March 16, 2004
Department of Homeland Security Announces Arizona Border
Control Initiative Multi-Agency Effort, Additional Resources
Added to Stem Illegal Immigration
Tucson, Ariz. – In a first-of-its-kind effort to achieve an even safer and more secure Southwest border, Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson today unveiled the "Arizona Border Control (ABC) Initiative." The kick-off event attended by Congressman Jim Kolbe, U.S. Attorney for Arizona Paul Charlton and dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement officials, as well as a delegation from the Government of Mexico was held at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Air and Marine Operations Hangar in Tucson, Ariz.
This landmark program supports the priority mission of Homeland Security agencies to detect and deter terrorist activities and cross-border illegal trafficking of people and drugs. Additionally, the ABC Initiative involving hundreds of local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement officers in Arizona will utilize a cooperative approach enhanced with additional personnel, technology and aviation assets.
"The ABC Initiative exemplifies Homeland Security‘s goal to present one face at the border as we implement joint border operations with Border Patrol agents and employees from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), ICE, Transportation Security Administration (TSA,) as well as the resources of the Department of the Interior, the Tohono O’Odham Nation, the United States’ Attorney Office, Arizona Department of Public Safety and dozens of local law enforcement agencies," said Under Secretary Hutchinson. "By leveraging these resources, we are better able to multiply the positive effects of this initiative and can use the cutting-edge of technology to ensure that Arizonans and our nation’s citizens are safer."
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be used to increase border surveillance of illegal activities. Additional helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft will also be deployed.
"We believe the use of UAVs and increased aviation operations will greatly enhance the capabilities of the more than 200 additionally deployed Border Patrol agents bringing the Tucson Sector to more than 2000 strong," said Under Secretary Hutchinson. "Increasing the capacity of our detention and removal facilities along with a focused effort with the government of Mexico to use every available tool to break the cycle of death to migrants in these dangerous terrains where smugglers value profits more than human life will be used."
The ABC Initiative expected to cost in excess of $10 million until the end of FY ’04 follows Operation ICE Storm, a comprehensive Homeland Security effort to combat and prosecute human smugglers and dismantle smuggling organizations- with a particular focus in Arizona. Since October 2003, ICE Storm has resulted in more than 2,059 criminal and administrative arrests, 162 indictments, as well as the seizure of 86 assault weapons and nearly $2.5 million. Local police have credited ICE Storm with a more than 30 percent drop in homicides in the Phoenix area in the last quarter of 2003, compared to the same period the previous year.