WASHINGTON (AP) — A year after Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal border crossers plunged to the lowest levels in nearly 40 years agents have seen a slight increase in arrests, according to Border Patrol arrest data obtained by The Associated Press.

In the budget year that ended in September, Border Patrol agents arrested 356,873 would-be border crossers along the Mexican border. In fiscal year 2011, agents along the Mexican border made 327,577 arrests.

According to the arrest statistics, agents in three Border Patrol sectors in Texas and the Yuma, Ariz., sector all made more arrests in the last year. Arrests in other sectors were down compared to a year ago.

Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that apprehensions remain at "historic lows" and pointed to continued decreases in arrests in California, New Mexico and most of Arizona as evidence that fewer people are crossing the border illegally.

In the Rio Grande Valley, illegal border crossers from countries other than Mexico made up the majority of the increase in arrests, the Border Patrol has said previously. Most of those people made their way to the border from Central American countries including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

That portion of the Texas-Mexico border is the shortest distance from Central America.

The numbers of Guatemalans passing through the area increased so much recently that the country opened a consulate in McAllen, Texas. Guatemala's consul there, Alba Caceres, said that Honduras or El Salvador might share their office space this year.

Nationwide, arrests by the Border Patrol increased by about 7 percent from 340,252 in fiscal 2011 to 364,768 last year. Despite the increases, arrests of illegal border crossers remain at the lowest point since 1971.

Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman contributed to this report from McAllen, Texas.

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Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acaldwellap

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