Desert Invasion - U.S.


Border arrests on rise - El Paso sector, which includes N.M., cites patrols, technology

LAS CRUCES ... Illegal immigration in the El Paso Border Patrol sector, which includes the entire New Mexico-Mexico border, is on the rise, according to Border Patrol statistics. The number of [illegal] immigrants apprehended since Oct. 1 - the start of the Border Patrol's fiscal year - is up 12 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Sixty-three percent of people captured this year have been caught at least once before.

The growth has been steady, according to Border Patrol statistics. Apprehensions in the El Paso sector during the 2003-04 year were up 17 percent from the previous year's total of 88,840.

At Las Cruces-area stations, agents have apprehended 4,387 undocumented immigrants this year; the total for all of last year was 5,790.

Elias Garcia, Border Patrol spokesman for the El Paso sector, said the jump in apprehensions is a result of increased use of technology to find [illegal] immigrants and more agents patrolling the border. The sector has 1,102 agents and is slated to get 244 more.

It's too soon to tell whether the Minuteman Project in Arizona caused border traffic to shift to the El Paso sector, Garcia said.

Carlos Corral, director of the Family Unity and Citizenship program in the Las Cruces Catholic diocese, has worked with undocumented [criminal] immigrants for the past 20 years. The program helps [illegal] immigrants gain residency status, or citizenship if they qualify....

"They used to come and work and go back," he said. "Now when they cross, it's more difficult. They know that if they leave, it will be harder to come back."...

Clare May is the police chief for the Village of Columbus, which sits directly across the border from Palomas. May said though his office doesn't enforce immigration law, he has seen an increase in crimes tied to undocumented immigration, such as vehicle theft and vandalism of vacant houses in the area....

Read the complete article.