(CNSNews.com) - U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions -- a key indicator of illegal immigration -- increased for the second year in a row in fiscal 2013, the agency reported in a recent summary of border activity.
Apprehensions -- the number of people caught trying to enter the country illegally -- totaled 420,789 in Fiscal Year 2013 (Oct. 1, 2012-Sept. 30 2013). That's 15.35 percent above the 364,768 apprehensions in FY 2012; and 23.67 percent above the 340,252 apprehensions in FY 2011.
The Border Patrol says a greater number of apprehensions indicates a higher number of attempted illegal border crossings.
While apprehensions of Mexicans in FY 2013 remained largely unchanged from FY 2012, apprehensions of people from countries other than Mexico, mainly individuals from Central America, increased by 55 percent, the report said.
In fact, of the total 420,789 border apprehensions in fiscal 2013, 414,397 of them (or 98.48 percent) happened along the Southwest Border.
The increase in total border apprehensions in FY 2013 and FY 2012 comes after six years of decline (see below); and it coincides with the relaxing of immigration policy by the Obama administration.
Nationwide Illegal Alien Apprehensions
Fiscal Years 2005-2013
FY 2005: 1,189,075
FY 2006: 1,089,092
FY 2007: 876,704
FY 2008: 723,825
FY 2009: 556,041
FY 2010: 463,382
FY 2011: 340,255
FY 2012: 364,768
FY 2013: 420,789
On July 1, 2010, in a speech at American University, President Obama declared that the nation's immigration system was “broken,” and he called for comprehensive reform.
That began a gradual softening of U.S. immigration policy by the executive branch.
On June 17, 2011, President Obama's director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, ordered federal immigration officials to use "prosecutorial discretion" in deciding which illegal aliens to remove from the country.
Under that policy, federal agents were instructed to remove only those illegal aliens who pose a threat to public safety while releasing many others, particularly victims of domestic violence and other crimes; witnesses to crimes; or people who are charged with minor traffic violations.
One year later, on June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that despite congressional inaction on the DREAM Act, his administration would stop deporting young illegal aliens who were brought to the U.S. as children and "are Americans in their heart." Those young people, he said, "will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization."
The so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is described by the Department of Homeland Security as a “form of prosecutorial discretion” that must suffice until Congress acts on a pathway to citizenship.
Most recently, President Obama declared 2014 to be a "year of action," and he has put immigration reform at the top of his agenda. He wants Congress to pass legislation that provides an estimated 11 million illegal aliens who are already in the U.S. with a "legal way to earn citizenship so they can come out of the shadows."