An Arizona Border Patrol sector is facing overwhelming numbers, with new images showing the overcrowding in facilities, as agents have been green-lit to release migrants on the streets to cope with the pressure.
Photos in Ajo, Arizona, taken by retired ICE Field Office Director John Fabbricatore, show illegal migrants being detained in an outdoor holding facility in the Tucson sector.
The sector has seen 2,000 illegal crossings a day for three days, and agents have resorted to street releases in order to decompress the packed shelters. The population includes migrants from Africa, including many from Senegal.
It has quickly become one of the most intense areas of a crisis that is again escalating as numbers increase. Sources told Fox that agents apprehended more than 7,400 illegal migrants at the border on Tuesday, and numbers have stayed above the 7,000 mark for three days straight. When combined with encounters at ports of entry, that number hit 9,100.
Sources told Fox News on Thursday that early indications show migrant encounters for August on track to exceed 230,000, making it the sixth month this fiscal year over 200,000.
Numbers had dropped to around 140,000 in June but jumped up to around 180,000 in July.
Fox has previously reported last month that multiple sectors are facing capacity issues, with the top major sectors all near or over capacity.
Fox News Digital reported this week how Border Patrol leadership has set “bookout” targets for sectors amid increasing numbers that are straining capacity. The Aug. 8 email, obtained by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office as part of litigation, says daily encounters “[continue] to surpass the daily permanent bookouts and the in-custody numbers continue to rise creating significant risks to agents and detainees.”
Consequently, the agency proposes “daily bookout targets” per sector “to bring in-custody numbers to manageable levels” based on seven-day averages. It then says that if “consequence pathways” such as expedited removal are not available, then releasing migrants with Notices to Appear (NTA/OR) at a future court date should be used.
A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson told Fox News Digital that Border Patrol has “merely directed sectors to process individuals faster into the range of immigration pathways available, in order to address increasing numbers of individuals in custody.”
“These bookouts include processing record numbers of migrants into Expedited Removal and conducting record numbers of removal flights,” the spokesperson said.
Back in Washington, Republicans and conservatives are pushing for a sweeping border security overhaul to deal with the migrant crisis, having blamed the Biden administration for fueling the crisis with its policies. The administration has said that Congress needs to approve its funding requests and fix the “broken” system in which the agency is working.
Fox News’ Matteo Cina and Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.