CAMPO, Calif. (AP) -- As federal lawmakers demand border security measures, and assurances that massive spending increases have yielded results, an old enforcement technique is getting fresh attention.
Border Patrol agents have long searched for dusty footprints, broken twigs, torn cobwebs and overturned twigs to pursue migrants who enter the country illegally. Now they are using these human traces to determine how many get away.
Border Patrol data from fiscal 2011 show that 16 percent of estimated illegal crossings were people who eluded capture. Of the more than 85,000 getaways, 83 percent were counted by the old-fashioned art of "sign-cutting."
Despite such precise tallies, Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher said sign-cutting "is not an exact science."
He recently issued a directive to ensure agents are consistent in how they count.