News / USA

Congressional Panel Questions Security of US Border With Mexico

President Barack Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano examine an x-ray vehicle as they tour the Bridge of America Cargo Facility during their visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, May 10, 2011
President Barack Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano examine an x-ray vehicle as they tour the Bridge of America Cargo Facility during their visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, May 10, 2011
Cindy Saine

A day after President Barack Obama visited the U.S.southwestern border with Mexico, a congressional panel is questioning whether the border area is more or less secure today than it has been in the past. The president is calling for comprehensive immigration reform, but many Republican lawmakers are insisting that more be done to improve border security first.

At a House Homeland Security hearing Wednesday, Republican Subcommittee Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas disputed a statement in March by Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano that security along the U.S. border with Mexico is better than ever before. And he also challenged remarks made Tuesday by the president.

"I have urged the president to visit the border, but to do more than to deliver a political speech," said McCaul. "And while I am pleased that we have added more resources to the border, it is not secure, and it has never been more violent or dangerous than it is today. And anybody who lives down there will tell you that."

McCaul is calling for more National Guard troops to be deployed at the border, and also for the State Department to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.

Obama went to El Paso, Texas, Tuesday to challenge lawmakers to reform what he called a "broken" immigration system, saying better laws would lessen the numbers of people attempting to work in the U.S. illegally.

Obama proposed giving a path to citizenship to the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, and making it easier for students from other countries to work and start businesses in the United States. Most Republican lawmakers oppose a pathway to citizenship, saying it amounts to an amnesty.

The president defended his administration's efforts to secure the borders along the southwestern United States, saying they have resulted in more guns, currency and drugs being seized along the border, and fewer people trying to cross illegally.

"Also, despite a lot of breathless reports that have tagged places like El Paso as dangerous, violent crime in southwest border counties has dropped by a third," said Obama. "El Paso and other cities and towns along the border are consistently rated among the safest in the nation. Of course, we shouldn’t accept any violence or crime, and we have more work to do. But this progress is important."

At Wednesday's House hearing on Capitol Hill, the experts were divided on whether or not the U.S. border with Mexico is safer or more dangerous. Grayling Williams of the Department of Homeland Security said he would agree that the border is safer.

"We are not seeing the level and the overall viciousness of violence that you see in Mexico, the beheadings, the constant shooting of police officers and you know, military personnel," said Williams.

But the state and local officials present at the hearing from the border states of Texas and Arizona all said that they disagree with the Obama administration - they do not believe the southwestern border is more secure today than in the past, and they said many residents live in fear of spillover violence from Mexico. One of the most outspoken was Tom Horne, the State Attorney General of Arizona.

"In October, the Phoenix area experienced its first beheading, where someone walked into a Chandler apartment and found a head in one part of the room and the body in another," said Horne. "Two months ago, in Casa Grande, midway between Phoenix and Tucson, 15 cartel members had a firefight with bandits in an attempt to steal their drugs. Just a few weeks ago, one of my Special Agents in the Attorney General’s Office was shot by a suspected cartel operative in the Phoenix area."

Horne told the hearing he is suing the Obama administrating for neglect for failing to secure the border. The Obama administration also is suing the state of Arizona because last year the state passed a measure that would have allowed police officers to check the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. The Obama administration says immigration is a federal matter and not a state matter.

Some of the lawmakers at the hearing said F.B.I. statistics show that the U.S. border with Mexico is more secure now than in the past because the figures do not include crimes, such as kidnapping and extortion, that often are perpetrated by drug cartels.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

3-day Lockdown to Fight Ebola Continues In Sierra Leone

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid