The head of the Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector said it remains third among sectors on the U.S.-Mexico border in migrant apprehensions.
Chief Patrol Agent Chris Clem told reporters Thursday the Yuma Sector has seen about 400 migrants each day so far this month. That puts them third behind the Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio Sector in Texas for Title 8 apprehensions. According to The Hill, these are individuals who violated immigration law by entering the country between ports of entry.
Chief Clem said his agency’s main objective is to serve the border security mission while being compassionate in migrant treatment.
"I believe that agents should be out there at the border, keeping America safe," he said.
Clem took a range of questions from local and national reporters Thursday as part of an effort to update the community on Yuma Sector efforts.
Clem said Border Patrol contacts the Regional Center for Border Health in Somerton with at least one hour notice when they will release migrants to them. If possible, they can give 24-hours notice for the following day.
Chief Clem said the Yuma Sector receives more family units and single adults than unaccompanied minors. They come from about 65 countries, with the Top 5 being Brazil, Guatemala, Venezuela, Ecuador and Cuba.
Clem said what draws migrants to the Yuma area is the feeling among them that it is a safer border area. Migrants still continue to arrive daily, despite the rising temperatures and agents have been picking up migrants who are dehydrated and ill from the brutal sun.
Yuma has a temporary soft-sided facility and Clem said he expects to break ground in the coming months on a permanent facility as the current Yuma headquarters was built to house single men and not women and children. The current facility would normally be able to house about 500 migrants but capacity is halft that due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing measures. The average time in custody for migrants is less than 48 hours, he said.
Agents encounter many migrants who speak Spanish and agents can communicate with them but translators are needed for some migrants who speak Portuguese (Brazilians), French (Haitians) and Bengali (migrants from Bangledesh), among other non-Spanish languages.
Chief Clem said some migrants cross in large groups to divert Border Patrol attention for another crossing elsewhere. Last month, on a Friday evening, a group of about 30 migrants ran through the southbound port of entry into San Luis, Ariz. Clem said these and other migrants try to blend into the community and some hide out in stash houses.
About 750 agents work in the Yuma Sector, which covers about 126 miles of the international border. There are three stations- Yuma, Wellton and Blythe.