Friday, May 20, 2011

About those Border Arrests...

Obama said:
“And even as we have stepped up patrols, apprehensions along the border have been cut by nearly 40 percent from two years ago.  That means far fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally.”  May 10, 2011, El Paso

Here’s why:
A jab at McCain in 2008, by Mike Luckovich

All humor aside, the Mexican economy (at least on paper) is more robust than our own.  Surely there is more competition for even entry-level jobs now than there ever was a few years ago.

Setting that aside, as with any agency measured by statistics, Border Patrol data can be manipulated simply by changing the assumptions.  And who can reliably dispute their data when dealing with an unknown quantity like illegal aliens?  After all, if we knew how many of them were coming here illegally, wouldn’t it be easier to catch them?

Back in 2007, the magazine Social Contract devoted an entire issue to counting illegal aliens.  Although there were several estimates given, all were much higher than the official DHS estimate of 12 million.

One of the authors, Fred Elbel, talked about the Border Patrol assumptions regarding those who “got away.”  Homeland Security claims that for every ONE illegal alien they apprehend at the border, FOUR are successful at illegal entry.  So, if Obama proudly apprehends 463,382 in a year, that means TWO MILLION slipped across the border.  (Oh wait, some of them keep trying and are caught several times, so that isn't a valid argument.  Whatever you say, but there are ways to accurately track those repeated efforts.  Why doesn't Washington implement them?)

But what if the ratio is 1-in-7?  Over the course of a year, that is a huge discrepancy.  Over a decade?  Yikes.

So, the numbers may be way off in favor of a lower number of illegal aliens living here.

Now, let’s talk about the strategy the Border Patrol uses.  That would have a significant impact on the apprehension rate Obama uses to “prove” the border is sealed.

Strategy #1: Sitting on X’s
A former Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Terry McCann stated:
“It’s all BS and politics. The number of people entering is massive, but by ordering Border Patrol agents to sit on predetermined sites all day and all night, there is visible presence, and arrests go down. Of course, the flood tide of illegal aliens ‘flank’ those positions right and left and with no one guarding the rear, the invasion is hardly slowed.”

Strategy #2: Turn Back South (TBS)
“It appears, according to numerous reports from current and former border agents, that this practice has gravitated many miles north of the border. That means that, regardless of proximity to the border, people who are detected but not caught are considered to be ‘Turned Back South.’

“There is another place, at a different level where TBS is in effect. It is at the prosecutorial and judicial level. There are policies in place that establish thresholds for quantities of drugs and numbers of illegal aliens before consideration for prosecution can be entertained. In at least one Federal District in Texas, if you are caught smuggling less than 750 kilos of marijuana, you will not be subjected to prosecution. If you are caught smuggling fewer than 6 illegal aliens, you will not be subject to prosecution. And if you are a lone illegal border crosser, you get at least seven chances before you are even charged with a misdemeanor. And after that, you get seven more chances before you are eligible for prosecution of a second offense felony. TBS occurs at many levels and is quickly assimilated into the understanding of the bad guys on how to game the system.”
-Congressional Testimony of Sheriff Larry Dever, May 3, 2011

In short, if you don’t process the apprehension, but turn the illegal alien around and send him back across the border, you LOWER the apprehension numbers.

In summary, the true numbers of illegal aliens are hard to come by and easy to manipulate for political gain.  The apprehension numbers aren’t really a reflection of what happens at the border, since most of them are not processed and sent back.  The apprehensions take place within the United States, and letting most of them go rather than recording the encounter makes the situation look better than it really is.

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