Arrests related to human smuggling along the nation’s southwestern border with Mexico have been on the rise, say the Border Patrol and other federal agencies responsible for overseeing immigration laws, partly because enforcement efforts have increased since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Fox News reports.
The increased enforcement effort has amounted to a steady rise in arrests of potential terrorists and illegal immigrants, officials say. And while increased arrests usually mean more people are coming and are making it across, officials say the rise in arrests is due this time to better border vigilance.
“As we establish control of our border, initially you will see a spike and increase in apprehensions,” said Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner. “As we control that border – bring security to that border – as we have made it difficult for people to illegally migrate across that border, you then see the apprehension rate decline.”
Homeland Security officials, Fox News said, report that arrests are up 36 percent since the border crackdown.
Watchtower used by Border Patrol. Photo: Jon E. Dougherty/WND
Watchtowers, helicopters, electronic devices and increased foot and motor patrols are all being credited with a rise in apprehensions, Fox News said.
But much of the enforcement effort has succeeded in blocking off the easiest transit points, meaning illegal immigrants and others are resorting to more remote – and dangerous – areas to cross instead. They also are relying more on smugglers, known as “coyotes,” to get them across.
Search light used by Border Patrol in Arizona. Photo: Jon E. Dougherty/WND
Arizona’s western corridor has been especially hard hit; apprehensions there have doubled this year, officials said.
“Smuggling organizations are in control of those routes, and that control starts on the south side,” U.S. Border Patrol Commander Ron Bellavia told Fox News. “People-trafficking is a very large business. It’s a multimillion-dollar business.”
Some illegal aliens pay as much as $3,000 each to be smuggled into the U.S. On average, though, it costs about $1,500.
Border officials say human smuggling is second in total revenue in Mexico only to drug smuggling.
Not all of the illegal crossings involve Mexican nationals. Chris Simcox, owner of the Tombstone [Arizona] Tumbleweed newspaper and founder of Civil Homeland Defense, a civilian border-patrol group, said that within the past month, his group has intercepted illegals from Brazil and Poland. This past week, “volunteers encountered 13 Brazilian illegals, and turned over two coyotes to grateful Border Patrol agents,” he said in an e-mail alert.
But the journey is fraught with danger. Last month, 19 illegal immigrants died in the back of a tractor-trailer rig found in Victoria, Texas, 100 miles southwest of Houston. Seventy illegals were packed into the rig, but the driver said two men paid him $2,500 to transport only 16. He admitted he didn’t see them load the trailer.
And last year, under harsh desert conditions, 134 illegal aliens were known to have perished.
Border Patrol officials have tried to warn potential border crossers the trip’s not worth the risks involved.
“It is an exercise in futility. You are either going to die or you are going to get caught by the Border Patrol,” Bonner said.
Immigration-reform groups support the government’s effort to crack down on illegal immigration. Some say the effort also enhances the war against terror.
“Many factors contributed to the attacks of September 11, but perhaps none was as critical as the ability of the terrorists to move about the United States freely, without fear of detection or apprehension, as they planned their attacks,” says Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “The terrorists were able to thrive in the swamp of unchecked illegal immigration.”