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Fewer Illegal Immigrants Being Smuggled to U.S. in Cars


Aired 4/19/09

U.S. Customs agents caught fewer people trying to enter the U.S. illegally by hiding in passenger cars. Apprehensions of undocumented migrants smuggled in cars dropped by half this year compared to last. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has details.

San Diego Customs officials say human smugglers have shifted tactics in response to a customs’ crackdown on smuggling in vehicles. Customs Director Adel Fasano says the fine for a first-time smuggler who lives in the U.S. legally is now $5000. She says that’s different than before.

Fasano: Number one is we engaged in an aggressive public safety campaign warning migrants of the dangers of getting into compartments and trunks. We have also greatly enhanced the consequences that the smugglers face. And we instituted the fine for individuals who smuggle who don’t meet the prosecution standards.

Though customs agents found fewer undocumented migrants hiding in cars, agents apprehended more people trying to enter the U.S. illegally by claiming they’re U.S. Citizens. Fasano says the good news is customs disrupted smuggling patterns. But the bad news is smugglers haven’t given up. Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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