Note: as always beware of statistics BTW neither McCain nor
Napolitano has a clue about the spotters down here, or much else.
Feds changing the way they gauge border security
by Erin Kelly and Dennis Wagner - May. 5, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
WASHINGTON - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her
department is developing a comprehensive index to measure Southwest
border security in a new way that looks deeper into the quality of
life of Americans who live near Mexico.
Instead of just counting arrests and drug seizures, the new index
would look at community concerns about environmental damage, economic
losses and feelings of personal safety. She told a Senate panel on
Wednesday that she has ordered Customs and Border Protection to work
with outside experts and border communities to develop the index.
Border residents have long complained that traditional measures, such
as state and local crime statistics, don't show the harsh realities
The new index will still include traditional measures such as crime
data, apprehensions of suspects and contraband seizures, but it will
go beyond those to better reflect the effects of illegal immigration
and drug trafficking on border towns in Arizona, California, New
Mexico and Texas, Napolitano said.
"This may include calls from hospitals to report suspected illegal
aliens, traffic accidents involving illegal aliens or narcotics
smugglers, rates of vehicle theft and numbers of abandoned vehicles,
impacts on property values, and other measures of economic activity
and environmental impacts," Napolitano told members of the Senate
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Committee Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., praised the step.
"I think it's a significant change, and I think it will help," he said.
Southern Arizona officials also welcomed the plan to look at border
crime in terms of community impact.
"I'm thrilled," said Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, an
administration critic who is in Washington, D.C., this week
testifying on border issues. "That's what I've been saying for the
last year and a half. They finally got the message."
"It's an area that's been totally ignored," said Pat Call, chairman
of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors. "Some border residents
here are afraid to let their grade-school kids walk a quarter of a
mile down a dirt road to catch a bus."
"If they're going to start looking at quality of life and what's
actually happening on the ground, I applaud that, but it's hard to
believe," added Patrick Bray, vice president of the Arizona Cattle
Growers Association, which has criticized the government on behalf of
ranchers. "It will paint a completely different picture from what
this administration and the secretary have been saying."
Napolitano's announcement of the new index came a day after President
Barack Obama met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to
discuss immigration reform. It was his third White House meeting on
the topic in the last month.
Both Napolitano and Lieberman support a path to citizenship for some
of the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants already here and greater
penalties for employers who knowingly and consistently hire
undocumented workers. However, any reform plan has been blocked by
lawmakers who say it should not even be discussed until the border is
Napolitano and other federal officials have complained that the
benchmarks for measuring border security keep changing, making them
impossible to meet. Napolitano said that agreeing on a new, broader
index for measuring success could help everyone reach consensus.
"Defining success at the border is critical to how we move forward,"
said Napolitano, who served as Arizona's governor before joining the
Obama administration. "And how we define success must follow a few
guidelines: It must be based on reliable, validated numbers and
processes, tell a complete and transparent statistical story, and
draw heavily upon the values and priorities of border communities."
By traditional measures, the federal government has strengthened
border security, Napolitano said. Border Patrol apprehensions of
illegal immigrants fell 36 percent from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2010,
as fewer people tried to sneak across the border. During the first 2
1/2 years of the Obama administration, federal agents have seized 75
percent more cash from drug smugglers, 31 percent more drugs and 64
percent more weapons along the border compared with the final 2 1/2
years of the Bush administration. And the number of agents has
increased from fewer than 13,300 along the Southwest border at the
end of fiscal 2007 to more than 17,500 at the end of fiscal 2010.
"However, above all of these measures of improvement, it is clear we
must also focus on more comprehensive and accurate measurements of
border security," Napolitano said.
The differing views of what is happening at the border were
underscored at the hearing Wednesday when Napolitano and Sen. John
McCain, R-Ariz., got into a disagreement over how many "spotters" for
Mexican cartels are keeping watch from mountaintops near the border
McCain said there are 100 to 200 spotters inside the United States,
communicating with members of drug cartels to help them smuggle
narcotics over the border.
Napolitano said she had found that, while there are about 200
possible places that spotters could use as lookout points, there are
not actually 200 spotters operating in the United States.
Yuma Mayor Al Krieger said the Border Patrol has achieved operational
control in his area, virtually shutting down the crime and illegal
crossings: "We have seen a dramatic improvement in border security."
However, Krieger said, the area's economy continues to suffer, and
other border areas in Arizona lack the needed fencing and manpower to
In Cochise County, Call said, illegal immigration, smuggling and
enforcement efforts have littered the forest, raised residential
insurance rates, damaged roads, created traffic jams at checkpoints
and sabotaged the economy.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/