Thursday, June 08, 2006

Do more border agents matter?

From the Dallas Morning News via ImmigrationProf Blog. A fundamental argument by those wanting to increase the size of the Border Patrol is that more agents will mean more arrests. Turns out that’s not the case.

In 2000, the peak year for apprehensions, a Border Patrol force of 8,200 agents nabbed nearly 1.7 million illegal crossers.

Four years later, with manpower up by 2,200 agents, arrests were down by more than half a million.

In fact, the Border Patrol's nearly 1.2 million arrests in 2004 closely paralleled its record in 1987 -- when its force was one-third the size.

There are so many facile assumptions about enforcement, and statistics like these demonstrate that simply throwing money into the Border Patrol is not a useful way to address illegal immigration. In a speech to Border Patrol trainees, President Bush said, “Americans expect us to secure the border. And so we’re going to double your size and we’ll get you technologies.” It just isn’t going to work that way.


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