Arkansas Has Few Federal Immigration Enforcement Agents

MAY 16, 2006 - Posted at 7:46 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A think-tank spokesman says President Bush's use of National Guard troops to provide more enforcement manpower on the nation's borders won't have much effect.  John Keeley, a spokesman for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, says enforcement efforts are understaffed in the interior states like Arkansas.

Only about 16 agents can enforce immigration law in the entire state of Arkansas, fewer than the 21 sworn police officers on the streets in the small town of Hope.

President Bush spoke to the nation last night with a call for National Guard troops to be placed on the border.  But Keeley said such efforts would be wasted without more resources for enforcement in non-border states.  Bush's speech didn't mention increasing enforcement manpower beyond the border.

The Pew Hispanic Center says an estimated 40,000 illegal immigrants lived in Arkansas in 2004, most of them Mexicans.  Keeley says enforcement away from the border is important because that's where the magnet for illegal immigration  He said that, until there is consistent, rigorous enforcement in the interior, resources at the border are virtually meaningless.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)