Seeking to beat a looming Border Patrol crackdown on illegal-alien smuggling, penetrations of America’s southern border are up 100 percent over last year in Arizona.

The crackdown is set for June 1, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are witnessing a furious effort by “coyotes,” or people smugglers, to get their cargo north.

“There is a sense of urgency (among smugglers), if you will because of the tempo of this operation, the increased resources and the increased density of enforcement focus on that border,” David Aguilar, chief of the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, told the Tucson Citizen.

Michael J. Garcia, assistant secretary for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, agreed.

“The criminal organizations aren’t going to be idle,” Garcia told the paper. “Our challenge is to anticipate how they’re going to react.”

According to the report, Border Patrol agents working in the Tucson sector are apprehending about 2,038 people a day halfway into this fiscal year – double the average of a year ago.

Yuma agents have apprehended more than 43,000 migrants halfway through this fiscal year. They apprehended fewer than 57,000 in all of the previous year.

According to other officials, in New Mexico and west Texas, apprehensions are up 13 percent. Agents in the El Paso sector, who oversee all of New Mexico, have apprehended almost 54,000 people, up from fewer than 47,500 in the same period a year ago.

One aspect of the latest border crackdown – unmanned aerial vehicles – won’t be operational until close to June 1. In addition to helicopters, UAVs and other high-tech gadgetry, the agency plans a new facility in the desert to detain illegal aliens.

Border Patrol agents have said another factor contributing to the rise in illegal alien arrests is President Bush’s plans to change immigration laws. Officials reported a 15 percent increase in the use of fraudulent documents at the world’s busiest land border crossing.

Immigration-reform groups point to the finding at the San Ysidro border crossing with alarm – suggesting that putting what some see as an amnesty program on the table represents an invitation for more illegal immigration.

More than half of those caught using phony documents say the president’s offer of de facto amnesty motivated them to attempt to sneak into the United States, the report added.

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