Apprehensions of illegal immigrants along the Mexican border are up nearly 4 percent so far this year because of increased enforcement, says USA Today. Advocacy groups say greater numbers are crossing the border because they are confused about conflicting legislation passed by Congress and hope to qualify for legal status. “More people are coming because they believe they’ll get a crack at legalization,” says Jessica Aranda of the Latino Union of Chicago. Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar said there has been no surge in the number of illegal crossings since President Bush announced in May that 6,000 National Guard troops would be sent to the border. The Border Patrol says apprehensions at the southern border are up this year to 826,109, from 795,218 at this point in 2005. “We’re enforcing more; therefore, we’re apprehending more,” says a spokesman.
A House bill passed in December would make illegal immigration a felony and boost enforcement. The Senate version, passed May 25, calls for a guest-worker program proposed by Bush and giving illegal immigrants here since Jan. 7, 2004, a chance to become citizens. Groups say confusion over the bills means some illegal immigrants are being ripped off. Some pay $500-$1,000 to people claiming to be lawyers who promise to expedite applications for a guest-worker program that was passed by the Senate but not the House.