Property Rights Association holds meeting recently
Georgia Thompson, Kleberg County Correspondent
KINGSVILLE - The United States Border Patrol top cop told members of The South Texans' Property Rights Association (STPRA) he is more concerned about the 300 million residents of the United States and not the 11 to 12 million estimated illegal immigrants here last week.
"My focus is on that 300 million, my children and family and yours and your land, this is who we protect, and this is how and why we are applying our resources," said David Aguilar, Chief of the United States Border Patrol Border. "The 12 million are getting a lot of sympathetic conversation, but the concern should be over the 300 million."
Aguilar made his remarks to members at the newly formed South Texans' Property Rights Association meeting last Wednesday at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.
His comments regarding less physical intrusion by Border Patrol agents on private property was greeted with enthusiasm.
He noted a more effective use of funds would be to provide smart sensor processing instead of a wall, portions of which would have to be built on private lands.
He noted, however, if the Border Patrol isn't able to apply the technology at hand and do their work, a weakness will be seen and the border breached.
"We have always been responsible for border safety since 1924 when we were formed," Aguilar said.
"The only change we've made is that we've added this (Homeland Security) patch."
Aguilar said the Border Patrol has the authority to enter private lands for up to 25 miles to patrol the borders of the United States, but usually likes to work with landowners regarding this matter.
He noted techniques used to apprehend illegal immigrants in urban, rural and remote sections of the country are different with the remote techniques, side cuts in land, flying UVAs, agents rappelling from helicopters, horse patrols and remote bases, being the most intrusive.
"The cost of fencing is $11.3 million a mile and the cost of one tower that covers seven to nine miles is $750,000," Aguilar said. "It is a more effective use of money to better cover the borders."
Aguilar said the United States borders are broken and did not see a fence along the Texas-Mexico border as a solution, because, as one person put it, "If we build a 10-foot fence someone will build an 11-foot ladder."
He cited instances throughout history, Berlin and China, where fences were built to keep people out, as eventual failures.
"The Secure Border Initiative with smart sensor processing will confirm and verify what is out there with thermal cameras," Aguilar said. "It is real time technology that shows 180 degrees every 10 seconds, day or night, and provides GPS coordinates that are relayed to those on the ground."
He said this would be the technology the Border Patrol Agents of today will be using, instead of the primitive tools of the past, which included brushes and rakes. He'd like to see the entire South West border covered with this technology by 2013, and prefers it because it is less intrusive for land owners.
"The current situation is not perfect, but we are working to mesh it all into one culture of border security," Aguilar said. "Currently there are 13,500 agents with 2,000 across the United States and by 2008 there will be 18,000 agents. We also currently have 480 dogs in border patrol."
He said the numbers of narcotics seized have increased by 30 percent with 1,287,511 pounds of marijuana and 10,666 pounds of cocaine seized year-to-date and the flow of drugs reduced by 70 percent.
"The McAllen seizures are the second in the nation," Aguilar said.
The Border Patrol could do better if it didn't have to cut through all of the "clutter," as Aguilar called it.
"Our broken borders calls for bold action and we have to reduce cross border activity. We will do everything we can," he said.
Although 1.1 million illegals are apprehended yearly by Border Patrol agents, this tide needs to be stemmed, and to do that the employment situation needs to be regulated, which will improve the situation, he said.
"I don't have a solution to that," Aguilar said. "I'm a cop."