U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency in the Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for securing the nation's land borders, says it will increase its goal for the number of border miles it will have under "effective control" in fiscal year 2010, CBP Director of Media Relations Lloyd Easterling told me this week.
The goal will be increased from the previously set mark of 815 to at least 894, the number of miles the Border Patrol says is under "effective control" as of now.
At the same time, the Border Patrol will carry out a plan to reduce the number of agents deployed on the U.S.-Mexico border by 384.
According to DHS, its measure of "border miles under effective control" applies to the entire 8,607 miles for which the Border Patrol is responsible. This includes almost 2,000 miles on the U.S.-Mexico border, about 4,000 miles on the U.S.-Canada border (not counting the Alaska-Canada border) and sectors of coastline in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"Border miles under effective control" is defined by CBP as meaning "when the appropriate mix of personnel, equipment, technology and tactical infrastructure has been deployed to reasonably ensure that when an attempted illegal entry is detected, the Border Patrol has the ability to identify, classify and respond to bring the attempted illegal entry to a satisfactory law enforcement resolution."
As reported in this column two weeks ago, DHS's annual performance report as updated on May 7 said that the department's goal was to have 815 miles of border under "effective control" in fiscal 2009 and to maintain that same number in fiscal 2010, which begins in October.
In other words, DHS did not intend to secure a single additional mile of border in the coming year.
The report attributed this lack of progress in part to "plans to move several hundred Agents from the Southwest Border to the Northern Border to meet the FY 2010 staffing requirements."
Despite publishing a goal on May 7 of having 815 miles of border under effective control in both fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010, Acting Deputy Assistant Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Todd Owen told Congress in July that the Border Patrol already had more miles than that under effective control as of May 31.