HOMELAND SECURITY TODAY — The House Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security held a field hearing on Monday to hear from local law enforcement officials, business and community leaders, ranchers and residents—those who must live with the ramifications of an unsecure border every day— on what they see as the real border security challenges facing the nation.
Chairwoman Martha McSally (R-AZ) said the testimony of several government officials from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a hearing several weeks ago revealed “a deep disconnect” between how politicians and policymakers in Washington, DC view the current situation on the border versus what the actual situation is according to those who live and work on the border.
“This is not surprising considering many policymakers in the nation’s capital have never seen or experienced our situation along the border, something Southern Arizona residents live with every day,” said McSally.
McSally said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been feeding the American people a false narrative on the security of the border. The border is not nearly as secure as it needs to be. At a recent hearing, for example, CBP admitted to having only roughly 50 percent situational awareness of the border.
Additionally, Homeland Security Today recently reported that the 81 percent interdiction rate touted by CBP paints an incomplete pictures, since it included unaccompanied children and those who voluntarily turn themselves in, inflating the number.
“We are fortunate to have brave men and women of the Border Patrol do all they can with the tools they are provided,” said McSally. “However, they are often hampered by outdated, flawed strategies and political leadership that does not have the resolve to let them do what agents do best – secure the border and protect the homeland.”
The southwest border remains a hub of cross-border illegal activity, with DHS apprehending over 331,000 illegal entrants, and making over 14,000 seizures of drugs in fiscal year 2015, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
Today, in 2016, the entire border is controlled by Mexican drug cartels, according to Art Del Cueto, President, Local 2544, National Border Patrol Council. Cueto likened the situation on the border to a prison, saying drug cartels control the border similar to the way inmates control a prison.
“If there is one point that I want to make in this entire testimony it is that the money that the cartels earn from illegal alien smuggling underwrites the same organizations that are flooding our streets with narcotics,” Cueto emphasized.
To confront the Mexican drug cartels, Cueto said that first the current Administration must admit there is a problem. Then, they will need more manpower, more agents in the field, a more effective deployment of resources, and an end to the catch and release policy, which he described as “driving illegal immigration to our front door.”
Cueto noted, “One of the main drivers of illegal immigration is our own immigration policy.”