By Scott Stewart
On July 21, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he was deploying 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard to the Mexican border to help strengthen border security. The move is the latest in a chain of events involving the emigration of Central Americans that has become heavily publicized — and politicized.
Clearly, illegal immigration flows are shifting from Arizona and California to Texas. In fiscal year 2013, the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector surpassed Tucson as the leading sector for the number of apprehensions (154,453 in Rio Grande Valley versus 120,939 for Tucson).
Also, between fiscal 2011 and 2013 (all Border Patrol data is recorded by fiscal year), the number of “other than Mexicans” – mostly Central Americans — apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector increased by more than 360 percent, from 20,890 to 96,829.
(By comparison, the Tucson sector apprehended 19,847 “other than Mexicans” in 2013. Significantly, minors constituted a large percentage of the “other than Mexicans” apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley in 2013: 21,553 (compared to 9,070 in Tucson sector). However, the majority (84 percent) of those labeled Unaccompanied Alien Children by the Border Patrol are teenage minors and not younger children.
Of course, apprehension statistics are not an accurate count of total immigration and do not account for those who cross without being caught, and the statistics are also slightly skewed by the fact that Unaccompanied Alien Minors are far more likely to surrender to authorities rather than attempt to avoid them.
In 2011, the Border Patrol apprehended 4,059 unaccompanied children; by 2013 that number had reached 38,759. Year to date, the Border Patrol has apprehended more than 46,000 unaccompanied children and estimates it will apprehend around 60,000 total in 2014.
Still, overall, the Border Patrol will apprehend and process hundreds of thousands fewer people this year than it did each fiscal year from 1976 until 2010.
I’ve recently done a number of media interviews regarding immigration, and during several of these interviews, reporters have asked me the question: “Does the crisis on the border give terrorists an opportunity to sneak into the country?”
While other border security analysts have told reporters that they believe terrorists would take advantage of the border crisis and that the cartels would be willing to work with terrorists for the right price, I disagree. I believe that an analysis of the history of plots directed against the U.S. homeland from overseas and an examination of the changes in the dynamics of transnational terrorism show such claims to be unfounded.
No Link to the U.S.-Mexico Border
As chaos has wracked Mexican towns just south of the U.S. border such as Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Juarez and Tijuana, there has been repeated speculation that al Qaeda could partner with some street gang or Mexican cartel to smuggle terrorist operatives or weapons into the United States to conduct a spectacular terrorist attack.
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