More Than 255,000 Apprehended At Southern Border In September

Southern Border

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square

October 5, 2023


(The Center Square) – At least 255,212 foreign nationals were apprehended or reported evading capture after illegally entering the southwest border in September, according to preliminary Border Patrol data obtained by The Center Square.

This includes at least 222,009 apprehensions and 33,203 gotaways. “Gotaways” is the official U.S. Customs and Border Protection term that refers to the number of people known and reported to illegally enter the U.S. between ports of entry who intentionally try to evade capture and don’t return to Mexico.

In September, the most gotaways were reported in the El Paso and Tucson sectors. As in August, with most Yuma agents pulled out of the field to deal with an influx of people arriving at open areas of the border wall, gotaway numbers reported by agents last month were extremely low, which is out of the ordinary.

CBP doesn’t publicly report gotaway data. The data was obtained by The Center Square from a U.S. Border Patrol agent who provided it on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. It only includes Border Patrol data and excludes Office of Field Operations data. Total numbers are higher once OFO data is included.

As of Oct. 2, the preliminary data for August in the nine southwest border sectors include:


Apprehensions- 727

Turnbacks- 19

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 202

Unclassifiable Detection- 0

Gotaways Interior Zone- 50

No Violations- 7

Deceased- 0

Outstanding- 56


Apprehensions- 46,043

Turnbacks- 105

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 3,335

Unclassifiable Detection- 46

Gotaways Interior Zone- 940

No Violations- 70

Deceased- 6

Outstanding- 165


Apprehensions- 2,486

Turnbacks- 281

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 154

Unclassifiable Detection- 0

Gotaways Interior Zone- 8

No Violations- 1

Deceased- 0

Outstanding- 0


Apprehensions- 38,597

Turnbacks- 2,407

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 11,845

Unclassifiable Detection- 0

Gotaways Interior Zone- 250

No Violations- 3

Deceased- 8

Outstanding- 3


Apprehensions- 3,325

Turnbacks- 2,831

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 1,200

Unclassifiable Detection- 5

Gotaways Interior Zone- 218

No Violations- 70

Deceased- 3

Outstanding- 0


Apprehensions- 46,034

Turnbacks- 2,354

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 1,406

Unclassifiable Detection- 39

Gotaways Interior Zone- 216

No Violations- 80

Deceased- 9

Outstanding- 0


Apprehensions- 26,730

Turnbacks- 286

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 2,466

Unclassifiable Detection- 85

Gotaways Interior Zone- 1,821

No Violations- 179

Deceased- 0

Outstanding- 162


Apprehensions- 51,793

Turnbacks- 393

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 6,678

Unclassifiable Detection- 62

Gotaways Interior Zone- 2,194

No Violations- 69

Deceased- 9

Outstanding- 661


Apprehensions- 6,274

Turnbacks- 90

Gotaways Border Zone (known/recorded)- 194

Unclassifiable Detection- 16

Gotaways Interior Zone- 26

No Violations- 3

Deceased- 1

Outstanding- 54


Of the five stations with the most foot traffic, three were in Texas. The greatest volume was in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas, followed by Ajo, Arizona, Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas.

The Eagle Pass station reported at least 37,625 apprehensions and 2,108 gotaways last month; El Paso reported 26,154 apprehensions and 800 gotaways.

Ajo reported 20,673 apprehensions and 232 gotaways. Notably, Santa Teresa agents reported more gotaways (10,333) than apprehensions (9,074).

Apprehensions refer to those who illegally enter the U.S. and surrender or are caught by Border Patrol agents. Turnbacks refer to those who illegally enter but turn back to Mexico. The gotaway data indicates where foreign nationals are detected illegally entering the U.S., at the Mexican border or farther north in the interior.

Unclassifiable detection isn’t part of 6 U.S. Code, which specifies how encounters are to be reported. It means agents, for a range of reasons, couldn’t determine citizenship. No-violations are individuals “deemed to have committed no infraction and don’t affect Got-Away statistics,” according to the internal tracking system Border Patrol agents use.

The gotaway data is believed to be much higher than reported because it doesn’t include unknown and unrecorded gotaways. With the majority of agents no longer in the field, they are unable to detect how many are getting through. Agents have explained to The Center Square they have no idea how many gotaways there really are in the U.S., who or where they are.


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