A record 1,265,054 illegal aliens -- more than 95 percent of them Mexicans -- were apprehended a U.S. borders in fiscal 1985, the Immigration and Naturalization Service says.
Despite figures showing overall apprehensions increased by 11 percent, INS Commissioner Alan C. Nelson said "the problem won't go away" and urged quick approval of legislation to stem the tide.
Although interceptions by the U.S. Border Patrol were up in fiscal 1985, illegal immigration by non-Mexican nationals, including people from Asia, the Middle East and India, has increased, he said.
Nelson added, however, that more than three-fourths of some 40,500 non-Mexican nationals seized were from Central America, principally El Salvador and Guatemala.
He said agency officials estimate the nationwide total of apprehensions for the year will reach about 1.32 million when the INS completes a count of apprehensions of illegal aliens in the interior United States.
The 1.32 million figure projected for total apprehensions in fiscal 1985 compares with 1.24 million in 1984 and 1.25 million in 1983, the report said.
While officials have no precise figures, Nelson said "the median belief" is that about 6 million aliens come into this country illegally each year.
Under existing law, about a half-million aliens are accepted into this country each year.
Nelson said officials believe most aliens come into the United States "for economic reasons," to find jobs or to take advantage of taxpayer-funded social programs such as unemployment and Medicaid.