Apprehensions of people illegally crossing the nation's border with Mexico are up 13 percent this year, the first increase in seven years.
Arizona Sen. John McCain said the automatic spending cuts imposed on government agencies and the immigration reform bill now before the Senate may both be partly to blame, according to The Hill
"The economy has something to do with people's desire to come across the border," McCain said Tuesday during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing. "And part of it is that word has gotten south that sequestration has reduced our ability to surveil, and there may be comprehensive immigration reform."
The increase in apprehensions is the first in almost seven years, Customs and Border Protection head Michael Fisher told the same panel.
From 2011 to 2012, apprehensions increased from 340,000 to 364,000, according to data presented by Fisher. But that number is still significantly lower than nearly 1.2 million people who attempted to illegally cross the border in 2005.
Still, the increase raises concerns among critics of the bipartisan immigration bill that McCain and seven other senators put together. They say the bill doesn't focus enough on the need to shore up border security before moving to implement a process that could eventually lead to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States today.
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