PROMISES, PROMISES: Securing US border impossible

By WILL WEISSERT | December 6, 2011 | 2:06 AM EST

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — All major Republican presidential candidates have promised to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. Many support a fence stretching nearly 2,000 miles to do so.

But a border that is sealed to all illegal immigrants and drugs is a promise none of them could keep.

A more modest goal is achieving "operational control" of the whole border.

The Border Patrol defines that as areas where it can detect and stop illegal activity either at the border or after entry into the U.S. It says it's achieved that for 44 percent of the border.

Even getting that far has required bolstering the ranks of the Border Patrol to its highest levels ever. Six Predator drones will patrol parts of the border by year's end, and 1,200 National Guard soldiers are there too.