New Mexico – U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, along with Representative Harry Teague, today pressed the Department of Homeland Security to step-up the Border Patrol's presence in New Mexico's boot heel. The area is about 10 miles from an Arizona ranch where a rancher was killed over the weekend.
The New Mexico lawmakers pointed out that the number of Border Patrol agents stationed along our borders has reached a record high of 20,000, which has helped strengthen security along the U.S.-Mexico border. Additionally, DHS is constructing a new Border Patrol station in Lordsburg.
But as drug trafficking gangs continue to threaten security in the U.S.-Mexico border region, the New Mexico lawmakers urged DHS to take further security steps. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Bingaman, Udall and Teague urged the establishment of a Border Patrol forward operating base in the boot heel. Forward operating bases are outposts that allow agents to patrol closer to the international border.
The lawmakers letter to Napolitano follows:
We are writing to urge the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Border Patrol Forward Operating Base (FOB) in the New Mexico boot heel. We strongly believe that this step would greatly enhance our security posture and help ensure the safety of border residents.
Although the Border Patrol force strength is now at a record 20,000 agents and the apprehension rate along the southern border is at the lowest level since the 1970s, it is clear that more still needs to be done to fully secure our nation's borders. Just this last weekend, a rancher was murdered at his ranch in Arizona just across the New Mexico state line after he encountered a person on his property. While the specifics of this terrible incident are still being investigated, we are deeply concerned about the security threats border ranchers are facing and believe it is critical that DHS enhance its capabilities in this region.
The new Lordsburg Border Patrol station will significantly increase the capacity of the station to house and maintain additional agents in the area; however, establishing a FOB in the boot heel would allow agents to spend considerably more time patrolling in closer proximity to the actual border. The Lordsburg station is situated along the I-10 corridor and Border Patrol agents spend an unnecessary amount of their time driving back and forth to patrol areas within the boot heel. Locating a FOB in this area would reduce agent response times and enhance our ability to fight drug traffickers and apprehend individuals illegally crossing the border. For these reasons, we ask that DHS promptly begin the process of creating a Forward Operating Base in the Hidalgo County boot heel.
Thank you for your attention to this issue and for your leadership in working to secure our nation's borders. We look forward to your response.