October 1995, Volume 1, Number 4
INS: Apprehensions and Naturalizations Up
Apprehensions at the US-Mexican border were up 26 percent to 1
million in the first 10 months of FY95--there were 815,000
apprehensions in the same period in FY94.
There are two reasons for the increase in apprehensions. Most
observers point to the peso crisis that began when Mexico devalued
the peso on December 20, 1994. That, in turn, led to soaring interest
rates in Mexico, layoffs that pushed the unemployment rate to 6.6
percent, and a four to six percent contraction of the Mexican economy
The US also added 10 percent more Border Patrol agents in FY95,
but their strategy has changed from apprehending as many aliens as
possible to deterring the entry of aliens with fences and walls and a
The INS spent $200 million to detain aliens in 1994, and detention
costs are rising as more aliens are detained, and being detained for
longer periods. Three types of aliens are detained-- "excludable,"
"deportable," and "criminal aliens."
Excludables are stopped when attempting to enter the US, and they
can be paroled into the US, or held until they leave voluntarily, or
the INS and courts determine if they can stay. Deportable aliens are
persons in the US who have violated the terms of their legal entry,
or who entered the US without inspection.
Criminal aliens have been sentenced for crimes committed in the
US. They are taken into custody after they have served their prison
terms, and until they can be deported--60 percent of the aliens
detained by the INS are criminal aliens.
The INS believes that detention reduces fraudulent asylum
applications. For example, after persons arriving at John F. Kennedy
Airport in New York and requesting asylum were routinely detained,
asylum applications at Kennedy Airport fell from 15,000 in 1992 to
9,000 in 1994.
There has been discussion of detaining some of those apprehended
crossing the Mexico-US border with false documents--excludables. Over
200 aliens per day were apprehended at the San Diego border crossing
using false documents to try to enter the US "legally."
In response to Operation Gatekeeper, some alien smugglers are
renting border crossing and other documents to aliens wishing to
enter the US. To stop this mode of illegal entry, the INS has
announced that false documents will be seized, and the alien using
them detained, and possibly held over for a trial before an
The INS is keeping the checkpoints on major roads leaving the
border area open longer, which forces alien smugglers to keep illegal
immigrants in so-called drop houses in the San Diego area longer. In
July, the INS found 66 illegal aliens in a one-bedroom apartment.
The INS launched Operation Disruption in May 1995 to detect drop
houses in the San Diego area. Some 117 such houses have been found,
and 4,800 aliens apprehended. Some 120 smugglers were arrested. A
toll-free number (1-800-808-USBP) has been established to report
suspected drop houses.
The INS expects to deport 30,000 criminal aliens in FY95. The INS
stations agents at selected jails, including the Los Angeles County
Jail, to take into custody aliens as they are released. The 1994
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act allows the INS to begin
deportation proceedings against aliens while they are in prison for
other crimes, and then to deport them upon their release.
In July 1995, there were 29,000 foreign-born inmates in federal
penitentiaries and 72,000 foreign-born people were incarcerated in
In mid-August, the INS and California officials arrested 116
mostly Mexicans who had been deported from the US after being
convicted of committing crimes here, and then returned despite
deportation. California had identified 1,200 aliens who were deported
by the INS after serving their prison terms, but who returned
illegally, and were being supervised by California parole
Those arrested face up to 20-year federal prison terms for
illegally entering the US after being deported.
The INS on August 31 announced a "Citizenship USA" program to
reduce from one year to six months the time needed to process
citizenship applications. The number of aliens seeking to become
naturalized US citizens rose from an average 300,000 per year to an
expected 1 million in FY95. The INS hopes the plan will ease the
backlog of 600,000 cases.
The "Citizenship USA" program will quadruple the naturalization
staff in the Los Angeles district, increase overtime, purchase new
computers, and increase the use of community organizations to
interview potential US citizens. The program will concentrate on the
cities of Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Chicago and San Francisco,
where 75 percent of all naturalization applications are filed.
The INS may also waive personal interviews in some cases.
A study release in August showed that, although there was a 225
percent increase in citizenship applications in the last five years,
Congress decreased the Naturalization Division's budget by 35
Patrick McConnell, "INS May Waive Some Interviews for
Citizenship," Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1995. William Branigin
and Kathryn Wexler, "INS announces new citizenship program," Austin
American-Statesman, September 1, 1995. "Returned immigrant ex-cons
arrested," Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1995. Sam Fulwood,
"Administration boosts deportation projections," Los Angeles Times,
August 26, 1995. Leo Sanchez, " Immigrant smugglers irk barrio
residents ,"The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 27, 1995. Dianne
Solis, "US Stops more Mexicans at border as their opportunities
sink," Wall Street Journal, August 8, 1995.