Saturday, November 5, 2011

AZMEX I3 5-11-11

AZMEX I3 5 NOV 2011

Note: Numbers a bit dubious, for among other reasons, folks on the
line tell us it has a lot to do with how BP is or is not deployed.
Do it "right" and the numbers will go down for sure. Of course
increased numbers of BP and recession play a major part also. Maybe
he and Nappy should have ridden a little further out of Nogales?
Peck Canyon anyone?

Tucson Sector arrests at border fall 40 percent last year
by Daniel González - Nov. 5, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

NOGALES - The number of illegal immigrants arrested by the Border
Patrol in the Tucson Sector fell by more than 40 percent last year, a
significant drop that indicates illegal immigration has slowed
considerably in Arizona.

Official statistics won't be released for several weeks, but Alan
Bersin, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told
Border Patrol agents in Nogales this week that arrests in the Tucson
Sector fell to 123,000 last fiscal year. Arrests in the Nogales
station, the largest in the Tucson Sector, fell by 43 percent to 18,000.

"Ladies and gentlemen, know that you are engaged in a historic
enterprise here," Bersin told the agents. The drop in arrests, he
said, shows that illegal immigrants "are not coming through here
anymore, and when they do, they are getting apprehended."

Bersin, who toured the border near Nogales on horseback Sunday with
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and
members of the agency's horse patrol, reiterated the numbers in an
interview with The Arizona Republic. "This is the year we close the
lid on this sector," Bersin told The Republic.

Last year's 123,000 arrests is the lowest level in the Tucson Sector
since 1993, a remarkable turnaround for a region that, Bersin said,
"was out of control" just a few years ago.
"It was out of control because we were reacting to the smugglers,"
Bersin told the agents. "This year, they are reacting to us."

The Obama administration has deployed National Guard troops and has
been adding new fencing, technology and agents along the border to
make it more difficult to cross illegally. They also have been
beefing up immigration enforcement. In fiscal 2011, deportations were
at an all-time high.

Those factors, coupled with the grim U.S. job market, have driven the
number of arrests down.

Erik Lee, associate director of the North American Center for
Transborder Studies, a think tank based at Arizona State University,
said Mexico's booming economy, which grew by 5 percent last year,
also creates less incentive for illegal immigrants to head to the
U.S. to find jobs.

Arizona, particularly the Tucson Sector, has been the most popular
gateway for clandestine border crossings for years and a flashpoint
in the national debate over illegal immigration, with politicians
routinely demanding that the administration secure the border.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a high-profile critic of Obama
administration border policies, acknowledged that the government
buildup has had some positive results, but he said there remains more
to be done to secure the border. Overall, the measures still have not
"kept up with the escalation of violence on the other side of the
border," which poses a threat to the United States, McCain said.
Fencing and technology is still insufficient and a larger National
Guard presence is needed at the border, he said.

"I not only acknowledge but am pleased to note some improvements. I
just don't think there have been enough," said McCain, who sits on
the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly pointed to continuing declines
in Border Patrol arrests as evidence that he has increased border

"In the general election, no doubt President Obama is going to make
the case that his policies are working," said Larry Sabato, director
of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "The
natural comeback is to say, 'Your bad economy is producing a lower
arrest rate because there aren't that many coming over.' "

In several recent presidential debates, however, Republican
candidates have accused Obama of not doing enough to secure the
border while pledging to beef up border enforcement. One candidate,
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, signed a pledge in October promising
to secure the border. Another candidate, former pizza company CEO
Herman Cain, called for an electric fence to deter illegal border
crossers, but then said he was joking after the remark triggered
heavy criticism and protests.

Sabato said the drop in arrests is not likely to tone down the
debate. Some may even try to spin the statistics to mean that the
Border Patrol is catching fewer immigrants because more are slipping

"They are going to say whatever level it is, it is much too high and
if we build that fence, whether it's electrified or not, we'll be
able to stop this flood of illegals, which can wax and wane depending
on the strength of our economy," he said.

Slowing the flow

In the late 1990s, border crackdowns in San Diego and El Paso
funneled illegal-immigration traffic through Arizona.

At the peak in 2000, the Border Patrol apprehended 1.6 million
illegal immigrants along the Southwest border, including more than
616,000 in the Tucson Sector.

Arrests have been falling dramatically, however, in recent years,
especially in Arizona. The 123,000 illegal immigrants arrested in the
Border Patrol's Tucson Sector last year represents a 42 percent
decrease from the 212,202 illegal immigrants arrested the year
before, and an 80 percent decline from 616,000 arrests in 2000.

As recently as 2009, Border Patrol arrests in the Tucson Sector made
up 45 percent of all arrests along the entire Southwest border with
Mexico. Last year, arrests in the Tucson Sector fell to 38 percent of
the total, Bersin said.

Preliminary data shows that Border Patrol arrests along the entire
Southwest border - in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas - are
also down. They fell 28 percent last year to 316,458 during the 11-
month period from Oct. 1, 2010 through Aug. 31, 2011. Total arrests
on the Southwest border are on track to be at their lowest levels
since 1972, when the Border Patrol logged 321,326 arrests.

Still, the Tucson Sector, which covers most of Arizona's border with
Mexico, remains the most popular corridor for illegal border
crossers. Last year, the number of Border Patrol arrests in the
Tucson Sector was more than double the number of arrests in the
Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley Sector. The Rio Grande Valley
Sector, which covers Texas's eastern border with Mexico, had the
second-highest number of arrests, preliminary data shows.

Increased costs

Bersin and Napolitano say the sharp drop in Border Patrol arrests in
Tucson and along the Southwest border in general indicates a decrease
in illegal-immigrant traffic. They credited the addition of thousands
of Border Patrol agents, more fencing, additional technology and
increased air support.

"We've got more manpower down here than ever before," Napolitano said
in a meeting with agents in the Nogales Sector. "We've got more
technology for you to use than ever before. We've got more
infrastructure here than ever before, and it's making a huge, huge
difference and that difference can be measured in every statistical

But McCain pointed to the major Arizona drug-trafficking bust
announced Monday, which resulted in 76 arrests of suspected border
scouts, drug runners and others allegedly connected to Mexico's
Sinaloa Cartel.

"Well, the good news is we busted them, but the bad news is they were
there," he said.

McCain also cited a letter sent Wednesday to Obama by Texas Attorney
General Greg Abbott that requests additional manpower to help guard
against what Abbott characterized as the "escalating threat" of spill-
over violence related to Mexico's bloody drug war. Abbott's letter
was prompted by a gunbattle in Hidalgo County, Texas, in which a
deputy sheriff was wounded by suspected drug-cartel operatives.

In 2000, there were 8,580 Border Patrol agents assigned to the
Southwest border. At the end of August of this year, there were
18,152, according to statistics from the Department of Homeland
Security. Of those, about 4,000 are stationed in Arizona, with about
3,200 in the Tucson Sector and the remaining 800 assigned to the Yuma
Sector, which covers western Arizona and parts of eastern California.

Since 2000, spending on the Border Patrol has increased from $1
billion a year to $3.5 billion in 2011, according to Border Patrol

The Border Patrol is also in the process of hiring and training 1,000
additional agents authorized by Congress in 2010. The bulk of them
will be assigned to Arizona, Bersin said.

Napolitano acknowledged that the economy has also played a role in
decreasing migrant traffic.

"But," she said, "the plain fact of the matter is we began seeing
these numbers change before the recession in direct response to the
gradual addition of Border Patrol agents and the gradual and greater
use of technology."

Republic reporter Dan Nowicki contributed to this article.

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