Friday, May 06, 2011

Feds changing the way they gauge border security

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her department is developing a comprehensive index to measure Southwest border security in a new way that looks deeper into the quality of life of Americans who live near Mexico. Instead of just counting arrests and drug seizures, the new index would look at community concerns about environmental damage, economic losses and feelings of personal safety. She told a Senate panel on Wednesday that she has ordered Customs and Border Protection to work with outside experts and border communities to develop the index. Border residents have long complained that traditional measures, such as state and local crime statistics, don't show the harsh realities they're experiencing. The new index will still include traditional measures such as crime data, apprehensions of suspects and contraband seizures, but it will go beyond those to better reflect the effects of illegal immigration and drug trafficking on border towns in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, Napolitano said. "This may include calls from hospitals to report suspected illegal aliens, traffic accidents involving illegal aliens or narcotics smugglers, rates of vehicle theft and numbers of abandoned vehicles, impacts on property values, and other measures of economic activity and environmental impacts," Napolitano told members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "It's an area that's been totally ignored," said Pat Call, chairman of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors. "Some border residents here are afraid to let their grade-school kids walk a quarter of a mile down a dirt road to catch a bus." In Cochise County, Call said, illegal immigration, smuggling and enforcement efforts have littered the forest, raised residential insurance rates, damaged roads, created traffic jams at checkpoints and sabotaged the economy...more

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