Wednesday, March 6, 2013



PA chief blasts McCain for ignoring CBP needs

A U.S. Coast Guard jet carrying the federal delegation waits on the
tarmac of the Nogales International Airport on Tuesday afternoon.
Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013 9:20 am | Updated: 9:39 am, Fri Feb
22, 2013.
By Manuel C. Coppola
Nogales International |

Facilitating lawful travel and trade seemed to take a back seat when
federal and Congressional leaders visited Nogales this week to see
first-hand the Department of Homeland Security's ongoing efforts to
secure the border.

On Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hosted Sen. Thomas Carper (D-
Del.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Rep.
Michael McCaul (R-Texas) chairman of the House Committee on Homeland
Security on a tour that included Nogales.

The following day, Carper joined Secretary of Homeland Security and
former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, on a tour of the border in

Bruce Bracker, chairman of the Greater Nogales Santa Cruz County Port
Authority, participated in a meeting on Monday at the historic
Gadsden Hotel in Douglas with McCain.
Carper and McCaul's interest and pointed questions were refreshing,
Bracker said, but he criticized McCain for wanting to boost Border
Patrol's numbers while failing to support what he sees as a critical
component to easing border trade – additional staffing for U.S.
Customs and Border Protection.

"It's difficult to see how the senior senator from Arizona cannot see
the importance of increasing CBP staffing levels at the Nogales ports
of entry," Bracker said. "In Nogales alone, they (CBP officers) are
responsible for ensuring the safe and efficient trade between Mexico
and the United States totaling $17 billion.
"That's at the international trade level. At the street (retail)
level, you have Mexican nationals spending $7 million a day in
Arizona alone," Bracker said.
The bottleneck choking even more trade or retail dollars are long
delays at the border, which would be resolved by adding CBP
personnel, he said. "If Congress is going to be mandating changes in
how CBP operates, they need to provide the technology, infrastructure
and personnel."
An example, he said, is southbound inspections. When the ongoing
Mariposa port expansion was designed, it was before the so-called out-
bound inspections were implemented. CBP had to come up with money
from its own budget to address that change in the plan as opposed to
receiving additional funding from Congress.
"In the end, we'll have the most efficient port of entry on the
Mexican border, but we need adequate staff," he said.

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Manuel Ruiz, who met the delegation and
other local officials on Tuesday, echoed Bracker's sentiments about
"It's important that as they're looking at both northbound and
southbound, that they be adequately staffed to be able to accomplish
their mission, similar to what was done with Border Patrol by
increasing boots on the ground," Ruiz said.
With the current level of staffing, lanes at local ports of entry
often close because of too few customs officers, he said. "If an
officer has to walk over and they find narcotics, they have to close
that lane and there's nobody there," Ruiz said, adding that customs
agents frequently have to work double-shifts.

However, the delegation's visit was a "refreshing" sign that border
agencies, which before "worked in silos with no communication," are
now opening up, he said. "The first question that the chairman asked
was: How are we doing?"

On Tuesday, Carper and Napolitano also emphasized enforcement efforts
and immigration rather than facilitating trade between Mexico and the
United States.
The delegation arrived at about 10 a.m. at the Nogales International
Airport and then boarded three helicopters for an aerial tour of the
international line. They returned to the airport about 90 minutes
later and drove in a caravan to the Mariposa POE.

Media access was forbidden, with a DHS press officer reached by phone
saying that the delegation "would not have time" to speak with the
media during their visit. At the meeting at the Mariposa POE, the
press was not allowed within several hundred yards of the meeting
place. But later the pair issued a joint statement.

"Over the past four years, the Obama Administration, working together
with Congress, has dedicated historic levels of personnel, technology
and resources to the Southwest border, and undertaken an
unprecedented effort to transform our nation's immigration
enforcement systems into one that focuses on public safety, border
security and the integrity of the immigration system," the statement

"The Border Patrol is better staffed today than at any time in its 88-
year history, having doubled the number of (Border Patrol) agents
from approximately 10,000 in 2004 to more than 21,300 today. Attempts
to cross the border illegally, as measured by U.S. Border Patrol
apprehensions, totaled nearly 365,000 nationwide in Fiscal Year 2012,
representing a nearly 50 percent decrease since Fiscal Year 2008 and
a 78 percent decrease from their peak in Fiscal Year 2000.
Additionally, from Fiscal Year 2009 to 2012, Customs and Border
Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized 71 percent
more currency, 39 percent more drugs, and 189 percent more weapons
along the Southwest border as compared to Fiscal Year 2005 to 2008.
"Comprehensive immigration reform will help us continue to build on
this progress and strengthen border security by focusing resources on
preventing the entry of criminals, human smugglers and traffickers,
and national security threats."

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