NPR Story
12:11 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Napolitano Cites El Paso As Example Of Improved Border Safety

EL PASO, Texas — Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano concluded her two-day tour of the border Tuesday in El Paso, touting that city as an example of improved safety along the border.

She spent the morning touring the West Texas border with area Customs and Border Patrol officials. At an afternoon press conference she told reporters that arrests of illegal border crossers in the El Paso area went down 93 percent since 1996.

During both stops of her border tour Napolitano promoted President Obama's plan for comprehensive immigration reform. She said that those who argue border security must come before immigration reform are ignoring the advances her department has made.

Napolitano said In the last decade the number of Border Patrol agents doubled and arrests of illegal border crossers went down by 78 percent. She said seizures of contraband are also on the rise.

"During the past four years we've seized 71 percent more currency, 39 percent more narcotics, and180 percent more weapons along the Southwest border," Napolitano said

Earlier this month a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators proposed a plan for immigration reform. The plan would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country provided there is security at the border.

Asked about long wait times at the border, Napolitano said the president's plan includes improvements to infrastructure at the ports of entry.

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