U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that in the first six months of a pilot program to provide an increased Interior law enforcement presence on identified Interior lands along the US-Mexico border, arrests of illegal aliens entering the United States increased by nearly 4,000 percent.
In May of 2018, Secretary Zinke directed a Border Support Surge initiative, which coordinated law enforcement officers from the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Border Patrol to execute high level operations to patrol and protect the border with Mexico. The team saw immediate results. This increased posture provides greater situational awareness on illegal activities within public lands and parks, and allows for greater collaboration and information sharing between U.S. Border Patrol and Interior to minimize criminal activity in these areas. Interior is home to about 4,000 federal law enforcement officers and this is the first time the force has been used in this capacity.
“First off, I applaud all our law enforcement for their tireless work keeping the American people safe and securing the border. President Trump made a promise to the American people that his administration will do everything we can to secure the southern border and protect our people, and that is exactly what Interior’s law enforcement professionals are doing,” Secretary Zinke said. “The fact that we were able to increase arrests by almost 4,000 percent is undeniable proof that there’s a big problem. Under the previous administration, Interior’s borderlands were basically an open door for illegal activity; and, what few law enforcement officers were down there were left unprotected and without the resources and backup needed to keep communities and themselves safe.”
Zinke continued, “The first six months of the border surge proved that there is a huge problem with illegal crossings on Interior lands and that a prolonged and more robust operation is needed until the wall is completed. We will increase our presence on the border in targeted regions and provide additional assistance to teams deploying in response to the oncoming caravan.”
During the first six months of the border surge, Interior law enforcement officers tallied:
- 4,010 apprehensions have been made and turned over to the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol
- 224 turn-backs (Were coming into the US, but turned around when they saw law enforcement)
- 469 apprehended on non-federal lands
- 2,356 pounds of drugs seized
- Several vehicles, firearms, and other items confiscated
The 4,000 percent increase compares the first six months of the surge (2018) to the same six months of the last year of the Obama Administration (2016), and assesses the same geographic areas.
From May 2016 until October 2016, Interior law enforcement apprehended and turned over 126 illegal aliens to the U.S. Border Patrol. During the same time period in 2018, Interior apprehended and turned over 4,010 illegal aliens to the U.S. Border Patrol.
The Department of the Interior manages approximately 40% of the southwest border. Interior-managed properties along the southwest border include national park units, national wildlife refuges, and public lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. There also are Tribal Reservations and Native American Communities along or near the border.