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Report to Congressional Requesters: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

July 2005: 

Border Patrol: 

Available Data on Interior Checkpoints Suggest Differences in Sector 
Performance: 

GAO-05-435: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-05-435, a report to congressional requesters: 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The U.S. Border Patrol, a component of the U.S. Customs and Border 
Protection (CBP) agency, a part of the Department of Homeland Security 
(DHS), aims to apprehend persons who illegally enter the United States 
between official ports of entry, including potential terrorists, 
aliens, and contraband smugglers, thereby deterring or stopping illegal 
activity. The Patrol operates permanent and tactical (temporary) 
interior traffic checkpoints on major and secondary U.S. roads, mainly 
in the southwest border states where most illegal entries occur, as 
part of a multi-layer strategy to maximize detection and apprehension 
of illegal entrants. This report addresses (1) the role of interior 
checkpoints in the Patrolís strategy; (2) what is known about 
checkpoint costs and benefits; and (3) how checkpoints are evaluated 
and what performance measures indicate regarding their effectiveness. 

What GAO Found: 

The Border Patrol operates 33 permanent traffic checkpoints in 8 of its 
9 sectors in the southwest border states, supported by tactical 
checkpoints. While permanent checkpoints have the advantage of physical 
infrastructure, tactical ones have the mobility to block routes used to 
evade permanent ones and to respond to intelligence on illegal 
activity. A third type of checkpoint operates in the Tucson, Ariz., 
sector, where the Patrol has been legislatively prohibited from funding 
construction of checkpoints since fiscal year 1999. This restriction 
has prevented checkpoint construction. The Patrol also began closing or 
relocating checkpoints in the sector every 7 days at the instruction of 
congressional staff in June 2002, and was legislatively required to 
relocate checkpoints on the same schedule in FY 2003 and 2004, and an 
average of once every 14 days in FY 2005. Three of six checkpoints in 
the sector had to close for 7/14 days, as safety considerations made it 
too hazardous to relocate them. 

Local law enforcement and business and community leaders we interviewed 
from communities near interior traffic checkpoints said that benefits 
resulting from checkpoint operations included reductions in crime and 
vandalism. Although a few cited traffic delays, most were supportive of 
checkpoint operations. However, some others were concerned about the 
impact of the checkpoints on traffic congestion and quality of life in 
their communities.

The Border Patrol does not routinely evaluate the effectiveness of 
checkpoint operations, or their costs. The Patrol includes limited 
traditional performance measures in its Performance and Annual Report, 
such as apprehensions and contraband seized. GAO developed an 
apprehension per agent work year measure to assess performance. The 
data suggest that the performance of the Tucson sector interior 
checkpoints dropped starting in FY 2002, and more in FY 2003, after the 
Border Patrol began relocating or closing them on a regular basis. 
Three other sectors we visited that did not have to relocate or close 
checkpoints experienced no comparable decrease in apprehensions per 
agent work year during the same time period. Other factors not measured 
or accounted for might also have contributed to these outcomes, but the 
Border Patrolís limited measures do not capture or assess them. A 
broader range of performance measures, when considered with other 
indicators, could be useful to CBP and the Congress as they consider 
ways to improve the effectiveness of interior traffic checkpoints and 
border security efforts. 
 
[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

What GAO Recommends: 

To better gauge the effects of border control efforts, GAO recommends 
that the CBP Commissioner (1) develop additional performance measures 
for productivity and effectiveness of interior checkpoints, and (2) 
include data on checkpoint performance, and improvements that might be 
made, in CBPís Performance and Annual Report. DHS concurred with the 
recommendations.

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-435.

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Richard Stana at (202) 
512-8777 or StanaR@GAO.GOV.

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

Permanent and Tactical Checkpoints Have Different but Complementary 
Roles in the Border Patrol Strategy: 

Benefits and Costs of Traffic Checkpoints Are Difficult to Quantify, 
but Some Examples Are Available: 

The Lack of Systematic Evaluation Limits the Border Patrol's Ability to 
Allocate Resources Based on Need: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: San Diego Sector Profile: 

Appendix III: Tucson Sector Profile: 

Appendix IV: Laredo Sector Profile: 

Appendix V: McAllen Sector Profile: 

Appendix VI: Comments from the Department of Homeland Security: 

Appendix VII: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Table: 

Table 1: Tucson Sector Nonpermanent Checkpoints Schedule to Conform to 
Legislative Language: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: Topography and Road Systems along the Southwest Border: 

Figure 2: Total Apprehensions of Illegal Immigrants at All Locations in 
Each Southwest Border Patrol Sector in Fiscal Years 2001-2004: 

Figure 3: IAFIS Fingerprint Reading Machine at the I-5 San Clemente, 
California, Checkpoint: 

Figure 4: VACIS Machine Examining a Vehicle at the I-15 Temecula, 
California, Checkpoint: 

Figure 5: VACIS Monitor Display, I-5 Checkpoint, Temecula, California: 

Figure 6: Vehicle Lift at the I-35 Checkpoint, North of Laredo, Texas: 

Figure 7: Tactical Checkpoint near Temecula, California: 

Figure 8: Tucson Sector Nonpermanent Checkpoint at KP 42 on I-19, Near 
Tubac, Arizona: 

Figure 9: Apprehensions per Agent Work Year in the Tucson, San Diego, 
Laredo and McAllen Sectors, Fiscal Years 2001-2004: 

Figure 10: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in the San Diego Sector: 

Figure 11: Permanent Checkpoint on I-5, South of San Clemente: 

Figure 12: Aerial Photo of Checkpoint on I-5 South of San Clemente: 

Figure 13: Tactical Checkpoint at Sandia Creek Road: 

Figure 14: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in the Tucson Sector: 

Figure 15: Tucson Sector Nonpermanent Checkpoint on I-19 near KP 42: 

Figure 16: Nonpermanent Checkpoint on State Highway 85 near Ajo, 
Arizona: 

Figure 17: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in the Laredo Sector: 

Figure 18: Permanent Checkpoint North of Laredo, Texas, on I-35: 

Figure 19: Permanent Checkpoint on State Highway 359 Near Hebbronville, 
Texas: 

Figure 20: Aerial View of Highway 359 Checkpoint, Texas: 

Figure 21: Architectural Drawing of the New I-35, Texas, Permanent 
Checkpoint: 

Figure 22: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in the McAllen, Texas 
Sector: 

Figure 23: Checkpoint Inspection Area, U.S. Highway 281, near 
Falfurrias, Texas: 

Abbreviations: 

ATV: all-terrain vehicle: 

CBP: Customs and Border Protection: 

DHS: Department of Homeland Security: 

FBI: Federal Bureau of Investigation: 

GPRA: Government Performance and Results Act: 

IAFIS: Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System: 

INS: Immigration and Naturalization Service: 

KP: kilometer post: 

PAL: pre-enrolled access lane: 

SR: state route: 

VACIS: Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

Washington, DC 20548: 

July 22, 2005: 

The Honorable Christopher Cox: 
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security: 
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable Harold Rogers:
Chairman, Subcommittee on Homeland Security: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable Ken Calvert: 
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable Darrell Issa: 
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable Jim Kolbe: 
House of Representatives: 

The U.S. Border Patrol, now part of the Department of Homeland 
Security's (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, has 
as its primary mission the detection and apprehension of terrorists and 
their weapons, and a traditional mission of preventing illegal aliens 
and contraband smugglers from entering the United States, both at the 
land borders between ports of entry and inside the United States. 
According to the Border Patrol, its operations are intended to 
apprehend illegal entrants; deter potential illegal immigration, 
smuggling, or terrorism, through such apprehensions; and present a high-
profile presence along our nation's borders. On the southwest border, 
where the majority of illegal immigration into the United States 
occurs, the Border Patrol aims to accomplish its mission through what 
it describes as an integrated, multilayered border enforcement 
strategy. Along the border, between official ports of entry,[Footnote 
1] are the first two layers, consisting of a first called line watch 
and a second, called line patrol. Together, these are where the 
majority of the nation's 10,800 U.S. Border Patrol agents are deployed, 
with agents positioned along the border line or somewhat farther back 
but still generally in visible proximity to the border, primarily in 
well-marked four-wheel-drive vehicles, to maintain a high profile to 
deter, turn back, or arrest anyone attempting to illegally enter the 
country. The line patrol layer consists of smaller contingents of 
agents deployed behind the line watch units to provide direct support 
of the line watch units. Given the 1,950-mile U.S.-Mexican border, the 
Border Patrol states that it does not have the personnel to patrol all 
of it simultaneously and therefore allocates personnel based on a 
combination of intelligence information about potential threats from 
terrorists and contraband smugglers, as well as on the estimated volume 
of illegal entries. In addition, a third layer of enforcement is 
composed of interior traffic checkpoints at which Border Patrol agents 
monitor and stop vehicles at checkpoints--both permanent and tactical 
(temporary)--on major U.S. highways and secondary roads that are 
generally 25 to 75 miles inland from the border. This permits them to 
be far enough inland to detect and apprehend potential terrorists and 
illegal aliens attempting to travel farther into the interior of the 
United States after evading detection at the border, but that are close 
enough to the border to potentially control access to major population 
centers. The permanent interior traffic checkpoints are locations that 
generally have large, tollbooth-like structures at which agents may 
stop vehicles for visual inspection, and to decide whether a more 
thorough inspection of the vehicle and its occupants is warranted. 
There are 33 such permanent interior traffic checkpoints in the 
southwest border states, and one in northern New York state. The 
tactical checkpoints, the number and location of which may change 
daily, respond to intelligence on changes in illegal activity routes 
and generally consist of a few vehicles, portable water tanks, traffic 
cones and signs, and a mobile trailer. The permanent checkpoints are 
intended to apprehend illegal entrants and contraband, and through the 
perception of potential apprehension, to deter illegal entrants from 
using major highways or roads. Permanent checkpoints have supporting 
infrastructure and procedures intended to reduce the ability of illegal 
entrants from circumventing the checkpoints; these include remote video 
surveillance, electronic sensors, and agent patrols. 

With permanent checkpoints on major routes, the Border Patrol seeks to 
cause illegal entrants to use less traveled secondary roads on which 
they are more visible, and where less traffic permits stopping a much 
higher percentage of transiting vehicles than on interstates, as well 
as questioning vehicle occupants, adding to the costs of smuggling or 
transit time, as well as to the likelihood of being detected and 
apprehended. 

In addition to the use of agents to maintain surveillance along the 
border between official ports of entry, and inland at the interior 
checkpoints, the Border Patrol carries out its mission by responding to 
electronic sensor alarms and aircraft sightings, interpreting and 
following tracks, and patrolling in a wide variety of modes, including 
using horses, helicopters, small aircraft, patrol boats, off-road all- 
terrain vehicles (ATVs), and mountain bikes. These agents and their 
modes of operation are deployed as an integrated strategy in which 
agents can be shifted daily among line watch, line patrol, and interior 
checkpoint operations, as well as other duties, to respond to changes 
detected in the tactics and routes of those attempting to enter the 
United States illegally. 

With the continued influx of illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexican 
border, contraband smuggling, and ongoing threats of terrorism and 
weapons of mass destruction potentially entering the country, you 
expressed interest about the operations of the Border Patrol's 
permanent and tactical traffic checkpoints in the southwest border 
states within the context of overall border security. To address your 
interests, this report focuses on: 

* how the Border Patrol uses permanent and tactical checkpoints in the 
southwest border states as part of its strategy to detect and apprehend 
potential terrorists, illegal immigrants, and contraband smugglers, and 
to deter potential future violators through the likelihood of 
apprehension, as well as to cause them to avoid permanent checkpoints 
on major routes and take less traveled secondary roads on which they 
would more likely be apprehended at tactical checkpoints;

* what is known about the costs and benefits of interior traffic 
checkpoint operations, including their impact on local law enforcement 
and local communities, as well as in terms of the amount of contraband 
seized and illegal entrants and potential terrorists apprehended; and: 

* what data and performance measures are used by the Border Patrol to 
evaluate interior traffic checkpoint operations, in terms of their 
overall effectiveness in meeting agency mission goals and how might 
Border Patrol data be used to develop additional measures of 
productivity and effectiveness. 

However, this report does not address some of the larger issues 
surrounding illegal immigration into the United States, such as the 
disparities in average daily wages between Mexico and the United 
States, and the incentives created by these disparities for illegal 
immigration, as well as the difficulties of neutralizing such 
disparities through work site enforcement. We have elsewhere addressed 
some of these issues.[Footnote 2] In addition, although deterring 
illegal immigration through the likelihood of detection and 
apprehension is a goal of the Border Patrol, we did not attempt to 
measure the deterrent effect of the Border Patrol's operations, as this 
would have required, among other things, opinion surveys of Mexican 
citizens and potential contraband smugglers. 

To address these objectives, we reviewed Border Patrol documents, 
reports, manuals, and guidance concerning border strategy and 
checkpoint operations, as well as CBP's annual performance 
reports.[Footnote 3] We interviewed Border Patrol officials at CBP 
headquarters in Washington, DC. We also interviewed Border Patrol 
sector headquarter officials and observed operations at checkpoints in 
the San Diego, California; Tucson, Arizona; Laredo, Texas; and McAllen, 
Texas, Border Patrol sectors. (The other 5 southwest border sectors are 
El Centro, California; Yuma, Arizona; El Paso, Texas; Marfa, Texas; and 
Del Rio, Texas. In addition to these 9 southwest sectors, the remainder 
of the country is divided into 11 additional sectors by the Border 
Patrol.)

The 4 sectors we visited were selected to provide a substantial range 
in the size and types of interior checkpoint operations; estimated 
volume of illegal annual immigration; volume of vehicular traffic 
transiting checkpoints; topography and density of road networks; 
presence or absence of large urban areas on or near the border, on both 
the U.S. and Mexican sides; and types of checkpoints (permanent and 
tactical).[Footnote 4] Since we were unable to observe all operating 
conditions at all times, the conditions we describe are therefore based 
on available documentation and observations from our site visits only. 
(See app. I for further discussion of the range of conditions among 
these sectors.)

We also interviewed local law enforcement, business, and community 
leaders in communities near interior traffic checkpoints with regard to 
the impact of the checkpoints. Because these places were selected using 
a nonprobabilistic method, the results from our site visits cannot be 
generalized to other locations and checkpoints. To assess the 
reliability of the Border Patrol's data, we talked with agency 
officials at both Washington, D.C., headquarters and at some Border 
Patrol stations in the field about data quality control procedures, 
including methods by which data are checked and reviewed internally for 
accuracy and consistency. We determined that the Border Patrol utilizes 
processes and checks that provide reasonable assurance that the data 
recorded on apprehensions, work hours, and contraband seizures are 
accurate and sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. We 
conducted our work from September 2004 to May 2005 in accordance with 
generally accepted government auditing standards. Additional details on 
our scope and methodology can be found in appendix I. Detailed 
information on the four Border Patrol sectors that we visited can be 
found in appendixes II through V. 

Results in Brief: 

Interior traffic checkpoints function as part of the Border Patrol's 
multilayered enforcement strategy, to increase the likelihood of 
detecting potential terrorists, illegal immigrants, and smugglers who 
have crossed the border and evaded patrols at and near the border. By 
increasing the possibility of apprehension, the Border Patrol seeks to 
enhance national security and to enforce existing immigration and 
contraband smuggling laws, thereby deterring potential future illegal 
entrants from crossing the border. The Border Patrol operates 33 
permanent interior traffic checkpoints in 8 of its 9 sectors along the 
southwest border. In all sectors except Tucson, permanent checkpoints 
are supported by additional tactical checkpoints. Permanent checkpoints 
may operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with their infrastructure 
supporting access to computers and technology, buildings with detention 
facilities, shade and water for canines, paved shoulder areas with 
sufficient space for vehicle lift equipment essential to inspecting 
underneath vehicles, as well as the space required for gamma-ray 
machines that examine other vehicles. The number and location of 
tactical checkpoints can change on a daily basis, depending on a 
combination of available resources and intelligence about illegal 
entrants' routes, which the Border Patrol uses to decide where to set 
up tactical checkpoints. 

In the Tucson sector, however, Congress has prohibited the construction 
of checkpoints since fiscal year 1999. Since the sector had no 
permanent checkpoints prior to the prohibition--and used portable 
equipment to establish checkpoints that moved infrequently, but that 
also had no permanent structures[Footnote 5]--the effect of the 
legislative language was to prevent construction of permanent 
checkpoints. Moreover, starting in June 2002, at the instruction of 
congressional staff, and beginning in fiscal year 2003 to comply with 
legislative language, the Border Patrol has been relocating or closing 
checkpoints in the Tucson sector on a regular basis--at least once 
every 7 days in the last quarter of fiscal year 2002, and in fiscal 
years 2003 and 2004. In fiscal year 2005, the legislative language was 
less restrictive, requiring relocating Tucson sector checkpoints "at 
least an average of once every14 days." The Border Patrol has 
implemented that language by keeping one checkpoint in the sector open 
for 14 days, closed for 8 hours, and then reopened for 14 days, while 
other checkpoints are maintained on varying schedules that the Patrol 
believes to be in conformity with the law. The result of these 
legislative restrictions in the Tucson sector has been that the Border 
Patrol operates what we refer to as nonpermanent checkpoints that are 
hybrids of permanent and tactical but that lack the logistical, 
communication, and other capabilities provided by the physical 
infrastructure of permanent checkpoints or the flexibility of tactical 
checkpoints. In the Tucson sector, according to Border Patrol 
officials, the lack of permanent infrastructure, in combination with 
the mandated relocation on a regular basis, results in closure at 3 of 
6 sector checkpoints because of an inability to find an alternate 
location that meets safety requirements for adequate shoulder areas and 
advance notice to vehicles that they are approaching a checkpoint. To 
support these nonpermanent checkpoints, the Tucson sector operates 
tactical checkpoints periodically, as occurs in other sectors with 
permanent checkpoints. 

