Border ControlRevised Strategy Is Showing Some Positive Results Gao ID: GGD-95-30 December 29, 1994
Despite law enforcement efforts, the flow of drugs along the southwest border continues, and unless border control efforts become more effective, illegal immigration is expected to increase during the next decade. A 1993 study commissioned by the Office of National Drug Control Policy recommended that the Border Patrol try to prevent illegal alien entry rather than catch illegal aliens once they have entered the country. The study suggested using (1) multiple physical barriers in some areas to prevent entry and (2) more highway checkpoints and other measures to prevent drugs and illegal aliens that have entered the United States from leaving border areas. Officials GAO spoke with expressed support for a "prevention strategy," and preliminary results from recent prevention initiatives in San Diego and El Paso are generally encouraging. However, some drug smuggling and illegal immigration seem to have been rerouted from these two sectors to other southwest border areas where enforcement is less effective. In August 1994, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) approved a national strategy to prevent illegal entry that builds on the agency's success in San Diego and El Paso. Although this plan appears encouraging, GAO concludes that it is too early to tell what impact it will eventually have on drug smuggling and illegal immigration along the southwest border.
GAO found that: (1) although the full extent of drug smuggling and illegal immigration is unknown, both pose serious security threats along the U.S. southwest border; (2) despite U.S. law enforcement efforts, the flow of cocaine and illegal immigrants continues and is expected to increase; (3) a 1993 study on ways to enhance security along the southwest border between ports of entry recommended that the Border Patrol emphasize entry prevention instead of apprehension, construct physical barriers, and set up additional highway checkpoints to prevent entry; (4) although there is increased interest in a national entry prevention strategy, many officials believe that drug smuggling and illegal immigration activities have merely been rerouted to other southwest border areas where enforcement is less effective; (5) the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) plans to implement a national strategy that focuses on preventing illegal entry; and (6) it is too early to assess what impact the new INS strategy will have on drug smuggling and illegal immigration along the southwest border.