Newly released arrest numbers show a significant increase in illegal immigrants crossing along the southwest border, despite claims as recently as Thursday by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that the border is more secure.
“I can tell you having worked that border for 20 years, it is more secure now than it has ever been. Illegal apprehensions are at 40-year lows,” Napolitano told reporters this week in Houston.
But figures released Thursday by Customs and Border Protection to Fox News tell a different story.
Arrests are actually up 13 percent compared with the same time last year. The number was 170,223 in 2012, and is 192,298 this year.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, reacting to those numbers, questioned Napolitano’s insistence that the border is becoming more secure.
“There is no statistic, metric or evidence that the border is more secure than ever. I went out there for a couple days and found multiple spots where you can see trails of people coming in. They were still apprehending massive amounts of drugs out there, this is a very porous border,” Chaffetz said.
The numbers back up anecdotal claims that Texas is seeing a marked surge in traffic. The increase comes as Congress prepares to debate immigration legislation, which in its draft form is expected to include a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already here. Some have expressed concern this provision could entice illegal immigrants to cross over.