(KFYI News) – A new report from the US Border Patrol indicates the number of people crossing illegally into Arizona from Mexico continues to drop sharply.
According to the report, the number of suspected illegal immigrants apprehended by Border Patrol for the first nine months of the current federal fiscal year was about 83,000 – a 25% drop from the 111,000 caught during the same period on FY 2013.
At the same time, the number of people stranded in the desert who were rescued by Border Patrol agents so far this year is 433 compared to 740 for the same period last year – a 41% drop.
And BP agents have recovered 97 bodies of suspected illegal border crossers who died in the Arizona desert in the first nine months of this year, a drop of 44% from the 175 bodies found during the same period a year ago.
Andy Adame, a spokesman for the Border Patrol Tucson sector, tells KFYI News that all the numbers point to a continued decline in people crossing the border into Arizona illegally. "In 2000," he says, "we apprehended over 725,000 undocumented aliens in one year trying to cross into Arizona. We've now reduced that number to just over 100,000."
He adds, "We truly believe that the volume of people has decreased because the number of agents keeps increasing" – the number of Border Patrol agents in the state has doubled since 2006 – "and the technology advancements keep increasing." As an example, he points to the fact that much of the border is now "watched" by radar, rather than infrared cameras. While the cameras required human eyes to be looking at them to detect movement, the radar can detect movement and then alert agents to aim the cameras in a given direction.
Adame says despite all the gains, the problem of illegal border crossing isn't solved. "Is there still work to be done? Absolutely," he says. "The numbers show the border is more secure than it's ever been, but it's not as secure as we would like."