Napolitano: 'Border is secure'
No, that statement is not from some late night comic trying to get a cheap laugh from the audience. The person who said the border is secure is the person responsible for making it so: DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"My belief is that you need to fix the entire system because, from my standpoint, one of the biggest draws of illegal traffic across the border is the demand for illegal labor," she said Thursday.
"And until you have a natural -- a nationwide system, for employers to be able to verify their employees, it's really tough to get at that demand side."
The secretary, who worked the Arizona-New Mexico border for 20 years as a prosecutor and then governor, said the border can always be improved and should never stop benefitting from new security technology, but the difference between today's border and that of days past is evident.
"The amount of manpower, technology, everything else that we have put on that border is simply amazing," she said. "This is not the same border that was."+
Arizona, often an area of contention among advocates of strong border security, has seen more infrastructure developments in the Tucson sector, which is the bulk of Arizona's border-protection zone, than "just about any other place on the southwest border," she said.
"We're putting mobile surveillance so that we can move around and watch and we have increased the boots on the ground," she said. "Over the last couple of years, we've added what we call boots in the air, aerial surveillance, for the first time, border-wide, but really focused on that Tucson sector."
Napolitano says the progress made in Tucson is "the greatest of all the nine Border Patrol sectors."
She emphasized the need for improving access to visas to allow entry into the United States legally and bring the undocumented workers "out of the shadows."
"So that we know who they are, we have their biometrics, and we're better able to then focus on narco-traffickers and human smugglers and trans-national criminal operations, the big law enforcement needs that we have," she said.
For the secretary, the argument that border security is needed before overhaul doesn't cut it.
"That argument often is used as a way of not addressing the underlying issue," she said, "which is how do you deal with the whole system?"
I agree that there is no sense in trying to lock down the border so that no one gets across illegally. That's a waste of money.
But to make the idiotic statement that the border is already secure is not based on reality. There is plenty more we can be doing; just ask the residents of farms and ranches on the border who deal with a flood of people - many of them unsavory characters - crossing their property. I'm sure those border residents have a much different answer to the question of whether the border is truly "secure."
Napolitano's dodge is necessary because the Obama administration needs immigration reform to go forward, separate from the issue of border security. In fact, the two issues are tied together and it does little to reform a system when 10 years down the road, we will have to revisit the problem again.