“We have strengthened the Southwest Border in ways that many did not think possible.”
– Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
EL PASO, Texas – The Obama administration has strengthened the U.S.-Mexico partnership along the southwest border, increasing security and safeguarding the U.S. against a spillover of drug-war violence, according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
On the second stop of a national tour designed to explain President Obama’s border security strategy, Napolitano told an audience at the University of Texas at El Paso Monday that their approach to border security is working. “We are almost two years into that strategy and the verdict is in,” said Napolitano. “We have strengthened the southwest border in ways that many did not think possible.”
Napolitano did mention that challenges still exist, such as dealing with the drug-cartel violence taking place in Mexico and remaining on guard against a possible spillover effect into the United States. Any incursion of drug-war violence into the U.S. will face an “overwhelming response,” she said.
Some of the strategies mentioned by Napolitano include pursuing criminals and employers who hire illegal workers, increasing the size of the Border Patrol to more than 20,700 agents and doubling the personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces working to dismantle criminal organizations along the border.
The number of I.C.E intelligence analysts along the border has doubled and Homeland Security has quintupled deployments of border liaison officers working with Mexican counterparts, she said. The screening of southbound rail and vehicle traffic in search of illegal weapons and cash that are fueling the violence in Mexico has also increased.
Other measures include the deployment of National Guard Units to the border and the use of high-tech assets. “We have now instituted Predator unmanned aircraft system coverage along the entire Southwest Border from the El Centro sector in California to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas,” Napolitano said.
Strategies employed through the Southwest Border Initiative are posted on a National basis by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on their website: http://cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/national/. The postings include articles on the foiling of smugglers trying to use a catapult to smuggle drugs in Arizona; US Border Patrol agents assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Sector seizing more than $1.6 million of marijuana; and Rio Grande City agents seizing assault rifles and grenades.