Border Patrol’s 1st new strategy in 8 years!
The U.S. Border Patrol on Tuesday unveiled its first national strategy in eight years, a
period in which the number of agents more than doubled and apprehensions of
people entering illegally from Mexico dropped to a 40-year low.
The Border Patrol previously 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 strategy draws on intelligence to
identify repeat crossers and to determine why they keep coming, said Fisher, who
was expected to address a House of Representatives subcommittee on the
The new strategy also moves to halt a
revolving-door policy of sending migrants back to Mexico without any
Conditions on the border have changed
dramatically. 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 gadgets.
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 per cent 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 Border Patrol now feels it can begin
imposing more serious consequences on almost everyone it catches from Texas’ Rio
Grande Valley to San Diego. In divides 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 be turned around at the nearest border crossing.
The new strategy makes no mention of
expanding fences and other physical barriers, a departure from the
administration of former President George W. Bush.
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.
The strategy also makes it a top priority
to ferret out corrupt agents, which has emerged as a growing threat as the
agency has expanded.