Immigration Reform Update: Obama Administration 'Aggressive, Coordinated' on Immigration Numbers, Says US Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner
Commissioner Richard Gil Kerlikowske of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency reported on the situation at the southwest U.S. border, stating that the country's border "has been and remains more secure than it has been in decades." Despite the influx of undocumented immigrants from Central America, Kerlikowske said the Obama administration has taken "decisive action" and the situation at the border has improved.
"The President and his Administration responded with an aggressive, coordinated Federal response focused on stepped up deterrence, enhanced enforcement, stronger foreign cooperation, and greater capacity for affected Federal agencies to ensure that our border remained secure," Kerlikowske said.
The CBP commissioner reiterated U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's report that the number of people crossing the southern border, including the rate of unaccompanied minors, has declined. The numbers may be declining but Kerlikowske said there is no declaration of victory.
"We will remain vigilant and continue to aggressively work to deter future increases and address the influx on both sides of the border with our Central American partners," Kerlikowske said.
The commissioner noted the decline comes from multiple factors. He credited the Obama administration's partnership with Central American leaders, publicizing migration dangers and seasonal weather changes for the declining numbers.
According to Kerlikowske, nearly 3,000 more Border Patrol agents are assigned to the southwest U.S. border than in 2008. Kerlikowske revealed 18,164 Border Patrol agents are on post today while "fencing and barriers" has extended 652 miles. Unmanned aircraft systems, such as drones, and ground surveillance have also increased.
"Taken as a whole, the additional manpower, technology and resources provided in the last six years represent the most serious and sustained action to secure our border in our nation's history. And it is clear from every key measure that this approach is working," Kerlikowske said.
The CBP commissioner also credited the agency's "Dangers Awareness Campaign," which explained there are no "permisos," or "promises," to individuals and families crossing the border.
"CBP's Dangers Awareness Campaign, is an aggressive Spanish language outreach effort and an urgent call to action to community groups, that reaches out to parents and relatives of migrants in the U.S. and communities in Central America through radio and print media to save and protect the lives of migrant children attempting to cross the southwest border," Kerlikowske said, adding over 6,7000 television and radio segments aired the campaign's message in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras this summer.
Kerlikowske dismissed Congress, stating lawmakers did not provide any help. He said Congress "refused" to allow additional resources requested by Obama to address the influx of immigrants. Due to congressional inaction, Kerlikowske said DHS had to shift resources from other enforcement activities, usually lower priority areas, to help the needs at the border.
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