TUCSON, ARIZ.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Alan Bersin met today with the Commander of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), Admiral James a Winnefeld Jr., and other senior USNORTHCOM officials from USNORTHCOM at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to discuss the agencies' ongoing partnership along the Southwest border.
"Over the past two years we have engaged in an unprecedented effort to bring focus and intensity to Southwest border security and we continue to seek new ways to effectively deter, disrupt, and interdict transnational threats," said Commissioner Bersin. "CBP's relationship with USNORTHCOM demonstrates our ongoing commitment to working with our federal partners to improve and enhance our operations."
"Today's effort will enable us to better understand the areas where we can best support each other," said Adm. Winnefeld, Jr. "Through Joint Task Force North (JTF-N), which is designed to support law enforcement entities in the U.S., USNORTHCOM is providing assistance in countering transnational criminal organizations. This support is routinely provided to the U.S. Border Patrol along our country's northern and southern borders."
In the meeting, CBP and USNORTHCOM officials discussed plans to leverage USNORTHCOM's expertise and specialized training to assist CBP in effectively combating transnational criminal organizations through enhanced information and intelligence capabilities and resource deployment.
Over the past two years, CBP has dedicated unprecedented manpower, technology and infrastructure to the Southwest border. Today, the Border Patrol is better staffed than at any time in its 86-year history, having nearly doubled the number of agents from approximately 10,000 in 2004 to more than 20,700 today - including more "boots on the ground" in Arizona than ever before. Apprehensions-a key indicator of illegal immigration-have decreased 36 percent in the last two years and are less than a third of what they were at their peak; violent crime in border communities has remained flat or fallen in the past decade; and statistics have shown that some of the safest communities in America are along the border.
Beyond these measures, CBP has recently taken additional steps to bring greater unity to our enforcement efforts, expand coordination with other agencies, and improve response times, including by creating joint commands to bring together Border Patrol, Air and Marine, and Field Operations under a unified command structure.
In the coming months, CBP will continue to deploy additional resources to the Southwest border, including two new forward operating bases to improve coordination of border activities, improved tactical communications systems, 1,000 new Border Patrol Agents, and 250 new CBP Officers funded through the Emergency Supplemental for Border Security passed and signed into law in August 2010.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.