Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gibbs and Napolitano's Press Briefing Aug. 13

12:10 P.M. EDT

MR. GIBBS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the White House. Before we get started, I have one quick announcement. On Sunday, August 29th, President Obama will travel to New Orleans, Louisiana, to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The visit will include remarks by the President at Xavier University of Louisiana. Members of the President’s Cabinet who have worked to speed recovery and restoration efforts in the region also will be in New Orleans to mark the anniversary. We will have more on that trip obviously as it gets closer.

Next, we are joined today by Secretary Napolitano. As you know, just a little while ago, with Secretary Napolitano, the President signed into law a border security bill that puts more agents and more equipment along the Mexican border. And she is here to talk about that, our efforts to bolster the border region since coming into office. And I will turn it over to the Secretary.

SECRETARY NAPOLITANO: Thank you. Well, thank you. Good afternoon, everybody, and thank you for being here today. I was very pleased to be with the President earlier as he signed a bill providing $600 million in additional resources to further strengthen security along the Southwest border. We applaud Congress for acting in a bipartisan manner to take quick action on this bill. I'd like to especially thank leaders Reid and Pelosi, and also Schumer and McCaskill.

The legislation adds permanent resources that will continue to bolster security along the Southwest border, supporting our efforts to crack down on transnational criminal organizations, and reduce the trafficking of people, drugs, currency and weapons.

The bill is important in two respects. First, it adds new resources to the border. Second, it makes permanent many of the assets that this administration has surged along the border during the past 18 months.

Now, let me pause there for a moment. I have worked on border issues as a public servant for 17 years, starting in 1993, as United States state’s attorney in Arizona, then the attorney general of Arizona, then the governor of Arizona, continuing through today as the Secretary of Homeland Security. What’s significant about this bill, in addition to its contents, is that it passed something with bipartisan support that gives us the resources to continue efforts that were well underway, and demonstrates that the border is not and should not be a political issue; it is a matter of national security in which we all, both parties, have a stake.

And on that score, even before the President signed this bill, the administration had already devoted more resources to the Southwest than any point in American history. These efforts are making a difference. And they are the reason why everything that is supposed to be going up is going up, and everything that is supposed to be going down is going down.

Seizures are up and rose across the board last year. Apprehensions for illegal crossings are down. For the first time ever, we are screening 100 percent of southbound rail. Criminal alien removals are at an all-time high. We've added more technology, manpower, and resources to the border than ever before.

This is a long-term, systematic effort to defeat the cartels and to continue to secure the border. The administration is dedicated to that approach. And that's why the President ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to the border, and it’s why he asked Congress for this supplemental funding. Read the rest here.