Some benefits of interior traffic checkpoints are more easily 
quantified than others, but a lack of data makes it difficult to 
estimate both the direct costs of interior traffic checkpoints, 
resulting from labor and overhead, or indirect costs, such as delays 
caused to commuters or commercial shippers. Quantifiable benefit data 
include such measures as apprehensions of persons in violation of 
immigration laws and the detection and seizure of illegal drugs and 
other contraband. For example, in fiscal year 2004, interior 
checkpoints in the 9 southwest sectors, with about 10 percent of total 
Border Patrol personnel in those sectors assigned to these checkpoints, 
accounted for the detection and apprehension of over 96,000 illegal 
aliens, about 8 percent of the total apprehensions by the Border Patrol 
that year. In addition, interior traffic checkpoint operations in the 9 
southwest sectors seized 418,102 pounds of marijuana and 10,853 pounds 
of cocaine in fiscal year 2004, or about 31 percent of the marijuana 
and about 74 percent of the cocaine seized nationally by the Border 
Patrol. Less quantifiable were the benefits cited by most local law 
enforcement, business, and community leaders we interviewed, who spoke 
positively of reductions in crime and vandalism by smugglers and 
illegal aliens. As for the cost of checkpoint operations, the Border 
Patrol did not maintain the costs of checkpoints, either individually 
or collectively, in readily accessible databases.[Footnote 6] Data were 
also not available on some indirect costs, such as those associated 
with traffic delays and congestion. For example, professional 
organizations that monitor traffic, such as the Automobile Club of 
Southern California, American Trucking Associations, the California 
Highway Patrol, and the California Department of Transportation, do not 
report problems for commuters, commercial shippers, or tourists 
resulting from interior checkpoints on major traffic arteries in the 
sectors we visited. Literature searches and information requests did 
not produce data, studies, or reports on traffic, business costs, or 
crime rates that reported or systematically analyzed either benefits or 
adverse effects. Traffic congestion and backups do occur at some of the 
checkpoints on major highways, but at several we visited we observed 
that traffic is monitored, with operations ceasing and traffic 
"flushed" to normal flows whenever agents determined wait time to be 
excessive. For example, the Temecula, California, I-15 checkpoint 
guidance states that agents should not permit a backup exceeding a 
certain approximate distance and certain approximate number of minutes' 
wait.[Footnote 7] The costs to commuters and commercial traffic that 
may occur from delays at the checkpoints could not be calculated, since 
no data are available on the number of commuters delayed annually at 
the 33 permanent southwest checkpoints, the length of the delays, the 
salaries of those delayed, or economic losses to commerce that may have 
resulted from traffic delays. Furthermore, costs are difficult to 
calculate since the Border Patrol does not routinely maintain data on 
the costs of operating checkpoints. 

Performance measures of how well a government agency carries out its 
mission are essential to annual assessment and improvement, not least 
because such measures help management identify problems and allocate 
resources to solve them. However, we found that the Border Patrol does 
not systematically evaluate the effectiveness of interior checkpoint 
operations. CBP annually prepares and sends to the Congress a 
Performance and Annual Report. In these reports, CBP uses traditional 
measures of law enforcement performance--including numbers of 
apprehensions and amount and type of contraband seized--to report on 
Border Patrol performance. In the two most recent annual reports, no 
data or analysis are cited with regard to the performance of interior 
checkpoints. These reports would be more useful to CBP and the Congress 
if they included additional measures to compare interior checkpoints' 
effectiveness with that of line watch and line patrol operations. This 
could help to ascertain whether the personnel and equipment resources 
allocated to differing layers in the multilayered strategy are right- 
sized. Traditional measures do not take into account inputs such as 
labor and overhead costs, thereby making it difficult to determine if 
one sector, or type of checkpoint, is more cost effective than others. 
For example, knowing that more illegal immigrants are apprehended in 
one sector than in another does not tell managers if that is a result 
of having more agents on the line or at more interior checkpoints in 
that sector compared with others. Alternatively, it does not provide 
information on whether the apparent success in apprehensions is more a 
function of a large volume of attempted entries than better agent work 
or positioning of checkpoints, relative to other sectors. 

Using available data, we developed two performance measures to 
supplement the traditional law enforcement measures used by the Border 
Patrol. These two measures alone do not exhaust the potential ways in 
which checkpoint operations could be assessed, and should not be 
considered in isolation from the broader context of the multilayered 
strategy, as well other factors that could affect checkpoint and line 
watch/line patrol operations, such as the volume of illegal immigration 
into a sector. With these caveats in mind, we compared data on the 
performance of interior checkpoints in the Tucson sector with those in 
the three other sectors we visited in terms of apprehensions per agent 
work year, and costs per apprehension, based on an average work year 
cost.[Footnote 8] We found that while checkpoint performance, as 
measured by apprehensions per agent work year, varied among sectors and 
by fiscal years, a substantial drop started in the Tucson sector in 
fiscal year 2002, when the Border Patrol began to routinely relocate or 
close its checkpoints every 7 days, starting in June 2002, with another 
substantial drop in fiscal year 2003, when statutory language went into 
effect. In contrast, comparable decreases in checkpoint performance 
data did not occur in the 3 other sectors we visited, which were not 
required to relocate or close checkpoints every 7 days in the last 
quarter of fiscal year 2002, or in fiscal years 2003 and 2004 (14 days 
on average in fiscal year 2005). At the same time, it is important to 
recognize that there may be other factors that affected this 
performance measure that we were unable to measure or of which we were 
unaware. While the two performance measures we developed are some of 
many possibilities to assess effectiveness, Border Patrol officials 
told us that they found the two measures potentially useful as tools 
for making allocation decisions, in conjunction with other data and 
information. 

To better gauge the effects of border control efforts, and in order to 
more effectively manage and allocate resources, we are recommending 
that the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection develop 
performance measures for the Border Patrol in addition to its 
traditional ones, of the productivity and effectiveness of interior 
checkpoints. We are also recommending that the Commissioner include in 
CBP's Performance and Annual Report, data and analysis provided by the 
additional performance measures on the performance of interior 
checkpoints and what might be done to improve their effectiveness. In 
commenting on a draft of this report, DHS agreed with the 
recommendations and stated that CBP is taking steps to implement them. 

Background: 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a component of the Department of 
Homeland Security, has the primary responsibility for securing the 
nation's borders. The U.S. Border Patrol is the uniformed enforcement 
division of CBP responsible for border security between designated 
official ports of entry into the country. According to the Border 
Patrol, its priority mission since the terrorist attacks of September 
11, 2001, has been to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from 
entering the United States between official ports of entry. In 
addition, the Border Patrol has a traditional mission of preventing 
illegal aliens, smugglers, narcotics, and other contraband from 
entering the country, as these activities directly affect the safety 
and security of the United States. Border Patrol agents generally 
report to Border Patrol stations and substations in each of these 
sectors at the start and end of their workdays; these stations function 
much as police stations do for police personnel around the country. The 
number of stations and substations varies widely by sector.[Footnote 9]

The Border Patrol's fiscal year 2005 budget was about $1.4 billion. As 
of March 2005, the Border Patrol had 10,817 agents nationwide; 6,129 
(57 percent) were located in the 9 Border Patrol sectors along the 
southwest border. About 10 percent of the Border Patrol's agents 
nationwide are assigned to interior traffic checkpoints in the 
southwest border sectors, according to the Border Patrol. 

Permanent and tactical interior traffic checkpoints are generally 
located on major and secondary roads, usually 25 to 75 miles inland 
from the border. These interior checkpoint locations are chosen by the 
Border Patrol to maximize the likelihood that illegal entrants who have 
managed to evade border defenses and patrols will have to pass through 
the checkpoints in order to get to major U.S. population centers. 
Although tactical checkpoints are mobile and may move daily or weekly, 
as needed, they must provide adequate advance notice to motorists that 
a checkpoint has been set up and is in operation. This is typically 
done by using orange traffic cones and large, visible signs positioned 
in advance of the checkpoint location. Permanent checkpoints, by virtue 
of their permanence and large traffic signs, meet these criteria for 
advance notice and visibility. 

Figure 1 shows the topography, interstate highways, and some major 
secondary roads along the southwest border. 

Figure 1: Topography and Road Systems along the Southwest Border: 

[See PDF for image]

Note: The U.S.-Mexican border is denoted by the black line that starts 
at the far left in San Diego, California, and that moves to the far 
right, ending at Brownsville, Texas. 

[End of figure]

The legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Border Patrol 
began implementing a strategy called Operation Hold-the-Line in 1993, 
to incrementally increase control of the Southwest border in four 
phases by making it so difficult and costly for aliens to attempt 
illegal entry that fewer individuals would try.[Footnote 10] The four- 
phased approach involved adding resources along the Southwest border, 
starting with the areas that had the highest known levels of illegal 
alien activity, which at that time were the San Diego, California; El 
Paso, Texas; and McAllen, Texas, regions.[Footnote 11] Although INS 
accomplished its goal of shifting illegal alien traffic away from these 
areas, the shift was achieved at a cost to both illegal aliens and 
INS.[Footnote 12] In particular, rather than being deterred from 
attempting some illegal entry, many aliens have instead risked injury 
and death by trying to cross mountains, deserts, and rivers, primarily 
in Arizona and in particular in the Tucson sector. These conditions, 
which the Border Patrol said continue to the present day, prompted INS 
and now CBP to warn aliens about the dangers of crossing illegally, as 
well as to establish search-and-rescue units. 

In effect, and contrary to the expectations of INS, the strategy led to 
a significant increase in illegal immigration through the Tucson 
sector, despite its topography and climate, as indirectly measured by 
total apprehensions, which increased nearly sevenfold in this sector 
over the period of fiscal years 1993 to 2000. In contrast, during the 
same period, total apprehensions for the eight other southwest sectors 
combined decreased by about 28 percent. The largest single decrease was 
in the San Diego sector, where apprehensions fell by almost three- 
fourths over 1993-2000. 

Nationwide, Border Patrol apprehensions at all locations (including on 
the border, near the border, and at interior checkpoints) of illegal 
aliens over the last 4 years have varied from about 1.3 million in 
fiscal year 2001, to 955,000 in fiscal year 2002, 931,000 in fiscal 
year 2003, and over 1.1 million in fiscal year 2004. Figure 2 shows the 
total annual apprehensions of illegal immigrants at all locations in 
each of the 9 southwest Border Patrol sectors reported for fiscal years 
2001 to 2004. 

Figure 2: Total Apprehensions of Illegal Immigrants at All Locations in 
Each Southwest Border Patrol Sector in Fiscal Years 2001-2004: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

As shown, the Tucson sector has had the largest numbers of 
apprehensions since fiscal year 2001, which Border Patrol officials 
attribute in part to the legacy INS's strategy to deter illegal entry 
between the official ports of entry in the sectors that had the highest 
estimated illegal immigration in the early and mid-1990s, the San 
Diego, California, and the Texas sectors of El Paso and 
McAllen.[Footnote 13] It is apparent that in recent years far more 
apprehensions of illegal aliens have occurred in the Tucson sector than 
in the 8 other sectors. 

When establishing checkpoints, the Border Patrol must take into account 
court decisions ruling on the parameters of immigration officers' 
authority to conduct inquiries concerning illegal aliens. The legal 
authority of immigration officials to establish permanent checkpoints 
and stop vehicles transiting through them has been confirmed by the 
Supreme Court in United States v. Martinez-Fuerte.[Footnote 14] The 
Supreme Court ruled that government officials may stop vehicles at 
permanent interior checkpoints for brief questioning of the driver and 
passengers without reasonable suspicion. The Court held that it was 
constitutional for the Border Patrol, after routinely stopping or 
slowing automobiles at a permanent checkpoint, to refer motorists 
selectively to a secondary inspection area for questions about 
citizenship and immigration status on the basis of criteria that would 
not sustain a roving patrol stop.[Footnote 15] The Court determined 
that the constitutional interests of motorists at these checkpoints 
were not violated, for a number of reasons. It found that the 
checkpoints, with flashing lights and warning signs, provided advance 
notice to motorists of an official roadblock that was applicable to all 
motorists.[Footnote 16] Motorists were not taken by surprise, as they 
knew, or could find out, the location of the checkpoints. Furthermore, 
the Court concluded that the regular manner in which established 
checkpoints were operated was visible evidence that the stops were duly 
authorized.[Footnote 17]

An organization that specializes in immigration issues has estimated 
that the number of people who have successfully entered the United 
States illegally has averaged roughly half a million per year since 
1990 and that the number of illegal aliens residing in the United 
States has grown in recent years from about 8.4 million in April 2000 
to about 11 million in March 2005.[Footnote 18]

Permanent and Tactical Checkpoints Have Different but Complementary 
Roles in the Border Patrol Strategy: 

The Border Patrol uses permanent and tactical checkpoints in 8 of its 9 
southwest sectors as part of a multilayered enforcement strategy to 
deter and defend against potential terrorists and their weapons, 
contraband smugglers, and persons who have entered the country 
illegally.[Footnote 19] Corresponding to their different roles in the 
Border Patrol's enforcement strategy, permanent and tactical 
checkpoints have different capabilities. Permanent checkpoints have the 
advantage of physical infrastructure, which provides a wide range of 
logistical, communication, suspect questioning and detention, and 
equipment deployment and storage capabilities, as well as adequate 
shade and cages for canines. Tactical checkpoints have the advantage of 
mobility, which gives the Border Patrol the capability to respond 
quickly to emerging trends, intelligence, or national security threats. 
According to the Border Patrol, permanent checkpoints are most 
effective when supplemented by tactical checkpoints, which are 
generally used on secondary roads to cut off access to those seeking to 
evade permanent checkpoints on major arteries. 

This is not the case in the Tucson sector, where legislative language 
has prohibited the construction of checkpoints since fiscal year 1999. 
Moreover, starting in mid-2002, and through fiscal year 2004, the 
Border Patrol relocated or closed checkpoints in the Tucson sector on a 
regular basis, such as at least once every 7 days. The result has been 
a sector of nonpermanent checkpoints that lack the advantages of either 
permanent or tactical checkpoints, and which the Border Patrol states 
have degraded the Border Patrol's ability to fulfill its mission in the 
Tucson sector. 

Permanent and Tactical Checkpoints Each Have a Role in the Border 
Enforcement Strategy: 

The Border Patrol uses interior traffic checkpoints as a third layer of 
defense and deterrence against potential terrorists and their weapons, 
contraband smugglers, and persons who have entered the country 
illegally. According to the Border Patrol, permanent and tactical 
checkpoints are part of an integrated, multilayered enforcement 
strategy intended to achieve two key law enforcement objectives: (1) to 
increase the likelihood of detection and apprehension of illegal 
entrants of all types, and thereby to deter other potential illegal 
entrants from attempting to enter the country, who might otherwise 
believe that successfully crossing the border would mean that there 
were no further barriers to them, and (2) to deter illegal entrants 
from transiting through permanent checkpoints on major roadways, 
through fear of detection, and thereby to cause them to use less 
traveled secondary roads on which the Border Patrol is able to stop all 
or almost all vehicles (because of much lower traffic volume), making 
illegal entrants more visible and easier to detect and 
apprehend.[Footnote 20]

Procedures at both permanent and tactical checkpoints involve slowing 
or stopping traffic as vehicles proceed through the checkpoint. As 
traffic slows, Border Patrol agents use visual cues and canines trained 
to locate drugs and hidden persons to determine whether to wave the 
vehicle through, or stop the vehicle, question the occupant(s), and 
determine whether a more thorough secondary inspection is required. 

Role of Permanent Checkpoints: 

Permanent checkpoints are placed at locations that are intended to 
maximize the chances to detect illegal immigrants and smugglers who 
have crossed the border illegally and who are seeking to reach large 
population centers, such as Los Angeles, California, or Phoenix, 
Arizona. Where possible, according to the Border Patrol, permanent 
checkpoints are placed after several highways or roads join, so that 
anyone intending to exit the area into the interior of the country must 
transit them. Permanent checkpoints' physical infrastructure gives them 
different capabilities than tactical checkpoints. For example, 
permanent checkpoints facilities are equipped with technology and 
computers connected to national law enforcement databases to help 
identify suspects, research criminal histories, and cross check 
terrorist watch lists. They also offer greater physical safety to those 
working at them, by virtue of better signage, lighting, and larger 
shoulder areas to stand out of the way of traffic, and many of them are 
paved and have protective concrete barriers. In addition, permanent 
checkpoints have supporting infrastructure and procedures intended to 
reduce the ability of illegal entrants from circumventing the 
checkpoints. These include remote video surveillance, electronic 
sensors, and agent patrols in the vicinity of the checkpoints. 

Among the resources that are generally found at permanent checkpoints 
are: 

* Computers hardwired into national law enforcement databases, such as 
the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Integrated Automated 
Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) system, to provide identity 
checks. Figure 3 shows a fingerprint reading machine at a permanent 
checkpoint as it scans a fingerprint and then transmits the information 
to a centralized database via high-speed communications primarily 
available through a hardwired, secure line.[Footnote 21]

Figure 3: IAFIS Fingerprint Reading Machine at the I-5 San Clemente, 
California, Checkpoint: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

* Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) machines that use gamma- 
ray technology to examine the contents of vehicles, including trucks. 
As figure 4 shows, this equipment is substantial in size and requires 
an off-road area sufficient to permit its safe operation without 
interfering with traffic flow. The VACIS truck moves its arm over the 
subject vehicle, producing a color display of the interior that is 
visible on a color monitor inside the truck. Figure 5 shows how a car 
appeared on the monitor; the actual display is in color. 

Figure 4: VACIS Machine Examining a Vehicle at the I-15 Temecula, 
California, Checkpoint: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Figure 5: VACIS Monitor Display, I-5 Checkpoint, Temecula, California: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

* Electrical and water utilities: 

* Permanent tollbooth-like structures that provide cover from the 
weather, including shade for agents and canines: 

* Buildings with room for processing and detention of persons suspected 
of smuggling or other illegal activity: 

* Permanent, large communication towers that permit radio communication 
to other Border Patrol facilities and national law enforcement 
authorities: 

* Permanent lighting for night and poor weather conditions: 

* Vehicle lifts to raise vehicles to inspect under them, and the area 
required for the lifts, as shown in figure 6. 

