The state of U.S. borders

Published 25 February 2008

Nearly half of the envisioned 670 miles of border fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border is complete; DHS says that the advanced technology component of the border monitoring system will be rolled out soon, and that other measures are making the border more secure

Here are a few interesting facts and figures from DHS secretary Michael Chertoff’s remarks last Friday:

* The government has now exceeded 300 miles of fence on the U.S. southern border. As of Friday, the United States has a total of 302.4 miles of pedestrian fence and vehicle fence, which continues the administration on pace to hit its total of 670 miles of combined pedestrian and vehicle fencing in place by the end of this calendar year

* The border patrol has been expanded. The United States currently has 15,400 agents on board, and the service is on track to have more than 18,000 by the end of this year.

* The P-28 technology prototype in a portion of the Tucson sector of the border in Arizona is the first step in a more comprehensive program which will see the use of a wide variety of tools; DHS anticipates going from about six to forty ground-based mobile surveillance systems throughout the border this coming calendar year, and that is to say 2008

* DHS is bringing on board a fourth UAV, and the department has plans to bring two more on board

* In Yuma sector, over the first quarter of 2008 fiscal year — October through December of last calendar year — the Department of Justice prosecuted over 1,200 cases; as a consequence, apprehension rates dropped nearly 70 percent

* In January, DHS ended the process of accepting oral declarations alone at land and sea ports of entry

* Nationally, DHS is adding 1,800 new E-Verify users every week; there more than 53,000 employers now using E-Verify, which is more than double of fiscal year 2007; more than 1.7 million new hires have been queried this fiscal year under the system

* In fiscal year 2007, DHS fugitive ops teams arrested 30,000 individuals, double what was the case in fiscal year 2006; DHS has also expanded its criminal alien program initiating formal removal proceedings against 164,000 illegal aliens who are serving prison terms for crimes they have committed here in the United States.

* In fiscal year 2007, ICE arrested 3,302 gang members and their associates as part of operation community shield, including 1,442 arrests for criminal activity; this year DHS has arrested a further 723 gang members and their associates