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No Additional Control over US Borders in Fiscal 2010
by Mickey McCarter
Friday, 12 June 2009

CBP does not project more miles of border under 'effective control' next year

Although Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun to deploy surveillance technology at the US southwest border, the agency does not anticipate gaining effective control of any additional miles of the border in fiscal 2010.

At a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism Thursday, Acting CBP Commissioner Jayson Ahern told Congress CBP has declared effective control about 700 miles of the 2,000-mile long southern border, including 627 miles where the agency has installed fencing.

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), ranking member of the subcommittee, expressed concern that progress would not satisfy Congress when it came time to debate an immigration reform package in the next year or two.

"It's a tough sell for an immigration reform bill if 1300 miles of southern border is not under control," Souder remarked.

"That's certainly one conclusion that could be drawn," Ahern responded, but that it's "not necessarily one that we would draw. We do have resources, and technology and other capabilities in other areas along the border as well."

Ahern revealed CBP would install 34 additional miles of fencing along the US southwest border in the coming months for a total of 661 miles of fencing.

CBP also has begun deployment of surveillance and communications technology that make up the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) since May 4. Beginning with a stretch of the border in Arizona, CBP has begun deployment of SBInet to an area designated as Tuscon-1 and will begin deployment to a neighboring area designated as Ajo-1 in August.

The two areas combined represent the first 53 miles of US border where SBInet will be deployed, Ahern said at the hearing, which addressed the CBP fiscal 2010 budget request.

Despite deployment of SBInet technology to the southern and northern border, CBP does not anticipate increasing control an already secured 697 miles of southern border and 100 miles of northern border.

"The DHS Science and Technology Directorate has a number of research projects designed to evaluate technology opportunities tailored to the northern border environment that will advise our plans in the future. Our Secure Border Initiative (SBI) program began implementing a measured deployment of fixed and mobile sensors in our Buffalo, Detroit, and Swanton sectors starting this spring," Ahern said of the northern border in his written testimony.

Ahern also noted that CBP is not requesting additional funding for more Border Patrol agents in order to stabilize the workforce that has joined the agency in recent years. He estimated that 46 percent of Border Patrol agents have less than three years of experience.