Figure 6: Vehicle Lift at the I-35 Checkpoint, North of Laredo, Texas: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Role of Tactical Checkpoints: 

Tactical checkpoints are intended to supplement permanent ones by 
monitoring and inspecting traffic on secondary roads that can be used 
to evade the permanent checkpoints. For example, the Temecula permanent 
checkpoint in the San Diego sector maintains up to eight tactical 
checkpoints to inspect vehicles traveling on back roads in the hills 
around the permanent checkpoint on I-15. Tactical checkpoints are 
intended to be mobile and set up for short-term use only. They are 
relocated by the Border Patrol in order to respond to intelligence on 
changing patterns of contraband smuggling and routes being used by 
illegal aliens. According to the Border Patrol, the combination of 
permanent and supplemental tactical checkpoints is intended to both 
detect persons who have entered the country illegally and to increase 
the chances of detecting and apprehending contraband smugglers and 
illegal aliens who seek to avoid permanent checkpoints and instead use 
less traveled routes. On these less traveled routes, with comparatively 
low traffic volume of as little as a few hundred vehicles daily, the 
Border Patrol is able to stop every car and closely observe the 
occupants, as well as question them.[Footnote 22] This increases the 
likelihood of detecting illegal entrants, while on heavily traveled 
highways, only a small percentage of vehicles can be subjected to this 
level of inspection, in order to avoid creating large traffic delays. 

In contrast to the resources that are typically deployed at permanent 
checkpoints, tactical ones, by virtue of their mobility, do not have 
large fixed facilities or hardwired communications. They do, however, 
offer the element of flexibility, by virtue of their mobility. Tactical 
checkpoints generally consist of a few Border Patrol vehicles, used by 
agents to drive to the location; orange cones to slow down and direct 
traffic; portable water supply; a cage for canines (if deployed with 
the checkpoint); portable rest facilities; and warning signs. Some may 
also have portable lighting, if operated at dusk or night. If persons 
are detained at a tactical checkpoint, some of the agents must leave 
the checkpoint to transport them back to a Border Patrol station for 
positive identification. Our observations of tactical checkpoints 
showed that most equipment has to be towed or carried to the checkpoint 
for it to operate, and then has to be removed when it relocates. 
According to the Border Patrol, this increases wear and tear on the 
equipment and absorbs time to hitch up, tow, set up, dismantle, and tow 
the equipment back to a Border Patrol station or to an alternate 
tactical checkpoint. Figure 7 shows a tactical checkpoint in a rural 
area near Temecula, California, that was used to supplement the 
permanent checkpoint on I-15. 

Figure 7: Tactical Checkpoint near Temecula, California: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

While the changing locations of tactical checkpoints would appear to 
offer the potential element of surprise, we were told by the Border 
Patrol that the smugglers of aliens and contraband could use cell 
phones and communications networks to alert confederates of the 
presence of checkpoints within minutes of their being relocated. The 
Border Patrol provided us with information that confirmed that 
smugglers of aliens and contraband observed some checkpoints and 
reported on their activities to their confederates. According to the 
Border Patrol, smugglers know within minutes about the closure of a 
checkpoint. 

Legislative Restrictions on the Tucson Sector: 

For fiscal years 1999-2004, annual appropriations acts made no funds 
"available for the site acquisition, design, or construction" of any 
Border Patrol checkpoint in the Tucson sector.[Footnote 23] Since the 
Tucson sector had no permanent checkpoints at the time the prohibition 
was first imposed, the effect of this restriction was that no permanent 
checkpoints could be planned or constructed in this sector. According 
to the Border Patrol, it used a combination of roving patrols and 
temporary checkpoints in the sector that remained at the same location 
for long periods but did not have permanent infrastructure. This 
arrangement was adequate, the Border Patrol stated, until the late 
1990s, when the volume of illegal entrants into the sector increased 
substantially as its overall strategy to greatly reinforce the border 
in urbanized areas took effect in San Diego, California; El Paso, 
Texas; and McAllen, Texas. 

The fiscal year 2003 and 2004 Appropriations Acts also added a 
provision requiring that the checkpoints in the Tucson sector be 
relocated "at least once every 7 days in a manner designed to prevent 
persons subject to inspection from predicting" their location. Since 
permanent checkpoints could not be built under these restrictions, and 
temporary ones had to be relocated at least once every 7 days, the 
checkpoints functioned as hybrids, or what we refer to as nonpermanent 
checkpoints that had neither the advantages of the physical 
infrastructure typical of permanent ones nor the flexibility of 
tactical checkpoints to respond to intelligence information.[Footnote 
24] Such checkpoints do not have permanent infrastructure and hence 
lack the multiplicity of capabilities typically associated with 
permanent checkpoints in other sectors. At the same time, they also do 
not have tactical flexibility because they are generally kept at the 
same locations, which have been chosen by the Border Patrol in part for 
both safety and legal considerations. The checkpoint locations need to 
have adequate shoulder space on which to place the equipment needed to 
maintain the checkpoint, such as a small trailer, water tanks, portable 
lights and generators, as well as space to conduct secondary 
inspections of vehicles ordered to pull over. The locations also need 
to have sufficient space to place signs in advance of the checkpoint to 
notify vehicles of the checkpoint's location (to comply with legal 
decisions) and cannot be placed after or around sharp curves that might 
force vehicles to come to a sudden stop upon notice of the checkpoint. 
In addition, the checkpoint locations are chosen by the Border Patrol 
to maximize the likelihood that illegal entrants would have to transit 
through them in order to move northward. Depending on the criticality 
of their original location in terms of road networks and smuggling 
routes, relocating these checkpoints can reduce their effectiveness in 
monitoring vehicular traffic. (See app. III, fig. 14, for a map of the 
sector and its checkpoints.) To support these nonpermanent checkpoints, 
the Tucson sector operates tactical checkpoints periodically, as occurs 
in other sectors with permanent checkpoints. 

The fiscal year 2005 Appropriations Act limited the funding prohibition 
to only construction, thus allowing the use of funds for site 
acquisition and design. Further, this act directed CBP to conduct a 
study of locations for proposed permanent checkpoints within the Tucson 
sector.[Footnote 25] In addition, the 2005 Act changed the requirement 
to relocate checkpoints to "at least an average of once every 14 days." 
According to the Border Patrol, the phrase "an average" gave it more 
flexibility in determining checkpoint operating schedules than the 
previous years' requirement of "at least once every 7 days." As a 
result, in fiscal year 2005, the Patrol operates the checkpoint on I-19 
for 14 days, closes it for 8 hours, and then reopens it for 14 days. In 
addition, the Patrol has kept the checkpoint at the more northern 
kilometer post (KP) 42 location, because, it stated, moving it south to 
the KP 25 location every 7 days had permitted illegal immigrants to 
wait until KP 42 closed, and to then move north. At other checkpoints 
in the Tucson sector, the Patrol has maintained varying opening and 
closing schedules, which it stated were in conformity, in its view, 
with the "average of once every 14 days" language.[Footnote 26]

However, as reported by the House Appropriations Committee, the fiscal 
year 2006 appropriations bill would restore the 7-day relocation 
requirement. Also, it provides that no funds may be used for site 
acquisition, design, or construction of permanent checkpoints in this 
sector.[Footnote 27]

The Tucson Sector's Nonpermanent Checkpoints Have Additional 
Limitations: 

Prior to the implementation of INS's southwest border strategy in 1993, 
the Tucson sector had a smaller volume of illegal alien traffic 
relative to the San Diego and El Paso sectors, as indirectly measured 
by apprehensions. In fiscal year 1993, the Tucson sector had less than 
one-fifth as many apprehensions as the San Diego sector, and less than 
one-third those in the El Paso sector. As the strategy unfolded, the 
San Diego and El Paso sectors became more difficult for illegal aliens 
to cross, while the volume of illegal traffic in the Tucson sector 
increased nearly sevenfold over the period of fiscal years 1993-2000, 
as measured indirectly by sectorwide apprehensions. This increase in 
illegal activity, as well as a general increase in legitimate vehicular 
traffic, led the Border Patrol to consider a more permanent presence 
for checkpoints in the Tucson sector, where it had previously operated 
only tactical checkpoints, to provide the range of facilities offered 
by permanent checkpoints. 

The Border Patrol started implementing the 7-day relocation requirement 
in June 2002, as noted above. Patrol officials told us that where 
feasible, taking safety and operational strategy into account, they 
alternated the sites of nonpermanent checkpoints along the same route 
in the Tucson sector. The Border Patrol was able to establish 
nonpermanent checkpoints among alternate sites on two such routes. 
However, for 3 of the 6 checkpoints in the sector, safety factors 
precluded use of other locations on the same route, and the Border 
Patrol closed the checkpoints for 7 days. (One checkpoint of the 6 
closes each night and is replaced with roving vehicle patrols, because 
of the very sparse population of the region in which it is 
located.)[Footnote 28] The 7-day relocation rule was changed to "at 
least an average of once every 14 days" in fiscal year 2005 
appropriations legislation.[Footnote 29]

The Border Patrol told us that it did not seek to evade compliance with 
the intent of the relocation rule by opening an alternative checkpoint 
just a short distance from the first one, or by closing for just a few 
hours. It did attempt to close and open for a few days at a time, they 
said, to try to confuse illegal aliens and contraband smugglers. 
However, officials stated that this was not productive, as the 
smugglers monitored the checkpoint activities so closely. According to 
Border Patrol officials, the funding prohibition on constructing 
checkpoints in the Tucson sector, in combination with the mandated 
relocation on a regular basis, allows smugglers and illegal aliens to 
further their entry into the United States with reduced interdiction 
risk. Table 1 shows the variations followed by the Border Patrol in 
operating the nonpermanent checkpoints in the Tucson sector. 

Table 1: Tucson Sector Nonpermanent Checkpoints Schedule to Conform to 
Legislative Language: 

Checkpoint: A; 
Open, Closure, and Relocation Schedule to Conform to Legislative 
Language: Opens when port of entry south of location is open and closes 
every night. 

Checkpoint: B; 
Open, Closure, and Relocation Schedule to Conform to Legislative 
Language: Opens and closes for periods of time to comply with 
legislative language; Does not relocate because there is no safe 
alternate location. 

Checkpoint: C; 
Open, Closure, and Relocation Schedule to Conform to Legislative 
Language: Opens and closes for periods of time to comply with 
legislative language; Does not relocate because there is no safe 
alternate location. 

Checkpoint: D; 
Open, Closure, and Relocation Schedule to Conform to Legislative 
Language: Checkpoint alternates between KP 42 and KP 25. 

Checkpoint: E; 
Open, Closure, and Relocation Schedule to Conform to Legislative 
Language: Checkpoint alternates among 3 identified locations along 
state route (SR) 82 or SR 83. 

Checkpoint: F; 
Open, Closure, and Relocation Schedule to Conform to Legislative 
Language: Opens and closes for periods of time to comply with 
legislative language; Does not relocate because there is no safe 
alternate location. 

Source: Border Patrol. 

[End of table]

According to Border Patrol officials, contraband smugglers and illegal 
aliens typically wait until they learn from confederates that a 
checkpoint is in the process of being relocated or has been closed, and 
then use this downtime to further their illegal entry. Border Patrol 
officials told us that in today's environment, they are up against 
increasingly sophisticated smugglers who use radios, cell phones, 
global positioning systems, and other high-technology equipment to 
watch agents' movements and alert each other when checkpoints are moved 
or closed. 

On highway I-19, the interstate highway that runs from Nogales, 
Arizona, on the border, directly north to Tucson, the Border Patrol 
alternated between two locations for nonpermanent checkpoints, at KP 42 
and at KP 25, at congressional staff direction (for the last quarter of 
fiscal year 2002), and then in conformity with the legislative 
restrictions for fiscal years 2003 and 2004. When the northern one (KP 
42) was open, however, the Border Patrol told us that illegal aliens 
and smugglers who had made it over the border then waited in 
communities south of it, but north of KP 25. (See app. III, fig. 14 for 
a sector map that shows these locations.) When the checkpoint at KP 42 
closed and moved down to KP 25, the illegal entrants who waited north 
of KP 25 (but south of KP 42 while open) were able to move with reduced 
interdiction risk, because there was no longer a checkpoint north of 
them. In fiscal year 2005, as noted above, the Border Patrol has 
maintained the checkpoint at the more northern KP 42 location, to 
reduce the potential for illegal entrants taking advantage of the 
relocation that occurred in previous years. In addition, the checkpoint 
is kept open for 14 days, then closed for 8 hours, and then reopened 
for 14 days. The Border Patrol stated that it believes that this 
schedule conforms to the fiscal year legislative language that requires 
that Tucson sector checkpoints be relocated an average of at least once 
every 14 days. 

Border Patrol officials told us that without the infrastructure typical 
of the Patrol's permanent checkpoints in others sectors, the Tucson 
sector cannot perform the full range of enforcement functions. For 
example, without access to national databases, suspects detained at the 
sector's nonpermanent checkpoints cannot be readily identified and must 
be transported by an agent or agents to a Border Patrol station with 
database access, in order to determine if the persons should be 
detained. Further, the nonpermanent Tucson checkpoints lack paved, 
adequately large, level, off-road shoulder areas to deploy vehicle 
lifts or VACIS trucks required to examine underneath and inside 
vehicles. According to the Border Patrol, because detention facilities 
at these checkpoints are small rooms in mobile trailers, with weak 
internal doors and locks, they can be insufficient in size and 
security. (See photo in fig. 8.) Upon apprehension of a suspect or 
suspects, Border Patrol agents from the checkpoint must transport them 
to a station with adequate facilities for detention and processing, as 
would be found at typical permanent checkpoints elsewhere. The Border 
Patrol stated that sending an agent or agents to a station with 
suspects is an inefficient use of personnel and can cause the 
nonpermanent checkpoint to close because of personnel shortages. 

Figure 8 shows photographs of the nonpermanent checkpoint operated on I-
19 in the Tucson sector at KP 42, with limited facilities, located 
under an overpass to provide shelter from sun and weather, and lacking 
a paved shoulder for vehicles pulled over for further inspection. 

Figure 8: Tucson Sector Nonpermanent Checkpoint at KP 42 on I-19, Near 
Tubac, Arizona: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Benefits and Costs of Traffic Checkpoints Are Difficult to Quantify, 
but Some Examples Are Available: 

Although total apprehensions and contraband seizure data are available 
for interior checkpoints, some of the benefits--such as deterrence of 
potential contraband smugglers or of persons contemplating illegal 
entry into the United States--and costs of traffic checkpoints are 
difficult to quantify because deterrence is difficult to measure and 
cost data are not maintained separately by the Border Patrol for 
permanent or tactical checkpoints. Studies or reports on checkpoint 
benefits and costs have also not been performed by the Border Patrol. 
Of the less quantifiable benefits that can be described, we were told 
that intelligence debriefings of apprehended aliens and smugglers 
testify to the deterrent effects of interior checkpoints. In addition, 
local citizens and community groups with whom we met who live near or 
in the vicinity of interior checkpoints are generally supportive. 
However, this support is not universal. 

Apprehensions and Drug Seizure Benefits: 

The most readily available data on the benefits of interior checkpoints 
are the drug seizure and apprehension data recorded by the Border 
Patrol on a daily basis at its checkpoints and stations. In fiscal year 
2004, for example, the Border Patrol reported that the southwest 
interior checkpoints, which were staffed by about 10 percent of Border 
Patrol agents in those sectors, were responsible for 96,000 illegal 
alien apprehensions, or 8 percent of all Border Patrol apprehensions, 
and for seizure of 418,102 pounds of marijuana and 10,853 pounds of 
cocaine in fiscal year 2004, or about 31 percent of the marijuana and 
about 74 percent of the cocaine seized nationally by the Border Patrol. 

In addition to the benefits of seizing contraband, and mitigating the 
smuggling of humans, there were at least six incidents reported to us 
where individuals with suspected ties to terrorism were identified when 
transiting a Border Patrol interior checkpoint and appropriate actions 
were coordinated with the FBI.[Footnote 30]

Deterrence and Some Other Potential Benefits of Traffic Checkpoints are 
Difficult to Quantify: 

Intelligence debriefings of smugglers and illegal aliens and reports of 
increased smuggling costs provide some evidence of checkpoints' 
deterrent effect. Information from debriefings suggests that interior 
checkpoints deter some persons from attempting to go through them, and 
also push them into rural areas that are more difficult to transit and 
where they are more easily identifiable among a lower volume of 
traffic. In addition, the presence of effective checkpoints can 
contribute to increased smuggling costs, also possibly serving as a 
deterrent, according to the Border Patrol. In the San Diego sector, for 
example, we were told by the Border Patrol that smuggling fees charged 
to Mexicans and others had increased fivefold in recent years (to about 
$1,500 per person), because of the perceived difficulty of breaching 
border defenses and of transiting through interior checkpoints 
undetected. It is difficult, however, to separate out the contribution 
to deterring potential illegal entrants from entering the United States 
of increases in smuggling fees that are due to better line watch and 
line patrol border operations versus those cost increases that could be 
attributed to vigilance at interior checkpoints. (We did not validate 
the Border Patrol's statements with regard to increased smuggling 
fees.) 

Evidence for the deterrent effects of checkpoints was reported in a 
1995 INS study which found that that smugglers and illegal aliens 
adjust their transit routes because they are well aware when 
checkpoints are open and closed.[Footnote 31] The 1995 study reported 
on a test of interior checkpoint operations in which the permanent 
checkpoint on I-5, near San Clemente, California, was closed several 
times, in order to determine the impact of the checkpoint on I-15, near 
Temecula, California. The latter is located inland on a parallel major 
north-south highway, and about as far north of the border as the 
checkpoint on I-5. (See app. II, fig. 10, for a map of this sector that 
shows the location of these checkpoints.) The study reported that when 
the I-5, San Clemente checkpoint was closed, apprehensions at the I-15 
Temecula checkpoint fell sharply--there was a 50 percent decline in 1 
month. According to the study, this demonstrated that illegal entrants 
became aware of the closure and therefore chose the I-5 San Clemente 
route with no checkpoint, while avoiding the I-15 Temecula route with 
an operating checkpoint. The Border Patrol told us that this 
demonstrated the interdependence of various checkpoints operations and 
that illegal entrants were, in fact, deterred from transiting routes 
with checkpoints when unmonitored alternatives are available. This 
study, however, did not address whether the checkpoints completely 
deter any aliens from entering the country. 

