Yesterday Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared the border at El Paso safe. She relied on the statistics provided to her by Customs and Border Patrol as well as a national survey ranking El Paso as the “safest big city”.
There is little doubt that, on top of the recession, far fewer undocumented workers are illegally attempting to enter our country by way of the Mexican border. CBP statistics over the last five years show a marked decline explained at least in part by an huge increase in the number of agents patrolling the line, a new border wall erected in strategic places along the border, and the increased use of surveillance drones.
However, there are at least two factors that went unmentioned at Secretary Napolitano’s press conference in El Paso. The first is that illegal drugs are continuing to be smuggled into this country by Mexican drug cartels. The vital indicator of their smuggling success is the price that drug users must pay in our cities far from the border. That price, regardless of increased confiscation of illegal drugs, remains stable suggesting that while undocumented immigrants find it more difficult to illegally cross our border with Mexico, the crime syndicates have not been deterred.
Secondly, El Paso and San Diego may be the first and second safest big cities in our country, but human smuggling thrives is other areas all along the 2,000 miles of Mexican border. No doubt Secretary Napolitano can visit selected border cities all she wants to make claims of security and safety, but she should also visit the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas along with various communities in New Mexico and Arizona. These towns, in contrast to El Paso and San Diego, are dangerous places in which to reside.
In spite of Secretary Napolitano’s assertions yesterday, the Mexican border is far from secure for residents not residing in El Paso or San Diego. Secretary Napolitano’s statements about border security are not only misleading, but suggest to the general public that current Congressional efforts at immigration reform need no include increased funds for the safety and security of border residents. Such funds, contrary to Secretary Napolitano’s security declarations, are in fact vital and necessary.