The U.S. Border Patrol will halt a revolving-door policy of sending migrants back to Mexico without any punishment, the Associated Press reports. The agency is overhauling its approach on migrants caught illegally crossing the 1,954-mile border the U.S. shares with Mexico. Years of staff and technology growth at the federal agency have helped drive down apprehensions of migrants to 40-year lows.
The number of agents since 2004 has more than doubled to 21,000. The Border Patrol has blanketed one-third of the border with fences and other physical barriers, and spent on cameras, sensors and other gizmos. Major advances in fingerprinting technology have vastly improved intelligence on border-crossers. In the 2011 fiscal year, border agents made 327,577 apprehensions on the Mexican border, down 80 percent from more than 1.6 million in 2000. The Border Patrol believes it can impose more serious consequences on almost everyone it catches.