As additional illustrations of the potential effects of interior 
checkpoints, Temecula station officials described the following 
operations that in their view appeared to confirm that illegal aliens 
had changed their intended routes in order to avoid the checkpoints at 
Temecula and San Clemente:[Footnote 32]

* San Diego sector intelligence analysts determined that illegal alien 
smugglers were avoiding the permanent Border Patrol interior 
checkpoints on the highways at San Clemente (I-5) and Temecula (I-15). 
Instead, they were taking a circuitous route from the San Diego area to 
eastern California and western Arizona, and then turning north on 
secondary highways without checkpoints to make their way to Los 
Angeles. In response to this intelligence, the Temecula station set up 
an August 2004 3-day traffic observation operation along I-10 between 
Los Angeles and Arizona. During the operation, Border Patrol agents 
stopped 30 suspect vehicles, and apprehended 134 illegal aliens. Border 
Patrol officials confirmed the earlier intelligence that illegal aliens 
were utilizing the I-10 route, without checkpoints, to avoid 
checkpoints on I-5 and I-15. The officials believe that this 
demonstrated the effectiveness of the permanent I-5 and I-15 interior 
checkpoints as deterrents that cause illegal entrants to seek out less 
traveled, unmonitored alternative routes, even if longer in distance 
and time required to reach major U.S. cities. 

* On May 3, 2004, three vans ran (transited without stopping despite 
orders to do so) the Otay Mesa port of entry near San Diego, and two 
vans proceeded north on I-15 (one was stopped near the port of entry). 
Temecula station officials were alerted to the fleeing vans and were 
notified that to avoid the checkpoint on I-15, the vans had turned onto 
a secondary road that roughly paralleled the interstate. Four tactical 
checkpoints were operating in the area, and the vans were stopped by 
agents at two of these checkpoints. A total of 48 illegal aliens were 
arrested. According to Temecula station officials, this incident showed 
that (1) illegal alien smugglers know that the permanent checkpoints 
such as the one on I-15 are to be avoided if possible, and (2) tactical 
checkpoints on secondary roads are valuable and effective for 
apprehending aliens attempting to circumvent checkpoints on major 
highways. 

* Temecula station officials described another operation as an example 
of checkpoint deterrence effectiveness. On the basis of intelligence, 
Temecula station intelligence analysts concluded that smugglers of 
illegal aliens had altered their entry routes to avoid the significant 
Border Patrol presence in the San Diego sector. These altered entry 
routes included the use of I-40 westbound to enter the greater Los 
Angeles area; the Border Patrol did not have checkpoints or a constant 
presence on westbound I-40. In response to this intelligence, the 
Temecula station conducted a traffic observation operation with 
multiple marked patrol vehicles on I-40 over a period of 3 days in 
November 2004, to interdict alien smugglers using the westbound I-40 
corridor to circumvent the permanent checkpoints on I-5 and I-15. The I-
40 operation was conducted shortly after a Border Patrol I-10 operation 
with the expectation that smugglers would use I-40 to avoid I-10. The 
Border Patrol operation found 7 vehicles with 77 illegal aliens. Of 
these, 60 had entered the country east of the San Diego sector, 
circumventing the I-5 and I-15 checkpoints. According to Temecula 
station officials, this confirmed that I-40 is a major smuggling route 
and that the permanent checkpoints on I-5 and on I-15 serve as 
deterrents to at least some illegal traffic, as intended. 

Most Local Community Leaders We Contacted See Traffic Checkpoints as 
Benefiting their Communities: 

Local law enforcement, business, and community leaders near interior 
traffic checkpoints in Temecula, California, in the San Diego sector, 
and Nogales, Arizona, in the Tucson sector, that we interviewed told us 
that in their view, the checkpoints and the presence of Border Patrol 
agents were of considerable benefit to their communities. However, in 
the small community of Tubac, Arizona, we found local criticism of 
interior traffic checkpoints.[Footnote 33] Since we did not conduct a 
comprehensive survey of all communities in the vicinity of all 33 
permanent checkpoints in the southwest border states, our findings are 
limited to the views of the local citizens and law enforcement 
officials with whom we met in the communities we visited, as well as 
statements by the Border Patrol with regard to their relationships with 
local communities near checkpoints. We did not confirm the views 
expressed by these citizens and officials, as little data were 
available relating directly to their statements. 

Officials representing the city of Temecula, California, the Temecula 
Police Department, and the Chamber of Commerce, for example, all said 
that the nearby I-15 traffic checkpoint and Border Patrol presence 
benefit their community.[Footnote 34] The checkpoint has the second 
greatest average daily volume of vehicular traffic among the Border 
Patrol's checkpoints, with about 122,000 vehicles passing through the 
checkpoint location daily. City and police officials said that having 
the checkpoint in operation means that illegal aliens and drug 
smugglers are intercepted and taken off the streets, reducing crime and 
vandalism. One city official also said that traffic problems with the 
checkpoint have been minimal, and that the city has received very few 
calls complaining about the checkpoint and what amount to minimal 
delays when the checkpoint is operating and checking traffic. The 
official said that the majority of the calls that the city received 
were before September 11, 2001, and very few calls had been received 
since then. The President of the Temecula Chamber of Commerce conducted 
an informal survey of member businesses, and only one business 
mentioned that some employees said that the checkpoint operations 
occasionally delayed their commute to or from work. Overall, the 
Chamber President concluded that the checkpoint is not a concern to the 
community. 

The Santa Cruz County Attorney from Nogales, Arizona, told us that the 
Border Patrol and its checkpoints were among the best protections for 
fighting illegal alien traffic and local crime, with a side benefit of 
detecting drunk drivers on their way back from Mexico. According to 
this official, the I-19 checkpoint between Nogales and Tucson was a 
major benefit to the community because it was saving lives, 
apprehending illegal aliens, and arresting drug smugglers. The official 
also stated that, in her opinion, the checkpoints are effective in 
apprehending drug violators out of proportion to the resources deployed 
at the checkpoints and voiced the view that permanent checkpoints were 
better than tactical ones. 

In contrast to the generally positive view of the benefits resulting 
from the Border Patrol checkpoints from others that we interviewed, the 
president of a local civic association from Tubac, Arizona (population 
949), located between Nogales and Tucson near the I-19 nonpermanent 
Tucson sector checkpoint at KP 42, told us that he believed the 
checkpoint was disruptive to the community and was not effective 
because illegal aliens were circumventing the checkpoint and passing 
through the community. He said that the checkpoint had affected home 
sales and housing values, and that most local residents were strongly 
opposed to having a permanent checkpoint built near them on I-19, 
because of fears about the impact on traffic congestion and overall 
quality of life. We were also told by congressional staff that the 
overwhelming majority present at April and July 2005 community meetings 
in Tubac had voiced opposition to the possibility of a permanent 
checkpoint on I-19 near Tubac. 

Traffic Congestion at Checkpoints Does Not Appear to Be a Large Problem 
but May Involve Some Costs: 

The Border Patrol Handbook states that checkpoint operations should be 
suspended if there is "too much traffic congestion" and does not 
further define this. However, some sector checkpoints have more precise 
guidance pertaining to a specific distance or length of time traffic 
will be permitted to back up. Agents said they know from experience the 
amount of wait time that is created by how far back from the checkpoint 
the lines of vehicles extend. The maximum delays that we observed 
appeared not to exceed the restrictions defined by the checkpoint 
guidance prepared by certain sectors.[Footnote 35] This was the case, 
for example, at I-5 near San Clemente, which has the single greatest 
daily volume of traffic in the country (about 144,000 vehicles per day) 
among interior Border Patrol checkpoints, and at I-15 near Temecula, 
the next highest, with about 122,000 vehicles daily. At the times we 
visited, at both locations, we observed that the agents temporarily 
stopped checkpoint inspections when estimated delays exceeded 
guidelines. Traffic was then "flushed" and permitted to flow through 
until there was no line of waiting vehicles. Screening operations were 
then resumed. We also observed during our visit to the San Clemente 
checkpoint, traffic flow in the opposite southerly direction, where 
there is no checkpoint, sometimes was heavier and slower than on the 
side with the ongoing checkpoint operation. 

Moreover, of the more than 400 statewide cameras maintained by the 
California Department of Transportation to monitor traffic, none are at 
either the Temecula or San Clemente checkpoints, according to the 
department. In response to our questions, the department stated that it 
had not received reports in recent years on congestion or related 
problems at either the I-5 or I-15 checkpoints, and it had not 
conducted studies of the checkpoints. 

We contacted several other organizations that monitor traffic 
congestion as part of their work, such as the Automobile Club of 
Southern California, and the California Highway Patrol, to ask if they 
had received complaints about the San Clemente or Temecula checkpoints 
in California, or had observed actual traffic backups at these 
checkpoints. We also asked the American Trucking Associations if it had 
received complaints from commercial shippers about checkpoints in the 
southwestern states. None of these organizations cited complaints in 
recent years about these checkpoints. 

In addition, an official of an organization that promotes economic 
development in Laredo, Texas, and who is active in monitoring the 
impact on traffic of the checkpoint on I-35 north of Laredo, stated 
that traffic delays were minimal even at the I-35 checkpoint, and that 
anyone living on or near the border is familiar with the checkpoints as 
a fact of life. He believed that commercial truckers build in potential 
travel delays, which are longer for commercial vehicles than for cars, 
into their cost of doing business and transit times. He noted that even 
during rush hours, he believed that trucks did not wait more than an 
average of about 20 minutes maximum, based on what he had observed in 
recent years. Cars are delayed considerably less, averaging perhaps a 5-
minute delay in rush hour, he stated. We observed this checkpoint, and 
delays appeared not to exceed 5 minutes at the time we visited, based 
on the time that it took for cars at the back of the line to transit 
through the checkpoint. 

At the tactical checkpoint on I-19 between Nogales and Tucson, Arizona, 
we saw minor traffic backups of not more than about a half dozen 
vehicles at any time over the course of about 1 hour. We were told that 
this was typical for this time of year; delays did not last more than 2 
or 3 minutes for vehicles transiting the checkpoint during our site 
visit. However, the Border Patrol also told us that when truck traffic 
is particularly heavy during the spring harvest season, pulling trucks 
over to the side of the road to inspect them can create backups that 
cause safety problems and delays for the truck drivers. 

We also observed traffic patterns at permanent checkpoints on I-35 
north of Laredo and on U.S. highway 281 at Falfurrias, Texas, both 
major highways, and at a permanent checkpoint at Hebbronville, Texas, 
on a secondary road between Falfurrias and Laredo. Although traffic 
backups occurred on occasion at these locations, we were told that they 
generally did not last more than a few minutes, as additional agents or 
lanes are added to reduce delays. During our visit, Border Patrol 
agents appeared to be monitoring the amount of traffic waiting in line, 
which caused less than about 5 minutes' wait time, and usually less. 
Agents told us that if traffic backs up, they add extra agents to the 
inspection lanes, and may open additional lanes as well.[Footnote 36] 
At some holiday periods, however, we were told delays can reach 20 to 
30 minutes. The volume of traffic at the Texas checkpoints we observed 
was much lower than that on I-5 and I-15 in California, permitting what 
amounts to a near 100 percent check of transiting vehicles, according 
to the Border Patrol. This is feasible when average daily traffic 
volume is about 13,700 vehicles, as is the case at the Laredo, Texas, 
checkpoint, compared with more than 120,000 at I-15, near Temecula, 
California, or over 140,000 at I-5, near San Clemente, California. 

Costs of Operating Checkpoints are Not Routinely Maintained: 

Border Patrol officials told us that costs of operating the permanent 
and tactical checkpoints are not routinely or systematically maintained 
or reported because checkpoints are integral and interdependent parts 
of the multilayered enforcement strategy. As such, permanent and 
tactical checkpoints are supported with facilities, personnel, 
equipment, and canines, for example, and by their associated stations, 
which in turn are supported by the sector as a whole. Tactical 
checkpoints in particular are often set up specifically to support the 
permanent ones, often on a changing daily basis. Agent manpower levels 
may also vary at both the permanent and the tactical checkpoints, 
depending on how the Border Patrol decides on a given day to best 
allocate personnel resources, in response to traffic volume, 
intelligence on illegal entrant routes, and other factors, such as 
weather. For example, the permanent checkpoint at I-15 Temecula is 
supported by up to eight tactical checkpoints that are set up as 
needed, based on intelligence data on illegal alien traffic on the 
sector's secondary roads. 

The costs of one tactical checkpoint versus another are not readily 
separable, except perhaps the personnel costs, and even then, those 
could vary over a period of hours, according to Border Patrol 
officials. A question that the Border Patrol officials asked and which 
has no easy or standard answer was "If an agent must transport arrested 
aliens or smugglers to a station headquarters, should his/her salary be 
counted as part of the roadside checkpoint, or the station headquarters 
support?"

Even considering these obstacles to checkpoint cost comparisons, we 
asked Border Patrol officials whether they could supply us with 
individual checkpoint operating costs to include facilities, equipment, 
personnel, and any other costs. Border Patrol officials queried the 
sectors and stations at the locations we visited and asked whether cost 
data could be assembled. The sectors and stations responded with what 
cost data they could locate, but it was not possible to obtain similar 
data from each location, and the data provided would not be reliable 
enough to present any meaningful statistics concerning costs of 
operating interior traffic checkpoints. 

The Lack of Systematic Evaluation Limits the Border Patrol's Ability to 
Allocate Resources Based on Need: 

In reviewing Border Patrol reports, and in discussions with Border 
Patrol officials, we found that the Border Patrol has not 
systematically evaluated the effectiveness of interior checkpoint 
operations. The Border Patrol does gather and report traditional law 
enforcement data, including the number of apprehensions, historical 
apprehension trends, and weight and type of contraband seized, but 
could not provide us with reports or analyses that assessed the 
performance of one sector compared to another, or of interior 
checkpoints compared with line operations. Thus, the Border Patrol does 
not have analyses based on inputs (costs), such as agent work years, 
divided into outputs, such as apprehensions or contraband seized, that 
could help measure effectiveness or productivity and that could 
therefore also be used in making decisions about how best to allocate 
resources. The Border Patrol stated that it has not evaluated the 
effectiveness of its interior checkpoints largely because checkpoints 
are part of a multilayered enforcement strategy and cannot be easily 
separated for evaluation purposes. Furthermore, officials stated that 
because such outcomes as deterrence are difficult to measure (i.e., 
estimating how many crimes or illegal entries were deterred before they 
happened), the Border Patrol has chosen to rely on the types of data 
cited above to gauge effectiveness. 

A key component to assessing unit operations is the development of 
performance measures. We have previously reported on the need for 
federal agencies to develop performance measures of their programs and 
to use such measures to improve their performance, as well as to be in 
compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 
(GPRA).[Footnote 37] As we noted, under the act, "every major federal 
agency must now ask itself some basic questions: What is our mission? 
What are our goals and how will we achieve them? How can we measure our 
performance? How will we use that information to make improvements?" 
GPRA forces a shift in the focus of federal agencies--away from such 
traditional concerns as staffing and activity levels and toward a 
single overriding issue: results. GPRA requires agencies to set goals, 
measure performance, and report on their accomplishments."[Footnote 38]

Organizations use performance measures to help demonstrate the level of 
progress in achieving results, to inform decision makers, and to hold 
managers accountable. To better articulate a results orientation, 
organizations create a set of performance goals and measures that 
address important dimensions of program performance. Establishing and 
using performance measures for checkpoint operations and other strategy 
components would allow the Border Patrol to help assess the comparative 
success of each checkpoint in addressing program goals as well as 
checkpoints generally in comparison with line and patrol operations. A 
comparison of the effectiveness of each sector, using performance 
measures, would permit the Border Patrol to more meaningfully assess 
the success of its overall strategy than does a count of total 
apprehensions or contraband seizures. Without knowing how much effort 
produced an outcome--in this case, apprehensions or contraband 
seizures--it is difficult to know if one sector or region is performing 
better than another (on a per input basis). With such knowledge, more 
effective management strategies can be devised, if needed, to better 
allocate agency resources, in conjunction with other data and 
information. 

We acknowledge that developing performance measures applied to all 
checkpoints can be challenging for the reasons stated by Border Patrol 
officials. Nevertheless, it is important that the Border Patrol develop 
performance measures to gauge success in meeting strategic goals and 
that these measures go beyond the traditional output data it currently 
uses to indicate the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts. 

Available Data Suggest That Legislative Restrictions on the Tucson 
Sector Reduced the Performance of Its Interior Checkpoints: 

Although the Border Patrol told us that the legislative restrictions on 
funding for construction of checkpoints in the Tucson sector, combined 
with the requirement to relocate checkpoints on a 7-or 14-day schedule, 
had reduced their effectiveness, it did not have a data-based analysis 
to support these statements. It did have data, by sector, on 
apprehensions of illegal entrants at interior checkpoints and for line 
watch/line patrol, as well as for work hours charged at interior 
checkpoints and line watch/line patrol. (Agent work hour data have not 
been maintained by the Border Patrol for tactical checkpoints versus 
permanent ones and were therefore not available.) To test the 
feasibility of developing additional measures of performance that would 
address these concerns, we used Border Patrol data to measure 
apprehensions per agent work year and cost of apprehensions per agent 
work year. Such measures might help to determine if the available data 
support the Border Patrol's statements on the impact of the legislative 
restrictions on the Tucson sector's interior checkpoints effectiveness. 

