CBP Shuts Down Arizona Highway Checkpoints to Preserve Manpower as Border Crisis Worsens

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter flies near the border fence in in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, January 22, 2021. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is set to close three highway checkpoints in Arizona as it is forced to shift personnel around to handle an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a new report.

An internal document reportedly said the three checkpoints in Willcox, Ariz. would close until further notice while the agency works to control the crisis at the border, according to Fox News

“Tucson Sector has redirected manpower, based on operational needs in response to shifting traffic patterns, resulting in the closure of several tactical checkpoints in southeastern Arizona,” CBP said in a statement to the outlet.

“We expect to re-open these checkpoints as manpower and activity levels dictate,” the statement added.

CBP previously shuttered the checkpoints in early January as the result of changing migrant patterns in the area causing a reduction in staff made available for security reasons. Now the checkpoints will be completely removed to free up resources.

The Biden administration is struggling to get a grip on the rapidly devolving situation at the border: the number of migrant children in custody along the border has tripled in the past two weeks to more than 3,250 and of that more than 1,360 have been held for longer than the allowed three days, according to the report.

An anticipated CBP report this week is expected to show there were roughly 100,000 apprehensions last month. 

Mark Morgan, a former acting CBP commissioner during the Trump administration, warned that closing checkpoints could make it easier for criminal illegal immigrants and drugs to enter the U.S.

“When you start closing down interior checkpoints or lanes at ports of entry at the border, you are absolutely increasing the cartel’s ability to smuggle drugs into the country,” he told Fox News.

Closing the checkpoints “means there’s no one there and cars just drive on by,” he said. 

While the administration has denied that the situation at the border qualifies as a “crisis,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday sent an email to staff asking for volunteers for a “Volunteer Force” to help CBP at the border as it faces an “overwhelming numbers” of migrants.

“You have likely seen the news about the overwhelming numbers of migrants seeking access to this country along the Southwest Border,” he said. “President Biden and I are committed to ensuring our Nation has a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system while continuing to balance all of the other critical DHS missions.”

The influx comes as Biden has terminated several policies that the Trump administration had put in place in response to a 2019 crisis at the border. The new administration has ended the Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico” program, which forced migrants to await their hearings in Mexico. Officials have also severed a number of agreements with Central American countries. 

Biden’s eye toward creating a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants and implementing other more “humane” immigration policies is likely encouraging migrants to attempt to cross the border, experts say.

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