ARIZONA NEWS

New Border Patrol chief: Fence would help, but it’s not the only answer

Dec 1, 2016, 8:32 AM

Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan testified to a Senate committee that he is already taking steps to ...

Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan testified to a Senate committee that he is already taking steps to improve operations at the agency, which he has been ehading for just six months now. (Photo by Jessica Suerth,Cronkite News)

(Photo by Jessica Suerth,Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – The U.S.-Mexico border could use more fencing, but other measures are needed as well to “detect and respond to threats in our nation’s border regions,” the new chief of the Border Patrol testified Wednesday.

Chief Mark Morgan told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that after six months in the job, he recognizes that increasing border security is just one of the wide variety of issues where work still needs to be done.

“Do we need more fencing? Yes. Does it work? Yes,” Morgan said. “Do we need it everywhere? No. Is it the sole answer? No.”

Morgan, who was joined by Deputy Chief Carla Provost, said border security was one of five major efforts the agency is targeting, including a better workforce, use of a threat-based approach to detect illegal activity, stronger international partnerships and enhanced performance metrics.

One of the biggest problems with border security is the increase in unaccompanied children crossing the Southern border, Morgan said. He said the agency has stopped 10,549 unaccompanied children so far in fiscal 2017, up from 7,653 during the same period in fiscal 2016.

More than 52,000 unaccompanied children were caught nationwide in fiscal 2016, with 330 being released to sponsors in Arizona.

“The border patrol is dedicating a tremendous amount of resources, taking those folks in, processing them,” Morgan said. “A lot of resources are dedicated to being national childcare providers at this point.”

Provost said another problem is that unaccompanied children are sometimes used to smuggle drugs, what she called “a tactic that we pay attention to.”

Another tactic the agency is focused on is greater use of tactical infrastructure – including fences, access roads and lighting – so that agents can be more effectively deployed while still securing the border.

But Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said the agency could increase its workforce by speeding up the process for hiring veterans. He called the current 18-month process “outrageous.”

“Right now, it takes 18 months to receive the clearance so you can be employed by Border Patrol,” said McCain, a member of the committee. “Why is it that a veteran cannot immediately be hired if they have already been through all this screening?”

Morgan said the agency has significantly improved its hiring practices of veterans, but is “actively pursuing” other methods to speed things up, including rolling over physical and mental health tests if they are taken within a specific period of time.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, told Morgan that he feel free to reach out a hand to the committee if his agency needs extra resources.

“Part of what we’re asking you to do is tell us what you need more of or less of,” said Carper, the ranking minority member on the committee. “I would just hope that at the end of the day, that actually includes the other side of the equation.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

A 2-year-old boy died after he was found in a backyard jacuzzi Saturday. (Pixabay photo)...

KTAR.com

2-year-old boy found dead in west Phoenix jacuzzi

Detectives are investigating the death of a two-year-old boy who was found in a backyard jacuzzi on Saturday in west Phoenix.

31 minutes ago

State's new budget a sore spot for attorney general - Here's why...

Serena O'Sullivan

Arizona AG ‘extremely disappointed’ with state budget cuts to opioid settlement funds

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes released a statement saying she is "extremely disappointed" with the state's new budget on Saturday.

2 hours ago

Bipartisan state budget of $16 billion passes in Arizona Legislature...

Associated Press

Arizona lawmakers pass bipartisan $16.1 billion budget, fix $1.4 billion deficit

Arizona lawmakers passed a $16.1 billion bipartisan state budget, which Gov. Hobbs negotiated with GOP leaders, on Saturday evening.

5 hours ago

Southbound Loop 101 on-ramp in Scottsdale to close (ADOT Photo)...

Bailey Leasure

Southbound Loop 101 on-ramp in Scottsdale to close for 2 months

 The southbound Loop 101 on-ramp at Princess Drive and Pima Road in Scottsdale is scheduled to be closed for two months

7 hours ago

Improvements coming to Brooks Crossing Park (City of Chandler Photo)....

Bailey Leasure

New improvements coming to Chandler’s Brooks Crossing Park

Chandler City Council approves a construction agreement that will allow for improvements to Brooks Crossing Park.

8 hours ago

The new Desert Sage Restaurant & Bar inside the recently renovated Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hot...

Brandon Brown/Phoenix Business Journal

Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel & Spa wraps up extensive renovation

The Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel & Spa hotel in Glendale recently underwent a nine-month long, multimillion-dollar renovation.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

New Border Patrol chief: Fence would help, but it’s not the only answer