The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is supplying the Department of Homeland Security with previously purchased fixed and mobile cameras to help DHS expand its capabilities along the U.S.-Mexico border. The initiative is part of Project Roadrunner, an integrated license plate reader recognition (LPR) system aimed at both north- and southbound drug trafficking and other illegal activity.
The tactic was one of many DHS listed Wednesday as its “next steps” to security along the Southwest border, in addition to the deployment of 1,200 National Guardsmen and President Obama’s request fur $500 million in emergency funding for border protection,
Project Roadrunner “is ongoing and will expand as legal and logistical issues are resolved,” DHS said.
CBP has also obtained approval from the FAA to allow Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) flights to operate along the Texas border and throughout the Gulf Coast region. CBP will base a UAS at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, Texas, as soon as all necessary agreements and resources are finalized to sustain a permanent UAS presence there.
The update comes as Customs and Border Protection receives continued scrutiny for the shortcomings of SBInet, the program of cameras and sensors touted as a “virtual fence” along the borders.
Other new or continuing strategies include:
•A new partnership with the Major Cities Chiefs Association to create the “Southwest Border Law Enforcement Compact”—designed to boost law enforcement at the border by enabling non-border state and local law enforcement agencies to detail officers to state and local law enforcement agencies along the Southwest border.
•Working with the Department of Justice to create a new system that will fully link the information systems of all state, local and tribal law enforcement entities operating along the Southwest border with those of DHS and DOJ.
•Strengthening the analytic capability of fusion centers across the Southwest border to receive and share threat information, improving our ability to identify and mitigate emerging threats.
•Establishing a suspicious activities reporting program for the Southwest border.
•Deploying additional Border Patrol agents, ICE investigators, air assets and other technologies to the Arizona border to conduct targeted operations against the cartels that exploit the Tucson Sector border region.
•Expanding the Joint Criminal Alien Removal Task Forces (in Immigration and Customs Enforcement) by nine officers, forming two additional teams, to identify and arrest convicted criminal aliens in our communities.
•Deploying 40 ICE officers to work with state and local jails within 100 miles of the Southwest border to identify removable convicted criminal aliens.
•Increasing joint training programs with Mexican law enforcement agenciesults of the Department’s Efforts in the Past 18 Months:
Overall Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal aliens decreased from over 723,800 in fiscal year 2008 to over 556,000 in fiscal year 2009, a 23 percent reduction, indicating that fewer people are attempting to illegally cross the border. From 2004-2009, the number of Border Patrol apprehensions along the Southwest border has decreased by 53 percent.
Seizures of contraband rose significantly across the board last year compared to the year before: illegal bulk cash seizures rose 14 percent; illegal weapons seizures rose 29 percent; and illegal drugs seizures rose 15 percent.
So far this year, ICE has removed more than 117,000 aliens convicted of crimes—a 37 percent increase as compared to the same time last year.
An in fiscal year 2009, ICE conducted more than 1,400 I-9 audits of employers suspected of hiring illegal labor—triple the number of audits conducted in fiscal year 2008.
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