A map by the Washington Office on Latin America’s (WOLA) Border Fact Check project shows that despite criticisms, the closing of seven US Border Patrol stations is unlikely to affect any drug smuggling or human trafficking activity along the southern US border.
In June, US Border Patrol announced it would close seven out of 73 stations, prompting a response from some Republican lawmakers who argued that doing so would weaken law enforcement efforts along the border.
A map by WOLA (see below) shows that the seven stations — five of them located in Texas, one in California, and one near Canada — are all found more than 100 miles from the border. Closing them would save $1.3 million and would allow the Border Patrol to divert more resources towards stations located in busier trafficking corridors, WOLA states.
A graph by WOLA shows that the stations set to be shut down are based in areas that see little migration compared to other sectors. The three Border Patrol sectors that sees that highest levels of migration include Tucson, Arizona; Rio Grande Valley, Texas; and San Diego, California; and no stations will be shut down in these areas.
InSight Crime Analysis
As WOLA points out, closing down these Border Patrol stations looks like a smart move in terms of putting resources where they are most needed along the 3,200 kilometer frontier. The move falls in line with the new approach articulated by the Border Patrol, which emphasizes deploying manpower in areas that present the greatest security risk to the US, rather than trying to achieve “operational control” of the frontier region.
Partly because of increased security along the border, criminal groups have been pushed into using more remote areas in order to move their illegal cargo, be it undocumented migrants or drug shipments. Criminal groups have also evolved their strategy to include creative smuggling methods — such as elaborate drug tunnels — and other new ways of crossing border, including the use of roads originally built by energy companies for the passage of oil-service vehicles.
View Border Patrol Sectors and Stations in a larger map