Arrests of Illegals Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border Down 75% Since 2000

By Ali Meyer | June 9, 2014 | 4:20pm EDT

Illegal immigrants prepare to enter a bus after being processed at Tucson Sector U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters. (AP Photo)

( -- The number of unauthorized migrants apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol along the U.S. Southwest border has decreased by 74.7% since 2000, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.

According to the U.S. Border Patrol, there were 1,643,679 illegal alien apprehensions, defined as the arrest of a removable alien, along the Southwest border in fiscal year 2000. The southwest border includes Big Bend, Del Rio, El Centro, El Paso, Laredo, Rio Grande Valley, San Diego, Tucson, and Yuma. Since 2000, the number of apprehensions along this border decreased by 74.7%, totaling 420,789 apprehensions in fiscal year 2013.

In the May 2, 2014 CRS report, Apprehensions of Unauthorized Migrants along the Southwest Border: Fact Sheet, it states,  “Southwest border apprehensions began to decline mid-decade, dropping by 8% between FY2005 and FY2006. They fell more rapidly between FY2006 and FY2011, by an average of 14% each year. Since FY2011, apprehensions increased by 26%.”

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When looking at apprehension data for only Mexican nationals from the Southwest border, the decrease of arrests is even larger. “Overall apprehensions of Mexican nationals declined by 84% from FY2000 to FY2013,” according to the CRS. This is “largely because Mexican nationals comprise a large proportion of the total apprehensions for the time period examined.”

U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. (AP Photo/Michael Chow)

“The largest decrease in Mexican national apprehensions between FY2000 and FY2013 occurred at the Yuma sector, which declined by 95% during this time period. Other sectors that experienced a decline in apprehensions during the time period examined included El Centro (94%), El Paso (92%), and Del Rio (91%),” according to the CRS.

Incidentally, Yuma and El Centro are the two cities in the United States with the highest unemployment rates. As of April 2014, which is the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate in Yuma, AZ is 23.8%  and in El Centro, Calif. the unemployment rate is 21.6%. Both of these unemployment rates are more than three times higher than the national unemployment rate in April 2013 of 6.3%.

The reason for the falling number of apprehensions is likely due to lower illegal inflows, said the CRS. “Falling apprehensions likely reflect lower illegal inflows since 2006, though the degree to which reduced inflows are a result of effective enforcement by the USBP versus other factors, like the recent U.S. economic downturn, remains subject to debate,” according to the report.

President Barack Obama stands with Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security Secretary, in the Rose Garden at the White House. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

In March of 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluated the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) progress and challenges in securing the U.S. borders. “Since fiscal year 2011, DHS has used the number of apprehensions on the southwest border between ports of entry as an interim performance goal and measure for border security as reported in its annual performance report. Prior to this, DHS used operational control as its goal and outcome measure for border security and to assess resource needs to accomplish this goal. Operational control – also referred to as effective control – was defined as the number of border miles where Border Patrol had the capability to detect, respond to, and interdict cross-border illegal activity,” says GAO.

“DHS last reported its progress and status in achieving operational control of the borders in fiscal year 2010,” said the GAO.  “At that time, DHS reported achieving operational control for 1,107 (13 percent) of 8,607 miles across U.S. northern, southwest, and coastal borders. Along the southwest border, DHS reported achieving operational control for 873 (44 percent) of the about 2,000 border miles.”

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