The number of arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border has dropped 27 percent this year, a decline that could put the figure at its lowest level since the early 1970s, the Washington Post reports. The decline accelerates a three-year-old trend that experts attribute to the economic downturn, with stronger U.S. immigration enforcement measures also playing a role. The number of Border Patrol agents has more than doubled from 9,000 in 2001 to a projected 20,000 by September. The government also has completed 626 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers. It plans 661 miles of barriers on the 2,000-mile frontier,
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) noted that the Border Patrol made 723,000 arrests last fiscal year. That is “still a lot,” he said. “That is not a lawful border.” Arrest figures only partially measure illegal immigration because authorities do not know how many immigrants evade capture and because one person can be arrested many times.More than 11 million illegal immigrants live in the U.S., and experts do not see evidence that many are leaving.