U.S. Border Patrol detentions increase locally - Brownsville Herald: News

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U.S. Border Patrol detentions increase locally

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Posted: Monday, February 3, 2014 1:30 pm

Statistics from the U.S. Border Patrol show that apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley more than doubled during fiscal year 2013 compared to the previous year.

More than 154,000 people were apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S. Border Patrol last year, figures show. That’s a steep increase from 2012, when 97,762 people were apprehended in that same area. Fiscal year 2013 also marked the first year when apprehensions in the Valley surpassed those of Tucson, Ariz., for the first time.

By comparison, Tucson, the outpost with the second most apprehensions, detained 120,939 people in 2013, a small increase of almost 1,000 over its 2012 numbers.

In total, 414,397 people were apprehended along the Southwest border in 2013, a 16 percent increase from 2012, figures show.

According to the Washington Office on Latin America, despite the increase, “the flow of undocumented individuals into the United States remains near its lowest levels of the past 40 years.”

Although there was a 16 percent increase, WOLA, an American nongovernmental organization that promotes human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean, said the increase reflects mostly “other than Mexican apprehensions,” the official label given to people who are not citizens of Mexico.

The increase is primarily due to citizens from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras trying to gain entry into the United States, according to WOLA.

“For the first time Central Americans are the ones that make up the majority of apprehensions,” Adam Isacson, an expert on border security with WOLA said. “That tells us a lot about how things are in Central American countries.”

According to Isacson, countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have seen crime increase since 2000, but especially as recent as 2009.

“When you look at a map, South Texas is closer to Central America,” Isacson said. “The journey is shorter.”

Isacson said that the RGV sector has less fencing than the Arizona border, which could explain the sharp increase here.

“In South Texas you’ve got this incredibly twisty, swampy Rio Grande river,” Isacson said. “It would be hard and not advisable to build fencing there.”

During 2013 in the Rio Grande Valley, 156 deaths were reported, second only to Tucson where 194 people were found dead, the statistics reflect.

Isacson said it’s important to understand the numbers and trends to know where border patrol agents are needed the most.

During the 1990s, the center of migration was San Diego, Isacson said.

“That was shut down,” he said. “Then it went to Arizona. They shut that down. And now it’s South Texas.”

mmontoya@brownsvilleherald.com

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