Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson described dramatic improvements in US border security during the first half of fiscal year 2015. The DHS considers border security to be “a core mission” of the agency and has deployed significant resources to deter immigrants, terrorists, and illegal contraband from crossing the southwest border into the US.
Johnson touted the many strengths of the current US border security operations:
- The largest deployment of people, boats, aircraft, vehicles and equipment in the 90 year history of the DHS
- Approximately 21,000 border agents as compared to 10,000 in 2004
- Southwest border fencing of 702 miles as compared to 77 miles in 2000
Johnson said that the number of apprehensions along the Mexican border is a strong indicator of the number of total attempts to cross the border illegally. US agents intercepted 151,805 attempts to enter the US in this manner during the first half of fiscal year 2015. This number is 28% lower than during the same period in 2014 and is a fraction of the number of cases in 2000 when 1.6 million people were intercepted.
This dramatic decrease also holds regionally. For instance, the number of apprehensions has dropped dramatically in Texas, which is where nearly 61% of apprehensions take place. Also, Johnson pointed out that the waves of undocumented immigrant children trying to enter the country on their own have also slowed. Forty-five percent fewer of them were apprehended during the first half of fiscal year 2015 as compared to the same period in 2014.
US collaboration with foreign governments in the region has helped greatly to reduce the number of illegal immigrants, according to Johnson. High-level American officials established joint investigative efforts with the Mexican, Guatemalan, El Salvadoran, and Honduran governments. These countries are also promoting awareness campaigns to point out the dangers of illegal crossings to their citizens.
Johnson also recognized the strength of the new “US Southern Border and Approaches” campaign. It prioritizes the capture of convicted criminals and threats to national security. While not declaring mission accomplished, Johnson makes a strong case that am increased presence at DHS monitored areas along the southwest border have greatly improved US security.