U.S. Mexico Border Mayors Conference: Border Is More Secure Today Than Ever Before

"It is nearly impossible to enter or leave the Yuma sector without running into a border patrol agent in one way or another" - Alan L. Kreiger, Mayor of Yuma.

If toning down the rhetoric on Border Violence is the top line message of this inaugural U.S. Mexico Border Mayor Conference, then the underlying fact is that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services (CPB) strategy for making the border region safer is working.

Starting in 1992 to the present day: apprehensions are down in every border sector. What this means is that the tactics that the CPB are utilizing are producing results; less apprehensions means there is less violence. Rather as Border Patrol presence has increased from 1992 to now crime has decreased.

Looking over the long haul:


The graph above shows in every border city sector a precipitous drop in apprehensions. In 2000, the record high water mark apprehensions total was 1,643,679, flash forward to 2010 and the total number of apprehensions is down to 447,731. That is a 73% reduction in apprehensions.

That is not all, according to CPB: Since 2004, the number of “boots on the ground” along the Southwest border has increased by nearly 85% to 17,600 Border Patrol Agents today. Arizona currently has a record number of “boots on the ground,” with more than 4,900 Border Patrol Agents, 900 Customs and Border Protection Officers, and 130 Air and Marine Agents.

This has yielded results: In fiscal years 2009 and 2010, CBP seized more than $104 million in southbound
illegal currency – an increase of more than $28 million compared to 2007- 2008. In fiscal years 2009 and 2010, southbound seizures in Arizona were approximately $10.7 million.

In fiscal years 2009 and 2010, CBP and ICE seized more than $282 million in illegal currency, more than 7 million pounds of drugs, and more than 6,800 weapons along the southwest border – increases of more than $73 million, more than 1 million pounds of drugs and more than 1,500 weapons compared to 2007-2008.

What all of this means is that while the Border is not secure, it is safe. Which is a much more realistic goal for the Department of Homeland Security to strive for. It is certainly what the Mayors living in Border towns are asking for. The facilitation in the growth of commerce and an increase in efficiency on the movement of goods and people across the border is far more valuable to those living along the border than a militarization which closes the ports of entry down.

Innovation and leadership from both the United States and Mexico is a positive step. And while CPB and DHS continue to do their part in this, more than anything else what needs to change is the temperament of politicians and the media in how they cover the border region. This is a dynamic space that can be both a place of commerce and a safe region that will be mutually beneficial to Mexico and the United States. Wouldn't that be something if people talked about that for a change?