Monday, June 21, 2004

Immigrant Detentions on U.S.-Mexico Border Soar

US News Article |

Immigrant Detentions on U.S.-Mexico Border Soar
Mon Jun 21, 2004 08:38 PM ET

LAREDO, Texas (Reuters) - The number of illegal immigrants detained on the U.S.-Mexican border jumped by almost a third in the last eight months, although the Homeland Security Department and union officials disagree over what caused the surge.
Figures released by the Washington-based U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection on Monday showed the number of illegal immigrants arrested crossing the border reached 844,052 in the period from Oct. 1 to June 20, 2004, up 30.3 percent over the same period a year earlier.

Border patrol agents blamed the rise on a plan announced in January by President Bush to open the U.S. job market to temporary immigrant workers.

"The reason we are catching more illegal migrants along the southwest border is because the president of the United States dangled this carrot out there and people are snapping at it," National Border Patrol Council President T. J. Bonner told Reuters.

"Migrants are coming up to our field officers unsolicited and asking them where they can sign up for the program," said Bonner, whose association represents 10,000 rank-and-file border patrol agents across the United States.

The Bureau of Border Protection -- an agency that falls under the control of the Department of Homeland Security -- dismissed Bonner's comments, attributing the rise in the number of detentions to greater effectiveness at safeguarding the 2,000-mile border.

"The increase in apprehensions shows that we are being more effective in our job," said bureau spokeswoman Gloria Chavez. "The economy is very good this year, plus we have more personnel and better technology along the southwest border."

She added that migrant arrests had been on the rise since the beginning of the government's fiscal year -- which runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, "which shows there is no correlation between the work program proposal and the increase in apprehensions."

On Jan. 7, Bush called for a major overhaul of America's immigration system to grant legal status to millions of undocumented workers in the United States, in a controversial proposal that Republican critics slammed as an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Each year, more than a million illegal migrants make the often hazardous journey across the deserts and rivers that mark the U.S. border with Mexico. In the 12 months to October of last year, 346 people died in border crossings of causes including dehydration, exposure and drowning.


Post a Comment

<< Home