The number of people caught illegally entering the U.S. is up for a second straight year, according to federal data, adding fuel to the debate in Washington over whether the border should be better secured before any overhaul of immigration laws.
U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 388,422 people trying to enter without documents during the 11 months ending in August. That is already more than the 364,768 caught the year before, with a month still to go in the patrol’s current fiscal year, which runs through September.
The largest increases occurred in Texas, which has accounted for more than half of apprehensions and is the current hotspot for human and drug smuggling along the Mexican border. “It obviously means more people are coming this way,” said the patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector chief, Rosendo Hinojosa. Many of those caught are entering for the first time, he added.