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Border apprehensions up again. Big blow to immigration reform efforts?

Apprehensions of illegal border-crossers are on pace to rise compared with last year. While the numbers are near historic lows, they could influence immigration reform efforts in Congress.


A US border patrol agent looks out at the desert near Falfurrias, Texas, earlier this year. New data suggest illegal immigration might be shifting more to Texas.

Eric Thayer/Reuters/File

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After years of steady declines, the number of people caught trying to cross the US-Mexican border illegally is ticking slowly upward.

The latest data from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) show an increase of 13 percent over last year for the six-month period ending April 1. This follows fiscal year 2012, which saw a 9 percent rise in apprehensions along the southern border – the first such annual increase since 2004. [Editor's note: The original version misstated the full name of the CBP.]

Demographers suggest that the numbers do not necessarily represent the beginning of a reversal, but rather natural fluctuations within evolving trends. More border traffic appears to be shifting away from Arizona, where the border patrol has increased its presence, and a rising share of the border-crossers in Texas are coming from Central America, not Mexico, they note.

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But the report could be significant in Congress, where many conservatives say their support for immigration reform depends on establishing a secure border. While lawmakers are divided over a way to measure security, rising numbers could complicate efforts at compromise. 


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