Shipping containers form the border wall
Arizona is the state that has seen the most crossings this year Photo by: Reuters/Stringer

Arizona and California have become the current immigration hotspots in the United States, as smugglers turn away from Texas and seek paths of less resistance following an increased crackdown by the Greg Abbott administration.

A sheriff in Cochise County, Arizona, told Border Report that these illegal organizations adjust their routes as soon as U.S. law enforcement pours resources into an area. And while California has seen the largest amount of apprehensions in the past month, Arizona still leads the country in this area this fiscal year.

Concretely, the San Diego sector recorded over 37,000 encounters in April, but its tally amounts to about 222,000 in fiscal year 2024 (which started in October), 150,000 fewer than Tucson, Arizona. Texas' Del Rio came in third with just under 205,000, while El Paso was fourth with 180,738, according to figures provided by NewsNation.

"It's a slippery slope. The more pressure Texas puts on the border, the more you see the shift of cartel movement," sheriff Mark Dannels told the outlet.

San Diego is the clearest example at the moment. County supervisor Jim Desmond said in late April that on a single day authorities apprehended 2,000 people. San Diego being the busiest border area is something that hadn't happened since the 1990s.

"Human smugglers have identified California, particularly the San Diego border sector, as the path of least resistance for illegal immigration," Desmond said in a news release issued by his office last week. "Border Patrol has inadvertently become the 'Uber' for migrants entering San Diego County, and the County is the travel agent," he added.

More migrants were encountered by Border Patrol agents outside of Texas each of the first three months of this year, according to the Texas Tribune. During the 2023 fiscal year, Texas on average accounted for roughly 59% of migrant encounters along the southwest border. During the first half of the 2024 fiscal year, which began in October, Texas has on average accounted for 43% of migrant encounters.

However, migration to the U.S. has decreased at a general level over the past month, something that has been mostly attributed to actions by the Mexican government, rather than Texas.

At the request of the U.S., the country is using military patrols and highway checkpoints, intercepting roughly 8,000 U.S.-bound migrants per day, according to officials from both countries.

Migrants crossing the southern border have decreased more than 40% since December and have remained relatively stable through the first four months of 2024. In April, U.S. border agents encountered about 130,000 migrants entering illegally from Mexico, a level that is high by historical standards but lower than February and March.

But regardless of the recent relative quiet at the southern border, U.S officials say the next several weeks will be a key test. The number of migrants stopped by Mexican authorities in recent months far exceeds the number Mexico has deported, indicating there may be hundreds of thousands biding time until the crackdown fades, according to a recent report by The Washington Post.

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