Napolitano on the myth of 32 miles

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was asked at a congressional hearing this morning about the recent US government report that DHS has “operational control” over only 32 miles of the Canada-US border.

Congresswoman Candice Miller, a Republican from Michigan who chairs the subcommittee on border security, said in the course of her comments that, “We were very concerned about what the GAO [report] said about essentially no operational control, for all practical purposes, along the northern border.”

In her response, Napolitano emphasized that “operation control” is a “term of art.”

“I’ll be brief, Mr. Chairman.  And first of all, again, on the GAO report, we’re — I encourage the committee — the term “operational control” is a very narrow term of art, and it does not reflect the infrastructure and technology and all the other things that happen at the border.  And so it should not be used as a substitute for an overall border strategy.”

Napolitano went on to say:

“One of the most significant things that has happened in the last month, quite frankly, or even in the last year, was Prime Minister Harper and President Obama signing the shared security strategy, border strategy between our two countries.  It is our number one trading partner.  Canada is now beginning to do or conducting some of the same kinds of things around its perimeter that we used to be concerned about coming across inland on the border.  We will be working more in light of this shared vision statement on an integrated northern border strategy.  Indeed, we have prepared one.  It is in review right now at the OMB because, as you recognize, Representative, borders are — they’re law enforcement jurisdictions and you’ve got to protect the borders from that regard, but they are also huge trade jurisdictions, and you’ve got to be able to move the legitimate trade and commerce.”

“We are very much in favor of looking at ways to preclear certain things before they — cargo, for example — before it gets to the border so that we can relieve the pressure on the line, and the echnology for being able to do that kind of thing gets better all the time.  And so that’s one of the things we’ll be, I’m sure, working on and implementing over the coming months and years.”


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