DHS Begins Second Phase of Arizona Border Effort

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Robert Bonner and Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Michael Garcia have unveiled Phase II of the Department of Homeland Security's Arizona Border Control (ABC) Initiative, a massive federal law enforcement effort to gain greater operational control of the Arizona border.

Phase II builds upon the results of last year's Arizona Border Control Initiative and directly supports DHS' priority anti-terrorism mission – preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the U.S. – by reducing the flow of illegal aliens and disrupting smuggling operations.

"The Department of Homeland Security is determined to gain operational control of our nation's borders," stated Bonner. He said the initiative serves to "increase our boots on the ground and assets in the air because in a post 9/11 era, securing our borders is a national security issue."

Garcia noted the initiative will target violent criminal organizations that exploit vulnerabilities in the border.

ABC Initiative Phase II will significantly increase personnel, double aerial support, increase the use of "smart border" technologies and strengthen partnerships with state, tribal and local law enforcement. Specifically, under ABC Initiative Phase II:

  • 534 CBP Border Patrol agents will be permanently assigned to the Arizona border, an increase of nearly 25 percent
  • 155 seasoned CBP Border Patrol agents will be permanently assigned to the Arizona border
  • 379 CBP Border Patrol trainees will be permanently assigned to the Arizona Border over the course of the year
  • 200 CBP Border Patrol agents will be temporarily assigned to the Tucson Sector, 26 of which will be assigned to search and rescue efforts to save the lives of migrants in peril
  • 23 CBP aircraft and support personnel will be temporarily assigned to the Arizona border
  • 16 "A-Star" helicopters, four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft will be utilized to protect the border.

Besides the additional resources, Phase II will build on partnerships with the government of Mexico to create a safer and more secure border through the Border Safety Initiative and repatriation programs. Phase II will implement several techniques designed to disrupt human smuggling activity, expand and spread out enforcement operations, and significantly improve the mobility of agents on the ground by following the central command structure laid out in CBP Border Patrol's National Strategy. Phase II will also pursue aggressive prosecution at the federal and state levels in close coordination with the U.S. Attorney's Office for Arizona.

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