Border Patrol ‘in a much better place than this time last year,’ chief says

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IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — There has been a big drop in illegal crossings along the southwest border, according to Douglas Harrison, interim chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol in San Diego.

Still, over the past few fiscal year agents in the San Diego sector apprehended more than 58,000 people for illegally crossing the border.

“We’re seeing a huge decrease in the vulnerable populations — families and children,” Harrison said.

Around 2,200 agents have to constantly be on their game, but they have help.

Chief Harrison says when it comes to stopping illegal immigration and smuggling, Mexico has been a key partner. “They’ve set up checkpoints — mirrored patrols with Mexican partners here at the border,” Harrison said.

Another major tool is border wall construction. A new 14-mile stretch of the wall from the coast is nearly complete. “As that gets completed, it becomes more difficult to cross into the U.S.” Harrison said.

But that’s not for lack of trying. Over the past week, human smugglers cut out a huge piece of old border fencing near Campo and drove a stolen truck through the gap. After a short chase, Border Patrol agents arrested 16 people who admitted to crossing into the U.S. illegally.

Three days earlier, agents discovered smugglers using a remote-controlled car to get drugs into the U.S. In that case, agents arrested a 16-year-old boy and seized 50 packages of meth worth an estimated $106,000.

“We will figure out one mechanism they’re using, the vehicle method. They will adjust and we will have to discover that new method,” Harrison said. “It’s always evolving — it’s always a two-player game.”

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