- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 2, 2006

U.S. Border Patrol agents have detained 901,428 foreign nationals seeking to sneak into the United States in the past nine months — more than 3,300 a day — up from the 890,358 apprehended in the same period last year.

Border Patrol spokesman Michael Friel said the number of apprehensions, monitored since the Oct. 1 start of fiscal 2006, was a 1 percent increase over detention totals in the first nine months of fiscal 2005. He also said that although arrests had edged up, the number of apprehended non-Mexicans, known as “other than Mexicans” or “OTMs,” had declined by about 16 percent.

Mr. Friel said non-Mexican apprehensions totaled 89,059, compared with nearly 106,000 detained in the first nine months of fiscal 2005.

The Border Patrol, an agency within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is responsible for protecting U.S. borders between the land ports of entry.

“CBP continues to enhance border security by innovative programs such as the Secure Border Initiative, which will increase border-security effectiveness through the right mix of personnel, infrastructure, technology and rapid-response capability,” Mr. Friel said.

The initiative is a comprehensive, multiyear plan aimed at securing the borders and reducing illegal entry.

It involves the deployment of additional agents to patrol the borders, secure ports of entry and enforce immigration laws; expanded detention-and-removal capabilities; upgraded technology, including airplanes, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles; additional resources for infrastructure improvements; and expanded interior enforcement, including work-site inspections.

The initiative’s goal is to gain “operational control” of both the northern and southern borders.

Congress has authorized the hiring of 6,000 additional Border Patrol agents to augment the agency’s 12,000-member force. President Bush has ordered the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to the southern border to assist while the Border Patrol hires and trains the additional agents.

Mr. Friel said that since Oct. 1, Border Patrol agents have seized more than 1.15 million pounds of narcotics, including marijuana, cocaine and heroin, with an estimated street value of $1.2 billion. The nine-month total represents about 4,300 pounds of drugs being seized every day.

He also said that in the past nine months, agents rescued 2,281 aliens attempting to cross into the United States, a 39 percent increase from fiscal 2005. Last fiscal year, he said, the agency recorded 473 migrant deaths, compared with 240 this fiscal year.

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