.S, and not a single woman or child among them.
Of those camped out, there were a large number of Africans from countries Senegal, Guinea, Mauritania, Egypt and elsewhere waiting to be processed and potentially released into the U.S. Others were from the Middle East and Asia.
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One man told Fox that he paid $10,000 to a smuggler to travel from Mauritania via Colombia, while a man from Guinea said he was planning to head to New York City if he was released into the U.S.
The Tucson Sector saw nearly 3,000 encounters in a single day and has seen 17,500 encounters in a single week, the highest weekly total ever recorded.
Meanwhile, Fox cameras caught a moment when migrants exploited gaps in the border wall — which were being repaired by federal contractors — and rushed through the gap and into the United States before it could be fixed.
The situation has sparked outrage from local lawmakers. Rep. Juan Ciscomani , R-Ariz., last week called for the deployment of the Arizona National Guard to the border, urging Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to recommend such action to the Pentagon.
“Tucson Sector is leading in encounters and our agents and officers are overrun and undermanned,” Ciscomani says in a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “The situation is far past a breaking point and those on the frontlines of this crisis are in need of immediate support.”
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CBP has been surging resources and personnel to the Tucson Sector — which typically sees less traffic than other sectors like the Rio Grande Valley– and has been focusing on transporting migrants laterally to other parts of the border combined with a greater use of expedited removal as an alternative to them being released into the U.S.
The Biden administration has promised to increase the use of the expedited removal authority — and has requested resources to do so as part of its $14 billion supplemental request to Congress for border operations, including staffing and non-custodial housing. Negotiations are ongoing in Congress over that supplemental, with Republicans wanting to see stricter asylum standards and limits on the administration’s use of humanitarian parole. However, some Senate Democrats have said that they would only agree to such policy changes if they were tied to an amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
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The Biden administration has said it is dealing with a Hemisphere-wide crisis and needs Congress to act to provide more funding for the border processes, while since 2021 it has been calling on Republicans to support a comprehensive immigration bill it unveiled on day one of the administration. That too would include a sweeping amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.
Republicans have rejected that legislation, and instead introduced a bill of their own which would increase border security funding while increasing limits on asylum and the use of humanitarian parole. Republicans have blamed the ongoing crisis on the policies of the administration — including its rollback of Trump-era policies.
Similarly, the Border Patrol union has repeatedly blamed the administration, putting the surge in Lukeville down to an “open invitation” by the Biden administration.
“It takes a toll on the men and women [of Border Patrol] that are out there putting their lives on the line each and every day,” The National Border Patrol Council’s Art Del Cueto told Fox News.
But whatever the cause, the border remains in a historic crisis with records being broken at every turn. There were more than 2.4 million migrant encounters in FY 23, a new record. September saw a record for encounters at the southern border, while October saw a record for encounters in October — with more than 240,000 encounters border-wide.
Fox News’ Aubrie Spady contributed to this report.