Border Patrol: Available Data on Interior Checkpoints Suggest	 
Differences in Sector Performance (22-JUL-05, GAO-05-435).	 
                                                                 
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 Patrol's strategy; (2) what is known 
about checkpoint costs and benefits; and (3) how checkpoints are 
evaluated and what performance measures indicate regarding their 
effectiveness.							 
-------------------------Indexing Terms------------------------- 
REPORTNUM:   GAO-05-435 					        
    ACCNO:   A30778						        
  TITLE:     Border Patrol: Available Data on Interior Checkpoints    
Suggest Differences in Sector Performance			 
     DATE:   07/22/2005 
  SUBJECT:   Border control					 
	     Border patrols					 
	     Border security					 
	     Counterterrorism					 
	     Homeland security					 
	     Immigration					 
	     Law enforcement					 
	     Performance measures				 
	     Smuggling						 
	     Strategic planning 				 
	     Cost analysis					 

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GAO-05-435

United States Government Accountability Office

GAO

                       Report to Congressional Requesters

July 2005

BORDER PATROL

Available Data on Interior Checkpoints Suggest Differences in Sector Performance

GAO-05-435

[IMG]

July 2005

BORDER PATROL

Available Data on Interior Checkpoints Suggest Differences in Sector Performance

                                 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 Patrol's 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.

                 United States Government Accountability Office

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

1

5 10

15

29

38 46 47 47

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 83

Appendix VII GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments 85

Table

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

Figures

Figure 1: Topography and Road Systems along the Southwest Border 11

Figure 2: Total Apprehensions of Illegal Immigrants at All Locations in
Each Southwest Border Patrol Sector in Fiscal Years 2001-2004 13

Figure 3: IAFIS Fingerprint Screen and Reading Machine at the I-5 San
Clemente, California, Checkpoint 18 Figure 4: VACIS Machine Examining a
Vehicle at the I-15 Temecula, California, Checkpoint 19 Figure 5: VACIS
Monitor Display, I-5 Checkpoint, Temecula, California 20 Figure 6: Vehicle
Lift at the I-35 Checkpoint, North of Laredo, Texas 21 Figure 7: Tactical
Checkpoint at Sandia Creed Road, near Temecula, California 23 Figure 8:
Tucson Sector Nonpermanent Checkpoint at KP 42 on I19, Near Tubac, Arizona
29

Figure 9: Apprehensions per Agent Work Year in the Tucson, San Diego,
Laredo and McAllen Sectors, Fiscal Years 20012004 41

Figure 10: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in the San Diego

Sector 56 Figure 11: Permanent Checkpoint on I-5, South of San Clemente 57
Figure 12: Aerial Photo of Checkpoint on I-5 South of San Clemente 58
Figure 13: Tactical Checkpoint at Sandia Creek Road, near

Temecula, California 62 Figure 14: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in
the Tucson Sector 65 Figure 15: Tucson Sector Nonpermanent Checkpoint on
I-19 near KP 42 67 Figure 16: Nonpermanent Checkpoint on State Highway 85
near Ajo, Arizona 68 Figure 17: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in the
Laredo Sector 71 Figure 18: Permanent Checkpoint North of Laredo, Texas,
on I-35 72

Figure 19: Permanent Checkpoint on State Highway 359 Near

Hebbronville, Texas 74 Figure 20: Aerial View of Highway 359 Checkpoint,
Texas 75 Figure 21: Architectural Drawing of the New I-35, Texas,

Permanent Checkpoint 76 Figure 22: Road Infrastructure and Checkpoints in
the McAllen,

Texas Sector 79 Figure 23: Checkpoint Inspection Area, U.S. Highway 281,
near

Falfurrias, Texas 82

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

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed in
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separately.

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,1 are the first two layers, consisting of a first
called

1Ports 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.

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

o  	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;

o  	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

o  	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

2

enforcement. We have elsewhere addressed some of these issues. 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.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).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.)

2See, 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).

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

4The 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.

  Results in Brief

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.

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 structures5-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

5According 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.

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.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'

7

wait. 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

6Cost 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.

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

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.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.

