WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents made fewer arrests of illegal immigrants trying to enter the country last year, the government said Monday in a report that credits stronger enforcement.
Arrests fell 8.4 percent from 1.2 million in fiscal year 2005 to 1.1 million last year. It was the first decrease since 2003, the Homeland Security Department said in releasing its annual statistics on illegal immigration.
"What we ideally would like to do is stop them from coming in the first place. The extent that we see fewer crossing the border, that suggests that line of defense is working," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a news briefing.
He noted that the department added more than 1,900 border patrol agents in the last year and installed fencing and other security measures such as electronic sensors and cameras.