In applying the apprehension per agent work year measure,[Footnote 39] 
we compared the performance of the Tucson sector interior checkpoints 
over the period of fiscal years 2001-2004 with those of the interior 
checkpoints in the three other sectors we visited. We limited the 
comparison to these four sectors because a considerable amount of the 
work hour data had to be collected by the Border Patrol through data 
calls, which placed a time burden on those collecting the data for us. 
We examined the data starting with fiscal year 2001, the last year for 
which the impact of the terror attacks of September 11 were largely not 
felt on illegal immigration,[Footnote 40] through fiscal year 2004, the 
last year for which data were available at the time of this report. 
Throughout this period as well, no funding had been permitted for 
construction of checkpoints in the Tucson sector. 

Our analysis of Border Patrol data suggest that, as measured in 
apprehensions per agent work year, the restrictions in the Tucson 
sector may have had a negative impact on the performance of its 
interior checkpoints, starting at about the time the sector implemented 
direction from congressional staff to relocate checkpoints every 7 
days, in comparison with the three other sectors we visited, where no 
comparable decline in effectiveness occurred during the same time 
period. [Footnote 41] According to the Border Patrol, its records show 
that it began relocating the Tucson sector's checkpoints every 7 days 
in June 2002, which meant closing some of them, as explained 
previously. 

Figure 9 shows the apprehensions per agent work year at interior 
checkpoints for each of the four sectors we visited, for fiscal years 
2001-2004, and the apprehensions per agent work year for line 
patrol/line watch along the border. 

Figure 9: Apprehensions per Agent Work Year in the Tucson, San Diego, 
Laredo and McAllen Sectors, Fiscal Years 2001-2004: 

[See PDF for image]

Notes: Line/Patrol refers to line watch and line patrol Border Patrol 
operations, based on agent work hours charged by Border Patrol agents 
to those activities. Interior Checkpoint refers to work hours charged 
by agents for work at interior checkpoints--permanent and tactical in 
the San Diego, McAllen, and Laredo sectors; and nonpermanent in the 
Tucson, Arizona, sector. 

[End of figure]

Figure 9 shows that apprehensions per agent work year at the Tucson 
sector interior checkpoints fell 48 percent from fiscal year 2001 to 
fiscal year 2002, when the 7-day relocation procedures were put into 
effect, with about 4 months remaining in the fiscal year. This was 
followed by a 77 percent decrease from fiscal year 2002 to fiscal year 
2003, when the 7-day relocation requirement was in effect for the 
entire fiscal year. The overall decrease from fiscal year 2001 to 
fiscal year 2003 was about 88 percent, in the Tucson sector. 
Apprehensions per agent work year rose from fiscal year 2003 to fiscal 
year 2004, but the 2004 level was 77 percent below the fiscal year 2001 
level. In contrast to these performance measures for the Tucson sector 
interior checkpoints, apprehensions per agent work year for same period 
at the interior checkpoints in the three other southwest sectors (San 
Diego, California; Laredo, Texas; and McAllen, Texas) we visited--that 
were not subject to the funding restrictions or the relocation 
requirements--either stayed at about the same level over this period or 
increased somewhat.[Footnote 42]

During fiscal year 2001 to 2002, when Tucson apprehensions per agent 
work year fell 48 percent, apprehensions per agent work year fell less 
than 2 percent in the San Diego sector, decreased about 19 percent in 
the Laredo sector, and decreased about 12 percent in the McAllen 
sector. The Border Patrol attributed the drop in apprehensions in these 
and other sectors in this period to a general decrease in illegal 
border crossings after September 11 but attributed the greater decline 
in the Tucson sector to relocating the Tucson checkpoints on a regular 
7-day basis, starting in June 2002. Border Patrol officials told us 
that they were not aware of any other changes or factors that would 
have caused the reduction in Tucson compared with other sectors other 
than the combination of the funding restrictions and the 7-day 
relocation requirement. 

Moreover, apprehensions per agent work year at interior checkpoints in 
the Tucson sector fell by about 77 percent from fiscal year 2002 to 
fiscal year 2003, while they either remained about the same or 
increased (more than doubling in San Diego) in that period in the other 
three sectors. In the San Diego sector, interior checkpoint 
apprehensions per agent year increased about 60 percent from 2003 to 
2004 and were almost four times the 2002 level (versus Tucson, where 
the 2004 level was 55 percent below the 2002 level). In the McAllen and 
Laredo sectors, there was almost no difference in checkpoint 
apprehension rates between 2003 and 2004. The Border Patrol believes 
that the differences between the Tucson sector and others with regard 
to interior checkpoint performance are in large part the result of the 
requirement to relocate checkpoints every 7 days at that time. Border 
Patrol officials stated that the smugglers can easily determine when 
the tactical or nonpermanent checkpoints in any location must relocate 
or close and are therefore able to evade them by waiting until they 
move or close, and a potential vulnerability in border security has 
been created. 

It is important to note that we did not evaluate all the factors that 
might have contributed to the differing performance results between 
Tucson interior checkpoints and those in the other three sectors. There 
could have been other factors beyond the restrictions on construction 
of checkpoints and the requirement to relocate every 7 days that 
affected checkpoint performance, such as the unknown number of persons 
attempting entry into a sector, varying topographic conditions and road 
networks, and the fees charged by smugglers to smuggle illegal 
immigrants into the United States. Nevertheless, while there may have 
been other factors that affected the performance of interior 
checkpoints in the four sectors, the data in figure 9 should not be 
overlooked when considering the results or impacts of policy or 
management directives. 

In the second performance measure, we converted the apprehensions per 
agent work year into costs of apprehensions per work year, or cost per 
apprehension.[Footnote 43] We then compared interior checkpoints cost 
per apprehension (per work year) with costs per apprehension (per work 
year) for line watch and line patrol operations. We were unable to 
develop costs per apprehension at permanent versus tactical checkpoints 
because individual checkpoint cost data are not maintained by the 
Border Patrol. In addition, this measure is based on agent labor costs 
at interior checkpoints and line watch/line patrol and does not include 
overhead costs, such as those for equipment, training, buildings, 
canines, and so forth. Converting the fiscal year 2004 apprehension 
data into cost per apprehension (per work year), apprehensions in the 
San Diego sector at the border (line watch/line patrol) cost $384 per 
apprehension, and about $277 per apprehension at the interior 
checkpoints (both permanent and tactical). In the Tucson sector, for 
the same fiscal year, border apprehensions cost $126 each per work 
year, and interior checkpoint apprehensions cost $445 each. 

These ranges of cost per apprehension (per work year) are not, however, 
necessarily reflective of agents at one checkpoint or in one sector 
working harder or more effectively than those in another sector and 
must be considered in the context of the Border Patrol's integrated, 
multilayered strategy, which seeks to deter illegal entrants through 
the perceived risk of apprehension. Thus, a permanent checkpoint with a 
substantial infrastructure may have many agents, such as at I-5 near 
San Clemente (with about 100 agents assigned to the location) but may 
have comparatively few apprehensions--because it has successfully 
deterred potential illegal entrants. In Temecula, California, agents 
are required to monitor alternative routes through the hills around the 
I-15 permanent checkpoint. Again, many agents may be required, but few 
apprehensions may occur, if illegal entrants are deterred to 
alternative routes, such as the circuitous I-10 route previously 
described. In contrast, a sector with many illegal entrants, such as 
Tucson, may effect many apprehensions because of the volume of illegal 
entrants, seemingly showing border cost per apprehension to be much 
lower than in San Diego. Yet the reality is that the long-term legacy 
INS and now CBP strategy of closing off the easiest routes (in San 
Diego, El Paso, and McAllen), has led to the high volume in the Tucson 
sector. Therefore, cost per apprehension or any other single 
performance measure cannot be used without taking into account the 
overall strategy. 

While a performance measure such as cost per apprehension can provide 
some information on cost-effectiveness, several additional caveats 
exist. First, regarding the output measured in the denominator (i.e., 
the number of apprehensions per agent work year, such as 191 for San 
Diego in fiscal year 2004), some apprehensions may be considered more 
important to the agency than others. For instance, apprehending a drug 
smuggler or a terrorist might be considered more important than 
apprehending an illegal alien job seeker. Second, regarding the cost of 
inputs measured in the numerator (e.g., the $53,000 annual average 
agent nationwide salary), numerous cost measures can exist. The most 
easily applied is often the variable cost of labor that is used above 
and which may require estimation. Other input costs may exist but may 
be difficult to assign to a given apprehension, since not only are 
indirect overhead costs involved (e.g., training, equipment, 
infrastructure, canines), but also such costs as the differing salaries 
of multiple agents, if more than one was involved in the apprehension; 
the time used up by each different agent; and the processing costs, 
which can vary by suspect, depending on whether the person is already 
in a national database or cannot be identified. 

Additional Performance Measures Could Help Guide Management Decision 
Making: 

The two performance measures we developed would not alone fully assess 
or explain relative success among sectors, and in developing 
performance measures for checkpoints, a number of factors would need to 
be considered. For example, in comparing the apprehensions per agent 
work year and cost per apprehension for the adjacent McAllen and Laredo 
sectors, considerable differences appear, with McAllen checkpoints 
apprehending far more illegal aliens per agent work year than Laredo. 
Converted into cost per apprehension, these data show that for fiscal 
year 2004, in the Laredo sector, the cost per apprehension for line 
watch/line patrol was $411, while the cost per apprehension at 
checkpoints was $930 each. For McAllen, the cost per apprehension at 
line/patrol was $609, while the cost at the checkpoints was $195 per 
apprehension. 

Taken alone, and without additional information about conditions in 
these sectors, these costs per apprehension are not necessarily a 
useful guide to management decisions about resource allocation. As 
Border Patrol officials told us, several factors are believed to 
contribute to the differences in apprehension patterns between McAllen 
and Laredo sectors. These include the topography, availability of 
egress routes, staff deployment, and varying expedited removal 
programs. Further, the McAllen sector includes two major Mexican cities 
adjacent to its border with a combined population of about 2 million 
people and an infrastructure that facilitates potential illegal 
entrants. These factors provide context to the analysis and underscore 
the importance of the Border Patrol developing a range of performance 
measures that can adequately account for differences among sectors and 
provide decision makers with reliable indicators of success. 

The usefulness of these measures notwithstanding, other performance 
measures and relevant factors would also be useful in assessing the 
effectiveness of checkpoints relative to other elements of the 
multilayered strategy. Some available information, beyond apprehensions 
and contraband seized, could help the Border Patrol make more informed 
decisions about where its operations are most effective and how best to 
allocate resources to make needed improvements. For example, the Border 
Patrol could consider the cost of smuggling charged to illegal 
immigrants as a measure of its overall effectiveness. Additionally, the 
Border Patrol could consider the number of apprehensions or contraband 
seizures per the number of vehicles sent to secondary inspection as a 
measure of effectiveness. There are likely other measures that could 
use existing or easily gathered data to help measure effectiveness 
across the range of Border Patrol line watch, line patrol, and interior 
traffic checkpoint activities. These kinds of performance measures can 
aid in making resource allocation decisions, provided again that such 
decisions are made with reasonable knowledge of other conditions 
present in a given sector or region. 

Conclusions: 

It is unlikely that either the first two lines of border defense, line 
watch and line patrol, or the interior traffic checkpoints, another 
layer of defense, will ever be 100 percent effective in catching all 
smugglers or aliens illegally entering the United States. This is the 
case given the 1,950 mile southwest border, the number of personnel and 
the cost required to cover all of this area, the continuing 
sophistication of smugglers using modern technology to observe and 
evade the Border Patrol's enforcement efforts, and the differences in 
wages, job opportunities, and perceived life opportunities between 
Mexico and the United States. However, the Border Patrol's interior 
traffic checkpoints--both permanent and tactical--have distinct 
functions in its integrated, multilayered strategy intended to detect 
and deter potential terrorists, illegal immigration, and contraband 
smuggling into the United States. While the permanent checkpoints are 
the anchors of this part of the strategy, the tactical checkpoints 
reinforce the permanent ones at those locations where smugglers, 
illegal aliens, or terrorists can use secondary roads to avoid the 
permanent checkpoints, and when intelligence can help direct 
redeployment of tactical checkpoints to counter new infiltration 
routes. Working in tandem, the interior checkpoints combine the high- 
technology capabilities and detention, processing, and inspection 
facilities of the permanent checkpoints with the element of flexibility 
that tactical checkpoints can offer. 

Trying to measure the effectiveness of its border enforcement 
deterrence strategy has been a long-standing challenge for legacy INS 
and now CBP and the Border Patrol. As many illegal aliens and 
contraband smugglers continue to evade the border defenses, the need to 
measure effectiveness and allocate scarce resources grows in 
significance. In its Performance and Annual Report, CBP uses 
traditional law enforcement effectiveness measures, such as numbers of 
apprehensions and contraband seizures to describe the Border Patrol's 
performance. While these measures serve as worthwhile indicators, the 
annual reports do not compare the effectiveness of line watch and line 
patrol with the effectiveness of interior traffic checkpoints. These 
traditional measures also do not delineate the performance of 
permanent, tactical, and nonpermanent checkpoints. In contrast, 
performance measures that take inputs and outputs into account, such as 
agent work years divided by apprehensions, provide a basis for helping 
make decisions about how best to allocate agency resources, in 
conjunction with other information and data. Such measures can also 
help identify trends that might otherwise not be apparent using 
traditional data, as shown by our analysis of the data on performance 
of the Tucson sector nonpermanent interior checkpoints compared with 
the performance of other sectors. Apprehension data alone would not 
have shown the trend of the decrease in apprehensions per agent work 
year that occurred at the Tucson sector checkpoints, starting at about 
the same time the 7-day relocation requirement went into effect, while 
no comparable decrease occurred in the three other sectors without the 
requirement. 

Moreover, apprehensions per agent work year, and the cost per 
apprehension, along with information on many other relevant factors, 
could provide useful trend information on the relative cost efficiency 
of these components of the multilayered enforcement strategy. Other 
measures of performance and effectiveness might also be developed using 
existing or easily gathered information to assess checkpoint operations 
and performance, as well as other border enforcement activities. This 
information could also be useful to the Congress as it considers ways 
to improve the effectiveness of checkpoints and border security 
efforts. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To better gauge the effects of border control efforts, we recommend 
that the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection: 

* develop additional performance measures for the Border Patrol for the 
productivity and effectiveness of interior checkpoints, such as 
apprehensions per agent work year and cost per apprehension, and: 

* include in CBP's Performance and Annual Report data and analysis 
provided by the additional performance measures on the performance of 
interior checkpoints and what might be done to improve their 
effectiveness. 

Agency Comments: 

We requested comments on a draft of this report from the Secretary of 
Homeland Security. In its response, DHS said the report is factually 
correct, agreed with our recommendations, and stated that CBP is taking 
steps to implement them. With regard to our first recommendation, that 
the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection develop performance 
measures for the Border Patrol in addition to its traditional ones, for 
the productivity and effectiveness of interior checkpoints, DHS stated 
that CBP is in the process of developing such measures for the Border 
Patrol for fiscal year 2006 and that one or more of the performance 
measures will gauge the effectiveness of checkpoints. DHS stated that 
CBP will consider our suggestions when developing these measures. With 
regard to our second recommendation, that CBP include in its 
Performance and Annual Report data and analysis provided by the 
additional performance measures on the performance of interior 
checkpoints, and what might be done to improve their effectiveness, DHS 
stated that once the performance measures for fiscal year 2006 for the 
Border Patrol are implemented and the data are tracked, CBP will 
publish the information in its Performance and Annual Report. 

DHS's comments are reprinted in appendix VI. DHS also offered technical 
comments, which we considered and incorporated where appropriate. 

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of the Department 
of Homeland Security and interested congressional committees. We will 
also make copies available to others upon request. In addition, the 
report will be available at no charge on GAO's Web site at 
http://www.gao.gov. 

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-8777 or StanaR@gao.gov. Contact points for our 
Office of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on 
the last page of this report. GAO staff who made key contributions to 
this report are listed in appendix VII. 

Sincerely, 

Richard M. Stana: 
Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues: 

[End of section]

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

To address our objectives, we examined and analyzed Border Patrol 
documents, reports, manuals, and guidance concerning border strategy 
and checkpoint operations. We interviewed cognizant Border Patrol 
officials at Washington, D.C. headquarters, officials in four sector 
offices, and personnel at selected permanent and tactical checkpoints. 
We visited sector headquarters, stations, and interior traffic 
checkpoints in four Border Patrol sectors--San Diego, California and 
Tucson, Arizona, and two in southeastern Texas, Laredo and McAllen. In 
total, we visited three sector headquarter offices, seven stations, 
five permanent checkpoints, and three tactical checkpoints. Sector 
offices and interior checkpoints we visited had one or more of the 
following characteristics: 

* offices that oversee permanent or tactical checkpoints, or both, to 
obtain information about both types,

* permanent, nonpermanent, and tactical checkpoints with high, medium 
or low vehicular traffic volume,

* permanent, nonpermanent, and tactical checkpoints with high, medium 
or low estimated smuggling volume (either aliens or contraband, or 
both), and: 

* checkpoints that varied in terrain, with some situated with little 
peripheral area to evade the checkpoint and others situated so that 
patrols must be set up to prevent end runs. 

We visited and observed operations at the following Border Patrol 
sectors, which were selected to provide a range in type and size of 
operation: 

* Border Patrol stations and checkpoints in the Tucson, Arizona, sector 
where only nonpermanent checkpoints are permitted under current law, 
and because that sector has the most annual apprehensions of illegal 
immigrants. Also, we wanted to compare the operations of the Tucson 
sector interior checkpoints with the operations of tactical and 
permanent ones elsewhere. 

* Permanent and tactical checkpoints in the San Diego, California, 
sector because it contains two permanent ones with high volume-- 
Temecula and San Clemente--and two requesters asked that these be 
included in a broader study of the effectiveness of all interior 
traffic checkpoints. 

* Permanent checkpoints in Texas at Falfurrias and Hebbronville, and on 
I-35, north of Laredo, as well as Border Patrol stations in Falfurrias 
and Hebbronville. The former is in the McAllen sector, while the latter 
is in the Laredo sector. 

