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EL PASO The border is a hot button issue on the campaign trail again.

There's been a lot of finger-pointing about illegal immigration and lack of security. But what's really happening along the Texas-Mexico frontier?

Let's start with the assertion that illegal immigration is out of control.

I think so. I think so, oh yes, said voter Dee Mace. Something should be done about that.

Well, a lot has been done about that. There's a fence, new technology, aerial surveillance drones, and even troops along the border.

I welcome the military to come in and blockade the border, said voter Ray Segovia.

It's not a blockade, but the National Guard is helping with surveillance. I think America should feel safer whenever we've got more eyes on the border, said James Acosta of the U.S. Border Patrol.

There are a lot of new hires. In recent years, the Border Patrol has doubled in size to more than 20,000 agents, and there are plans to recruit more.

A downturn in the economy also helped reduce illegal immigration, which has been steadily falling.

Deportations have reached a record high for the second year in a row, with a new focus on removing criminals.

The border is a much more dangerous place these days on the Mexican side, where drug violence has escalated to a record high.

But U.S. cities on the border are among the safest in the nation, and report consistently low violent crime rates.

I have friends who call me; 'Oh, it must be a war zone!' said El Paso resident Lisa Whitaker. No it's not. Come to Christmas. It's OK!

By Christmas, the political campaign season will be just a memory, but the border will remain a hot button issue in Texas.

E-mail akocherga@belo.com

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