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Napolitano and Senator Carper tour Arizona border facilities

Port of Entry

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Tom Carper (D-DE) toured U.S. border facilities in Nogales, AZ, on Feb. 19, touting its increased security.

“Today, we traveled to Nogales, Arizona to see the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) border security operations at the Southwest border and on-going efforts to secure the border, while facilitating lawful travel and trade,” said Napolitano and Carper in a joint statement. “We participated in an aerial tour of the U.S.-Mexico border, visited the Mariposa Port of Entry, and met with the men and women who serve on the frontlines to protect our nation’s borders.”

The tour, which was closed to the media, included behind-closed-doors meetings with local officials. Local media reporters who tracked Napolitano’s visit, said the secretary and Carper met with about 30 people, including, Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino, the city’s manager, deputy city manager, police chief, as well as a member of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. U.S. Rep. Ron Barber was also part of the meeting, said reports. Discussions apparently centered around ways to improve trade and bolster security.

In the joint statement, Napolitano and Carper said the Obama administration 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.”

Border security is a key pivot point for broad immigration reform efforts underway in Washington. Congressional plans have tied a “secure border” to rules that would establish legal pathways for undocumented aliens to obtain legal U.S. citizenship.

Is Carper and Napolitano said the Border Patrol better staffed now than at any time in its 88-year history, having doubled the number of agents from 10,000 in 2004 to over 21,300 now. They said attempts to cross the border illegally, as measured by U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions, totaled nearly 365,000 nationwide in FY 2012, representing a nearly 50 percent decrease since FY 2008 and a 78 percent decrease from their peak in FY 2000. Additionally, from FY 2009 to 2012, CBP and ICE seized 71 percent more currency, 39 percent more drugs, and 189 percent more weapons along the Southwest border as compared to FY 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,” they said.