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May 12, 2000
INS Announces New Permanent and Temporary Resources
For Southeastern Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. – More than 250 additional immigration officers will be deployed to southern Arizona in the coming months, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) announced today. Those resources include 110 new Border Patrol agent positions earmarked for Arizona under INS’ Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 resource allocation plan. The Arizona allocation, which was confirmed by Congress yesterday, represents close to one-fourth of the new Border Patrol agent positions being deployed nationwide this fiscal year. Senator Jon Kyl and Congressmen Jim Kolbe and Ed Pastor were instrumental in securing those Border Patrol positions for Arizona.
Together with the personnel, the Tucson Border Patrol Sector will also be receiving an array of equipment and technology. These new resources will enable the agency to expand its immigration enforcement efforts in southeastern Arizona, particularly in the rural sections of Cochise County. The infusion of resources will also bolster the Sector’s efforts to ensure the safety of migrants, ranchers and local residents.
"These resources represent another important step in our Arizona border strategy," said Gus De La Viña, Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. "We have restored order to Douglas and Nogales proper, and we will now be able to intensify our efforts in the outlying areas of Cochise County."
INS will give top priority to hiring the 110 new agents for Arizona. Until those permanent resources become available, the agency is immediately deploying 40 additional immigration officers to southeastern Arizona from across the country, bringing the total number of agents detailed into the area to 180. Those new officers will be arriving next week as part of Operation Safeguard, the ongoing immigration enforcement effort, which is now focused on the Douglas-Naco corridor.
The expanded detail will include 30 Border Patrol agents, along with 10 INS investigators who have expertise in combating alien smuggling. When that complement of investigators arrives, the Tucson Sector will have 26 officers assigned full-time to anti-smuggling activities.
"The alien smugglers’ greed and reckless disregard for the lives of others makes them public enemy number one," said Johnny Williams, INS Western Regional Director. "These additional investigators will enhance our ability to disrupt the smugglers’ operations and bring them to justice."
In the first six months of this fiscal year, the Tucson Sector presented more than 2,000 smuggling cases to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution, substantially more than any other Border Patrol sector in the nation.
In addition to the resources outlined above, the Tucson Sector has 121 new agents currently undergoing training at the Border Patrol Academy, 97 of whom will be assigned to the Douglas and Naco stations. By the end of this fiscal year (September 30), there will be 534 permanent agents on duty in the Douglas-Naco corridor, a 65 percent increase compared to just three years ago.
"Arizona is now at the forefront of our national border enforcement strategy," said David Aguilar, Chief Patrol Agent of the Tucson Border Patrol Sector. "We have made significant strides, but this is still a work in progress, and we are committed to getting the job done."
Besides the additional personnel, the Douglas-Naco corridor is also getting an infusion of new equipment and technology, ranging from all-terrain vehicles to high-intensity lighting. Those enhancements include:
· Video Surveillance Capabilities — The Sector will install the first of seven new remote video surveillance cameras in the Naco area. The Sector previously completed a series of upgrades to the existing camera system in Douglas, improving the system’s nighttime surveillance capabilities, making round-the-clock coverage possible.
· High Intensity Lighting — The Sector has plans for 1.8 miles of new stadium-style lighting in Douglas. Those permanent light stands, together with the more than 70 portable lights already deployed to the Douglas-Naco corridor, will be used to illuminate high traffic areas along the immediate border.
· Infrared Scopes — The Sector will be receiving six additional night vision scopes. The scopes use infrared technology to vastly improve agents’ surveillance capabilities after dark.
· Border Fencing — Construction is planned on 1.9 miles of new fencing west of the Douglas port of entry. Once the construction is complete, there will be more than six miles of border fencing in the Douglas area.
· All-terrain Vehicles (ATVs) — The Tucson Sector, which currently has six ATVs, will receive 14 more. The ATVs provide a highly mobile, cost-efficient means of accessing remote stretches of the border.
· Border Roads — The Sector also plans to upgrade approximately 15 miles of border access roads in the Douglas area.
Those enhancements, together with the increase in personnel, will strengthen the Border Patrol’s ability to provide better service to area ranchers and residents. The Sector is increasing the number of agents assigned to its ranch response units from 24 to 34. Those units are responsible for responding to calls from ranchers and citizens in remote sections of the Douglas-Naco corridor. Residents can contact the Tucson Border Patrol 24 hours a day using the Sector's toll-free number: 1-877-USBP-HELP (1-877-872-7435).
While the arrival of additional resources will enable the Tucson Sector to expand its enforcement efforts in the rural sections of Cochise County, the Border Patrol’s strategy has already had a positive impact on Douglas itself. The heightened Border Patrol presence has curtailed the incidence of alien smuggling in the city itself. Moreover, the crime rate in the City of Douglas dropped 15 percent from FY 1997 to FY 1999, and continues to decline.
— INS —
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