Sunday, May 13, 2012

AZMEX I3 8-5-12

AZMEX I3 8 MAY 2012

Note: for those who may have missed it.

Border Patrol targets repeat crossers
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- With border crossings at a 40-year low, the U.S.
Border Patrol announced a new strategy Tuesday that targets repeat
crossers and tries to find out why they keeping coming.

For nearly two decades, the Border Patrol has relied on a strategy
that blanketed heavily trafficked corridors for illegal immigrants
with agents, pushing migrants to more remote areas where they would
presumably be easier to capture and discouraged from trying again.

"The jury, for me at least, is out on whether that's a solid
strategy," Chief Mike Fisher told The Associated Press.

The new approach marks a more nuanced approach. Outlined in a 32-page
document that took more than two years to develop, agents will now
draw on intelligence to identify repeat crossers, said Fisher, who
was expected to address a House subcommittee on the plan Tuesday.

"This whole risk-based approach is trying to figure out who are these
people? What risk do they pose from a national security standpoint?
The more we know, the better informed we are about identifying the
threat and potential risk," he said in a recent interview.

Conditions on the border have changed dramatically since the last
national strategy, putting pressure on the agency to adapt to a new
landscape. An unprecedented hiring boom more than doubled the number
of agents to 21,000 since 2004, accompanied by heavy spending on
fencing, cameras, sensors and other gizmos.

At the same time, migration from Mexico has slowed significantly.
Last year, the Border Patrol made 327,577 apprehensions on the
Mexican border, down 80 percent from more than 1.6 million in 2000.
It was the slowest year since 1971.

The Pew Hispanic Center reported last month that the largest wave of
migrants from a single country in U.S. history had stopped increasing
and may have reversed.

The new strategy - the Border Patrol's first in eight years - moves
to halt a revolving-door policy of sending migrants back to Mexico
without any punishment.

The Border Patrol now feels it has enough of a handle to begin
imposing more serious consequences on almost everyone it catches from
Texas' Rio Grande Valley to San Diego. In January, it expanded its
"Consequence Delivery System" to the entire border, dividing border
crossers into seven categories, ranging from first-time offenders to
people with criminal records.

Punishments vary by region but there is a common thread: Simply
turning people around after taking their fingerprints is the choice
of last resort. Some, including children and the medically ill, will
still get a free pass by being turned around at the nearest border
crossing, but they will be few and far between.

The new strategy makes no mention of expanding fences and other
physical barriers, a departure from the administration of President
George W. Bush. Fisher said he not would rule out more fences but,
"It's not going to be part of our mantra."

The strategy makes only brief mention of technology in the wake of a
failed $1 billion program that was supposed to put a network of
cameras, ground sensors and radars along the entire border. Fisher
said the agency is moving more toward mobile surveillance like
unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters.

"We're still trying to understand what the capabilities are with all
the technologies and the platforms," Fisher said. "I'm just trying to
figure out what is the best suite on all this stuff."

The strategy makes it a top priority to ferret out corrupt agents,
which has emerged as a growing threat as the agency has expanded.

It is the Border Patrol's third national strategy since 1994, when
the agency poured resources into the San Diego and El Paso, Texas,
areas. That effort pushed migrants to remote mountains and deserts
and made Arizona the nation's busiest crossing for illegal crossings.

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