Well, the Commissioner of the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection division Robert Bonner has denied the connection. But the chief bureaucrat in charge of the Border Patrol has got some explaining to do, now that the DHS has released its monthly statistical report for April 2004 on Southwest Border Apprehensions.
The numbers were released with little fanfare by the DHS on May 28, 2004. The narrative of the report tells the tale of a massive influx:
"The U.S. Border Patrol made 135,468 apprehensions along the southwest border during April 2004, an 80 percent increase when compared to April 2003. Voluntary returns [of Mexican nationals to Mexico] conducted by Border Patrol agents increased by 79 percent from a year ago to 125,561. For the first seven months of fiscal year 2004, apprehensions were up 31 percent and voluntary returns were up 28 percent compared to the same period in fiscal year 2003."But there's more.
Compared to the seasonally adjusted apprehensions (apparently taking the illegal aliens' travel patterns into account), the 2004 data shows a massive spike in apprehensions.
The DHS' chart speaks volumes:
Sure looks like an apprehension spike to me!
Now that the jig is up, Bonner just might have to eat his words uttered in March, when he was quoted as saying:
"We haven't seen anything that can be reliably interpreted as increases in the number of illegal migrants coming across the board as a result of the president's announcement," Bonner said. ["Customs chief denies link between more immigration arrests and Bush plan," 2/23/04, San Diego Union-Tribune, by Joe Cantlupe.]
Bonner was asked about the amnesty—illegal entry link again by CNN anchorman John King on the Lou Dobbs Show on April 1, 2004:
King: "On Capital Hill today Senator Feinstein was among those asking the question, would it not serve as a magnet? Would there not be a flood of people trying to come across the border if you had this new temporary program?"
Bonner: "Well, I don't think so. First of all, there is no benefit from anybody illegally entering our country right now."No benefit?
Let's get something straight here.
As long as the DHS keeps releasing illegal aliens from detention, as long as the DHS does not fully implement the summary removal provisions in Immigration Act Section 235(b), and as long as the permanent amnesty buffet of the Executive Office for Immigration Review's Immigration Court system still exists . . . there will always be a benefit for illegal aliens entering the United States.
Now let's see who made the right call on the amnesty and illegal entry connection.
In January, following President Bush's amnesty announcements, the federal employee union leadership of the National Border Patrol Council blasted the Bush amnesty plan and predicted a rush for the border. They even blew the whistle on an internal gag order giving this warning to their Border Patrol agents:
"Do not talk about amnesty, increase in apprehensions, or give comparisons of past immigration reform proposals. Do not provide statistics on apprehension spikes or past amnesty data." "Border Agents Assail Bush's Plan to Bring in Guest Workers," January 23, 2004., by Scott Gold and H.G. Reza, Los Angeles Times. [PDF] (Archived by National Border Patrol Council)Well, the DHS just released the apprehension spike data . . . and they even drew a picture of it too.
So now it looks like Charlie Maxwell, a National Border Patrol Council union leader and senior Border Patrol agent in Brownville, Texas, has bragging rights based on what he told the Los Angeles Times on January 23, 2004.
"The increase in numbers is going to be phenomenal," Maxwell said.
And it sure was!