Napolitano's Farewell: Borders 'Better Protected Than Any Time in Nation's History'
(CNSNews.com) – In a farewell address at the National Press club on Tuesday, outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said “our borders are now better staffed and better protected than any time in our nation’s history, and illegal crossings have dropped to near 40-year lows."
“Over the past four and a half years, we have invested historic resources to prevent illegal cross-border activity,” Napolitano said.
However, a Feb. 26, 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that less than half of the nation's souhwestern border was under operational control. (See Border Patrol.pdf)
"Since fiscal year 2011, DHS has used the number of apprehensions on the southwest border between ports of entry as an interim performance goal and measure for border security as reported in its annual performance report."
But, the GAO report continued, "as we previously testified, at the end of fiscal year 2010, Border Patrol reported achieving varying levels of operational control of 873 (44 percent) of the nearly 2,000 southwest border miles."
At a Senate hearing in April, Michael Fisher, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, testified that border apprehensions had increased 13 percent over the previous year. But a later hearing revealed the failure of Napolitano’s department to “track when or whether people who are issued a visa exit the country.”
CNSNews previously reported that another GAO study released at the end of June found that the metrics used by DHS are incomplete and that the number of apprehensions does not accurately reflect the true state of border security.
During her speech, Napolitano also emphasized DHS’ goal to “build more flexibility into the system” by not enforcing the immigration law against some violators.
“We instructed our immigration agents and officers to use their discretion under current law to not pursue low-priority immigration cases, like children brought to the United States illegally by their parents,” she said.
“In just its first year, over half a million individuals have requested deferred action,” and of those, “430,000 requests have already been approved, allowing these young people to continue to contribute to the country they call home.”
Napolitano, who will become president of the University of California at the end of the month, also reflected on the “many challenges” DHS faced during her tenure, including “the threat of drug cartel violence along our southwest border,” “numerous terrorist plots and threats,” and “catastrophic natural disasters.”