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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently announced the results from a six-month pilot program designed to increase law enforcement presence on certain Interior lands along the US-Mexico border. During the last six months Interior officers apprehended 4,010 illegal aliens -- a 4,000 percent increase over a comparable period in 2016 -- and induced 224 foreign nationals to not enter the U.S., i.e., turn back.

In May of 2018, Secretary Zinke established the Border Support Surge initiative, which moved officers who normally patrolled national parks to the border to assist the Border Patrol. This increased posture provided greater situational awareness on illegal activities within public lands and greater capacity for interdiction.

Secretary Zinke said, "The fact that we were able to increase arrests by almost 4,000 percent is undeniable proof that there's a big problem. Under the previous administration, Interior's borderlands were basically an open door for illegal activity; and, what few law enforcement officers were down there were left unprotected and without the resources and backup needed to keep communities and themselves safeā€¦(A) prolonged and more robust operation is needed until the wall is completed. We will increase our presence on the border in targeted regions and provide additional assistance to teams deploying in response to the oncoming caravan."

The Department of the Interior manages approximately 40% of the southwest border. There are also a number of Tribal Reservations and Native American Communities located along or near the border that cooperate with the Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Updated: Mon, Dec 3rd 2018 @ 4:45pm EST