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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

U.S. Border Patrol Says Drop In Apprehensions Sign of Progress

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol first quarter apprehensions are down 26 percent compared to last year along the southwest border, an indication that the Border Patrol is becoming better equipped to respond to and resolve border security threats between the ports of entry, the agency says.

During the period that began October 1, Border Patrol agents made 158,818 apprehensions along the southern U.S. border compared to 207,197 apprehensions during the same period last year, with all southern border sectors experiencing declines in apprehensions, the agency says.

The Del Rio, Texas and Yuma, Ariz. sectors experienced the greatest declines, both with a decrease of 63 percent with 4,370 and 9,320 apprehensions respectively. The number of other- than-Mexican alien apprehensions dropped 58 percent along the southern border, which totaled 12,942 through the first quarter 2007. The decrease in other-than-Mexican apprehensions reduces the time agents spend transporting and processing and increases their time spent patrollingthe border, the agency says.

Under the Secure Border Initiative, CBP continues to enhance border security through a comprehensive approach of implementing innovative programs to include the expansion of expedited removal, Operation Streamline and Operation Jump Start as well as hiring additional Border Patrol agents, up to 6,000 by the end of 2008. The continued use of cutting-edge technology, tactical infrastructure and CBP's increased ability to detain other-than-Mexicans, further augments the border security mission, CBP says.

"We are seeing positive results," says Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar. "These programs continue to enable our frontline agents to be moreeffective in our border security mission."

Additionally, Border Patrol agents have seized more than 468,879 poundsof marijuana (a 26 percent increase) and nearly 2,934 pounds of cocaine (a96 percent increase) compared to the first quarter of fiscal year 2006. Agents in the Tucson, Ariz. sector accounted for 46 percent of the southernborder marijuana seizures with 216,970 pounds and the Rio Grande Valley sector accounted for 50 percent of the cocaine seizures with 127,046 pounds. The combined estimated value of the narcotics is nearly $474 million, CBP says.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, controland protection of U.S. borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out ofthe country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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