Thursday, January 6, 2011
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin says controlling the border in Tuscon and beefing up security off San Diego's coast are top priorities this year.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin said a mix of technology, infrastructure and the largest Border Patrol ever has helped make the U.S. border region as safe as it has been in decades.
But Bersin said his agency's success in Texas, New Mexico and California has pushed smuggling activity into the Tuscon, Arizona sector.
Bersin said that's a problem. He calls the area the "last stand."
"We need to reduce the illegal immigration there and the illegal drug smuggling there. We've built up a greater resource base there than we have in any other sector with almost 7,000 CBP officers and we tend to restore the rule of law there," said Bersin.
Bersin anticipates that as Arizona comes under control smugglers will increasingly turn to San Diego's coast.
It has become a popular spot with smugglers during the last three years. Hundreds of boats have come ashore on San Diego beaches. Authorities have caught hundreds more.
"So, that what we're seeing now is movement further even west into the ocean by smugglers and their pangas and landings that were much further north than in the past, up into the southern reaches of Orange County," said Bersin.
Bersin expects more support for the Marine Task Force this year.
On land in San Diego, apprehensions of illegal immigrants dropped to about 68,000 last year. That's compared to more than 560,000 in 1992.