Sen. Cornyn: Need ‘More Boots on the Ground,’ ‘Better Technology,’ and Infrastructure to Secure Border

By Nicholas Ballasy | May 5, 2010 | 7:15 PM EDT

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas)

( - Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the federal government is “not doing what it needs to do” to secure the border to stop the flow of drugs into the United States. He added that America needs a combination of “more boots on the ground,” better technology, and infrastructure to get “a lot closer” to the type of secure border the country needs.
On Capitol Hill, asked Cornyn, “The Justice Department recently released a report that last year 1-in-5 teenagers in the United States used illegal drugs. Are you committed to sealing the border against the influx of illegal drugs?”
Cornyn said, “Well, I think we need to secure the border for a number of reasons. That is one of them – illegal drug shipments. But, as we’ve heard from the witnesses today, these organized criminal activities are in whatever business makes them money. So they’re there in terms of smuggling weapons, bombs, they’re smuggling people, smuggling drugs, you name it.”

“So, we have to secure the border and the federal government is not doing what it needs to be doing now and the spillover effects are being felt in our communities all along the border region and across the county,” said the senator.
Cornyn spoke with on Wednesday, after a Senate hearing on drug trafficking violence in Mexico. asked against Sen. Cornyn, “What do you think is the best way to seal the border against the influx of those drugs?”
Cornyn said, “Well, we’ve doubled the border patrol in the last five years but we still saw last year 500,000 people come across the border that were detained, which tells you something. It doesn’t tell you how many we missed. But clearly the border is still too porous  and is being exploited for all sorts of criminal purposes.”
“So, we need more boots on the ground -- there’s no question,” he said.  “We need better technology. We talked a little bit about the drones, the unmanned aerial vehicles that are being used for our military that could be used to good effect along the border.  Things like ground-based aerial radar that takes pictures of what’s happening on the ground. I think a combination of boots on the ground and technology would help us get a lot closer to the border security than we are now. And I intend to push as hard as I can to see that we get that done.”
When asked if supports building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Cornyn said, “Well, I think the barriers at certain strategic locations, I think the border patrol calls that tactical infrastructure is important. But you can’t just do that because people will come over it, under it or through it. It’s got to be a combination of technology, infrastructure and people, boots on the ground.”
According to the recently released U.S. Justice Department National Drug Threat Assessment for 2010, as reported in  
-- Almost one in five U.S. teenagers used illegal drugs in the past year. 
-- Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) were the main wholesale suppliers. “Law enforcement reporting and case initiation data show that Mexican DTOs control most of the wholesale cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine distribution in the United States, as well as much of the marijuana distribution.” 
-- A massive network of street gangs distributed the drugs smuggled from Mexico in communities all across America. “In 2009, midlevel and retail drug distribution in the United States was dominated by more than 900,000 criminally active gang members representing approximately 20,000 street gangs in more than 2,500 cities.” 
-- Because our government did not secure our border, Mexican smugglers enjoyed a booming business last year. “Mexican DTOs increased the flow of several drugs (heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana) into the United States, primarily because they increased production of those drugs in Mexico.” 
-- Consumers of these smugglers’ products clogged our health care system. “In 2007, there were approximately 1.8 million admissions to state-licensed treatment facilities for illicit drug dependence or abuse.” 
-- Emergency rooms were flooded with drug abusers. “In 2006, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported that of 113 million hospital ED visits -- 1,743,887 (1.5 percent) -- were related to drug misuse or abuse.”