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Our southern border is now with Guatemala

By Steve Taylor
Rio Grande Guardian

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the United States’ southern border is effectively now the Mexican border with Guatemala.

Alan Bersin said the level of cooperation and collaboration between the United States and Mexico on border security issues is incredibly strong and will ensure prosperity for both countries in the years ahead.

Alan Bersin is Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer for the Department of Homeland Security. (Photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)

And, he said, the “real action,” economically, in the world will be in North America, thanks to the oil and gas resources of Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

“This is a terrific period,” Bersin said, at a reception hosted by the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday evening.

Bersin is currently Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer for the Department of Homeland Security. He oversees the Department’s international engagement and serves as the principal advisor to Secretary Janet Napolitano on all international affairs.

As Commissioner of CBP, Bersin oversaw the operations of CBP’s 57,000-employee work force and managed an operating budget of more than $11 billion. Before this he was DHS’s Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs, informally known as the “Border Czar.”

USMCOC is hosting its 16th Annual Border Issues Conference in Washington, D.C. Bersin started his speech at the group’s reception by paying tribute to U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, who was being honored by the chamber. Reyes, a former Border Patrol sector chief in McAllen and El Paso, is retiring in January.

“When history is written it will record that the restoration of the rule of law to the U.S.-Mexico border began in 1993 when Chief Reyes began “Hold the Line.” Everything has grown out of that,” Bersin said. He described Reyes as “one of the great Democratic congressmen of the last generation.”

Bersin then gave his take on border security and U.S.-Mexico relations. “The Guatemalan border with Chiapas is now our southern border,” Bersin said. He cited a study by Pew Research which showed that last year more Mexicans left the United States than entered it. This, he said, ended six decades of illegal immigration from Mexico.

Bersin said the change in the flow of migration is not a “flash in the pan.” He said economic conditions have played a part in reducing illegal immigration. But so, too, has border security, he argued.

“The economy contributes to it but the enforcement posture in the United States has increased since 1993 in a way that was absolutely unforeseen. One of the great bipartisan accomplishments of the last generation, some would say the greatest accomplishment, Republicans and Democrats alike, was restoring the rule of law to the U.S.-Mexican border,” Bersin said.

He then ran through the numbers…

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    […] Between this rise in migration and a heavy presence of organized crime and trafficking groups, this region is receiving greater attention from Mexico—and the United States. It was not a central geographic focus in the first years of the “Mérida Initiative,” the framework that has guided nearly US$2 billion in U.S. security aid to Mexico since 2008. Starting in about 2011, however, U.S. officials began regularly declaring intentions to increase assistance to help both Mexico and Guatemala beef up their border security measures. That year, the U.S. Defense Department quietly launched a “Mexico-Guatemala-Belize Border Region Program,”providing as much as US$50 million for “patrol boats, night vision equipment, communications equipment, maritime sensors, and associated training” from the Pentagon’s counter-drug budget. “The Guatemalan border with Chiapas is now our southern border,” Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for International Affairs Alan Bersin has said. […]

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    February 13, 2015 at 6:03 am

    […] stressed that border’s strategic importance; several years ago, border czar Alan Bersin said, “The Guatemalan border with Chiapas is now our southern border.” The White […]

  • There Will Be Fewer Child Migrants This Year, But the Crisis Isn't Over | BillMoyers.com
    February 17, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    […] stressed that border’s strategic importance; several years ago, border czar Alan Bersin said, “The Guatemalan border with Chiapas is now our southern border.” The White […]

  • Mexican Enforcement, Language Diversity Help Explain UAC Trends | Bipartisan Policy Center
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    […] Mexico. In September 2012, Alan Bersin, the assistant secretary of international affairs at DHS, remarked that the United States’ southern border is effectively the Mexican border with […]

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