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Napolitano: Feds expanding Az border presence

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Napolitano: Feds expanding Az border presence

The federal government will expand its border enforcement effort in Arizona, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in the Arizona Republic on Monday.

Hundreds of additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol agents and other personnel will be deployed in the state, she wrote in an opinion piece, "Attacking the heart of the border problem."

ICE will open a new office in Ajo, and a Border Enforcement Security Task Force Jump Team will be deployed in Douglas, Napolitano said.

We are also reassigning major technology assets, including mobile surveillance systems, thermal-imaging binocular units, and trucks equipped with detection scopes, as well as observation and utility aircraft, to the Tucson Sector to enhance and expand our capability to detect illicit activities along the border.

Finally, we continue to see record referrals for criminal prosecution from DHS to the Justice Department of convicted felons who illegally re-enter the United States through Arizona.

Napolitano defended the Obama administration's border enforcement efforts:

Make no mistake: Despite what those looking to score political points may tell you, the numbers show we are moving in the right direction.

Last year, illegal crossings along the Southwest border were down 23 percent from the year before, to a fraction of their all-time high. Seizures of contraband rose significantly across the board in 2009. DHS seized 14 percent more illegal bulk cash, 29 percent more illegal weapons and 15 percent more illegal drugs than the year before. And, by all measurable standards, crime levels in U.S. border towns have remained flat for most of the last decade.

Despite this considerable progress, the president and I have both been clear in stating that more remains to be done. This administration will continue our unprecedented efforts to secure our border, crack down on transnational criminals, drug-related violence, smugglers and traffickers to ensure the safety and security of our citizens.

Napolitano's op-ed coincides with the announcement that National Guard troops will be deployed on the border beginning Aug. 1.

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