CNN Fact Check: Illegal border crossings at lowest levels in 40 years


    Obama: Harvest immigrants' talents


Obama: Harvest immigrants' talents 00:46

By Ann Colwell and Tom Watkins, CNN

(CNN) -- During Tuesday night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touted his administration's efforts on reducing illegal immigration.
The claim:
"Real reform means stronger border security, and we can build on the progress my administration has already made -- putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history, and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years."
    That's a big claim, so CNN decided to take a closer look.
    The facts:
    In fiscal year 2011, there were 18,506 U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Southwest Border Sectors -- up steadily from 3,555 agents in 1992, according to Customs and Border Protection figures.
      A Pew Research Hispanic Center study finds that Border Patrol apprehensions of all unauthorized immigrants are at their lowest level since 1971. "In spite of (and perhaps because of) increases in the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents, apprehensions of Mexicans trying to cross the border illegally have plummeted in recent years—from more than 1 million in 2005 to 286,000 in 2011—a likely indication that fewer unauthorized migrants are trying to cross," it concluded.