Border PatrolStaffing and Enforcement Activities Gao ID: GGD-96-65 March 11, 1996
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 increased funding for the Border Patrol to help stem the flow of illegal aliens crossing the southwest border. The legislation authorized increases in the number of Border Patrol agents and support staff to carry out the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) new border enforcement strategy of "prevention through deterrence." Under this strategy, more Border Patrol agents are to be stationed directly on the border to discourage aliens from entering the United States illegally. GAO analyzed the Border Patrol's enforcement activities nationwide. This analysis is intended for use in congressional deliberations on the number of Border Patrol agents to patrol the southwest border. Further, GAO's analysis provides baseline data on the (1) locations where the Border Patrol carried out its enforcement duties, (2) number of Border Patrol staff at each location, (3) specific enforcement activities carried out at each location, (4) views of INS officials on the contributions of the Border Patrol to INS enforcement activities, and (4) factors that could affect decisions on hiring or relocating agents for assignment to the southwest border.
GAO found that: (1) the Border Patrol assigned 3,911 of its 4,260 agents to 145 stations; (2) as of September 1995, the Border Patrol had hired and trained 530 new agents and had an additional 369 agents in training; (3) 79 percent of the agents were located at stations within 25 miles of the nation's borders; (4) Border Patrol agents spent 63 percent of their enforcement time patrolling borders and 37 percent of their time apprehending illegal aliens entering the U.S. illegally or who had violated their visas; (5) Border Patrol enforcement activities include identifying criminal and illegal aliens, reviewing employers' records to see if authorized workers were being employed, and investigating alien smuggling; (6) a Continuing Resolution for fiscal year 1996 has provided INS with funds to relocate 200 of its agent positions to the Southwest Border; (7) INS district directors depend on Border Patrol agents to randomly check traffic on public transportation and freight trains for illegal aliens; and (8) the average cost of hiring, training, and equipping new Border Patrol agents ranges from $107,804 to $115,716.