Six months after President Bush sent 6,000 National Guard members to help secure the porous southern border, there are signs the strategy is reducing illegal immigration, says the Arizona Republic. Apprehensions of undocumented immigrants in Arizona fell more than 11 percent this year compared with last year, and they fell more than 8 percent borderwide. Using arrests to measure illegal traffic is debatable. No one really knows how many people cross into the U.S. illegally and undetected.
The Border Patrol says apprehensions are down primarily because the Guard and scores of additional agents have made it harder to cross illegally. Guard troops conduct observation and perform other duties that free up agents to go out into the field. More than a quarter of the 5,700 Guard members currently deployed on the southern border are assigned to Arizona. A few months ago, a ravine near Nogales called Smuggler’s Gulch was a popular spot for illegal immigration. Daily, 50 to 60 people would climb over a rusting wall, sprint through the ravine, and disappear into the outskirts of town. Now, four-man teams made up of Guard troops from New York are perched above the ravine round-the-clock. Equipped with binoculars, night-vision goggles and powerful flashlights they call “God lights,” the troops radio the Border Patrol whenever they spot someone trying to enter the U.S. illegally.