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AP Exclusive: Border Patrol to toughen policy

SHARE AP Exclusive: Border Patrol to toughen policy

SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Border Patrol is overhauling its approach on migrants caught illegally crossing the 1,954-mile border that the United States shares with Mexico.

Years of growth and new technology are enabling the federal agency to do more than send border-crossers back to Mexico after fingerprinting them, but without any punishment.

The new national strategy will be announced in weeks. It relies on programs already in effect in some areas, such as prosecution or transfer to a border city hundreds of miles before being sent back to Mexico.

A key portion is a new color-coded system that categorizes detained migrants based on their number of crossing attempts or criminal history. That's been in use in the patrol's busiest corridor for illegal crossings, and Tucson, Ariz., sector officials say it's working.