Border Patrol Controls Just 44 Percent of South

A new report says only 15 percent of the southern border is air tight.

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While they've made strides in arresting illegals and building a fence along the U.S.-Mexico line, the Border Patrol only has "operational control" of 44 percent of the southern border, and of that only 15 percent is air tight, according to new General Accountability Office report.

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The GAO said that the Mexican border with Texas has the most holes, especially between Fort Hancock and Brownsville, where 70 percent to 90 percent of the state line is at the two lowest levels of protection, "monitored" and "low-level monitored." The GAO said that efforts to detector stop illegal immigrants from crossing there were poor. "Border Patrol reported that these two levels of control were not acceptable for border security," said the GAO.

Highlights from the new report:

-- Of the nearly 2,000 miles separating the U.S. and Mexico, 873 are under the "operational control" of the Border Patrol.

-- Of those 873, 129 miles were under full control, with the rest classified as "managed."

-- Kudos to the Yuma, Arizona unit whose section of the border is locked down.

-- Protecting the southern border costs taxpayers $3 billion a year. Last year, the agents caught 445,000 illegals and seized over 2.4 million pounds of marijuana.

-- Each year the southern border gets harder to cross due to the hiring of Border Patrol agents, who've gone from 10,000 in 2005 to 17,000 today, and the installation of fencing that now stretches over 649 miles.

[See a gallery of political caricatures.]

Says the GAO: "Border Patrol reported achieving varying levels of operational control for 873 of the nearly 2,000 southwest border miles at the end of fiscal year 2010, increasing an average of 126 miles each year from fiscal years 2005 through 2010. Border Patrol sector officials assessed the miles under operational control using factors such as the numbers of illegal entries and apprehensions and relative risk. CBP attributed the increase to additional infrastructure, technology, and personnel. Yuma sector officials reported achieving operational control for all of its 126 border miles; however, the other eight southwest border sectors reported achieving operational control of 11 to 86 percent of their border miles. Border Patrol attributed the uneven progress across sectors to multiple factors, including prioritizing resource deployment to sectors deemed to have greater risk from illegal activity."