Homeland Security chief visits San Diego border - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Homeland Security secretary tours San Diego's border-security complex

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The head of the Department of Homeland Security visited San Diego Monday to confer with federal, state and local law enforcement leaders, meet with National Guard troops helping safeguard the U.S.-Mexican line and highlight ongoing efforts to bolster security along the binational boundary.

"We have devoted unprecedented amounts of manpower, infrastructure and technology to the Southwest border under this administration," DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

"Over the past two years, our seizures of illegal drugs, currency and weapons have increased significantly -- helping to make the Southwest border more secure than ever before."

While in San Diego, Napolitano visited National Guard members stationed at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station. The troops are providing direct support to federal law enforcement agents in high-risk areas to disrupt criminal organizations seeking to smuggle people and goods illegally into the United States.

In May, President Obama authorized the deployment of an additional 1,200 National Guard personnel along the Southwest border as part of his administration's efforts to crack down on transnational smuggling and cartel violence.

The federal troops are assisting Border Patrol agents, watching from strategic remote sites and reporting any suspicious activity, according to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office.

Napolitano also joined Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin at San Ysidro Port of Entry to highlight results of the deployment of new levels of personnel, technology and other resources to the international line.

In fiscal 2009 and 2010, CBP seized more than $104 million in southbound illegal currency, an increase of about $28 million compared to 2007-2008.

The agency and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also seized more than $282 million in illegal currency, more than 7 million pounds of drugs, and more than 6,800 weapons in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 along the southwest border -- upticks of more than $73 million, more than 1 million pounds of drugs and more than 1,500 weapons, respectively, compared to 2007-08.

Napolitano also highlighted the 36 percent decrease in Border Patrol apprehensions -- from nearly 724,000 in fiscal year 2008 to about 463,000 in fiscal year 2010, a statistic she called an indication that fewer people are attempting to cross the border.

Earlier in the day, Napolitano met with law enforcement leaders at San Diego Maritime Unified Command, a joint federal, state and local maritime operation in the San Diego-Orange County region, to discuss the integral role of the agency in securing the country's ports and maritime borders.

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