* Ports of entry at San Diego, California; Douglas, Arizona; and 
Laredo, Texas. We did so in order to better understand the differences 
between the operations of these ports of entry at the international 
border and the operations of the interior traffic checkpoints. 

* Via helicopter, we observed the terrain and Border Patrol activities 
along a 60-mile section of the international border, from San Diego 
inland and along approximately 200 miles of the border in the Tucson 
sector, from Ajo to Douglas, Arizona. 

The four sectors we visited were selected to provide a substantial 
range in the size and types of interior checkpoint operations; 
estimated volume of illegal annual immigration; volume of vehicular 
traffic transiting checkpoints; topography and density of road 
networks; presence or absence of large urban areas on or near the 
border, both on the U.S. and Mexican sides; and types of checkpoints 
(permanent, nonpermanent, and tactical). As we were told by the Border 
Patrol in deciding which sectors and checkpoints to visit, and as we 
found during our site visits, these four sectors contained a wide 
variety of operating conditions. For example, the San Diego sector's 
permanent checkpoint near San Clemente on I-5 has the highest volume of 
average daily vehicle traffic among the Border Patrol's 33 permanent 
checkpoints on the southwest border, while those north of Laredo, 
Texas, and at Falfurrias, Texas, average daily traffic volume about one-
tenth that amount. Some of the tactical checkpoints we visited have 
average daily traffic volume that is only about one-hundredth that of 
San Clemente/I-5--that is, 1,500 vehicles or less daily, according to 
the Border Patrol and based on our observations during site visits. 
Similarly, there were substantial variations in the estimated numbers 
of illegal immigrants entering these sectors over the last several 
years, and wide differences in topography, with some being 
comparatively mountainous and others being comparatively flat. The 
Laredo and McAllen sectors have the Rio Grande as a natural barrier 
during the winter months to illegal immigration, while the Tucson 
sector has a flat desert at the border that is easily crossed. Some 
sectors have permanent checkpoints, such as at Temecula, California, 
that must be supplemented with tactical checkpoints, because of 
substantial secondary road networks around the permanent checkpoint. 
Others, such as McAllen, have no alternative secondary roads available 
to evade the permanent checkpoints on the limited north-south highways. 
Some sectors, such as San Diego and Laredo, have large U.S. and Mexican 
urban areas on or very near the international border, while others, 
such as Tucson, have only a few much smaller cities on either side at 
the border.[Footnote 44] In choosing these sectors, which are located 
in three of the four southwest border states (California, Arizona and 
Texas, but not New Mexico) we sought and found a wide range of 
conditions that appear to reasonably represent the range of operating 
conditions faced by the Border Patrol across the Southwest. However, it 
is also the case that we were unable to observe all operating 
conditions at all times and that the conditions we describe are 
therefore based on available documentation and observations at our site 
visits only. 

We also interviewed selected officials in communities near some of the 
interior checkpoints, including local law enforcement and community 
officials, selected community leaders, citizens, and owners of local 
businesses. These included the communities of Temecula, California; 
Nogales, Arizona; Laredo, Texas, and the small town of Tubac, between 
Nogales and Tucson, Arizona. Because these places and persons were 
selected using a nonprobabilistic method, the results from our site 
visits cannot be generalized to other locations, checkpoints, local 
officials, or citizens. 

We contacted organizations that could be expected to monitor traffic 
congestion as part of their work, including the Automobile Club of 
Southern California, the American Trucking Associations, the California 
Department of Transportation, and the California Highway Patrol. We 
asked these organizations for reports, studies, or information on 
traffic congestion at selected interior traffic checkpoints we had 
visited, in particular those with high daily vehicle volume. 

To assess the reliability of the Border Patrol's data on apprehensions, 
contraband seizures, and work hours, we talked with agency officials at 
both Washington, D.C., headquarters and some Border Patrol stations in 
the field about data quality control procedures, including methods by 
which data are checked and reviewed internally for accuracy and 
consistency. We also obtained and reviewed relevant documentation. We 
determined the data on apprehensions, contraband seizures, and work 
hours were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. 
However, we agreed with Border Patrol officials that the data on costs 
of checkpoints were not sufficiently reliable to be used. 

To determine whether available Border Patrol data could be used to 
measure the performance of interior checkpoints compared with the 
performance of operations on the border (line patrol and line watch), 
both within and among Border Patrol sectors, we developed two measures 
of performance--apprehensions per agent work year and cost of 
apprehensions per agent work year. We chose to do this because the 
Border Patrol uses only traditional law enforcement measures to report 
on its performance, including apprehensions and amount and type of 
contraband seized. These are not assessed relative to the inputs (agent 
labor, overhead costs) that went into achieving them and therefore do 
not provide a guide on how to better allocate agency resources. 

To develop our first performance measure, apprehensions per agent work 
year, we obtained data from the Border Patrol for each of the four 
sectors we visited on the total number of agent work hours recorded as 
charged by agents who work at interior checkpoint operations, and for 
line watch and line patrol. (Line watch and line patrol operate very 
closely together on the border, and data are not recorded separately 
for them by the Border Patrol.) We were unable to perform an 
apprehensions per agent work year analysis for permanent or tactical 
checkpoints because data on agent hours charged to individual 
checkpoints are not recorded. That is, while work records are kept for 
hours charged by agents at interior checkpoints, the records do not 
distinguish between hours charged at permanent checkpoints versus those 
charged to tactical checkpoints in the same sector. 

Using the data charged to interior checkpoints and line watch/line 
patrol for each sector, we then divided these total hours by 2,080, 
which is the total number of hours in a standard work year of 52 weeks, 
and 40 work hours per week. (The Border Patrol work year is the same as 
that of the rest of the U.S. government.) The total agent work hours at 
checkpoints in a given sector, divided by 2,080, produced a data point 
that we called agent work years. Thus, if 2,080,000 hours were charged, 
the work year total would have been 1,000 work years--2,080,000 divided 
by 2,080. 

To calculate what we term apprehensions per agent work, we then took 
the data we had obtained on the number of apprehensions that occurred 
at interior checkpoints in each sector in a given fiscal year and 
divided that number by the agent work year calculation. For example, if 
10,000 apprehensions occurred at interior checkpoints in a sector, and 
2,000 agent work years had been recorded as having been worked at those 
checkpoints, the apprehensions per agent work year were 5 (10,000 
apprehensions divided by 2,000 work years). Of course, this did not 
include the work of support personnel that contribute indirectly to the 
outcome of apprehensions. 

Our second measure was cost per apprehension, with apprehension 
actually being apprehension per work year, to control for the known 
input of agent work years. 

We chose this measure because a question that is frequently, if not 
almost universally, asked about government programs, is, "What is known 
about their cost effectiveness?"[Footnote 45] One potential measure of 
such cost effectiveness for the Border Patrol would be how much did it 
cost to apprehend a single person in one sector, compared with other 
sectors? While this measure and others should not be taken in isolation 
as further guides to management decisions, knowledge of the basic costs 
of an agency's key outcomes (such as apprehensions of illegal entrants) 
per unit of input (agent labor costs) can be part of the basis for 
improved allocation of resources. Of course, it would be even better if 
the full costs of all the inputs were known, such as infrastructure 
overhead, but these were not available. Therefore, we used data that 
were available as a method of illustrating how cost effectiveness 
measures could be more fully developed by the Border Patrol. 

To calculate cost per apprehension per agent work year, we divided the 
outputs by the inputs--in this case, the data on apprehensions per work 
year (e.g., 521 in Tucson in fiscal year 2001) divided by the average 
cost of an agent work year in fiscal year 2004, which the Border Patrol 
stated was $53,000, or the nationwide average for the GS-11, step 2, 
rank. This was described as the national average for Border Patrol 
agents; of course, it is an average for all agents, and does not 
reflect variations in cost of living adjustments, or for the true wider 
range of all Border Patrol salaries. We used the $53,000 average work 
year cost for all calculations for the period covering fiscal years 
2001-2004 and did not adjust the work year cost for inflation. Our goal 
was again to show what the approximate cost per apprehension had been 
and how this measure could serve as a resource allocation tool, along 
with other information and data. 

We conducted our work from September 2004 to May 2005 in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

[End of section]

Appendix II: San Diego Sector Profile: 

Geography of the Sector: 

The San Diego sector's area of responsibility includes all of San Diego 
County and substantial portions of Orange and Riverside counties in 
California, covering more than 7,000 square miles and 60 miles of 
international border with Mexico. The San Diego sector encompasses 
coastal beaches and expansive mesas to coastal and inland mountains, 
rugged canyons, and high desert. Over half of the border in this sector 
consists of mountains, but there are also lesser amounts of rolling 
brushland, urban hilly terrain, canyons, farmland, flat desert, and 
flat urban terrain. Directly to the south of San Diego lie the Mexican 
cities of Tijuana and Tecate, Baja California--with a combined 
population of more than 2 million. For decades, this area was the 
preferred corridor for illegal immigration because of the highly 
populated neighborhoods north and south of the border. 

Organizational Structure of the Sector: 

At the time of our September and December 2004 visits, the sector was 
headed by a chief patrol agent, had seven Border Patrol stations, and 
1,634 agents on duty. The sector used four-wheel-drive vehicles, police 
sedans, and vans to patrol between two parallel fences that were 
constructed along the border, stretching about 16 miles inland from the 
Pacific Ocean. In addition, the sector uses all-terrain vehicles 
(ATVs), helicopters, mountain bikes, and horses to patrol border areas. 
Seismic sensors are also used to identify where smugglers and illegal 
aliens are attempting to cross the border between the official ports of 
entry. 

The sector has 4 permanent interior traffic checkpoints and up to 11 
tactical checkpoints, which are operated on an as-needed basis (see 
fig. 10). The two busiest permanent checkpoints in the sector are the 
ones located (1) on northbound I-5, south of San Clemente, about 68 
miles from the border, and (2) on northbound I-15, near Temecula, also 
located about 68 miles from the border. 

Most of the tactical checkpoints in the San Diego sector are operated 
by the Temecula station, which can field up to 8 tactical checkpoints 
located on a network of secondary state highways leading roughly 
northwest from the eastern San Diego area toward Los Angeles, and 
paralleling or intersecting the major I-15 interstate highway. 
According to Border Patrol officials, secondary roads make it possible 
for smugglers and illegal aliens to try to circumvent the I-15 Temecula 
checkpoint by taking side roads, unlike the San Clemente I-5 
checkpoint, which has no surrounding secondary roads. Figure 10 shows 
the approximate location of the permanent checkpoints, on I-5 (San 
Clemente) and on I-15 (Temecula), as well as some of the approximate 
locations used for tactical checkpoints, not all of which operate 
simultaneously. 

Figure 10: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in the San Diego Sector: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Overview of Checkpoint Operations: 

We observed that the operations and physical layout of the two 
permanent checkpoints at San Clemente and Temecula were largely 
similar, and although the local geography differs somewhat, both 
checkpoints are situated at locations with high surrounding hills or 
other barriers (e.g., the ocean at the I-5 checkpoint), making it 
difficult to simply drive around the checkpoints. 

The I-5 checkpoint south of San Clemente has four traffic lanes, and 
Border Patrol agents stand between the lanes to screen traffic (see 
fig. 11). Trucks pass through the adjoining weigh station, where they 
too are screened. 

Figure 11: Permanent Checkpoint on I-5, South of San Clemente: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

The I-15 checkpoint near Temecula is similar to the one south of San 
Clemente, in terms of the Border Patrol agents having to monitor 
multiple lanes of traffic on a very busy highway. A major difference is 
that secondary roads south of the checkpoint offer alternative routes 
for persons to try to evade the I-15 Temecula checkpoint. 

According to Border Patrol officials, it is difficult for smugglers and 
illegal aliens to avoid the San Clemente I-5 traffic checkpoint because 
it is located in a physically constricted area between high hills on 
the right (facing north) and the ocean on the left, with no readily 
accessible side roads for miles prior to the checkpoint, because the 
Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton borders it on the east. To circumvent the 
checkpoint, smugglers and illegal aliens must either go through a state 
park, where there are state park police, or through the hilly terrain 
of Camp Pendleton, where there are military police, according to the 
Border Patrol officials. Vehicles are observable for at least a mile 
south from cameras at the checkpoint, so that those attempting to 
improperly enter Camp Pendleton would be visible to the Border Patrol. 

Figure 12 shows an aerial photo of the I-5 checkpoint, with the hills 
in Camp Pendleton on the side of the checkpoint area to the upper 
right, and the ocean to the lower left of the checkpoint, making 
evasions of the checkpoint difficult. 

Figure 12: Aerial Photo of Checkpoint on I-5 South of San Clemente: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

As of November 2004, the San Clemente station was staffed with a patrol-
agent-in-charge and approximately 100 Border Patrol agents. The 
Temecula station was also staffed by a patrol-agent-in-charge and had 
approximately 127 agents. 

During our visit to the I-5 checkpoint, we observed agents performing 
traffic checks (i.e., screening vehicles) by staffing positions on the 
highway. We observed two agents standing between the lanes of the 
northbound I-5 traffic; each was responsible for screening vehicles 
that approached him or her. 

We were told that agents look for visual clues that could indicate drug 
or alien smuggling, as occurred in an incident we observed. During our 
visit, an agent told us that on the basis of such visual clues, he sent 
a vehicle to secondary inspection, where all passengers were later 
identified as illegal aliens: 

In another lane, closest to the center of the freeway, was a Pre- 
Enrolled Access Lane (PAL) which permitted vehicles to use an 
electronic transponder to move through more quickly than the normal 
traffic lanes. (Obtaining a transponder requires passing a background 
investigation; San Clemente is the only U.S. checkpoint with such a 
lane.) However, an agent was also positioned at the PAL lane, and 
during the period we were there, a vehicle that attempted to go through 
it without a transponder was ordered into secondary inspection, where 
it was determined that the occupants were illegal aliens. 

The I-5 checkpoint also performs checks on buses, which are to stop at 
the checkpoint, and on trucks, which are to transit the adjoining weigh 
station. The Border Patrol also screens trucks at that point, at times 
using the Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) machines, which 
use gamma-ray technology to examine the contents of vehicles. 

At the checkpoints, all suspected smugglers or illegal aliens are 
fingerprinted using the Automated Biometric Identification system and a 
law enforcement check is run on their fingerprints through the FBI's 
Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). If 
persons are determined to be undocumented aliens or are wanted for 
other offenses, detention facilities are available at the checkpoints. 

Border Patrol officials said that having the ability to perform 
fingerprint and law enforcement checks at the checkpoints enables them 
to quickly determine if detained persons are illegal aliens or have 
outstanding criminal complaints pending against them. Border Patrol 
officials told us that they had been conducting a project to identify 
the numbers of illegal aliens with criminal records that had been 
apprehended in areas around the Temecula and San Clemente checkpoints. 
For example, after matching fingerprints with IAFIS during a 6-week 
period from August to September 2004, they found that 157 illegal 
aliens with criminal records had been apprehended by Temecula Border 
Patrol agents. These illegal aliens had criminal records that included 
assault, burglary, and immigration offenses. Overall, during the 6-week 
period, 28 percent of Temecula's and 22 percent of San Clemente's 
apprehensions were illegal aliens with criminal records. 

Traffic Impact: 

The Border Patrol regards the I-5 and I-15 checkpoints as 24-hour 
checkpoints, closing them generally only for safety reasons. However, 
as we observed when we visited the two checkpoints, heavy traffic 
volume may preclude screening every northbound vehicle. As noted above, 
the I-5 checkpoint south of San Clemente is the busiest interior 
traffic checkpoint in the nation, with approximately 144,000 vehicles 
passing through daily, while the Temecula I-15 checkpoint ranks second, 
with approximately 122,000 vehicles daily. However, as we observed, and 
as San Clemente and Temecula checkpoint officials told us, when traffic 
backs up, the traffic checks are suspended and traffic is "flushed" 
through the checkpoint. 

Agents said that they know from experience how long a wait period 
traffic backups are likely to produce, and that they keep a close watch 
on how long the line has become. During our visit, we observed that 
Border Patrol agents monitored traffic and took action to avoid 
creating major traffic delays at these checkpoints. 

Since the Border Patrol agents may suspend their operations to avoid 
creating lengthy traffic delays, actual time that the agents stand out 
on the highway lanes and visually inspect traffic varies. Checkpoint 
records showed that at the I-5 checkpoint south of San Clemente, 
traffic was screened only about 36 percent of the time in fiscal year 
2004, a reduction from about 57 percent in fiscal year 2003 and about 
63 percent in fiscal year 2002. Temecula checkpoint traffic was 
screened only about 42 percent of the time in fiscal year 2004, down 
from about 63 percent of the time in fiscal year 2003. Border Patrol 
officials attributed these declines to a combination of insufficient 
staffing levels at the stations and the need to avoid imposing long 
traffic waits on the public. According to Temecula station officials at 
the time of our September 2004 visit, they had received no complaints 
for at least several months about traffic delays. 

Checkpoint Capabilities: 

We observed that the permanent checkpoints at San Clemente and Temecula 
had a range of capabilities to monitor and inspect vehicles and their 
occupants. These included: 

* concrete side aprons off the highway to permit more intensive 
secondary inspections,

* cages and shade for canines,

* surveillance cameras for monitoring activities at the checkpoint and 
traffic backup,

* computers with hardline communications,

* detention facilities for holding smugglers and illegal aliens, and: 

* concrete side aprons with their own traffic lane to permit trucks to 
line up for VACIS gamma-ray inspections. 

Tactical Checkpoints Supplement Permanent Ones: 

In addition to manning the permanent checkpoints, the Border Patrol 
routinely sets up tactical checkpoints to reduce the chances of persons 
evading the permanent ones by using secondary roads. In particular, the 
Temecula checkpoint has eight locations where tactical checkpoints are 
established as needed based on intelligence on illegal immigration or 
related activity. We observed a tactical checkpoint on Sandia Creek 
road, south and west of the I-15 checkpoint, in a back hill rural area 
that had little traffic, but where the secondary road network could 
allow for evading checkpoints on the main highway (see fig. 13). At 
this tactical checkpoint, agents stopped each vehicle and talked to 
drivers and passengers; in contrast, at permanent checkpoints with 
heavy traffic volume, most vehicles are not stopped but are observed as 
they move slowly through the checkpoint lanes. 

