Between 1996 and September 2006, 43 283 people were seized at the Polish border. Some 18 688 (43.2%) of these people were trying to enter Poland illegally and 24 595 (56.8%) were attempting to travel through Poland illegally to an adjacent country. The destination country of those departing or transiting illegally was most often Germany (in 64% of cases from January to September 2006, and in 67% of cases in 2005). Based on readmission agreements, the Polish authorities deported
52 419 foreigners home to neighbouring countries between 1998 and 2006, predominantly to Ukraine (2006: 76.8%).
Whereas the total number of seizures was showing signs of decreasing, or at least stabilising, before 2002, observers noted an increase in seizures of illegal immigrants and those transiting between 2003 and 2005. By contrast, the first nine months of 2006 once again indicate a decrease in the numbers seized. Overall, however, the number of illegal migrants seized at Poland´s eastern border has increased continuously in the course of the past ten years, especially at the border between Poland and Ukraine (see figure).
A possible explanation for this trend is the fact that border controls have been tightening in the course of (and since) Poland's accession to the EU. The introduction of mandatory visas for citizens of neighbouring eastern states could also have played a role. Furthermore, it is important to note that the number of people seized while attempting to enter the Czech Republic and, above all, Slovakia illegally has increased since the end of the 1990s. Thus, it can also be assumed that there has been a shift in migration routes.
Poland´s eastern border, which is more than 1 000 kilometres long, is the longest one shared by the enlarged EU and neighbouring states in the east.