By Michael Benninger
Nearly half-a-million people tried try to sneak into the United States illegally last year, virtually all of them along the nation's southwest border. And who could blame them for trying - where else can one enjoy such a high cost of living, crappy health care and unprecedented government surveillance? (There's definitely something to be said for our IPAs, though.)
Lucky for locals, the San Diego Sector Border Patrol is here to protect America's Finest lifestyle. Thanks to these brave men and women risking their lives to ensure our safety, San Diego is now one of the most secure sections of the U.S. border. Life has become safer in the neighborhoods just north of that invisible line, clearing the way for more outlet malls, housing developments and medical marijuana dispensaries. (A January 29 hearing will determine the fate of San Diego's first legal pot shop in the border town of Otay Mesa.)
But while marijuana may be inching closer to legalization in California, bringing it or other illegal drugs across the border is still a big no-no. And the agents of the San Diego Sector Border Patrol don't just say "No," they also walk the walk, seizing more than a fifth of the heroin, a third of the cocaine and almost half of the meth smuggled into the country last year*. They snagged only one percent of the pot, though.
Over the Borderline
San Diego shares 60 miles of border with Mexico. The (triple) fence line currently in place between the two extends more than 13 miles, from 100 yards off the coast of Imperial Beach to the base of the mountains in Otay Mesa.
The San Diego Sector Border Patrol now employs 2,500 uniformed agents, compared to 1,000 in 1993.
Local Border Patrol agents apprehended 29,911 individuals for illegal entry last year, an eight-percent increase over 2013, but far fewer than the 162,390 apprehensions that took place in 2008. The record-high for local apprehensions was in 1986, when 628,370 people were picked up, roughly equivalent to the population of Baltimore.
Baby on Border
San Diego agents processed 954 unaccompanied alien children in 2014, a 44-percent increase over 2013, but still just 1.4-percent of the total 68,541 picked up along the southwest border last year.
Law & Border
In 1904, a mere 75 mounted guards from the U.S. Immigration Service patrolled the southwest border from Texas to California, primarily in an effort to quell the growth of illegal Chinese immigration. This led to the founding of the U.S. Border Patrol in 1924.