WASHINGTON – From October 20-21, Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Kristie Canegallo traveled to Phoenix, Arizona and El Paso, Texas where she met with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel to thank them for their continued service and dedication to securing our borders, countering drug smuggling, and enforcing U.S. immigration laws and discuss additional support needed. The trip came on the same day that the Biden-Harris Administration submitted a supplemental request to Congress for additional funds to bolster our personnel, technology, and infrastructure to do this critical work.
In the Phoenix area, Acting Deputy Secretary Canegallo inspected ICE Air Operations, where dozens of DHS removal flights are coordinated every week. The visit came on the same week that DHS resumed removal flights to Venezuela, which is in addition to dozens of other removal flights ICE conducts throughout the hemisphere and around the world. DHS continues to enforce U.S. immigration laws while strengthening the consequences for those who cross our border unlawfully. From May 2023 to October 11, 2023, DHS has removed or returned more than 300,000 noncitizens, including more than 45,000 individual family unit members. The Acting Deputy Secretary also met in Phoenix with a group of mayors from Maricopa County, convened by Mesa Mayor John Giles, to discuss how they can continue working together to enforce the law, address irregular migration, and facilitate the safe, orderly, and humane management of our nation’s borders.
While in El Paso, the Acting Deputy Secretary inspected operations at the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry, with a particular focus on newly-introduced screening technology and DHS’ work to interdict fentanyl. Fentanyl is primarily trafficked through Ports of Entry. The Acting Deputy Secretary received an update on operations at and between Ports of Entry from sector leadership of the Office of Field Operations (OFO), U.S. Border Patrol, and Air and Marine Operations (AMO) and met with local leaders. The Acting Deputy Secretary toured the border area and met with frontline Border Patrol personnel.
Throughout this year, CBP and ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) have conducted robust operations to target the smuggling of fentanyl and its chemical precursors into the United States. In the last two years, DHS has seized more fentanyl and arrested more criminals for committing crimes related to fentanyl than it did in the previous five years combined.