Video: Show and Tell With New U.S. Border Czar
By Travis Fox and William Booth in The Post's new blog Mexico at War:
NOGALES, Arizona -- The newly appointed border czar Alan Bersin landed at the Mariposa Port of Entry here in a Black Hawk helicopter owned by the Department of Homeland Security. Bersin was on a quick inspection tour, to rally the troops and show the locals that the feds were here to spend some serious cash money.
The helo was a nice touch.
Funds are pouring into border security these days through a fire hose of federal spending. Fear of drug violence, coupled with concerns over terrorism and illegal immigration, have sent budgets for the Customs and Border Protection agency into orbit.
Bersin was in Nogales to tout the soon-to-be remodeled port of entry, which is receiving an injection of $200 million from the Congressional economic stimulus package. Construction to begin almost immediately.
In a bus tour, Bersin listened to James Tong, assistant director of the Tucson field office for customs and border protection (CBP), as he reeled off some stats: Agents here have seized 1400 pounds of cocaine and 32,000 pounds of pot since October. They lead the nation in seizures of heroin -- 252 pounds last year. Nogales processes almost as many arrivals as LAX and JFK airports combined. On a busy day, 20,000 people and 1600 trucks pass through the port. During the winter months, more than 60 percent of the fresh vegetables consumed in the United States come through Nogales.
(Check out the video above to hear Bersin's thoughts during an interview with Travis and William. Read more of their reporting from along the U.S.-Mexico border in their blog, Mexico at War.
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