GAO finds only 15 percent of U.S. border with Mexico is ‘controlled’
(22 February 2011)
A report released by the Government Accountability Office on 15 February 2011, has found that the U.S. has approximately 15 percent of its land border with Mexico ‘controlled’, while the remaining 85 percent is ‘managed’. The report stated that:
“Our analysis of the 873 border miles under operational control reported by Border Patrol in fiscal year 2010 showed that about 129 miles, or 15 percent, were classified as “controlled,” which is the highest sustainable level for both detection and interdiction at the immediate border. The remaining 85 percent of miles were classified as “managed,” in that interdictions may be achieved after illegal entry by multitiered enforcement operations.”
The report came as the budget for fiscal year 2012 was released in the U.S., including the budget for the Department of Homeland Security, which encompasses the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the main agencies responsible for policing the external borders of the U.S. The budget of US $43.2 billion will allow for an increase from 20,500 to 21,370 Border Patrol agents, and an additional 300 CBP agents, in addition to the existing 20,600 agents currently employed.
While the Republican party has been vocal in expressing its belief that the southwest border with Mexico remains insecure, the head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has stressed that crime in the border region is lower than most other regions of the U.S., and that politicians, senior members of law enforcement agencies, and the media have been largely exaggerating issues of safety there. Napolitano, in response to the newly released budget, has stated that the funding to the DHS is sufficient to carry out its duties, while being fiscally responsible in light of the current financial crisis in the U.S. Further concern has arisen over border security and the operation of drug cartels, following the recent shooting of two U.S. border agents in Mexico, one of which was fatal. Investigations are still being carried out to determine why the agents were targeted and who was responsible for the shootings.
Source: ‘Border security: preliminary observations on border control measures for the southwest border’, Government Accountability Office, 15 February 2011; ‘U.S. budget limits border security resources’, JulieAnn McKellog, Voice of America News, 17 February 2011; ‘Budget 2012: Homeland Security’, Peter Finn, Washington Post, 14 February 2011; ‘1 US agent slain, 2nd wounded in attack inside Mexico’, Arizona Daily Star, 16 February 2011; ‘Napolitano: no evidence border out of control’, Arizona Daily Star, 1 February 2011.