Customs Commissioner "Committed" to Controlling Illegal Immigration Across the Border
By Dan Marries
April 1, 2005

Using a half dozen helicopters as a backdrop, the Commissioner of the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency told a crowd of 100 people at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base that Arizona is the least protected stretch of the nation's border, "we are determined to get control of the border." Announcing the second phase of the Arizona Border Control Initiative Commissioner Bonner said, "today we are increasing our boots on the ground and assets in the air because in a post 9/11 era, securing our borders is a national security issue."

Despite being a national security issue, the unstoppable flow of illegal immigrants continues to stream into Arizona. On average, 1600 illegal aliens are detained every day in the Tucson sector. Last year more than one million were apprehended across the country. Many say the U.S. Border Patrol only manages to catch one out of three illegals coming across the border but Commissioner Bonner says that's too high and he estimates anywhere from 300 to 400 thousand make it through every year.

Commissioner Bonner laid out five strategies to secure the border the first being to add more agents. 534 by the end of the year. 200 have been brought in immediately on a temporary assignment. Another strategy involves doubling the number of aircraft used around Tucson. The use of checkpoints will continue and another strategy called "Defense and Depth"will also be implemented. It involves actively cracking down on the human and drug smuggling rings.

But will all of this work? Can the flow of illegal immigrants be stopped? Commissioner Bonner says yes, "it can be stopped but it's not going to be done overnight." Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Michael Garcia echoes Bonner's feelings, "our dedicated work to restore integrity to the nation's immigration system is working. By targeting violent criminal organizations that exploit vulnerabilities in our border, we are securing our homeland and safeguarding our communities."