Mar. 31, 2005 – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on its website yesterday unveiled "Phase II" of its Arizona Border Control Initiative, even as the Initiativeâ€™s first phase continued to receive criticism from local media this month.
The DHS website stated that the second phase of the initiative "directly supports Homeland Securityâ€™s priority anti-terrorism mission -- preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the U.S. -- by reducing the flow of illegal aliens and disrupting smuggling operations."
Although the DHS release said that the second phase "builds upon the results of last yearâ€™s Arizona Border Control Initiative", a March 17, 2005 report in the Tucson Citizen summarized that a year after the initiativeâ€™s first phase was implemented, there had been "no drop in migrant flow or deaths." In fact, the Citizen report noted that there had been a record number of 172 migrant deaths during that year and pointed out that the Border Patrol had excluded the discovery of skeletal remains from their tally, leading to a false impression of reduced migrant deaths. The actual number may be still higher, as according to a 2004 report in the Arizona Daily Star, the Border Patrol also fails to include in its official death count corpses recovered by other law enforcement agencies.
The Citizen report also noted that the $28 million Phase I included the use of hundreds of additional agents and high-tech equipment. The DHS factsheet on Phase II lists such additional features as a 25 per cent increase in Border Patrol agents, and the use of 23 aircraft, including four Black Hawk helicopters.
The unveiling of Phase II also comes in the wake of reports that around 1000 anti-immigrant civilians are planning a month-long confrontation with would-be migrants along the Arizona border.
Recent trends have shown that increased border patrol in popular crossing areas does not deter illegal immigration, but forces undocumented border-crossers to shift their routes to more dangerous areas, leading directly to increased deaths.