8Work 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.

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.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

9According 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-agentin-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.

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

Major interstate road
State road
Desert areas
Mountain ranges

Source: GAO.

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.

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.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.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

12

INS. 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-andrescue 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
19932000.

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.

10U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Performance and Annual Report,
Fiscal Year 2003,

p. 43.

11U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Performance and Annual Report,
Fiscal Year 2003,

p. 42 and p. 43.

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

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

Apprehensions

600,000

500,000

400,000

300,000

200,000

100,000

0

 San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso, Marfa, Del Rio, Laredo, McAllen,
               Calif. Calif. Ariz. Ariz. Tex. Tex. Tex. Tex. Tex.

Sector

Fiscal year 2001

Fiscal year 2002

Fiscal year 2003

Fiscal year 2004

Source: GAO analysis of CBP data.

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.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

13U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Performance and Annual Report,
Fiscal Year 2003,

p. 43.

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

                                       14

United States v. Martinez-Fuerte. 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.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.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.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 2005.18

14428 U.S. 543 (1976).

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

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

17There 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.

18Pew 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.

  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.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

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

                         Role of Permanent Checkpoints

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.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.

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.

20The 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.

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

o  	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.21

21According 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 hardline database access in a facility is $30,000,
with an estimated recurring monthly expense of $3,000 for T-1 line access.

Figure 3: IAFIS Fingerprint Screen (at left) and Reading Machine (at
right) at the I-5 San Clemente, California, Checkpoint

Source: GAO.

o  	Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) machines that use gammaray
technology to examine the contents of vehicles, including trucks. As
figure 4 shows, this equipment is substantial in size and requires an
offroad 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

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

Source: GAO.

o  Electrical and water utilities

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

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

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

o  Permanent lighting for night and poor weather conditions

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

                          Role of Tactical Checkpoints

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

Source: GAO.

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.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 long 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 on Sandia Creek road, in a rural area near Temecula,
California, that was used to supplement the permanent checkpoint on I-15.

22For 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.

Figure 7: Tactical Checkpoint at Sandia Creek Road, near Temecula,
California

Source: GAO.

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.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

24

information. 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

23Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act,
1999, P.L. 105277 (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).

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

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.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.26

25Department 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.

26We 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.

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.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.)28 The 7-day relocation rule was changed to
"at least

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

28Because 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.

an average of once every 14 days" in fiscal year 2005 appropriations
legislation.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 Open, Closure, and Relocation Schedule to Conform to Legislative
                                    Language

A Opens when port of entry south of location is open and closes every
night

B 	Opens and closes for periods of time to comply with legislative
language Does not relocate because there is no safe alternate location

Opens and closes for periods of time to comply with legislative language
Does not relocate because there is no safe alternate location

D Checkpoint alternates between KP 42 and KP 25

 E Checkpoint alternates among 3 identified locations along state route (SR) 82
                                    or SR 83

F 	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.

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

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

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 instruction (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

                                  Source: GAO.

                             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 The most readily available data on the benefits of
interior checkpoints are

Seizure Benefits 	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.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.31 The 1995 study reported on a test of interior checkpoint
operations in which the permanent checkpoint on I-5, near San Clemente,

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

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

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:32

o  	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 (I15). 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.

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

o  	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.

o  	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.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.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

33The 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.

34Temecula, 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.

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.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

35According 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.

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

36

additional lanes as well. 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

36At 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.

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).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."38

37P.L. 103-62.

38GAO, 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).

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,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,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. 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
20012004, and the apprehensions per agent work year for line patrol/line
watch along the border.

39As 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.

40According 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.

41We 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.

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

Tuscon sector

                                San Diego sector

Apprehensions Apprehensions 600 600

521

500 500

400 400

300 300

200 200 191

100 100

00 2001 2002 2003 2004 2001 2002 2003 2004 Fiscal year Fiscal year

Laredo sector McAllen sector

Apprehensions Apprehensions 600 600

500 500

400 400

        300                           300                  260            272 
        200            189            200                      
        100                           100                      
         0                             0                       

                    2001 2002 2003 2004 2001 2002 2003 2004

Fiscal year Fiscal year

Line/patrol Interior checkpoint

                  Source: GAO analysis of Border Patrol data.

