Precinct 333

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Should We Be Frightened Or Comforted?

After all, shouldn’t we already have operational control of our own borders?
The U.S. Border Patrol will more than double its fleet of helicopters and airplanes and bring 534 agents to the Arizona border this summer, in an effort to gain "operational control" of the border at this, its most vulnerable point, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner.

The term was pounded home; Bonner used the phrase "operational control" four times during an hour-long press conference Wednesday to announce this latest federal roll-out to control the Arizona line with Mexico. He also spoke of living in a "post-9/11 era," and "terrorism" as well as "not overnight" and "cost."

Bonner also answered questions that were previously not answered by federal officials. He said nationally, about 300,000 to 400,000 people manage to successfully enter the country illegally each year. He also said that the latest border control effort, the Arizona Border Control Initiative Phase II, will help protect the United States against terrorism, though nobody has been arrested coming in from Mexico on terror-related charges.

"Look, the reason we have to get control along the borders of our country is because we have an enemy that is bound and determined to attack us, and that's al-Qaida and its associated terrorist organizations," he said.

"We will shut down - and I mean shut down - the West Desert Corridor," Bonner said. "We will gain control … of what is the weakest part of the border with Mexico." The West Desert comprises the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It's a sore point for illegal entry and was the focus of the Border Patrol's efforts last year during the first Arizona Border Control Initiative.

The plan this year is to control that area, then turn attention to Cochise and Yuma counties.

Gaining operational control of the border can't happen overnight, Bonner said, but will happen over time.

This is great – they are doing something. But it is years to late and not nearly enough.


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