Border Narcotics Intelligence- The Status At The United States-Mexico Border
The United States-Mexico border stretches on for nearly 2,000 lonely
miles, from the sprawling outskirts of San Diego to the rippling
blue-green of the Gulf of Mexico.
Although some of the funding and legislation related to that same
border are new, the issues are age-old and tender: for decades, divided
Congresses have played tug-of-war over funding, legislation and policy.
Tomorrow, President Obama’s summary of his last year in office should
touch on the millions poured into immigration reform and border
security. The government currently funnels $55 million into protecting
those porous 1,969 miles.
Homeland security officials released information Friday showing the
number of border patrol agents has gone up 250 percent – from 10,000 in
2004 to 20,500 today – and the number of apprehensions has decreased.
In San Diego during the 2009 fiscal year, CBP agents apprended
119,000 illegal immigrants. That number dropped in 2010 to 6,800, the
Department of Homeland Security said.
The government organizations charged with protecting the
California-Mexico border say they’re happy with those figures, but would
like to see more resources come their way.
“Is there room for improvement?” said Steven Pitts, a spokesman for
the San Diego Public Affairs Office for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
“There’s always room for improvement.”
The border has also been smeared across the news recently following
the $1-billion “virtual fence” project, created in 2007 as a compromise
between the Bush administration and congressional Democrats . The
“fence” was developed as a trade-off for a legal path to citizenship for
millions of undocumented immigrants. But five years later, not long
after Congress shelved the DREAM Act, Obama scrapped the program with only 53 miles of sensors, cameras, radar and towers in place.
Strengthening the borders is an ongoing effort, a combination of
manpower, funding and technology, Pitts said. Infrastructure – meaning
fencing, lighting, roads and other permanent installations – is key.
“We’ve seen an increase in our security along the land border,” Pitts
said. “Are there people who attempt to scale that fence? People who do
try. But the number is miniscule.”
This year, Obama also signed the $600-million Southwest Border Security Bill, which beefs up technology and law enforcement at the southern border.
About 250 members of the California National Guard now work with the
U.S. Border Patrol, helping the short-staffed organization with border
surveillance through night vision and other technology, Pitts said. The
national guard draw-out is scheduled to being in May and finish in
August, when more border patrol agents finish their academy training.
The other issue flaring along the border is finding and stopping drug
smuggling tunnels. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says
tunnels have increased drastically since 2006, when Mexican President
Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on the country’s drug
cartels. More than 34,000 have died in four years, and 2010 was the
bloodiest year yet, leaving 15,273 dead.
“We utilize a lot of high-tech surveillance and scientific
equipment, but old-fashioned detective work is still the way we become
aware of tunneling,” said Virginia Kice, ICE’s Western Regional
The growing violence in Mexico, especially near the U.S.-Mexico
border, has been a growing cause of concern for the Obama
administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Mexico today,
talking anti-drug war strategy with Foreign Minister Patricia
Espinosa. The two are expected to discuss collaboration on tackling the
drug violence, as well as financial development along the border.
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