Border Security-2013: Hearing Before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, First Session: Measuring the Progress and Addressing the Challenges, March 14, 2013; Frontline Perspective on Progress and Remaining Challenges, April 10, 2013; Examining Provisions in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) [open pdf - 9MB]
This congressional hearing is composed of three separate testimony dates. The first testimony is the March 14, 2013 hearing, "Measuring the Progress and Addressing the Challenges," before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. From the opening statement of Thomas R. Carper: "As Congress wrestles anew with immigration reform this year, the security of our borders will be closely examined. This conversation is likely to be quite different from the one we had 7 years ago when we last debated immigration reform. That is largely due to the substantial investments we have made to secure our borders over the past decade, particularly our Southern border with Mexico. Despite all of the money and attention we have poured into these efforts, we are still facing what I believe is a lag between perception and reality, much like what happened with the American auto industry. By the beginning of this current century, the quality of the vehicles that Detroit was making had begun to markedly improve, greatly narrowing and then eliminating the quality gap between our vehicles and those produced in Japan and Europe. However, it was only in the last few years that the public really recognized and accepted this fact, allowing the perception of the quality of American vehicles to catch up with the reality of the quality of those vehicles. Likewise, despite the tremendous improvements that have been made in border security over the past decade, the public's perception of these improvements has lagged at times behind reality. According to one of our witnesses today, Doris Meissner, we will spend $18 billion this year enforcing our immigration and customs laws. That is more than we will spend on all other Federal law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Marshalls, and the Secret Service combined. Just think about that. And since 2000, the Border Patrol alone has more than doubled in size, and its funding has almost quadrupled. This enormous investment reflects just how important effective border security is to our Nation." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Thomas R. Carper, Tom Coburn, Edward Alden, Doris Meissner and David A. Shirk. The second testimony is the April 10, 2013 hearing, "Frontline Perspective on Progress and Remaining Challenges" before the United States Senate, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. From the opening statement of Thomas R. Carper: "And during my trip to Arizona in February, I saw a border that appears to me to be- and to a lot of other people -more secure than it has ever been, or has been in a long time- by any measure that we have available to us at this moment. In addition, I spoke with, along with Senator McCain, a bunch of his local mayors and law enforcement officers who told me that the crime rates in their communities were at the lowest level in decades and were continuing to decline. I saw parts of the border that were overrun with unauthorized immigration as recently as 2006, when the Border Patrol agents I met with told me they used to arrest more than 1,000 people every single today [day]. And today, those agents tell me that they have a busy day if they arrest even 50 people. That is a remarkable development and clearly a significant change for the better. It was also consistent with the dramatic reductions that we see nationwide, in the United States, of people trying to cross our borders illegally, which have reached their lowest level since the early 1970s. I also saw advanced surveillance technology, such as the cameras and radars that we are deploying to serve as force multipliers for our folks on the ground. The men and women I spoke with told me that these technologies help them quickly pinpoint where people are trying to cross the border illegally so that their agents can be deployed in time to make an arrest or turn them back. We heard about a remarkable new radar being tested on a drone called VADER, that is providing the Border Patrol with an unprecedented view of the people coming across the border. Another new radar system being tested allows agents to detect physical changes to the ground, such as footsteps, to identify where illegal traffic is heading. And while some of these technologies are expensive, I also saw an inexpensive and versatile aircraft called a C-206, a small plane, which is easy to fly and maintain. It can be used to provide an efficient surveillance platform for agents on the ground. We also heard about inexpensive blimps or dirigibles that can be deployed to help agents detect illegal activities. What I have seen gives me great hope that we have made tangible and measurable gains in securing our Nation's borders over the past decade and have a good sense of what we need to do to build on that progress. We have to rely on intelligence and advanced technology, to identify when and where the threats are crossing our borders and to empower the frontline officers on the ground." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Thomas R. Carper, Tom Coburn, Kevin McAleenan, Michael J. Fisher, Randolph D. Alles, and James A. Dinkins. The third testimony is the May 7, 2013 hearing, "Examining Provisions in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744)," before the United States Senate, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. From the opening statement of Thomas R. Carper: "This is the third of a series of hearings that this Committee is holding to examine the gains in security that have been made at our borders over the past decade and to review what impact immigration reform may have on those borders. During our two previous hearings, we've heard testimony from experts, [...] and from frontline personnel about the dramatic improvements we have seen in portions of our southern border region since the last time that Congress debated immigration reform 7 years ago, in 2006. In recent years, we have made substantial investments in border security. I believe those investments are for the most part paying off. In 2006, the Border Patrol was averaging more than 1 million arrests of unauthorized immigrants each year- 1 million per year -and the unauthorized population living in the United States had reached an all time high of 12.5 million people. Since then, we have added more than 9,000 Border Patrol agents, bringing their overall staffing to more than 21,000. We have also constructed some 600 miles of new fencing and deployed sophisticated cameras, sensors, and radars across a good part of our border with Mexico. In part because of these investments, apprehensions of individuals attempting to cross our borders illegally are at a 40-year low, and the unauthorized population in our country has actually decreased by about a million people. Despite these developments, we are still facing challenges. All too often, however, these challenges have deep roots in our own domestic policies and the socio-economic conditions of our neighbors." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Thomas R. Carper, Tom Coburn, Mary L. Landrieu, David F. Heyman, Kevin K. McAleenan, Michael J. Fisher, Daniel H. Ragsdale, and Anne L. Richards.
S. Hrg. 113-254
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