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Shifting migrant routes make San Diego the new hotspot for illegal border crossings

Alexandra Mendoza, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County has become the busiest corridor for illegal crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border as popular migration routes have continued to shift west from Arizona and Texas, according to the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

Last month, U.S. Border Patrol encountered 37,370 migrants along the 60 miles of border that span the San Diego Sector, a 49% increase when compared with April 2023. While the Tucson Sector — the busiest along the border until last month — still leads in the number of apprehensions so far this fiscal year, the April flip is not surprising to those who have witnessed the increasing number of migrant arrivals in San Diego since the fall.

"There is some notion that crossing through San Diego is less risky," said Pedro Ríos, director of the American Friends Service Committee's U.S.-Mexico Border Program, whose organization for months has been providing humanitarian aid to arriving migrants waiting to be processed between the two fences near the San Ysidro border crossing.

Some migrants have told him that they preferred to come to San Diego because of information they received from other family members or acquaintances who had made the journey into the U.S. Others tried through another border city, but when they were intercepted by Mexican agents, they decided to try again from here.

But the biggest effect, according to him and others, has been Texas' multibillion-dollar effort to secure its border with Mexico. All of the Border Patrol Texas sectors showed a decrease in the number of encounters last month compared to April 2023.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbot took credit for it on X, formerly known as Twitter.


"Thanks to our stiff resistance, illegal crossings continue to shift to other border states — with California now the epicenter of Biden's border crisis," he wrote earlier this month.

While Border Patrol apprehensions increased by nearly 11% from March to April in San Diego, they fell overall across the southwestern border by 6%, according to the data.

"CBP continues to surge resources and personnel to impacted sectors along the border to ensure the safe, swift, and orderly processing of individuals to maximize expedited removals," acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement.

He credited increased enforcement measures on bucking previous springtime trends of increased illegal migration but promised to "remain vigilant to continually shifting migration patterns."


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