Border checkpoints closed amid flood of asylum requests: report

The El Paso Border Patrol sector has reportedly shuttered its checkpoints in the U.S. temporarily as it tries to keep up with record numbers of asylum applicants.

“We were told to go ahead and close down all the checkpoints,” an unidentified official told Texas Monthly.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) also told the publication that he had received reports checkpoint shutdowns as well as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents normally tasked with inspecting cross-border cargo being re-assigned to help with asylum claims.

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“We’re seeing an impact on the traditional work Border Patrol and CBP do to handle the large number of asylum cases,” Cuellar said.

He told Texas Monthly he is analyzing future congressional appropriations to determine whether more incentive can be added for Mexico and other countries south of the border to curtail migration from Central America.

The checkpoints have been used primarily for drug seizures in recent years, with the Border Patrol reporting seizures of more than 20 tons of marijuana, 200 pounds of fentanyl, 2,717 pounds of cocaine, 405 pounds of heroin and 6,366 pounds of methamphetamine in fiscal 2018.

In the past week, however, sector officials have been apprehending nearly 600 migrants daily, according to Texas Monthly, the majority of whom have walked across the Rio Grande, approached the fence north of the border and waited for agents to take them into custody.

The Hill has reached out to CBP for comment on the report.

Updated, 6:55 PM: In a statement to The Hill, a CBP spokesperson said "The United States Border Patrol (USBP) continues to apprehend illegal alien families and unaccompanied children in steadily increasing numbers. To process and ensure appropriate care for those in custody, resources including personnel have been diverted from other border security priorities. Currently, El Paso Sector has shut down immigration checkpoints and moved agents to assist with the processing of these aliens.  This is intended as a temporary measure."