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.

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

42

increased somewhat.

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

42GAO 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.

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.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

43Costs 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.

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

Conclusions

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.

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.

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

o  	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

o  	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.

  Recommendations for Executive Action

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 [email protected] 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.

Richard M. Stana
Director, Homeland Security

and Justice Issues

                       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:

o  offices that oversee permanent or tactical checkpoints, or both, to

obtain information about both types,  o  permanent, nonpermanent, and
tactical checkpoints with high, medium or low vehicular traffic volume,

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

o  	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:

o  	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.

o  	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.

o  	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.

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology

o  	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

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology

                                       1

smaller cities on either side at the border. 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

1For 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.

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology

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

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology

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?"2 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

2See, 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.

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology

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.

                     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

Appendix II: San Diego Sector Profile

well as some of the approximate locations used for tactical checkpoints,
not all of which operate simultaneously.

Permanent checkpoints

Tactical checkpoints Source: Border Patrol.

                     Appendix II: San Diego Sector Profile

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.

Source: GAO.

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.

Appendix II: San Diego Sector Profile

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.

As of November 2004, the San Clemente station was staffed with a
patrolagent-in-charge and approximately 100 Border Patrol agents. The

Appendix II: San Diego Sector Profile

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

                     Appendix II: San Diego Sector Profile

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.

                     Appendix II: San Diego Sector Profile

                            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

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

o  cages and shade for canines,

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

o  computers with hardline communications,

o  detention facilities for holding smugglers and illegal aliens, and

o  	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.

Appendix II: San Diego Sector Profile

Source: GAO.

                      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 Border Patrol operations in the Tucson sector have been
the subject of

Operations 	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.1 Since the Tucson sector had no permanent checkpoints
in fiscal

1Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999,
P.L. 105277 (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).

Appendix III: Tucson Sector Profile

year 1999 (or before), the effect of this legislative language was that no
permanent checkpoints could be planned or constructed in this sector.2

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
I19, 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.

2According 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.

                      Appendix III: Tucson Sector Profile

Nonpermanent checkpoints

Source: Border Patrol.

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.

                      Appendix III: Tucson Sector Profile

                             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
I19 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.

Appendix III: Tucson Sector Profile

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.

Source: GAO.

                      Appendix III: Tucson Sector Profile

Checkpoint on State We also observed the nonpermanent checkpoint on state
highway 85, near Highway 85 Near Ajo, Ajo, Arizona. According to Border
Patrol officials, this checkpoint is Arizona 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.

                                  Source: GAO.

                       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
offroad, 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

Appendix IV: Laredo Sector Profile

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).

Appendix IV: Laredo Sector Profile

Permanent checkpoints

Tactical checkpoints

Source: Border Patrol.

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

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.

                       Appendix IV: Laredo Sector Profile

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).

Source: GAO.

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

Appendix IV: Laredo Sector Profile

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.

Appendix IV: Laredo Sector Profile

Source: GAO.

                       Appendix IV: Laredo Sector Profile

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

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

o  lifts to permit inspection of undersides of vehicles;

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

o  detention facilities; and

o  	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

                             Source: Border Patrol.

                            Checkpoint Capabilities

Appendix IV: Laredo Sector Profile

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).

Source: Border Patrol.

                       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.

                       Appendix V: McAllen Sector Profile

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.

Appendix V: McAllen Sector Profile

Permanent checkpoints Source: Border Patrol.

                       Appendix V: McAllen Sector Profile

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 tollboothlike
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

Appendix V: McAllen Sector Profile

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

o  lifts to permit inspection of undersides of vehicles;

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

o  detention facilities; and

o  	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.

                       Appendix V: McAllen Sector Profile

Source: GAO.

                         Appendix VI: Comments from the
                        Department of Homeland Security

                        Page 83 GAO-05-435 Border Patrol

Appendix VI: Comments from the Department of Homeland Security

                        Page 84 GAO-05-435 Border Patrol

Appendix VII: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments

GAO Contact Richard M. 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.

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