U.S.-Mexico border arrests sharply down in 2008


Mexico-U.S. border arrests have fluctuated widely in the past 30-plus years, from 675,000 in 1976 to 1.7 million in the mid-1980s, down to a million in the late-’80s, back up to 1.6 million in 2000. In 2008, the Border Patrol caught 705,000 people trying to enter the U.S. illegally, down 44 percent from 2006. Officials say the construction of 526 miles of border fence, tougher prosecution, and a weak U.S. economy are all key reasons for the decline. But there's no way to tell, really.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the number of arrests is the most reliable measure of illegal crossings -- even though there is no way to count the number of people who actually do make it. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that inflows of unauthorized immigrants averaged 800,000 per year from 2000-2004, but fell to 500,000 per year from 2005-2008. Pew also estimates that there are currently 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., about 4 percent of the population.

Some claim the number of illegal immigrants is down because the number of Border Patrol agents is up. In 1993, there were 4,000 agents. Fifteen years later -- after a 2006 mandate by President Bush to increase the force by 50 percent -- there are 18,000. But with fewer crossings, they may have nothing to do.


Anonymous says:
Dec 30, 2008 07:14 AM
How can you say, "There's really no way to tell" when it comes to the border fence. The fence is virtually finished and arrests are down and you can't tell why?! Liberals just don't want to believe the truth. Shame on you.
Anonymous says:
Jan 01, 2009 06:49 PM
Other words on the subject indicate that conservative destruction of American jobs through “offshoring” and faulty economic and tax policies have created conditions where even low paying American jobs are disappearing to such an extent that many illegals are even returning to Mexico. Obviously, many Mexicans are staying home.
Anonymous says:
Jan 02, 2009 03:13 PM
It was Bill Clinton, Mr. Liberal that signed the NAFTA bill, sending jobs elsewhere.
Anonymous says:
Jan 02, 2009 03:15 PM
If you are right, I'm not sorry that ILLEGAL aliens are leaving the country.
Anonymous says:
Jan 05, 2009 07:18 PM
Bill Clinton did sign NAFTA, but it was a bipartisan created trade agreement and, as time has shown, a big mistake. What we need now are tax policies that discourage offshoring and encourage U.S. manufacturing. Conservative "free market" philosophy indicates we are not likely to get that from Republicans and only time will tell if we can get "it" from the Democrats.
Anonymous says:
Jan 07, 2009 11:37 AM
It's the economy and the extra Border Patrol, the fence is worthless.