“It was an eye-opening experience that offered a well-rounded look into the immensely complex issue of border security and illegal immigration. We were able to closely examine the American perspective as well as spend a day in Tijuana to discuss issues from a Mexican perspective,” said Raia.
On his trip, Raia met with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who safeguard more than 5,000 miles of border with Canada, 1,900 miles of border with Mexico and over 95,000 miles of shoreline. “It was astonishing to be offered an inside look into the tough job of protecting our borders. They truly are the frontline in guarding our borders against terrorists, drug smugglers and illegal aliens. It was unbelievable to witness what a typical day entails for the men and women that protect our borders,” said Raia.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection employ approximately 18,000 officers, 11,300 Border Patrol Agents, 1,800 agricultural specialists, and 500 pilots. The agency manages 317 ports of entry and 33 patrol checkpoints.
Raia noted that the agency processes over a million passengers and pedestrians daily. Border agents seize over 5,000 pounds of narcotics, thousands of dollars in illicit currency, 49 vehicles and thousands of prohibited meat, plant material or animal products, which on average, result in approximately 3,257 apprehensions per day.
The trip included a variety of speakers including State Representatives Justine Fox-Young from New Mexico, Russell K. Pearce from Arizona and California State Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny.
While U.S. officials emphasized issues from an American perspective, Joaquin Sandoval Millan, the Mayor of Tecate, Mexico joined with Jorge Hank Rhon, Mayor of Tijuana, Mexico to highlight border issues from a Mexican perspective.
“When the issue of border security comes to mind, we often think of illegal immigration because it’s such a controversial topic. Unfortunately, the issue of illegal immigration often overshadows the tremendous amount of work done on the border each and every day. I commend the men and women who protect our borders. They serve as America’s frontline defense against terrorism and other criminal acts,” concluded Raia.