Note: Another Oped. A whole lot to discuss on this press release.
Border is more secure than the 60's, and 70's for example. But
things have changed big time. The earlier parameters are now totally
Apprehensions and illegal border crossings are down, yes much of it
due to the bad economy, and then the increases in Border Patrol
personnel, physical barriers, and surveillance.
Something we down here keep hearing is that apprehension numbers can
be, and are affected by how, when and where all the previous are
deployed. A methodology that can certainly drive apprehension
numbers down, but in relation to actual crossings.
With what is happening today, the effort is far from adequate. Those
interested, might want to come down this way and tour the border,
visit with the locals. See and hear a lot more without the escorts
and entourages. Also not quite so secure. sometime not even secure.
The boots on the ground are a lot more reluctant to talk these days
as losing a govt. paycheck is a real deterrent in this economy.
Another question: Are the efforts to detect corruption and
infiltration tilting more toward detecting whistle blowers? BTW,
the new guy hasn't earned much love from those boots either.
Put AZMEX SPECIAL 31-12-11 on your reading list.
Retiring Border Patrol chief's legacy: A more secure border
by Daniel González - Dec. 29, 2011 11:23 PM
The Arizona Republic
Since Alan Bersin took over as head of the federal agency in charge
of border security two years ago, illegal immigration has fallen
sharply in Arizona and along the rest of the Southwest border.
Some immigration experts say much of the credit goes to Bersin, who
today is stepping down as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, a massive agency with 57,000 employees and an $11 billion
As head of the agency, Bersin beefed up border security by adding
manpower, aircraft surveillance, fencing and other barriers, and
implementing a variety of programs aimed at deterring illegal
immigrants and drug smugglers from entering the country.
As a result, Border Patrol apprehensions, a measure of illegal-
immigration traffic, have fallen by 53 percent since 2008 and are now
at one fifth of what they were at their peak in 2000, according to
the Department of Homeland Security.
In Arizona, which for years has been the main transit point for
illegal border crossings, Border Patrol apprehensions are at the
lowest levels in 17 years, according to DHS.
"This has to be attributed to (Bersin)," said Demetrios G.
Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a think
tank in Washington, D.C., that studies immigration. "He has been the
person who has been in charge. The same way we would blame Alan
Bersin if we hadn't made enough progress, fair or unfair, we have to
give credit to Alan Bersin for whatever gains we have made at the
Some border-security advocates, however, say illegal immigration fell
because the jobs in the U.S. that draw illegal immigrants dried up in
the bad economy.
"The effectiveness that we've had wasn't due to him," said George
McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council and a
senior Border Patrol agent assigned to the Casa Grande station. "I
think the economy has really probably been the Number 1 reason as to
why the arrest numbers are down. I don't believe it was any strategy
that was come up with under his time."
President Barack Obama directly appointed Bersin as commissioner of
Customs and Border Protection in March 2010, after the Senate failed
to act on Obama's nomination of Bersin and several other top federal
officials, who also were given so-called recess appointments.
The agency is responsible for border security, protecting the nation
from terrorist threats and expediting legal travel and trade through
air, land and sea ports.
Bersin announced on Dec. 22 that he was stepping down as of today,
the day before his recess appointment would have ended.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that
Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar will serve as acting commissioner.
Previously, Aguilar was head of the Border Patrol and was chief of
the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector.
In a written statement, Napolitano credited Bersin for taking
"historic steps" to secure the nation's borders while facilitating
legal travel and trade.
Sen. John McCain, who sits on the Senate Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs Committee, gave Bersin kudos on his way out.
"As far as what I could tell, he did good work," McCain, R-Ariz.,
told The Arizona Republic on Thursday. "In the involvement that I had
with him, I was impressed with his professionalism."
Under Bersin, Border Patrol apprehensions in the Tucson Sector, the
nation's busiest, fell from 241,673 two years ago to 123,285 last
year, according to Border Patrol statistics.
In the Yuma Sector, Border Patrol apprehensions fell from 6,951 two
years ago to 5,833 last year. Apprehensions in the Yuma Sector are
down 96 percent from a high of 138,438 in 2005.
Along the entire southern border, Border Patrol apprehensions fell
from 540,865 two years ago to 327,577 last year.
During Bersin's tenure, 1,200 National Guard troops were deployed
along the border, including roughly 560 in Arizona, to help spot
illegal border crossers.
Beginning in January, the National Guard troops will be mostly
removed and replaced with National Guard aircraft to help provide
additional aerial surveillance and reconnaissance.
A total of nine Predator drones are now patrolling the southern border.
Under Bersin, the Border Patrol also expanded a program in the Tucson
Sector that prosecutes illegal border crossers before sending them
back to Mexico. He also expanded the use of a program that buses
illegal immigrants captured in Arizona to other border states for
removal; deporting them in other states, where it is more difficult
to enter illegally and cuts down on the chances that they will try to
Rick Van Schoik, director of the North American Center for
Transborder Studies, a think tank at Arizona State University, said
Bersin will be difficult to replace.
Before being appointed as commissioner of CBP, Bersin served as
Obama's border czar, focusing on illegal-immigration and drug-
smuggling issues as well as developing relations with Mexico to
combat drug cartels. He held a similar position in President Bill
"He brought a wealth of insight and expertise from his background and
extraordinary intelligence," Van Schoik said.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said that although Border Patrol
apprehensions have dropped sharply in the Tucson Sector, they remain
unacceptably high, especially in contrast with the Yuma Sector.
"It's sort of if a student was getting 20 percent on their tests and
now they are getting 50 percent on their tests -- that is a 250
percent increase in their grades but they are still failing," Horne
Republic reporter Dan Nowicki contributed to this article.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/