Despite massive increases in manpower, the U.S. Border Patrol is still intercepting only about 61 percent of would-be illegal immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to an audit that the investigative arm of Congress released Wednesday.
The findings, which for the first time show a broad estimate of how many illegal immigrants the Border Patrol fails to catch each year, emerge as pressure builds on Congress to move past border security and begin to grant legal status to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
The Government Accountability Office report found that an estimated 208,813 illegal immigrants escaped capture along the nearly 2,000-mile border. Slightly more than half of them turned back to Mexico, and the others proceeded deeper into the U.S., the report said.
The report also said that the Obama administration has gone more than two years without having an effective yardstick for measuring border security, meaning there is no good way to evaluate the job the Border Patrol is doing.
“The bottom line is we are far from having operational control of our borders, particularly the southwest border, and as the GAO reports, there still are no metrics to quantify progress,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, Texas Republican. “Meanwhile, the threat from groups ranging from Islamist extremists to drug cartels continues to grow.”