Up To 1 In 5 Passengers Flying Out Of Airports At The Border Are Migrants

Currently up to one in five passengers flying out of airports near the U.S. southern border appear to be migrants. Enilria runs the numbers on the difference between arrivals and departures each month from specific airports and finds people leaving and not coming back.

  • Normally the number of passengers departing and arriving from an airport are roughly the same
  • There will be some variance where a heavy travel weekend or holiday starts at the end of one month, and ends at the beginning of another
  • But there are some airports where we’re consistently seeing people leave and not come back. That appears to be the result of migrants being flown to other cities.

For El Paso,

[T]he reported imbalance of outbound passengers versus inbound passengers was a staggering 16,000 or about 533 per day. In September the imbalance was 22,000….these are migrants being given walk-up, one way tickets by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) that are funded by federal tax dollars.

What is amazing is the scale. In September these migrants were apparently 1 out of every 8 passengers flying out of ELP and it’s growing steadily if you graph it out on a 12 month rolling basis.

Statistics for Tucson are similar as a percentage of passengers. For McAllen, Texas “migrants have reached as high as 21% of all outbound passengers with 46,000 outbound and only 34,000 inbound in September.”

We’re seeing roughly 50,000 migrants a month being flown out of these three airports, so while buses are getting most of the national media there’s at least as much flight volume.

Now, the Governor of Texas wants migrants to leave. He’s sending them north to cities with Democratic mayors on those buses. Perhaps a quarter of New York City hotel rooms are being used to house migrants. So these passenger volumes seem consistent with current Republican policy preferences.

Both morally and practically I want to see more immigration, which means I want to see our legal immigration system reformed substantially. People willing to endure what it takes to come here to secure a better life deserve that chance if they aren’t a greater threat than people already here. We’re short workers in the U.S. and it’s harming the economy. We need to make it possible for people to come work in the U.S. and leave but current policies bring productive workers to the U.S. and force them to stay because it’s so costly to return. We need to make it easier to visit, too. From some countries the wait for a visa interview is three years.

I also think it’s important to understand facts if we’re going to have policy debates around the issue. Highlighting the number of migrants flying out of airports in the southern United States shouldn’t be seen as anti-immigration.

Here’s what a Republican debate on immigration used to look like, by the way.

It seems likely that the Biden administration will cut a deal for more border security funding in exchange for aid to foreign wars. Immigration is highly unpopular, and while ‘building a wall’ was roundly criticized in many circles during the Trump administration it gets little attention that the Biden administration has continued to do it. We’re heading into an election.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. @Gary- One of your better posts and completely agree. And for “Andys”, my friend who immigrated from Lebanon is a huge Trump supporter. His road to citizenship was 8 years.

  2. “Everyone’s welcome in this neighborhood” until the zoning reformers or migrants show up. Suddenly all those the law signs disappear

  3. Biden claims he’s just finishing off contracts. Some of the wall construction has created new roads which actually make reaching the border easier, but in any case static defenses are useless. The French spent billions on the Maginot Line and when the Germans were ready they simply went around, through or over it. The nearby massive Belgian forts fared no better. Good imagery though as people know what a wall is, though it is like the proposed idea to dig a 3 meter wide ditch around Baghdad following the the U.S. invasion and subsequent attacks on the Green Zone. The answer to that was a 4 meter long board, which rather ended the discussion.

    But none of this is new. I was talking with a man who in the 1990s tracked passengers for a legacy airline. When he asked about a huge imbalance between Los Angeles and Charlotte he was told that the latter city had a construction demand. When the buildings were done suddenly an “illegal immigrant” problem was discovered there and the workers simply went someplace else. Republicans are happy to bring up this issue but it seems like nobody in Congress wants to seriously address it.

  4. @305

    Liberals are the biggest white supremacists as well as nazis when you look at the facts.
    Just look at how they are trying to stop the democratic process by keeping candidates they don’t like off the ballot. That’s something only done by actual fascists.

    @DA Pilit
    He did it the legal way. He probably also works.
    democrats need the poor and uneducated to win, they use grievance politics and politics of distraction to keep their people voting. “They’ll put you back in chains” ect.

  5. @305 Immigrants are welcome that contribute to society. This isn’t 1905 (pre-FDR/LBJ big government social safety net) where immigrants worked hard, learned the language and without handouts.

  6. @ AndyS — Trying to keep insurrectionist treasonists off of the ballot is not racist, it is law enforcement. Those who commit treason against the United States should be severely punished.

