For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Washington—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today joined Mexican Interior Secretary Fernando Gómez-Mont at the Brookings Institution to deliver remarks on the ongoing and groundbreaking ways that the United States and Mexico are working together to make the Southwest border region more secure and prosperous.
"Over the last fifteen months, the United States and Mexico have forged unprecedented partnerships to strengthen the mutually reinforcing goals of securing the border and facilitating legal travel and commerce," said Secretary Napolitano. "We will continue to work closely with our Mexican counterparts to build a 21st century border that prioritizes security and enhances the United States’ economic competitiveness both along the border and throughout the country."
During their remarks, Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Gómez-Mont emphasized the unparalleled level of collaboration between the United States and Mexico to disrupt and dismantle drug cartels and combat criminal activity in the border regions—noting that, in the past year alone, illegal traffic across the Southwest border has decreased by 23 percent.
Secretary Napolitano also stressed the critical economic impact of the billions of dollars in commerce and millions of legal travelers who cross the border every year—emphasizing the benefits of a collaborative approach to border management in order to facilitate the legal flow of travel and trade between the two countries.
On March 24, 2009, the Obama administration announced the Southwest Border Initiative—a series of unprecedented steps to crack down on Mexican drug cartels by deploying additional personnel and technology, increasing information sharing, working closely with the Mexican government, and improving federal coordination with state, local and tribal law enforcement authorities. In the first year of the Southwest Border Initiative, DHS seized the following at the Southwest border:
- $85.7 million in currency—a 14 percent increase over the same period the previous year;
- $29.7 million in southbound seizures—a 39 percent increase over the same period the previous year;
- 1,425 firearms—a 29 percent increase over the same period the previous year; and
- 1.65 million kilograms of drugs—a 15 percent increase over the same period the previous year.
Secretary Napolitano has visited Mexico five times since she became Secretary, meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderón on multiple occasions to discuss ways both nations can work together to secure the border. Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Gómez-Mont have also signed multiple agreements to bolster aviation and border security by expanding efforts to combat terrorism, crack down on violent drug cartels, and enhance mechanisms to facilitate lawful travel and trade.
For more information, visit www.dhs.gov.