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BP: Arrests up 14 percent in Yuma Sector
A year after Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal border crossers plunged to the lowest levels in nearly 40 years, agents have seen a slight increase in arrests, including in the Yuma Sector, according to Border Patrol data.
In the budget year that ended in September, Border Patrol agents arrested 356,873 would-be border crossers along the Mexican border. In fiscal year 2011, agents along the Mexican border made 327,577 arrests.
According to the arrest statistics, agents in three Border Patrol sectors in Texas and the Yuma Sector all made more arrests in the past year.
Derek Hernandez, president of the Local 295 Yuma Border Patrol Union, said despite the Yuma Sector having “operational control” of its sector, there has been a 14 percent increase in the number of apprehensions of would-be illegal border crossers and smugglers in fiscal year 2012. And of that figure, 40 percent of the illegal border crossers were from countries other than Mexico
“In our sector, overall apprehensions are up. We still have a border containment issue here,” Hernandez said. “Has Yuma been a success over the years? Yes. But we need to finish what we started.”
Hernandez also said that seizures for every narcotic — which include marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin — also increased last fiscal year.
Arrests in other sectors were down compared with a year ago.
Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that apprehensions remain at “historic lows” and pointed to continued decreases in arrests in California, New Mexico and most of Arizona as evidence that fewer people are crossing the border illegally.
Hernandez said he is also concerned that while apprehensions are on the rise, the Department of Homeland Security is looking for ways to reduce its administrative uncontrollable overtime, which is essentially the overtime agents get.
Hernandez said overtime is inherent in the type of work agents do and that agents shouldn't lose their earnings as the DHS tries to makes a secure cost-effective border.
In the Rio Grande Valley, illegal border crossers from countries other than Mexico made up the majority of the increase in arrests, the Border Patrol has said previously. Most of those people made their way to the border from Central American countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
That portion of the Texas-Mexico border is the shortest distance from Central America.
The number of Guatemalans passing through the area increased so much recently that the country opened a consulate in McAllen, Texas. Guatemala's consul there, Alba Caceres, said that Honduras or El Salvador might share their office space this year.
Nationwide, arrests by the Border Patrol increased by about 7 percent from 340,252 in fiscal 2011 to 364,768 last year. Despite the increases, arrests of illegal border crossers remain at the lowest point since 1971.