The Bush administration says it has made “extraordinary progress” in reducing the number of Mexicans and others trying to enter the U.S. illegally, reports the Los Angeles Times. Apprehensions have reached the lowest rate in the last four years. Beefed-up enforcement – including more emphasis on deportation, improved Border Patrol technology, and the president’s decision to deploy National Guard troops along the Mexican border – appear to be making a significant difference, said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. The number of illegal immigrants caught crossing the border is at least 25 percent lower than this time last year.
Critics said the three-month statistical snapshot was too brief to signify a trend and that economic and other factors could be contributing to the immigration slowdown. In Mexico, authorities who work in staging areas along the Arizona border confirm that the flow of would-be immigrants has dropped significantly this year and that many are deciding crossing is too difficult.