|For Immediate Release
February 17, 2011
Contact: Jessica Baker, (202) 225-3951
Smith Response to GAO Border Security Report: 44 Percent is a Failing Grade
Washington, D.C. – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report finding the U.S.-Mexico border is vulnerable to cross-border illegal activity. Of the nearly 2,000 miles separating the U.S. and Mexico, only 129 miles are under “full control” of the Border Patrol. The report found that 873 miles are under “operational control,” which is only 44 percent of the entire Southern border. This report contradicts Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano’s recent remarks that the Administration’s “border security approach is working.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today criticized the lack of action taken by the Obama administration to address border security:
Chairman Smith: “It is outrageous that DHS officials would make claims that the border is secure when according to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, the Border Patrol has ‘operational control’ over less than half of the Southwest border. Forty-four percent is a failing grade. Administration officials are either blissfully unaware of the massive holes in security along the Southern border or are intentionally misleading the American people. Neither is acceptable.
“For two years, the Obama administration has ignored the growing violence along the U.S.-Mexican border. Mexican drug cartels are out of control and the violence threatens to spill over into the United States. Last year, three Americans lost their lives to drug-related border violence. And the recent shooting of two ICE agents in Mexico is the latest reminder that the threat of deadly violence in Mexico is real.
“The Administration must do more to secure the border and protect the American people. We need full control of the entire Southern border if we are to have any chance of stemming the flow of illegal drugs and illegal immigrants into the U.S. Improved border security coupled with increased interior enforcement of drug and immigration laws will make a difference. The problem is that no one seems willing to try.”
Highlights from the GAO report:
Of the nearly 2,000 miles separating the U.S. and Mexico, 873 are under "operational control" of the Border Patrol. This is only 44 percent of the Southern border.
Of the 44 percent, only 15 percent is "air tight."
Of those 873, only 129 miles were under full control, with the rest classified as "managed."
The Mexican border with Texas has the most holes, especially between Fort Hancock and Brownsville, where 70 percent to 90 percent of the state line is at the two lowest levels of protection, "monitored" and "low-level monitored."