Washington (CNSNews.com) - Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), speaking at a conference on border issues Thursday, said 663 individuals arrested along the southwest border in 2010 were from countries designated as “special interest” or from countries known to have ties with terrorism.
“It’s not just that we’re seeing immigration across our southern border from countries like Mexico -- people seeking to work and provide for their families,” said Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on homeland security and terrorism. “Indeed in the last year alone -- where 445,000 individuals were detained at the southwest border -- 59,000 came from countries other than Mexico.
“These included 663 individuals from special-interest countries like Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen and four countries that have been designated by the U.S. Department of State as state-sponsors of terror – Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Sudan,” Cornyn said.
Special interest countries are those whose citizens are subject to enhanced screening by the Transportation Security Administration on U.S.-bound flights as a result of the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Flight 253.
The U.S. Border Patrol, which falls under the Homeland Security Department, is charged with apprehending aliens attempting to illegally cross U.S. borders. As CNSNews.com previously reported, in fiscal year 2010, around 84 percent of the approximately 448,000 illegal aliens arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol were not prosecuted.
After delivering his remarks at the 15th annual U.S.-Mexico Congressional Border Issues Conference, Sen. Cornyn told reporters he asked the Director of National Intelligence whether the apprehension of the 663 individuals was national security vulnerability. “He said yes it was, so we need to do more,” Cornyn said.
What the Obama administration is doing to secure the border more is “obviously not enough,” he added.
During his speech, Cornyn criticized the Obama administration’s border security efforts, saying that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano talks about the resources that have been devoted to border areas -- the so called ‘inputs’ – “where I’m really more interested in what the results, or the outputs, are.”
Napolitano, who also spoke at the event, said “taken as whole, the manpower, the technology, the resources, represent the most serious and sustained action to secure the border in our nation’s history, and it’s clear from every statistical measure that the approach is working.”
Napolitano called Border Patrol apprehensions a “key indicator of illegal traffic” along the U.S. borders, and she noted the apprehensions have decreased 36 percent in the past two years and are less than one half of what they were at their peak.
Sen. Cornyn suggested that a border security strategy should have a coordinated “interagency approach,” where the various federal entities charged with security along the border are working together and complementing one another.
He also said that a “good” border security strategy “should be resourced appropriately.”
The annual border conference took place on Capitol Hill and was sponsored by the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce.