DHS Sets Gag Order on Border Immigrant Apprehension Numbers

Breitbart Texas reviewed a Monday directive to all Customs and Border Protection directors that prevents them from sharing immigration arrest statistics through social media accounts or directly to the public without express approval from the Department of Homeland Security. The directive precludes Border Patrol directors from releasing any interim statistics or arrest histories, as the decision on whether Title 42 will ultimately be enforced is now before the Supreme Court.

The source, who is not authorized to speak to the media, says the message is intended to curb routine disclosures of migrant arrests near the southern border. These are generally provided by Border Patrol Chiefs through social media and comments to reporters. The unprecedented directive was released on Monday and took effect immediately.

The order was sent under the title “DHS OPA Guidance on Social Media Coordination for Title 42 Repeal.” The order was later clarified to impose a ban on directly contacting outlets or platforms about publishing immigration arrest statistics without DHS approval. DHS OPA is the acronym for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Public Affairs.

The impact of the order is already evident in the lack of regular posts on social media accounts from various areas of the Border Patrol. Content typically offers weekend or weekly recaps of immigration crossing statistics and other notable enforcement actions.

Before the policy change, on Dec. 12, El Paso Chief Patrol Agent Peter Jaquez provided a recap of the weekend that revealed a three-day average of more than 2,460 immigrants entering the city.

On Tuesday, Jaquez tweeted a recap of 48 hours that narrowed down to 57 immigration apprehensions related to organized smuggling schemes that were interdicted by Border Patrol agents in the field.

The difference in the range of information between the two tweets is stark. The CBP source is concerned about the policy’s intent to remove high-visibility imagery and real-time statistics from the public domain. The source told Breitbart Texas that the new directive will allow DHS to control the narrative as the looming border crisis is expected to worsen after Title 42.

The source further stressed that future releases of arrest data could be delayed and presented in such a way as to minimize the impact of the crisis.

At the Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector, where immigration apprehensions are currently second only to the El Paso sector, the usual weekly social media posts about immigration apprehension data have also stopped.

Chief Jason Owens tweeted a weekly recap on Dec. 12, reporting nearly 11,000 immigration arrests, including a single immigrant group of more than 700. No weekly immigration arrest statistics have been released as of Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Breitbart Texas contacted CBP to inquire about the lack of postings for the past week and advised that such disclosures would be delayed.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Director of Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol stations in the Del Rio, Texas sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.

Bob Price contributed to this article.

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