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  • David Connolly

On the Ground With US Border Patrol



In February of 2022, federal law enforcement in El Paso and Big Bend recorded 23,621 encounters with migrants, a number 45% higher than at the same time in 2021. And with Title 42 slated to sunset in May, US Border Patrol is prepping for a tougher crackdown on the “coyotes.”


In the borderlands, coyotes are the smugglers who specialize in bringing in people. Some coyotes are foot guides, leading groups of migrants across the desert pan, over ridges like the Sierra Vieja, and around US Border Patrol checkpoints and roving federal agents. Others run stash houses, clandestine way stations on the path north where migrants can get water and food before moving on, but they’re rare in the Big Bend Sector. That’s not true in El Paso and the suburbs north of Ciudad Juárez. In 2021, El Paso agents raided 306 stash houses and detained 3,212 migrants found hiding inside them. In both sectors, the final phase of an unlawful migrant’s journey usually comes in the back of a vehicle gunning for “hub cities,” large metropolitan areas located past the major US Border Patrol checkpoints with road, rail, bus, and air travel out of town.


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