DECEMBER 29, 2006
Six months after the president sent the National Guard to secure the porous U.S.-Mexico border, Homeland Security officials are reporting a sharp decrease in illegal crossings even though immigrant advocates skeptically question the statistics.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say that National Guard assistance has helped reduce the arrests of illegal immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border by more than a third. The agency issued a report this week detailing how arrests were down by 150,000 from July to November, a decrease of 34% from the same period last year. The Border Patrol has always attributed a decrease in arrests to a drop in attempted crossings.
With illegal crossings at an all-time high, President George W. Bush deployed 6,000 National Guard troops to the U.S. border to help the understaffed and overwhelmed Border Patrol. The manpower has allowed immigration officials to secure remote border crossings that are tough to guard and easy to penetrate.
Among them is Smuggler’s Gulch, east of Nogales Arizona. Each day, 50 to 60 illegal immigrants would easily climb over a rusting wall and run through the ravine into the United States. Now the area is practically clear of illegal crossers because four-man teams made up of National Guard troops patrol the area around the clock.
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