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Contact: David Host 202-225-4759

Pearce Sees “Dramatic Change” in U.S. Border Strategy
Briefing provided in El Paso to a congressional delegation led by House Speaker Dennis Hastert reveals vast improvement since August 2005, 2nd District lawmaker says

Washington, D.C., Jul 24 -  

Having joined House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert for a fact-finding mission to El Paso’s Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry Saturday, U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce said today that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s briefing during that visit demonstrated a vast improvement in its strategy for addressing the border crisis.

“When I hosted the House Homeland Security Committee for a tour of New Mexico’s long stretches of open border last August, we received a briefing that painted a distressing picture,” Rep. Pearce said. “High-ranking officials in El Paso seemed unaware and unconcerned about the problem – and unwilling to make significant changes.

“I am pleased to report that a dramatic change has occurred since then. Thanks in part to new, energetic leadership in the Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector, the Department of Homeland Security has addressed many of the concerns we raised in our very contentious meeting last August. For example, average detention time between capture and extradition has decreased from 60 days to 15. Drug seizures have significantly increased as well.

“Most important, I received the Department’s commitment that they will respond to the calls of local law enforcement officers who catch illegal immigrants committing crimes.

“Our sheriffs and local police don’t have the authority to pursue and detain illegal immigrants – and they haven’t been able to obtain assistance from anyone from the federal government who can. Assuming the Department of Homeland Security follows through on its promises, Southern New Mexico’s law enforcement officers will finally have the backup they need and deserve.”

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