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October 2002, Volume 9, Number 10

INS: Border, Refugees, Visas

The INS reported 1,064,318 immigrants in FY01 (October 2000 to September 2001), up from 849,807 in FY00. Some 61 percent of the 2001 immigrants, 653,259, were already were in the United States and adjusted their status to immigrant, meaning that the INS issued 61 percent of the immigrant visas, and the State Department issued 39 percent to immigrants who were overseas. Some 215,000 of the FY01 immigrants were unauthorized US residents before they got immigration visas. The INS has 847,000 immigration applications pending, suggesting that immigration will remain above one million for the next several years.

President Bush proposed a $5.3 billion INS budget for FY03, up $1.2 billion over FY02. The FY03 INS budget includes $712 million for border enforcement.

Border. The INS expects to apprehend fewer than 900,000 foreigners in FY02, down 29 percent from 1.2 million in FY01 and the lowest number since 891,000 apprehensions in FY89. In 1995 and 1996, some 1.5 million foreigners were apprehended, 1.4 million in 1997; 1.5 million in 1998; 1.5 million in 1999; and 1.6 million in 2000. In 2000, some 220,000 of the 1.6 million persons apprehended were women. In the San Diego sector, 82,000 people were apprehended during the first 10 months of FY02, down 18 percent from the same period in FY01.

Starting in 1993-94, the INS changed its enforcement strategy from apprehension to deterrence, and has followed a "gain, maintain, expand" border enforcement policy since then- gain control of the border, maintain deterrent capacity, and expand control along the border.

The Washington Times in September 2002 published a series of articles on border control, reporting that 15 to 20 percent of Border Patrol agents will leave in 2002, the highest attrition of any federal law-enforcement agency. In 2000, about 44 percent of Border Patrol agents on the Mexico-US border had less than two years experience.

The U.S.-Mexico Border Counties Coalition issued a report asking for federal reimbursement of uncompensated health care provided to unauthorized migrants, some $200 million in 2000 for 77 hospitals in the 24 US counties bordering Mexico. The Border Patrol must pay for health care for unauthorized foreigners in its custody, but has an explicit policy of not taking injured illegal migrants into custody, so they do not have to reimburse the hospital that cares for them. In one notable 1998 incident, a busload of pregnant women went to the border in Imperial County, California. When the women went into labor, they crossed the border one by one to seek emergency care.