The U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended 340,252 illegal immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. in FY 2011, a drop of about 50 percent over three years and barely 20 percent of the peak numbers that the agency saw in 2000, according to information released by CBP in its fiscal year in review.
Apprehensions are an important indicator of illegal immigration. About a quarter of the persons CBP apprehended in FY 2011 were already in the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which is a database of persons with criminal charges or convictions.
CBP’s agents and officers seized about 5 million pounds of narcotics at the country’s ports of entry – a significant increase since last year. The agency also intercepted about $120 million in undeclared currency.
Officers apprehended 8,195 illegal immigrants who were wanted for violent crimes such as murder, assault, rape and robbery. CBP turned away an estimated 215,600 persons attempting to enter the United States for criminal, health or national security reasons.
The agency’s agriculture team seized more than 1.6 million pounds of illegal meat and animal byproducts as well as plant materials. It also nabbed about 183,000 pests at ports.
Among the four states that border Mexico, Texas has the longest border, but Arizona had the border with the most apprehensions in FY 2011. Agents and officers in Arizona apprehended 129,118 persons while CBP in Texas caught 118,911. CBP in Texas seized 1.5 million pounds of drugs and $1.9 million in currency. New Mexico is the most dangerous state to attempt illegal crossings because of its treacherous desert terrain. Its low numbers show it to be an unpopular illegal location with fewer than 7,000 apprehensions.
CBP has significantly increased its presence at the border during the past three years. There were 21,444 Border Patrol agents in FY 2011, 886 more than the year before. The agency had another 20,500 officers working the border.
The agency’s focus on the border includes more than additional “boots on the ground”. CBP has brought in more thermal imaging units, non-intrusive inspection equipment, and more mobile surveillance equipment.
CBP drones now patrol the border from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean helping officers and agents on the ground with intelligence only available from the sky. The aircraft flew about 4,100 hours in FY 2011 and helped to apprehend 467 illegal immigrants and about 7,600 pounds of narcotics.
The agency also enrolled about 290,000 people into the CBP’s Trusted Traveler Program, with the goal of expediting the screening process for low-risk travelers through a series of background checks. Overall, more than 340 million travelers came to the United States in the last fiscal year.
Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney visit http://www.rabinowitzrabinowitz.com.