Figure 13: Tactical Checkpoint at Sandia Creek Road: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

[End of section]

Appendix III: Tucson Sector Profile: 

Geography and Organization of the Sector: 

The Tucson, Arizona, sector's area of responsibility runs 261 miles 
along the U.S.-Mexico border from New Mexico to the Yuma County, 
Arizona, line; it is 90,530 square miles in area. The sector 
encompasses national parkland and parts of the Tohono O'odham Indian 
reservation, and its environment is like that of much of the southwest 
border--the terrain is inhospitable, consisting of mountains, flat 
desert, rolling brushland, and canyons. Summer temperatures can reach 
an average daily high of 100 to 110 degrees, and lack of shade for vast 
stretches of the border and inland areas can pose severe health hazards 
to those attempting to walk across the area. 

Most of the border in this sector is delineated by cattle fences and 
border markers, with little effective fencing of any kind, according to 
Border Patrol officials. Cattle fences can prevent cattle from crossing 
the border, but they are not designed or intended to prevent people 
from doing so, as they are essentially strands of wire with large gaps 
between them and are easily pushed apart, according to the officials. 
Agents patrol the border by truck, aircraft, horseback, ATVs, and 
bicycles and on foot; maintain traffic checkpoints along highways 
leading from border areas; and conduct antismuggling investigations. 

At the time of our October 2004 visit, the sector was headed by a chief 
patrol agent and staffed by 2,100 Border Patrol agents deployed 
throughout the sector from eight Border Patrol stations. 

Overview of Sector Operations: 

Border Patrol operations in the Tucson sector have been the subject of 
legislative direction since fiscal year 1999; this direction applied to 
no other Border Patrol sector. For fiscal years 1999-2004, annual 
appropriations acts made no funds "available for the site acquisition, 
design, or construction" of any Border Patrol checkpoint in the Tucson 
sector.[Footnote 46] Since the Tucson sector had no permanent 
checkpoints in fiscal year 1999 (or before), the effect of this 
legislative language was that no permanent checkpoints could be planned 
or constructed in this sector.[Footnote 47]

To comply with the congressional ban on funding for permanent 
checkpoints, and the congressional requirement to relocate checkpoints 
after a specified period of days, the Border Patrol told us that the 
sector maintains what we term nonpermanent checkpoints that, when open, 
are generally at the same locations, with the exception of one on I-19, 
from June 2002 through fiscal year 2004, and another on state highway 
83. On I-19, a major north-south interstate highway that runs from 
Nogales on the border north to Tucson, about 70 miles away, 
nonpermanent checkpoints were alternated between KP 42 and KP 25, 17 
kilometers further south, from June 2002 through the end of fiscal year 
2004. Starting in fiscal year 2005, the Border Patrol kept the 
checkpoint at the KP 42 location to preclude illegal entrants from 
taking advantage of its being moved southward to KP 25, as had 
regularly occurred. The checkpoint is kept open for 14 days, closed for 
8 hours, then reopened for 14 days, and so forth, according to the 
Border Patrol. The Border Patrol states that it believes that this 
schedule conforms to the fiscal year 2005 legislative language 
requiring that Tucson sector checkpoints relocate "at least an average 
of once every 14 days." Other checkpoints in the sector have been 
opened and closed on varying schedules in fiscal year 2005, but those 
schedules also conform to the law, according to the Border Patrol. To 
support these nonpermanent checkpoints, the Tucson sector operates 
tactical checkpoints periodically, as occurs in other sectors with 
permanent checkpoints. The tactical checkpoints function the same way 
as tactical ones in other sectors with permanent checkpoints. 

Figure 14 shows the sector and the approximate locations at which 
nonpermanent checkpoints may be located when open. 

Figure 14: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in the Tucson Sector: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

According to the Border Patrol, it also alternates among three sites 
for checkpoints on state highway 83. (The approximate locations are 
shown as 83C MP54, 83C, and 82 in fig. 14). Because of safety issues, 
the nonpermanent checkpoints designated as SR 90, 80C and highway 191 
do not have alternative sites. They are kept open for the legislatively 
permitted length of time, and then closed, according to the Border 
Patrol. Another checkpoint is open and closed about the same hours as a 
port of entry south of it on the border. However, the Border Patrol 
monitors sector night traffic with various means, such as roving 
patrols; these are sufficient, they told us, given the very light 
traffic in the sector at night. 

Checkpoint Operations: 

We observed the operations of the nonpermanent checkpoint on I-19, the 
north-south interstate highway that runs from Nogales on the border 
north to Tucson, about 70 miles away. According to Border Patrol 
officials, only limited routes are available to circumvent the I-19 
checkpoint, primarily by driving or walking across countryside that can 
make smugglers or aliens relatively visible, because of vehicles 
raising dust in their wake. In fiscal year 2003, an average of over 
15,000 vehicles passed through the I-19 checkpoint daily, including 
many commercial trucks, especially during produce season, according to 
the officials. 

The I-19 nonpermanent checkpoint consisted of a trailer, portable 
generators, water, and rest room facilities that were towed in; traffic 
warning signs; and orange traffic cones to designate the checkpoint 
area and to slow vehicles down to be inspected. At the time of our 
visit, the I-19 checkpoint was located next to an overpass to provide 
some protection from the elements, since there was no canopy as is 
typically found at permanent checkpoints we visited in other sectors. 
Border Patrol officials also said that only two locations along I-19 
are appropriate for checkpoint operations because of space and safety 
considerations. From June 2002 through the end of fiscal year 2004, the 
I-19 checkpoint was alternated between these two locations, at KP 42 
and KP 25, relocating every 7 days. During fiscal year 2005, the 
checkpoint location has been maintained only at the northern location, 
as noted above, and is open for 14 days, then closed for 8 hours, and 
then reopened for 14 days. 

At the I-19 checkpoint locations, the Border Patrol has three lanes of 
northbound traffic to screen--two highway lanes and an off-ramp. The 
operation, consisting of Border Patrol agents and canines, was run out 
of a trailer, with a small detention room inside it, and a stand-alone 
computer not connected externally. There was no hardwired computer 
access to databases to check fingerprints or to validate identities 
through other law enforcement databases. Therefore, according to Border 
Patrol agents, they can process some reports on the computer but have 
to save information to a diskette and take it back to the station for 
further processing. Similarly, processing and fingerprinting of 
suspects must wait until the suspects are transported to a Border 
Patrol station with hardwired computers. 

During summer months, we were told, the temperature can reach about 130 
degrees on the heated tarmac of the highway; as a result, canine 
performance and endurance are limited. 

According to the Border Patrol, equipment that must be relocated when 
the I-19 and other checkpoints are moved includes a minimum of 3 light 
generator plants; 1 generator; 1 portable toilet; 20-100 traffic cones; 
and 5 or more signs, showing "Stop," "Checkpoint Ahead," "Reduce 
Speed," and similar warnings. In addition, the standard minimum 
deployment would be one processing trailer and detention area, two or 
more marked vehicles and a water trailer. 

The I-19 checkpoint at KP 42 had little area off-road to conduct 
secondary inspections, and that area consisted of dirt along the side 
of the highway. Border Patrol officials told us that to comply with 
legislative restrictions, they were unable to install anything that 
could be considered to create a permanent infrastructure, such as water 
lines, electricity, buried communication lines or towers, and 
buildings. Figure 15 shows the I-19 nonpermanent checkpoint near KP 42. 

Figure 15: Tucson Sector Nonpermanent Checkpoint on I-19 near KP 42: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Checkpoint on State Highway 85 Near Ajo,

Arizona: 

We also observed the nonpermanent checkpoint on state highway 85, near 
Ajo, Arizona. According to Border Patrol officials, this checkpoint is 
located just south of where state highways 85 and 86 merge, both coming 
from the south, in order to ensure that all vehicles traveling north 
must go through the checkpoint. Only about 1,100 vehicles transit this 
checkpoint daily, we were told. As with the I-19 checkpoint, there were 
only limited portable equipment capabilities at the Ajo checkpoint. 
There was no overpass to provide shade. The Ajo checkpoint is shown in 
figure 16. 

Figure 16: Nonpermanent Checkpoint on State Highway 85 near Ajo, 
Arizona: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

[End of section]

Appendix IV: Laredo Sector Profile: 

Geography of the Sector: 

The Laredo, Texas, Border Patrol sector covers 110,000 square miles, 
116 counties or parts of counties extending north to the Oklahoma 
border, and approximately 171 river miles of common border with Mexico. 
The sector's eastern border is the McAllen sector, its southern border 
is the Rio Grande, and its western border is the Del Rio sector. The 
sector's international border represents about 10.6 percent of the 
southwest border, and includes the International Falcon Reservoir, 
sometimes called Falcon Lake, a 120-square-mile body of water that was 
formed by damming the Rio Grande in 1953. The southwestern side of the 
lake is controlled by Mexico, the northeastern side by the United 
States, with the international border running down an imaginary line 
through the middle. 

The sector's diverse economic base includes portions of the Rio Grande 
Valley, with large, privately owned cattle ranches, other agribusiness, 
and a large volume of goods from Mexico that are trucked through the 
Laredo ports of entry into the United States, and which are then stored 
in warehouses while awaiting inspection and transfer into trucks for 
transport to the rest of the United States. According to Border Patrol 
officials, Laredo is one of the busiest commercial ports of entry in 
the United States. The sector landscape generally consists of rolling 
brushland, reservoirs, farmland, and urban flatland, with the more 
rural sections being fairly flat but also having dense undergrowth that 
can impede persons such as smugglers or illegal aliens attempting to 
walk off-road, according to Border Patrol officials. 

Organizational Structure of the Laredo Sector: 

At the time of our January 2005 visit, the sector was headed by a chief 
patrol agent and staffed with 981 Border Patrol agents, deployed 
throughout the sector from eight Border Patrol stations. The sector had 
ATVs, helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, and patrol boats; the last are 
used to patrol the International Falcon Reservoir. The patrol boats are 
not used for Rio Grande patrol, but jet skis are used for swift water 
river rescues, according to Border Patrol officials. Approximately 80 
canines are also assigned to traffic screening operations at the 
sector's checkpoints. 

The sector has five permanent checkpoints that screen traffic 24 hours 
a day, 7 days a week, generally closing only for safety reasons, and 
utilizes up to six tactical checkpoints that are opened on an as-needed 
basis, according to Border Patrol officials. We visited two permanent 
checkpoints in the sector, on two-lane state highway 351, in the 
vicinity of Hebbronville, and on I-35, the major north-south interstate 
highway leading to and from Laredo and San Antonio. We also visited the 
construction site of a new, replacement permanent checkpoint for the 
existing one on I-35, about 10 miles north of the current location. 
That new checkpoint is scheduled to open in August 2005, according to 
Border Patrol officials. 

There are more secondary roads in the Laredo sector than in the 
neighboring McAllen sector; as a result, the Border Patrol maintains 
more permanent checkpoints and also utilizes tactical checkpoints. 
According to Border Patrol officials, tactical checkpoints are used 
during certain times of the year, depending on factors such as 
increases in traffic on secondary roads, and local, state, or national 
events being conducted in the area. The sector's permanent and tactical 
checkpoints are strategically placed on roads and highways and at 
junctions that permit monitoring and inspection of vehicles leaving the 
border area, according to the officials (see fig. 17). 

Figure 17: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in the Laredo Sector: 

[See PDF for image]

Note: The location shown on highway 83 is a proposed checkpoint; 
therefore, there are five current permanent checkpoints. 

[End of figure]

According to the Border Patrol, traffic checkpoint operations are 
generally supported by local ranchers, who permit the Border Patrol to 
enter their fenced property. The ranchers also permit the Border Patrol 
to place sensors at locations that could be favored by smugglers, 
according to Border Patrol officials. 

Checkpoint Operations: 

We observed the operations of two permanent checkpoints in the Laredo 
sector; on I-35, about 15 miles north of Laredo, and another on state 
highway 359 between Falfurrias in the McAllen sector and Laredo. As was 
the case with other checkpoints we visited in this and the McAllen 
sector, the checkpoints had a tollbooth-like area with at least two 
traffic lanes, one reserved for passenger cars and trucks, and the 
other for commercial trucks and buses (see fig. 18). 

Figure 18: Permanent Checkpoint North of Laredo, Texas, on I-35: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

At the time of our visit, the I-35 checkpoint was staffed with one 
supervisor, six agents, and canines. The facility consisted of a 
trailer that contained IAFIS fingerprinting equipment, three holding 
areas for apprehended illegal aliens, and video cameras (including 
infrared for nighttime use) to monitor activities in and around the 
checkpoint. Border Patrol agents told us that I-35 vehicle traffic wait 
time has not been more than 20 to 30 minutes, and generally takes place 
around 2:00 p.m. We observed a lift that could be used to inspect under 
vehicles, but did not observe trucks being examined by gamma ray 
equipment. We asked whether VACIS equipment was available to screen 
trucks with gamma ray as we had seen at other checkpoints, and the 
agents told us that VACIS trucks were not permanently located at the 
checkpoint but are made available periodically by the official port of 
entry if they are requested. 

As was the case for checkpoints in the McAllen sector, those in the 
Laredo sector are directed to inspect every vehicle that is proceeding 
northward, according to Border Patrol officials. Because there are few 
north-south roads in the sector, an absence of secondary roads to go 
around the checkpoints, and manageable volume of traffic, it is 
possible to screen all vehicles transiting the checkpoints, according 
to Border Patrol officials. As we observed, each vehicle was sniffed by 
a canine, and occupants were questioned by a Border Patrol agent. We 
were told that the agents are able to process a vehicle on average in 
about 9 seconds. The checkpoint at I-35 averages about 13,600 
transiting vehicles daily, according to the Texas Department of 
Transportation; of these, about 36 percent are trucks. 

Border Patrol agents at the highway 359 checkpoint outside of 
Hebbronville (see fig. 19) told us that they had recently apprehended a 
number of "brush walkers," illegal aliens who had been walking through 
the brush surrounding the checkpoint to evade apprehension at the 
checkpoint. The agents said that smugglers will drop off a load of 
aliens just short of the checkpoint so that they can attempt to walk 
around to a point where they would be picked up again. However, the 
agents said that it is very difficult terrain to traverse, even along 
ranch and pipeline trails, which are monitored by several means, 
including electronic surveillance. The agents further stated that local 
ranchers are very supportive of the Border Patrol activities in the 
area and have provided keys to their ranches for access when intrusions 
are detected, or when the ranchers themselves call to notify agents 
that suspected illegal aliens are on the property. Figures 19 and 20 
show two checkpoints in the sector. 

Figure 19: Permanent Checkpoint on State Highway 359 Near Hebbronville, 
Texas: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Figure 20: Aerial View of Highway 359 Checkpoint, Texas: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Checkpoint Capabilities: 

The Laredo checkpoints we observed had a wide range of capabilities to 
screen vehicles and their occupants. These included: 

* permanent tollboth-like structures that provide cover from the 
weather, including shade for agents and canines;

* lifts to permit inspection of undersides of vehicles;

* computers with hardwired communications and databases to permit 
investigation into those detained;

* detention facilities; and: 

* concrete side aprons with their own traffic lanes to permit trucks to 
line up with off highway room for inspections. 

As noted, a new I-35 checkpoint is scheduled to open in August 2005, 
about 10 miles north of the current location. Border Patrol officials 
told us that one major advantage of the new location is that it will 
not be within sight of warehouses or other structures, which they said 
currently provide cover for smugglers to observe the operations at the 
existing I-35 checkpoint. The new checkpoint, which will cost about $12 
million to construct, will be able to accommodate six lanes of 
vehicles, with separate lanes for passenger vehicles and trucks, along 
with a large area for inspecting and unloading trucks, if necessary 
(see fig. 21). 

Figure 21: Architectural Drawing of the New I-35, Texas, Permanent 
Checkpoint: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

[End of section]

Appendix V: McAllen Sector Profile: 

Geography of the Sector: 

The McAllen, Texas, Border Patrol sector covers 18,584 square miles, 19 
counties, and approximately 316 river miles of common border with 
Mexico. According to Border Patrol officials, the sector's area of 
responsibility runs from the mouth of the Rio Grande at the Gulf of 
Mexico to the Zapata/Starr county line, where it meets the Laredo 
sector. The sector's international border represents about 9.4 percent 
of the southwest border; its southern edge follows the Rio Grande 
through Brownsville, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Large parts of 
the sector, which includes a portion of the Rio Grande Valley, are 
privately owned ranches, including the well-known King Ranch, which is 
approximately 800,000 acres in size. 

Although the land in the sector is fairly flat, it receives sufficient 
precipitation to permit growth of dense sage, scrub brush, and cacti. 
This has created an inhospitable environment for persons such as 
smugglers or illegal aliens attempting to walk off-road, as the brush 
is so thick that it can actually block foot traffic or can severely 
injure persons trying to negotiate it, according to Border Patrol 
officials. 

Organizational Structure of the Sector: 

At the time of our February 2005 visit, the sector was headed by a 
chief patrol agent and staffed with 1,465 Border Patrol agents, 
deployed throughout the sector from nine Border Patrol stations. The 
sector had ATVs, helicopters, patrol boats, and fixed wing aircraft. 
The sector also utilizes bicycle patrols around the ports of entry and 
downtown areas, and video monitors and electronic sensors placed along 
the border to detect people or vehicles attempting to enter the country 
illegally. 

Only two major north-south highways in the sector lead away from the 
border: U.S. highways 281 and 77. The Border Patrol has permanent 
checkpoints on both, at Falfurrias and Sarita, respectively. Both 
checkpoints are approximately 80 miles inland from the international 
border and are roughly parallel to each other, although about 25 miles 
apart (see fig. 22). Border Patrol officials told us that the 
combination of only two north-south highways and the absence of 
secondary roads make it unnecessary to establish tactical checkpoints 
in support of the permanent ones. The checkpoints at Falfurrias and 
Sarita cannot be easily evaded by walking or driving around them, given 
the terrain, fenced private ranches, detection sensors, and lack of 
secondary roads, Border Patrol officials stated. 

