Unemployment Rate Up, Border Arrests Down

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today that during the first three quarters of FY 2009, arrests of illegal immigrants are down 26 percent at U.S. ports of entry, compared with the same time last year.

Narcotics seizures are at an all time high and illegal immigration apprehensions are at multi-year lows with one quarter remaining in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s fiscal year 2009, according to the announcement.

CBP officials credited increased enforcement activities for the sharp decline in arrests:

This multi-year decline in illegal cross border apprehension activity follows significant investments in additional personnel, infrastructure and technology …. To date, CBP has added 11,212 enforcement personnel since FY 2006 and 493 miles of fencing along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. Additionally, CBP is in the process of deploying technology in the form of day and night cameras, sensors and radar along the southern and northern border to increase frontline personnel’s situational awareness.

While this may be true, it is hard to argue soaring unemployment rate in the U.S. wasn’t helping. In fact, DHS Office of Statistics published a fact sheet in June that supported this theory:

The decrease in apprehensions between 2005 and 2008 may be due to a number of factors including declining U.S. economic growth and enhanced border enforcement efforts. Border apprehensions in 2008 were at their lowest level since 1976.

Note that the vast majority of apprehensions of illegal immigrants are made by CBP, near U.S. borders; while the rest, involving foreign nationals who may have entered illegally without inspection or entered legally but lost their status, are handled primarily by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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