Border Security By the Numbers

By Matt Graham

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744, or the Gang of Eight bill) establishes a 90 percent “effectiveness rate” as a goal for each of the nine separate sectors along the southern border. Originally, the bill only required this to be achieved in high-risk sectors, or one “in which more than 30,000 individuals were apprehended during the most recent fiscal year.” At Senate Judiciary Committee Markup, the first amendment Senator Grassley filed struck all references to high risk sectors. This amendment passed by voice vote, meaning these changes will be incorporated into the legislation as it moves to the Senate floor.

The bill defines the effectiveness rate as follows:

“The ‘effectiveness rate,’ in the case of a border sector, is the percentage calculated by dividing the number of apprehensions and turn backs in the sector during a fiscal year by the total number of illegal entries in the sector during such fiscal year.”

Typically, the Border Patrol only releases one component of this metric: the total number of apprehensions. This makes long-term effectiveness trends impossible to calculate, at least for the public. However, a 2012 GAO report contains all of the information needed to calculate the effectiveness rate for fiscal years 2006 through 2011.


Figure 1. Apprehensions, turn backs, and “got aways” for all southwest border sectors, FY 2006-2011

Fig 1_1.png

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2013-05-24 00:00:00
Recorded border incidents declined from nearly 2 million in FY 2006 to just over 500,000 in FY 2011