Mexico devalued the peso in December 1994, and 1995 was a year of economic crisis in Mexico. More Mexicans attempted illegal entry into the US, and the US responded with a series of border control operations designed to prevent illegal border crossings-- Operation Gatekeeper in California, Operation Hold-the-Line in Texas, and Operation Safeguard in Arizona.
Through Operation Gatekeeper the border below San Diego became more difficult to cross than at any time before in Border Patrol history. By concentrating resources in the more congested western area of the border, the Border Patrol deterred illegal entry there and drove much of the traffic toward the more isolated eastern area near Otay Mesa where border crossers are more easily detected and caught. In El Paso, Texas, Operation Hold the Line continued to show success at deterring aliens from attempting to enter the country illegally along the El Paso border. As part of Operation Safeguard, more agents were assigned to the Tucson, Arizona Sector, and a new fence was constructed near Nogales, reducing illegal entries and the local crime rate.
In June of 1996, members of the Border Patrol union publicly alleged that Border Patrol supervisors were improperly manipulating data to create the false impression that the Gatekeeper initiative had successfully deterred illegal border crossings at the San Diego border. The agents claimed they were being instructed not to apprehend aliens so that the level of apprehensions would appear to have dropped, thereby implying that fewer aliens were coming across the border and illegal crossings had been deterred and the Gatekeeper was a resounding success.
Sources and Methods
- Militarizing the Border by Jose Palafox
- Up Against The Wall by Katherine McIntire Peters Government Executive October 1996
- Why Violence Is Growing Along the U.S.-Mexico Border By MICHAEL HUSPEK Los Angeles Times Sunday, August 24, 1997
- Chapter III Securing America's Borders
- Operation Gatekeeper: Three Years of Results At-a-Glance
- INS Launches Next Phase of Operation Gatekeeper
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