Arrests of undocumented immigrants continue to decline on the Arizona border, while some criticize the federal government for its attempts to justify the millions of dollars still being spent on border security.

"We're seeing fewer arrests of immigrants, but almost the same amount of deaths and an equal number of the undocumented being criminalized, even though migration has crashed completely," Isabel Garcia, attorney and director of the Arizona Human Rights Coalition, told Efe on Friday.

According to statistics of the U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector, since Oct. 1, 2011, up to Aug. 31, 2012, some 112,470 undocumented were arrested on the Arizona border, compared with 116,460 in the same period last year.

At the end of the 1990s, when the federal government stepped up security in California, undocumented immigrants changed their entry route into the U.S. to the Arizona desert.

During fiscal year 2000, the Border Patrol reported a record 1.6 million arrests on the southern border, of whom 616,000 were in the Tucson Sector.

The arrest of the undocumented has gradually decreased in Arizona until it reached a decline of more than 80 percent.

"We know that immigration has stopped almost completely. But the federal government keeps trying to justify to the public why it's spending so much money, not only on the border, but also on courts and detention centers," Garcia said.

"The big lie is being discovered - all this huge budget that has been spent and continues to be spent is for nothing, it is to make families suffer and keep the public thinking that the undocumented are evil and criminals," the activist said.

She said that private companies have made a lucrative business out of operating detention centers for undocumented immigrants.

The budget for the Border Patrol was increased from $1 billion in 2000 to $3.5 billion in 2011. EFE