An article by The Washington Times on January 9, 2013, highlights the continued inefficiency of the United States Border Patrol to secure our southern border. The article, citing a Government Accountability Office report released on the same day, indicates the United States Border Patrol only apprehends 61 percent of the people who cross the border illegally. It states that 208,813 persons were missed by the beefed up Border Patrol presence on the southern border with Mexico.
According to the article, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul states, “The bottom line is we are far from having operational control of our borders, particularly the southwest border, and as the GAO reports, there still are no metrics to quantify progress. Meanwhile, the threat from groups ranging from Islamist extremists to drug cartels continues to grow.”
The Border Patrol has increased its manpower dramatically since 9/11 climbing from 9,821 agents in FY 2001 to more than 21,000 in FY 2012 while the apprehensions of subjects crossing the U.S. border illegally has drastically decreased with Border Patrol operations apprehending more than 1.2 million people in FY 2001 to only 340,252 in FY 2011. The dramatically reduced number of apprehensions by the U.S. Border Patrol is credited to its increased manpower but also due to a struggling U.S. economy which is not as attractive to illegal immigration due to fewer jobs available.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has touted that the increased Border Patrol presence coupled with other efforts is working to effectively secure the border. But U.S. Border Patrol and ICE representatives publically stated that Secretary Napolitano is misleading the general public and efforts by the Border Patrol are being thwarted by this administration.
Even with this dramatic increase in agents on the ground, the GAO report indicates that the U.S./Mexican border is far from secured at a time even when our economy is faltering and the magnetic pull for undocumented workers to fill the gaps is at a low due to few jobs being produced. A low success rate in a time of slow illegal immigration indicates even less effective efforts when the economy rebounds and a greater demand for workers is created.