Figure 22: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in the McAllen, Texas 
Sector: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Much of the land near the Border Patrol checkpoints on U.S. highways 
281 and 77 is private ranch land that is both heavily fenced and 
actively patrolled by private security forces, according to Border 
Patrol officials. As in the Laredo sector, checkpoint operations are 
supported by the local ranchers, according to the Border Patrol, who 
permit the Border Patrol to enter their fenced property to apprehend 
illegal entrants. 

Checkpoint Operations: 

We observed the operations of the Falfurrias permanent checkpoint on 
U.S. highway 281, a major north-south highway that runs from McAllen on 
the border north toward San Antonio, Texas (see fig. 22). This 
checkpoint (and the one on U.S. highway 77, which we did not visit) had 
a tollbooth-like area with at least two traffic lanes, one reserved for 
passenger cars and trucks, while the other is for commercial trucks and 
buses. At both checkpoints, Border Patrol agents are to stop and screen 
every vehicle that is proceeding northward. As we observed, each 
vehicle was sniffed by a canine, and its occupants were questioned by a 
Border Patrol agent. We also observed a bus being searched, after a 
canine got a "hit," indicating possible drugs. The agents found three 
30-pound packages of marijuana in the engine compartment. 

According to Border Patrol officials, the agents process a vehicle in 
about 9 seconds and average about 14,900 vehicles--about 40 percent 
trucks--a day transiting the checkpoints. This volume of traffic allows 
for agents to stop and question occupants of each vehicle, compared 
with the 144,000 vehicles daily going through the California checkpoint 
on I-5 south of San Clemente. 

There is little need to use tactical checkpoints in support of the 
permanent ones in the McAllen sector, according to Border Patrol 
officials, because a lack of secondary roads and geography that is not 
easily traversed force smugglers and illegal aliens to attempt to 
proceed through the checkpoints on U.S. highways 281 and 77. This 
situation is in contrast to the Tucson and San Diego sector operations, 
where tactical checkpoints on secondary roads are constantly being used 
to support the permanent checkpoints because of the many different 
routes leading away from the border that are available to smugglers and 
illegal aliens. 

Checkpoint Capabilities: 

The permanent checkpoints on U.S. highways 281 and 77 had a wide range 
of capabilities and facilities to screen vehicles and their occupants. 
These included: 

* permanent tollbooth-like structures that provide cover from the 
weather, including shade for agents and canines;

* lifts to permit inspection of undersides of vehicles;

* computers with hardwired communications and databases to provide 
identity checks;

* detention facilities; and: 

* concrete side aprons away from main traffic lanes that permit trucks 
to safely line up with sufficient room for a VACIS gamma-ray vehicle to 
pass over and inspect them. 

Figure 23 shows several photos of the checkpoint on U.S. highway 281, 
near Falfurrias, Texas. 

Figure 23: Checkpoint Inspection Area, U.S. Highway 281, near 
Falfurrias, Texas: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

[End of section]

Appendix VI: Comments from the Department of Homeland Security: 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: 
Washington, DC 20528: 

July 8, 2005: 

Mr. Richard M. Stana: 
Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street, NW: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

Dear Mr. Stana: 

RE: Draft Report GAO-05-435, Border Patrol: Available Data on Interior 
Checkpoints Suggest Differences in Sector Performance: (GAO Job Code 
440348): 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appreciates the opportunity 
to review and comment on the Government Accountability Office's draft 
report. The report supports U.S. Customs and Border Protection's 
(CBP's) position that national security could be strengthened if 
permanent checkpoints are used in all sectors in conjunction with 
tactical traffic checkpoints. 

In general, while the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report is 
factually correct, it should be emphasized that CBP employs a multi- 
layered enforcement strategy that consists of permanent and tactical 
checkpoints in eight of the nine southwest sectors with noticeable 
results. However, the ability of CBP to enhance security by deterring 
illegal immigration that includes the entry of potential terrorists, 
their weapons and the smuggling of drugs and other contraband, is 
limited because legislation has effectively barred permanent 
checkpoints in the Tucson sector. Furthermore, under existing 
legislation, the lack of a permanent checkpoint combined with the 
requirement to relocate temporary checkpoints every seven to fourteen 
days has negative security consequences. Specifically, nonpermanent 
checkpoints used in the Tucson sector do not have the advantages of the 
physical infrastructure typical of permanent checkpoints, or the 
flexibility of tactical checkpoints to respond to intelligence 
information. 

GAO recommends that the Commissioner of CBP (1) develop additional 
performance measures for the productivity and effectiveness of interior 
checkpoints and (2) include data and analysis provided by the 
additional performance measures in CBP's Performance and Annual Report. 
CBP agrees with the recommendations and will take the following steps 
to implement them. 

Recommendation #1: 

Develop additional performance measures for the productivity and 
effectiveness of interior checkpoints, such as apprehensions per agent 
work year and cost per apprehension. 

Corrective Action: 

CBP is in the process of developing performance measures for the Border 
Patrol for Fiscal Year 2006. One or more of the performance measures 
will gauge the effectiveness of checkpoints. CBP will consider the 
suggestions contained within the audit report when developing these 
measures. 

Recommendation #2: 

Include in CBP's Performance and Annual Report, data and analysis 
provided by the additional performance measures on the performance of 
interior checkpoints, and what might be done to improve their 
effectiveness. 

Corrective Action: 

Once the performance measures for Fiscal Year 2006 are implemented and 
the data is tracked, CBP will publish the information in the 
Performance and Annual Report. 

We are providing technical comments to your office under separate 
cover. 

Sincerely,

Signed by: 

Steven Pecinovsky: 
Director: 
Departmental GAO/OIG Liaison Office: 

[End of section]

Appendix VII: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Richard Stana (202) 512-8777: 

Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact named above, Leo Barbour, Katherine Davis, 
Darryl W. Dutton, Ann H. Finley, Lemuel N. Jackson, James R. Russell, 
and Jonathan R. Tumin made key contributions to this report. 

FOOTNOTES

[1] Ports of entry are those official locations along the international 
border, as well as at U.S. international airports and seaports, where 
persons seeking entry into the United States go through passport 
control and customs inspection. The Office of Field Operations of U.S. 
Customs and Border Protection operates the nation's 317 ports of entry. 
The Border Patrol is responsible for border security between the ports 
of entry. See U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Performance and 
Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2004, p.11 and p.12. 

[2] See, for example, GAO, Department of Homeland Security: Addressing 
Management Challenges That Face Immigration Enforcement Agencies, GAO-
05-664T (Washington, D.C.: May 5, 2005). See also GAO, Immigration 
Enforcement: DHS Has Incorporated Immigration Enforcement Objectives 
and Is Addressing Future Planning Requirements, GAO-05-66 (Washington, 
D.C.: Oct. 8, 2004). 

[3] For example, see U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Performance 
and Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2004, and the same for fiscal year 2003. 

[4] The Tucson sector has checkpoints that are neither permanent nor 
tactical as operated by the Border Patrol in other sectors, because of 
varying legislative restrictions that started in fiscal year 1999. 
These differences are explained in greater detail below. 

[5] According to the Border Patrol, it used a combination of roving 
patrols and temporary checkpoints that remained at the same location 
for long periods but that did not have permanent infrastructure. The 
Border Patrol stated that it was not until the late 1990s that traffic 
volume and illegal immigration reached a level where it felt that 
permanent checkpoints were necessary to address the sector's needs. 

[6] Cost data we obtained on interior checkpoints had to be collected 
through data requests to each sector, and were not available for 
permanent versus tactical checkpoints. 

[7] Because of the sensitivity of some operational guidance, the Border 
Patrol requested that we not provide precise numbers. 

[8] Work years are total hours charged by agents to work at a given 
location, divided by 2080 (a 40-hour week times 52 weeks). Costs of 
apprehensions per agent work year were calculated by dividing the 
average nationwide fiscal year 2004 salary of a Border Patrol agent 
($53,000) by the number of apprehensions per work year reported for 
checkpoints, such as 191 apprehensions per work year in fiscal year 
2004 at interior checkpoints in the San Diego sector. In this instance, 
$53,000 divided by 191 produced a cost per apprehension of $277. 

[9] According to the Border Patrol, Border Patrol stations are 
responsible for a specific geographic area within a sector. Substations 
are responsible for a geographic area within a station's area of 
responsibility. Stations are composed of a minimum of one patrol-agent- 
in-charge, one or more supervisory Border Patrol agents, numerous 
Border Patrol agents and support staff and associated equipment 
required to carry out their duties. Substations report to the parent 
station. Stations, in turn, report to the sector chief patrol agent. 

[10] U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Performance and Annual Report, 
Fiscal Year 2003, p. 43 

[11] U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Performance and Annual Report, 
Fiscal Year 2003, p. 42 and p. 43. 

[12] GAO, INS' Southwest Border Strategy: Resource and Impact Issues 
Remain after Seven Years, GAO-01-842 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 2, 2001). 

[13] U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Performance and Annual Report, 
Fiscal Year 2003, p. 43. 

[14] 428 U.S. 543 (1976). 

[15] A roving patrol stop is a stop by an agent who patrols in a 
vehicle but who is not assigned to a particular location. 

[16] One of the checkpoints was functional only about 70 percent of the 
time because of personnel shortages. 428 U.S. 543, 554. 

[17] There are a number of court decisions concerning the use of 
permanent and temporary checkpoints, as well as roving patrols. In 
United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873 (1975), the Supreme Court 
ruled that under the Fourth Amendment, except at the border or its 
functional equivalents, officers on roving patrols may stop vehicles 
only if "specific articulable facts" give rise to suspicion. 

[18] Pew Hispanic Center, Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of 
the Undocumented Population, February 21, 2005. Given that these 
estimates are provided for background purposes, we did not assess their 
reliability. 

[19] As noted previously, varying legislative restrictions since fiscal 
year 1999 on the Tucson sector have affected funding and operations of 
its checkpoints. 

[20] The Border Patrol refers to both these intended effects as 
deterrence--that is, deterrence of illegal entry into the United States 
from Mexico, and deterrence of illegal entrants from using high-volume 
highways where they can more easily blend into thousands of vehicles 
transiting permanent checkpoints. We have chosen to use this 
terminology as the Border Patrol uses it. 

[21] According to the Border Patrol, it is seeking to field a vehicle 
that carries equipment capable of securely transmitting data. However, 
the high cost of the vehicles, at about $114,000 each, and 
technological difficulties have slowed this program. In addition to the 
initial purchase cost, there is also a recurring expense for satellite 
time that is estimated at $12,000 per month per link. In comparison, 
the average cost of installing permanent hard-line database access in a 
facility is $30,000, with an estimated recurring monthly expense of 
$3,000 for T-1 line access. 

[22] For example, a daily average of 122,000 vehicles go through the I- 
15 checkpoint near Temecula, California, while Border Patrol data for 
the 8 tactical checkpoints that support the permanent one on I-15 show 
average daily volume ranging from about 100 to about 800 vehicles. 

[23] Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations 
Act, 1999, P.L. 105-277 (1998); Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2000, 
P.L. 106-113 (1999); Appropriations for the District of Columbia, 2001, 
P.L. 106-553 (2000); Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the 
Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, P.L. 107-77 
(2001); Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003, P.L. 108-7 
(2003); Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2004, P.L. 
108-90 (2003); and Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 
2005, P.L. 108-334 (2004). 

[24] The rest of this report refers to these hybrid checkpoints in the 
Tucson sector as nonpermanent checkpoints. 

[25] Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2005, P.L. 108-
334 (2004). The act calls for a plan for expenditure that includes 
location, design, costs, and benefits of each proposed permanent 
checkpoint. This study was submitted by CBP to the committee in April 
2005. 

[26] We did not verify whether these schedules are carried out as 
stated. However, we did obtain copies of the records maintained by the 
Tucson sector that record the times that the I-19 and other Tucson 
checkpoints have been opened and closed. 

[27] Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2006, H.R. 
2360, 109th Cong. (Reported out of the House Appropriations Committee 
May 13, 2005.) 

[28] Because we made site visits to checkpoints only at specific times 
during one trip to this sector, and did not remain at these locations 
for days or longer, we did not verify whether the Border Patrol did, in 
fact, relocate or close its checkpoints on the schedule described to 
us. 

[29] Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2005, P.L. 108-
334 (2004). 

[30] Border Patrol personnel informed us that the term "appropriate 
actions" is intentionally vague because of the sensitive nature of this 
information. 

[31] Office of Policy and Planning, Immigration and Naturalization 
Service, U.S. Department of Justice, Evaluation of Traffic Checkpoints 
at San Clemente and Temecula, June 1995. 

[32] We did not confirm these operational results or the benefits 
claimed by officials. 

[33] The interior checkpoint near Temecula is the one on I-15. The 
interior checkpoint near Tubac and Nogales, Arizona, is the one that 
alternated between a road location designated as KP 25 and KP 42 on I- 
19. Tubac is located just off I-19, near KP 42. According to the Border 
Patrol, the KP designations stem from a time when the metric system was 
being proposed as an alternative to the English system of measurement. 

[34] Temecula, California had an estimated 2004 population of about 
82,000. It is in Riverside county, the fifth most populous in 
California, with 1.87 million persons in 2004. These and other 
population data were obtained from the U.S. Census, 2000, or later 
updates on the U.S. Census Web site, if available. 

[35] According to the Border Patrol, sectors do not issue or direct 
specific traffic control policy for individual checkpoints other than 
the national "general" policy. Most sectors have required stations to 
develop specific traffic control guidelines for each checkpoint. These 
guidelines are often in the traffic control plan of the checkpoint 
permit or memo form. The rationale, according to the Border Patrol, is 
that every checkpoint is different and requires different guidelines. 

[36] At all three of these permanent checkpoints in Texas, there are 
paved shoulder areas with multiple lanes to funnel traffic away from 
the actual highways. This not only permits separating the commercial 
trucks from passenger vehicles, but also makes the entire inspection 
process safer for everyone, as there are fewer backups onto the 
highways, according to Border Patrol officials. 

[37] P.L. 103-62. 

[38] GAO, Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing the Government 
Performance and Results Act, GAO/GGD-96-118 (Washington, D.C.: June 
1996), p. 1. See also, Program Evaluation: Studies Helped Agencies 
Measure or Explain Program Performance GAO/GGD-00-204 (Washington, 
D.C.: September 2000). 

[39] As noted above, work years are total hours divided by 2,080 (a 40- 
hour week times 52 weeks). Apprehensions per work year were calculated 
by dividing the number of agent hours at interior checkpoints and at 
line watch/line patrol work by 2,080. The resulting calculation of work 
years was then divided by the number of apprehensions attributed to 
line watch/line patrol and interior checkpoints, to calculate 
apprehensions per work year. 

[40] According to the Border Patrol, all southwest sectors experienced 
varying declines in illegal entries after the attacks of September 11 
as a result of fears about enhanced U.S. security. However, since less 
than 3 weeks remained in fiscal year 2001 after the attacks, most of 
the impact would appear in fiscal year 2002 data, which started October 
1, 2001. 

[41] We used the measure of apprehensions per agent work year in order 
to control for the number of hours worked. This meant, for example, 
that if a sector had 100 agent work years charged in a given year and 
100 apprehensions, that the level of productivity or cost effectiveness 
was the same as in another sector with 10 agent work years charged, and 
10 apprehensions. 

[42] GAO did not validate the data provided by the Border Patrol on 
apprehensions, drug seizures, or vehicle counts. However, we did 
determine that the Border Patrol utilizes processes and checks that 
provide reasonable assurance that the data recorded for apprehensions 
and drug seizures are accurate. 

[43] Costs of apprehensions per work year were calculated by dividing 
the average cost of an agent work year in fiscal year 2004, $53,000, by 
the number of apprehensions per work year reported for checkpoints, 
such as 191 apprehensions per work year in fiscal year 2004 at interior 
checkpoints in the San Diego sector. In this instance, $53,000 divided 
by 191 produced a cost per apprehension per work year of $277. 

[44] For example, according to the U.S. Census, the city of San Diego, 
California, had an estimated population of 1.26 million in 2004, while 
San Diego County had an estimated population of 2.9 million in 2004. 
The city of Tijuana, Mexico, on the Mexican side of the border from San 
Diego, had an estimated population in 2000 of 1.2 million. In contrast, 
the city of Nogales, Arizona, which is located on the border with 
Mexico in the Tucson sector, had an estimated population of 21,000, and 
the county in which it is located had an estimated 41,000. Directly 
opposite Nogales, Arizona, the city of Nogales, Mexico, had an 
estimated population of 159,000 in 2000. The Mexican city of Nuevo 
Laredo, opposite the city of Laredo, Texas, had an estimated population 
of more than 650,000. 

[45] See, for example, GAO, 21st Century Challenges: Reexamining the 
Base of the Federal Government, GAO-05-325SP, (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 
2005) p.15. Cost-effectiveness may be defined as achievement of a 
particular objective at the least cost. A cost-effectiveness approach 
is useful where there is a specific required outcome but that outcome 
cannot be quantified in monetary terms whereas costs can be estimated. 
Average cost is consistent with information for Border Patrol 
checkpoints, where the costs of labor (inputs) are available, and one 
of the outcomes, apprehensions, is not readily quantifiable in monetary 
terms. 

[46] Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations 
Act, 1999, P.L. 105-277 (1998); Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2000, 
P.L. 106-113 (1999); Appropriations for the District of Columbia, 2001, 
P.L. 106-553 (2000); Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the 
Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, P.L. 107-77 
(2001); Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003, P.L. 108-7 
(2003); Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2004, P.L. 
108-90 (2003); and Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 
2005, P.L. 108-334 (2004). 

[47] According to the Border Patrol, it used a combination of roving 
patrols and temporary checkpoints that remained at the same location 
for long periods but did not have permanent infrastructure. 

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