Obama Names Ex-Prosecutor as First Border Czar

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Alan Bersin, a former Justice Department official and former U.S. attorney, was chosen to fill the new U.S. post of “border czar” on Wednesday. Bersin, who was once California’s Education Secretary and also led a crackdown on illegal border crossings in the 1990s, will now oversee the effort to end drug-cartel violence in addition to slowing the amount of illegal immigration along the U.S. Mexican border.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the position. She and Bersin spoke to reporters while standing on a bridge of the Rio Grande that links El Paso with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. That city has experienced mass amounts of violence due to drug cartels, and Mexican authorities are reported to have killed more than 10,650 people there since December of 2006.

The Obama administration promises to watch and end border violence. They also want to work alongside Mexican authorities in order to halt the drug and arms trafficking. Methods by which they vow to end the trafficking include drug-sniffing dogs, high-tech surveillance, and hundreds of federal agents who will be deployed to the Southwest.

Bersin, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, was careful not to exaggerate the drug cartel’s threat to the United States.

“We should be very cautious to not … misstate the security situation,” Bersin said. He pointed out that the Northern Mexican violence has crossed the United States border, although cartel-affiliated drug and immigrant traffickers have kidnapped above the border.

“The posse comitatus have served this country well,” he said, in reference to the governing laws that prevent the U.S. military from operating as law enforcement within the United States.

Napolitano has traveled to Mexico, San Diego, and Laredo, Texas in order to devise the border and drug cartel control plan. Last year, 792,321 people were apprehended by custom officials because they tried to cross from Mexico into the United States. It is reported by Homeland Security statistics that 369,000 were officially removed.

“President Obama could not have selected a more qualified, more experienced person to join his administration — especially when it comes to issues along our southwest border,” said California Governor Schwarzenegger in a statement.

 

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