  7. Gary, you’re a disgrace and this is my last comment as I will be unsubscribing from your newsletter. This is not immigration, and you and your lefty friends know it. This is illegal immigration. This is a stampede. This is an invasion. This is not immigration. No country in their right minds could ever see it that way. Please do not insult our intelligence by telling us we need more because jobs are going unfilled. You and your pals can’t offer a shred of proof for this narrative you’ve established. While it is definitely true that there are many service industry-related jobs in this country that Americans won’t do, you can’t possibly put a number on it. And if you do, it can’t equal this mayhem that we’re being asked to endure. There are no crops rotting in the fields (a bullshit line your group uses). Food waste, reported by your government, is in the neighborhood of 30-40%. https://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs. This is all about replacement theory. Since your people can’t get legitimate votes anymore with their platforms/ideas, they must replace the electorate. Education is the enemy of socialism… so, import largely uneducated people, and you get socialist votes. Pretty simple… and highly insulting that you think we’re that stupid. And stop it already with the laws you want changed… while we can change laws to make our system better, the current laws, on the books, need to be enforced. We have plenty of them that are being ignored. YOU ARE A DISGRACE.

  8. Thank you Old Joe – one more reason to hate you and hope desperately you don’t win another term when you will be even more senile and frail than you are today (which is already an embarrassment for the US).

  9. @Gene Hate trump but was he charged? So anyone who leads a protest can’t run for government? Got it.

  10. @Gary
    Abbott doesn’t want migrants to leave, he wants POTUS to enforce our federal laws at the border. He wants migrants to apply through the proper channels, and come through the legal process. The bussing to virtue signaling dem cities is obviously to highlight their hypocrisy and to force federal action. This is a designed problem completely due to this administrations polices, as it somehow wasn’t happening in the last administration. Please tell me one other country in the world that allows their border laws to be ignored. Every country has a right to decide who comes in.

    Was Trump convicted of treason? That clause in the constitution was meant to keep people off the ballot who seceded from the union and fought against the US. Obviously to brainwashed leftists like yourself, word definitions are fungible, like “insurrection”, “woman”, opinions being called “my truth”, “mostly peaceful protest”, etc. Encouraging a protest (protestors that were unarmed and killed exactly zero people), and pursuing every legal avenue to fight what was an obviously irregular election result is not treason. However, getting kickbacks from foreign governments such as China and Ukraine to get favorable federal actions might be considered treason.

  11. The legally confirmed sexual predator and former US President Trump is far more of an embarrassment for the US than Biden. World leaders — with the exception of the Putin-lovers — are largely dreading a future Trump Admin. Speaking of lovers, word around Trump’s homes is that Trump is, to his wife’s satisfaction, now sexually impotent and even medicine isn’t giving him a boost any longer. No such commentary making the rounds around Biden’s homes.

  12. I love it when you bigoted white guys show your colors. Wait til your elderly mother needs home health care aides and you can’t find any. I hope you’ll have the decency to take a leave of absence from your job and care for her.

  13. Gee Bernie, I think the socialist governments in Scandinavia and many other parts of Western Europe were elected by well educated voters. And nobody there is going bankrupt over education debts or dying because they can’t afford decent health care either. And do you seriously expect enough migrants, who can’t vote, to “replace” those citizens who can? Or are you perhaps concerned about legitimate voters who may be different from your group?

  14. drrichard: Please try to be intelligent and well informed with your thoughts or I will not bother to respond to you: First, Sweden has recently elected a far right government. After 20-30 years of EU going left, that train has stopped. This is happening all over EU. Italy has just elected a far-right president. France has finally lost their uncontested left majority. And the Hungarian (far right) president was recently re-elected in a landslide. None of that stuff you’re referring to EVER worked out for the Scandinavians. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/europe/article/2022/10/14/sweden-s-right-wing-announces-new-government-with-far-right-backing_6000299_143.html. Second, the cost education in this country has far outpaced inflation these past 40 years. That means that universities paying tenured left wing lunatics $200K salaries and countless benefits has enriched these elites while impoverishing the rest of us. Not to mention, each university adding countless payroll position for DEI/ESG executives. Don’t look to the GOP as to why our costs for education is so ridiculously high and we’re producing snowflakes that think Hamas is a good idea. https://www.sofi.com/learn/content/college-tuition-inflation/#:~:text=According%20to%20Forbes%2C%20the%20cost%20of%20attending%20a,of%20the%20COVID-19%20pandemic%2C%20this%20has%20changed%20slightly. Third, NYC recently passed a law to allow non-citizens (800K people) to vote. It is up for discussion many “blue” cities and states. The number of attempts to give illegals rights that normally are reserved for citizens would make your head spin. There is also a long game in mind… this is not about the 2024 election, but 2032, 2036, and 2040. Illegals, can/will, eventually, become legals. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/09/nyregion/noncitizens-nyc-voting-rights.html. Fourth, no, I am not concerned about people voting differently than me. I am concerned about who is counting the votes. Ever ask yourself which group is constantly trying to strengthen voting security and which opposes it? Lastly, I am the son of immigrants. My parents came here with no education, no language skills, in their 30’s, and worked in factories for peanuts. I count my blessings every day that my parents did what they did so that I could be born and raised in America. The difference is that they did it all the “legal” way. We are a nation of laws. Do not defend those whom we’ve mistakenly elected now choosing to not enforce those laws – that makes you complicit.

