This afternoon Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano held a conference call to discuss the President’s signing of the Southwest Border Security legislation into law:
….Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: Thank you and, and thank you all for participating on the call. Uh, I was pleased to be with the President earlier today as he signed the bill providing six hundred million dollars and additional resources to further strengthen security along the southwest border. Uh, I’d like to particularly applaud the Congress for acting in a bipartisan manner, uh, and taking quick action on this bill, uh, particular Senators Schumer and McCaskill, and of course Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi.
Uh, this legislation adds permanent resources to bolster, uh, security along the southwest border, supporting efforts to, uh, cut down on, uh, transnational criminal organizations and to reduce the trafficking of people, drugs, currency, and weapons. [inaudible] is important in two respects. First, it adds new resources to the border, but second it makes permanent many of the assets that we have been surging along the southwest border, uh, since basically march of two thousand and nine.
Uh, now, uh, let me just pause there for a moment. I have, uh, been working on the border on border related issues for seventeen years as a public servant, as the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, as the Attorney General of Arizona and as the two-term Governor of Arizona. Uh, I believe firmly that the border is not a political or partisan issue. And it shouldn’t be. It’s a matter of national security in which everyone has a stake. So, uh, on that score, even before this bill was signed, or indeed, even before the President made his formal request for these monies, uh, the administration had already devoted more resources to the southwest border than ever before in United States history.
Uh, these efforts have made a difference. Seizures are up and rose across the board last year. Uh, apprehensions or illegal crossings are down. Uh, for the first time ever we’re screening one hundred percent of southbound rail. Uh, criminal alien removals are at an all time high. We’ve added more technology, manpower, and resources than ever before. This is a systematic long term effort to defeat the cartels, uh, who continue to try to exploit the border. And the administration is dedicated to a long term systematic approach. Uh, that’s one of the reasons why the President ordered the National Guard to the border and why he asked Congress for the supplemental funding that he was pleased to sign today.
Now, what’s in the bill? Uh, bill provides funding for another one thousand, uh, border patrol agents. It contains sixty-eight million dollars for customs and border protection officers at ports of entry, uh, who facilitate legal trafficking, uh, or legal traffic, excuse me, and the interdiction of contraband. It allows, uh, ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to hire more than two hundred special agents. Uh, they’ll be doing investigations and many will be doing, uh, intelligence analysis. Uh, it provides two more unmanned aircraft systems and has money for tactical communications technology. What does that mean? It means that agents along the border who can’t use cell phones because of the remoteness of the border, uh, will have updated and improved technology to communicate with each other. Uh, there’s also a hundred and ninety-six million dollars in the bill for the Department of Justice, uh, to surge federal law enforcement agents like DEA and ATF, uh, to add prosecutors, to add immigration judges, and to support detention and incarceration, uh, of, uh, illegal immigrants who are, uh, seized and incarcerated in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement efforts. Uh, there’s also money in the bill to, uh, construct twp forward operating bases, uh, for improved border enforcement.
So, uh, clearly this bill is a, uh, really a, a terrific, uh, tool in our multi, uh, faceted toolbox of enforcement efforts and resources along the southwest border. Uh, and as I have said many times before it’s enforcement that is layered. It includes manpower, technology, and infrastructure. Uh, and it’s enforcement that needs to be constant, uh, along the border, the entire expanse of it, all the way from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas. Uh, this bill will enable us to sustain that and to maintain that, uh, and that is, uh, so very, very important.
Uh, so with that let me, uh, stop and, uh, and open it up for questions….
The President’s June 22, 20010 request [pdf].