(CNSNews.com) - U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told senators Wednesday that President Obama’s “most serious” efforts to secure the southwest border in U.S. history have yielded “striking” results.
Napolitano made the comments in written testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday during a hearing on DHS oversight.
“Simply put, the Obama administration has undertaken the most serious and sustained actions to secure the Southwest border in our nation’s history,” testified Napolitano. “We have increased the number of Border Patrol agents nationwide from approximately 10,000 in 2004 to more than 21,000 today with nearly 18,500 ‘boots on the ground’ along the Southwest border.
“Working in coordination with state and other federal agencies, we have deployed a quarter of all ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] operational personnel to the Southwest border region –the most ever – to dismantle criminal organizations along the border,” she said.
“The results of these comprehensive and coordinated efforts have been striking. Border Patrol apprehensions—a key indicator of illegal immigration—have decreased 53 percent in the last three years and are less than 20 percent of what they were at their peak,” she later added. “Indeed, illegal immigration attempts have not been this low since 1971.”
Napolitano asserted that border communities are among the safest in the country despite the Department of Justice recently reporting that in 2011, southwest border communities were home to 80 percent of criminal cases in U.S. Magistrate Courts.
“Violent crime in U.S. border communities has also remained flat or fallen over the past decade, and statistics have shown that some of the safest communities in America are along the border,” the DHS leader stated. “From Fiscal Years 2009 to 2011, DHS also seized 74 percent more currency, 41 percent more drugs, and 159 percent more weapons along the Southwest border as compared to Fiscal Years 2006 to 2008.”
She mentioned how ICE, which is charged with arresting and removing illegal aliens inside the country, is now prioritizing the arrest of certain criminal aliens, an approach that critics have said will lead to “stealth amnesty” of those aliens who are not arrested.
“To further deter individuals from illegally crossing our Southwest border, we also directed ICE to prioritize the apprehension of recent border crossers and repeat immigration violators, and to support and supplement Border Patrol operations,” said Napolitano.
“Between Fiscal Years 2009 and 2011, ICE made over 30,936 criminal arrests along the Southwest border, including 19,563 arrests of drug smugglers and 4,151 arrests of human smugglers,” she added.