Bill Barajas at KRGV-5 reports:
The holiday season used to be a time when Border Patrol agents got a respite from the incessant tracking and apprehension of illegal immigrants. This year, however, there has been no such break, officials said.
Border Patrol agents said there has been an uptick in the number arrests of illegal immigrants during the Christmas holidays.
Border Patrol agents arrested 79,000 illegal immigrants through Oct. 1, 2012, in the Rio Grande Valley. They recorded 48,000 arrests for the same period of time in 2011, officials said.
Border Patrol Spokesman Henry Mendiola said the influx of immigrants shows no signs of slowing down.
“Traditionally, or historically, we’ve seen a drop during the holiday period … until January,” Mendiola said.
“In the Rio Grande Valley, over the last few months, we’ve seen a steady flow of undocumented immigrants,” he said.
Mendiola said his agency is trying to determine what is driving the surge in illegal immigration.
“It’s really hard to predict. There are so many variables that drive illegal immigration, or migration,” Mendiola said.
During the past six years, the number of arrests has increased by 60 percent, Mendiola said. The number of agents has increased by 40 percent, he said.
“We’re working more efficiently. We’re working smarter,” Mendiola said.
“We got more people on the ground, we got the tactical infrastructure in place,” he said.
“We’ve got more technology in the form of an unarmed aerial system … we got remote technology as well. We just have more assets … more resources available to us,” Mendiola said.
Mendiola said the increase in the number of arrests isn’t a bad thing. He said arresting illegal immigrants at the border will keep them from making their way into the Valley or other parts of the country.