Where is the surge of migrants at border? Yuma mayor suspects he knows what’s happening.

May 16, 2023, 5:00 PM

The mayor of Yuma, Arizona likes the fact the expected surge of illegal migrants hasn't happened, b...

FILE - A Cuban woman and her daughter wait in line to be escorted to a Border Patrol van for processing in Yuma, Ariz., Feb. 6, 2022, hoping to remain in the United States to seek asylum. “This is a crisis, and in my estimation, because of a lack of planning from the administration, it’s about to get worse,” said Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona. Kelly and fellow Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema met Wednesday, March 30, with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to press their case for the administration to better plan and coordinate a response. (AP Photo/Elliot Spagat, File)

(AP Photo/Elliot Spagat, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — The surge of migrants at the southern U.S. border hasn’t materialized as expected after Title 42 ended at midnight Thursday. But the mayor of Yuma, Arizona, suspects the surge has been purposely delayed by the cartels, but it’s still coming.

“Over the past two days, the United States Border Patrol has experienced a 50% drop in the number of encounters versus what we were experiencing earlier in the week before Title 42 ended,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Dave & Dujanovic, known as D2, spoke with Douglas Nichols, who is the mayor of Yuma — a border town — to get his thoughts on the surge that wasn’t. And the state of security along the border.

Earlier on D2, Nichols had predicted up to 6,000 crossings a day into Yuma before Title 42 was lifted.

“Is it fair to say things are going better than expected?” Dave asked.

“It is definitely better than expected,” Nichols said. “So I listened to the secretary’s comments. It’s half of what it was right before but that was two to three times higher than it was the week before that. So it’s a little bit of a numbers game being played. When you still have 600 people crossing a day, that’s not normal.”

Yuma mayor would love to be wrong

Mayor Nichols suspects the sudden drop in border crossings after Title 42 expired might be a ploy by the cartels to divert media attention away from the border, after which the cartels will gradually increase the number of crossings without drawing media scrutiny.

He added the cartels are making this move for the profit of their business. They charge between $5,000 and $15,000 to transport one person across the southern border, he said, adding it’s not likely a cash transaction. The migrants basically become indentured servants for the cartels — such as drug runners — until the debt is paid.

“This is all just guessing, but if you’re managing something, and you see this big outcry, and you can take the wind out of that outcry, then you’re still able to operate at a level that you can still earn the tens of millions of dollars a week and not confirm what this outcry is and then slowly over time, you can build it back up. In other words, I’m saying, I don’t think it’s over,” Nichols said.

So your guess is the cartels are “purposely scaling back, letting some of the fear and the outrage subside that we expected [with] these huge numbers over the weekend. You expect them to slowly build back up over the next few weeks,” Dave said.

“That’s my guess, having lived on the border for nearly my whole life,” Nichols said. “It would make sense to manage it that way so that you don’t confirm [to] the people that are trying to stop you, you don’t confirm their fears. And you can take the wind out of the sails.”

“So things quiet down there nationally . . . maybe once again, we take our eye off of the border and other things take over the national discussion,” Debbie said. 

“I would love to be wrong, trust me. I would love for these numbers to continue to fall. But I just don’t think that’s going to be. If I’m wrong, you can call me back and we can have a discussion about how I was wrong,” Nichols said.

In any case, he added, the border is still broken.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

Related reading:

Romney talks migrant surge at southern border

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Where is the surge of migrants at border? Yuma mayor suspects he knows what’s happening.