  15. I do a lot of international travel. In every other country, I have to pass through Immigration so they can keep track of arrivals & departures. But not the US. It would be nice if we had immigration reform with merit-based legal immigration.

  16. Terry: all of our “legal” ports of entry have passport check, don’t they? I too travel internationally quite a bit and I always come to “passport” control. The people we’re talking about are skirting the system – they are entering illegally. And we’re allowing it.

  17. The problem with using the term “UP TO”, is that you can imply a very huge number while you are actually dealing with a small number on a one-time scenario.

    “UP TO 1 in 5” means that, on ONE of the days included in the stats, there’s 20% of passengers are migrants (or 18.1818% if you wanted to round 1 in 4.5 up to the nearest whole number). It doesn’t say anything about the average and definitely says nothing to the actual numbers.

    You can have a single day in aviation history that’s your 1-in-5 (and it can be a day that only had 5 people flying in total across all airports, meaning only 1 migrant), and absolutely zero on every other day, and that’s still “throughout the entirety of commercial aviation history, up to 1 in 5 passengers flying out of the US are migrants”, and now suddenly you’ve blown up to imply an unrealistic exaggeration, meanwhile being 100% factual.

    The other problem is using the word migrant, because it could be implied that it’s deportations, and yet your data would be 100% factual when it is actually somebody moving out of the country for work /business relocation or retirement to the tropics.

    So having one day, where only five people flew out of the country, and on that day a single person was moving because their job is sending them overseas for a while or they are retiring to a tropical area, or even just moving to Canada, and now you can claim that throughout commercial aviation history up to 20% of people per day are migrants, implying that they are being deported because you included this stat with that topic. And now you just used 100% fact to imply that throughout history the United States has deported a billion or so immigrants.

  18. The US economy, whether you like it or not, has thrived on so called illegal immigrants.
    Contrary to ‘popular opinion’ these migrants don’t steal your jobs, they do the jobs most of you would never do in a pink fit.
    Refugees contribute billions of dollars each year to the economy through consumer spending and business start-ups, resulting in a net positive fiscal impact.

    Additionally, refugees help to revitalize declining areas and drive the creation of vibrant communities where Americans can proudly call home.
    Let’s not forget they also act as a counter balance to Americas ageing population.

    Annual refugee admissions to the United States, however, have fallen since 1980. Nonetheless, while the country continues to be the global leader in total numbers of refugees resettled, as a share of total population, other countries such as Canada and Australia admit far more refugees on a per capita basis.

    At a time when global demand for refugee resettlement is at a record level, a drastic cut in refugee admissions represents a missed opportunity for the U.S. Such cuts would not only be an abdication of a moral responsibility the U.S. has upheld for decades, but a serious economic and fiscal blunder.

    The above are economic facts, not political jargon.

  19. @Gene

    There was no insurrection.
    Trump committed no treason.
    These are made up charges by the fascist democrats.

  20. Democrats will do anything to protect the integrity of Ukraine’s border. Want proof? Biden has sent over $150 Billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars to Ukraine (weapons and other aid).

    But the very same Democrats will do nothing to protect America’s borders.

    Biden and his accomplices have funded, facilitated, and actively promoted insurrection at the border. Drugs, crime, human trafficking, terrorist suspects, and more.

    Remember in November.

  21. Just now acknowledging the human trafficking that’s been going on? Guess better late than never.

  22. Trump was the worst president of my lifetime, going back to the Ford Admin.

    And he’s probably going to be re-elected because of crap like this. Why can’t Democrats understand this is not an acceptable situation? And running Biden for a 2nd term is nearly equal in it’s stupidity.

    I’m assuming MSNBC and CNN are excited though. Their rating were much higher when Trump was president.

  23. Gary, you should be smart enough not to believe the spin that Politico puts on this to try and sway voters. Biden fought to get Congress to stop Trump-era mandates to fund and build the wall. He fought against it for years and now he is trying to embrace it to make him look reasonable on illegal immigration.

    Oct 2023 news sources all over the spectrum talked about this issue such as :

    ““The money was appropriated for the border wall. I tried to get them to reappropriate, to redirect that money. They didn’t. They wouldn’t,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office.

    “In the meantime, there’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated for. I can’t stop that,” he insisted.

    Asked if he thought the border wall was effective, the president replied, “No.”

  24. The Democrats need to replace voters in the US with illegals so they can continue to gain power

  25. The former POTUS did not lead a protest. He spent 11 weeks having hundred of professionals lie for him in an attempt to overthrow our government. I feel sorry for all of you too blind to see what was broadcast right out in the open for all to see.

  26. I wonder what the numbers are for the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport where U.S Customs manages the official Port Of Entry to the U.S. I notice they mention the smaller city of McAllen which is 15 miles from the border. Brownsville is connected to Mexico with only the river separating Brownsville and its sister city Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville is the largest Texas city in the Rio Grande Valley and has the most successful immigration processing along the border.

Comments are closed.