Random deployment of Border Patrol agents might work best to prevent illegal border crossings, according to a study from the RAND Corp. reported by California Watch. The study, funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, found that combining historical data on illegal crossings with a bit of unpredictability would nab the highest fraction of border crossers. The U.S.-Mexico border spans nearly 2,000 miles, and there is no way to saturate every mile with enough agents to catch every illegal immigrant or smuggler, said Joel Predd, study co-author and a researcher at RAND.
The Border Patrol therefore must develop effective strategies to deploy a limited number of agents, he said. In the past, the Border Patrol stationed agents by relying heavily on historical trends of where border crossers were apprehended. The trouble with that strategy is that once crossers notice increased enforcement, they might alter their routes and actually have a higher rate of success in unpatrolled areas. For instance, after the Border Patrol launched Operation Gatekeeper in 1994 to halt the flow of traffic through San Diego, illegal entries there plunged, but overall apprehensions continued to climb.