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Border security shifts to ‘targeted enforcement,

by Candice Miller on February 17, 2011

Candice Miller’s House panel told
By Chad Selweski
Journal Register Newspapers
http://macombdaily.com/articles/2011/02/15/news/doc4d5b5b70ed3b0345041201.prt
A House panel chaired by Rep. Candice Miller was told Tuesday that the U.S. Border Patrol is revamping its outdated method of measuring success so that federal funds are spent on “targeted enforcement” to stop potential terrorist activities and drug and human trafficking.
 
During a Capitol Hill hearing, a top Department of Homeland Security official said the emphasis has moved from trying to plug up every mile of the borders to employing tactics — particularly ramped up personnel and technology — that has the biggest impact in problem areas.
 
“We should place our resources and allocate our time in those areas that give us the biggest return for our investment — money-wise and resource-wise,” said Michael Fisher, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol.
 
Miller, chair of the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, called Tuesday’s hearing after a federal report earlier this month warned that protection of the 4,000-mile border between the United States and Canada is riddled with holes and that the lack of security presents a greater terrorism threat than the porous U.S.-Mexico border.
 
The General Accountability Office concluded that in 2010 only 32 miles of the overall northern border — or less than 1 percent — “had reached an acceptable level of security.” That level of “operational control” means that all illegal border crossings were detected and an arrest was made.
 
On Tuesday, Fisher told lawmakers that “operational control,” the federal standard for success since 2004, has been declared outdated and will be replaced in the coming months.
 
Miller, a Harrison Township Republican, said she was particularly alarmed by the GAO report because it showed that the Homeland Security Department had invested $3 billion in upgraded security for the U.S.-Canadian border with little resulting impact.
 
“We cannot provide for the common defense if we cannot protect the sovereignty of our nation by securing our borders,” Miller said.
 
Another GAO report released at the committee hearing showed that the southern border with Mexico also suffers from stretches that lack operational control, despite huge infusions of federal dollars. The Border Patrol’s manpower has more than doubled in the Southwest since 2004 but the statistics are a mixed bag.
 
Annual border apprehensions of illegal aliens has decreased by more than 70 percent, from 1.6 million in 2000 to 463,000 last year. But officials attribute that change to fewer border crossing attempts.
 
By concentrating on cost-effective, targeted activities, Fisher said, apprehensions of cash, drugs and weapons at the border have all increased. As a result, he added, violent crimes in Southwest border counties has dropped by more than 30 percent and those communities are among the lowest crime areas, in per capita measures, in the United States.

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