Border Patrol Chief Sees Border Control By 2013

Border Patrol Chief Sees Border Control by 2013

Published: May 9, 2007

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) – The United States will have ''operational control'' of its border with Mexico by 2013 as it builds walls, installs surveillance equipment and beefs up manpower to keep out illegal immigrants, U.S. Border Patrol Director David Aguilar said on Wednesday.

He said currently there are plans to put up 370 miles (592 km) of walls, but a high-tech network of radar, satellite technology, unmanned aerial vehicles and communications equipment will keep watch on most of the 2,000-mile border.

“We will have the capability to detect, classify, identify, respond to and resolve those border incursions,'' Aguilar told a border security conference.

“I made the statement that the U.S. Border Patrol will have operational control of that border by 2013,'' he said to reporters later.

The network, called Secure Border I-NET, will be tested this summer along a 28-mile stretch of the border south of Tucson, Arizona, Aguilar said.

“At the end of June or the first couple of weeks of July, we will flip the switch on the first piece of SBI-NET in Arizona, and that will be proof it works. I feel confident it will work.''

“Not only will it enable detection of someone who crosses, but we can actually track that person making his way into the interior,'' he said.

Aguilar also said the number of Border Patrol agents will rise from the current 13,500 to 18,300 at the end of next year.

The U.S. Congress, under pressure mostly from conservatives who view illegal immigration as a top issue, has approved construction of 700 miles of border walls, but whether all of it will be built is uncertain.

Aguilar called border barriers a “rudimentary solution'' for illegal immigration, but said they would be “absolutely necessary'' in some areas.

“The 370 miles that we are committed to building are a starting point to where the fence best fits,'' he said.

Aguilar could not forecast when similarly extensive security measures would be in place along the Canadian border.