Arizona sheriff accuses Biden administration of fudging border numbers

Jun 26, 2024, 10:48 AM

Border numbers are down, DHS says - Arizona sheriff disagrees...

Border patrol agent Pete Bidegain looks from a hilltop on the U.S. side of the US-Mexico border in Nogales, Ariz. on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, Pool)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, Pool)

PHOENIX — Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels is questioning the extent to which border numbers are down after the Biden administration announced a 40% drop in illegal crossings.

His county in southeastern Arizona shares around 80 miles of border with Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security said the seven-day average of arrests in the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector Tuesday was just under 600. That’s down from 1,200 around June 2.

However, Dannels accused the administration of fudging numbers for good publicity in a Wednesday interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

“It’s magical numbers are what we’re playing,” Dannels said. “It’s a feel-good headline. ‘Tis the political season.”

The Wednesday DHS announcement came a day before President Joe Biden will debate political rival Donald Trump.

DHS said average daily arrests arrests for illegal border crossings have fallen below 2,400, down more than 40% since Biden instituted an asylum processing slowdown earlier this month.

Biden’s proclamation, which took effect on June 5, set limits that cut off asylum access when arrivals at the border reached 2,500 per day.

The average needs to fall below 1,500 before asylum processing can resume.

Why Cochise County sheriff doesn’t believe border numbers are down

Dannels first heard about the numbers at a National Sheriff Association meeting in Oklahoma City with DHS and Border Patrol counterparts.

“When they first presented the presentation from DHS a few days ago, they talked about the 2,500 … which was down,” Dannels said. “Then the second presentation was over 4,000.”

This led sheriffs in the audience to wonder why the numbers were so different.

“They said, ‘The 2,500 was an average compared to the 4,000’ — I think it was 4,200 when it comes to what they saw the day before,” he said. “Then they broke that down. Over 2,000 of those 4,200 were released in the United States.”

That doesn’t include migrants who used the CBP One app, he added. This app allows people to set up processing appointments at several U.S. ports of entry, including in Nogales.

“We’re not seeing a difference down here,” Dannels said. “It’s frustrating to hear this celebratory thought when we’re still seeing tragedies every day.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona sheriff accuses Biden administration of fudging border numbers