Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today traveled to San Diego to view border security operations at the Southwest border, meet with state and local stakeholders, and discuss the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) on-going efforts to secure the border while facilitating lawful travel and trade. Over the past four years this Administration has dedicated historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to the Southwest border, and undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform our nation's immigration enforcement systems into one that focuses on public safety, border security, and the integrity of the immigration system.
"At DHS, we are committed to making sure that the entire Southwest border is secure while expediting legal travel and trade," said Secretary Napolitano. "I heard firsthand how our joint efforts have worked to secure the border here, and look forward to continued collaboration with our many state, local, and tribal partners, to build on the historic progress that we have made, here in San Diego, and across our Southwest border."
In San Diego, Secretary Napolitano received an operational briefing on the maritime and land border in California, and participated in an aerial tour of the U.S.-Mexico border and the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa Ports of Entry.
Secretary Napolitano also met with state and local stakeholders, including San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy, local law enforcement officials and representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to discuss the Department's continued partnership with border communities and law enforcement to expand the Administration's ability to work with cross-border law enforcement partners. During the meeting, Secretary Napolitano highlighted the Department's work with local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws while securing and managing our borders.
Attempts to cross the border illegally totaled nearly 365,000 nationwide in FY 2012, representing a nearly 50 percent decrease since FY 2008 and a 78 percent decrease from their peak in FY 2000. In 1995, the San Diego Sector alone saw more than 500,000 apprehensions, which fell to 54,246 in FY 2012, a decrease of almost 90 percent. Additionally, from FY 2009 to 2012, CBP and ICE seized 71 percent more currency, 39 percent more drugs, and 189 percent more weapons along the Southwest border as compared to FY 2005 to 2008.
Last week, President Obama announced key principles for comprehensive immigration reform that would continue to build upon this progress by investing in the ports of entry, and helping our officers and agents focus on public safety threats; making it harder for transnational criminal organizations to operate, while encouraging immigrants to pursue a pathway to legal immigration; and strengthening the integrity of the immigration system overall. The passage of the President's proposal will help make sure that officers and agents along the border are better able to focus on combating public safety and national security threats.