The Department of Homeland Security issued a press release today detailing the results of border security activities over the past few months. The document is an improvement upon earlier press releases on this topic, in that it provides statistical context for some of its statements, for example, regarding ‘catch and release’:
— 99% Apprehended Now Being Detained For Return. In the week of August 7-13, 2006, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended 1055 non-Mexican illegal aliens at the Southern border, and released only 7 non-Mexican illegal aliens.
— Last Year Only 34% Detained. This yearâ€™s detention numbers are a dramatic improvement. For comparison, in January of this year, the number of apprehensions was significantly higher, and DHS was only able to detain half of the non-Mexican illegal aliens arrested. At this time last year, the detention rate was 34% of all non-Mexican illegal aliens apprehended.
This press statement is closely timed with Sec. Chertoff’s trip to Texas later this week, during which he will tour the border and speak at the Border Governors Conference in Austin on Thursday. It also comes as Congress prepares to return to DC to try to salvage the border bill, perhaps via a compromise such as the Pence-Hutchison plan. But given the political dynamics of the 2006 races (which discourage compromise in both parties), the persistent gap between the Senate and House on the issues, and the incendiary tone of the House’s theatric field hearings this month, the chances of passing a bill have significantly diminished in the last few weeks.