Napolitano Announces Next Steps for Southwest Border

janet napolitanoEarlier this week, President Obama sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally asking for $600 million in additional border security spending to fund 1,000 additional Border Patrol agents, 160 additional ICE agents, two unmanned aircraft systems, extra Border Patrol canine teams and improved infrastructure along the Southwest Border.

In a tandem move today, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced several new DHS initiatives to bolster security along the Southwest border. Although Secretary Napolitano trumpeted DHS’s new border initiatives as well as past achievements, she also acknowledged that the border can never be hermetically sealed and that stalling immigration reform by highlighting border security issues is not the answer to our immigration problems.

At a Center for Strategic and International Studies panel discussion today, Secretary Napolitano laid out several new border security initiatives, including:

  • New partnerships between DHS and state and local law enforcement, specifically the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which allows non-border local law enforcement to partner with other agencies at the border
  • New information sharing capabilities between law enforcement on the border and DHS and DOJ information systems, improved fusion centers across the border and a new “suspicious activities” reporting program
  • Improved technology (i.e. unmanned aircraft systems), more Border Patrol Agents and ICE investigators at the border and “Project Roadrunner,” a new partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy that reads license plates to target drug traffickers
  • Expansion of the Joint Criminal Alien Removal Taskforce and the deployment of more ICE officers in an effort to prioritize dangerous criminal aliens in state and local jails
  • Increased joint training programs with Mexican law enforcement agencies that focus on money laundering and human trafficking

While it may not be a coincidence that these new border initiatives come at a time when “securing the border” is playing a central role in the national immigration debate—both in mid-term election campaigning and as states (like Arizona, Nebraska, etc.) pass restrictive immigration measures—Secretary Napolitano herself admits that securing the border alone won’t fix our immigration problems.

We think these resources we’ve asked for matter because they will augment the efforts that have been underway over the past years and accelerated over the past 18 months. The plain fact of the matter is the border is as secure now as it’s ever been, but we know we can always do more. And that will always be the case. It’s a big border—1,960 miles across that Southwest border. It’s some of the roughest toughest geographical terrain in the world. The notion that you’re going to seal that border somehow is something that anybody who’s been involved in the actual “doing of law enforcement”—the front line work of law enforcement—would say that you’re never going to seal that border…recognizing also that there’s a lot of trade and commerce we want going back and forth. Mexico, for 22 of our states, is our number one or two trading partner. But [these measures] will make our border even more secure and we will keep evolving as indeed border threats keep evolving. But the notion that you’re going to somehow seal the border and only at that point will you discuss immigration reform, that is not an answer to the problem.

Similarly, local law enforcement realizes that enforcing federal immigration laws is a big problem—not only for want of scarce resources, but also because chasing non-violent immigrants erodes trust between police and the local community. Robert L. Davis, Chief of Police in San Jose and President of the Major Cities Chiefs Associations, points out that enforcing immigration laws is a matter of resource and priority:

Clearly what we would like to see in terms of local law enforcement, specifically from the Major Cities Chiefs Association representing the largest cities in the country, is comprehensive immigration reform. As the Secretary mentioned earlier, we’ll end up with 50 separate state laws which would be a huge problem. Again, keep in mind, local law enforcement across this country is being squeezed. We’re [San Jose] the 10th largest city in the country. We’re talking about cutting our patrol forces by 80% by August. What do you, as local community members, want local law enforcement and police to be doing? Do you want us focusing on robberies, sexual assaults, domestic violence, burglaries, and traffickers? Or do you want us to focus our resources on minor immigration violations?

seth hoyThe bottom line is that we can keep throwing money and resources at the border, but without immigration reform, as Secretary Napolitano and Chief Davis point out, we as a country are not going to solve our immigration problems. Yes, border security is and should be a priority for DHS, but “secure the borders first” as a solution to our immigration problems without reform makes for better politicking than it does policy.

Seth Hoy

Republished with permission from Immigration Impact.

Photo by Warriorwriter.


  1. NY says

    The reason why we can’t deal properly with the problem of millions of Mexicans sneaking into our country is because people like this author, Seth Hoy, are paid to single-mindedly promote the idea of amnesty for lawbreaking illegal aliens. He’s paid by an organization which has the goal of increasing immigration from Mexico at the expense of America’s workers, and to the benefit of the rich businessmen who profit from Mexico’s obscene economic disparities in income and wealth. Seth Hoy posts articles to sites like this, the LA Progressive, which has a readership that will be easily misled into supporting an agenda that is NOT progressive, but simply reinforces the wealth redistribution from America’s middle class to the rich multinationals that take advantage of poverty in both Mexico and the US.
    People like Seth Hoy and the organization he works for do not care about the poor, starving children in Mexico whose parents didn’t sneak across the border to the US. He and his organization do NOTHING to stop the rape of the earth and the people of Mexico. Their highest priority is to convince good Americans, especially progressives, that the only solution to the severe hardships poor Mexicans experience is to reward illegal aliens with amnesty. This is in spite of the fact that we’ve given illegal aliens amnesty three times already in the past fifty years. Did those generous acts of amnesty by the citizens and government of the US help solve the problem of people sneaking into our country? No, of course not. It simply encouraged more to come here illegally!
    Don’t be fooled by Seth Hoy and his organization. They hope to convince you that cleaning up the mess created by rich multinational corporations backed by NAFTA and international money is somehow “helping” those poor Mexicans have better lives. It doesn’t. It simple makes the US taxpayer pay for the clean up so those rich investors can get even richer off the backs of Mexico’s poor and America’s working and middle class taxpayers.

  2. Elaine says

    The government talks & talks & think they know what is best for us but they do not. The states are suppose to govern themselves, the borders are suppose to be protected by the Federal Government & when the state tells the fed they are getting attacked, people killed, people kidnapped, drugs coming across in huge amounts & all kinds of illegals, not just Mexican, but others from other countries, like terrorists from all different countries & they tell us we are to put up with this? Napolitano is repeating what she knows she is suppose to say.

  3. Marshall says

    Does she know that drug dealers have moved in their armed troops to occupy mountain tops in AZ to help manage the drug routes? We have been invaded, call out the Army, get the armed drones up in the sky. The local police are on watch 24/7 because they have been marked for death by the drug squads. These guys are not only illegal, but are more armed than the local police. Where is the federal governmant, are they going to stop this invasion?

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