Just exactly how secure is our southern border? GAO study finally provides some numbers.

Posted on February 15, 2011

For months, our Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has been going on and on repeating the claim that the “border is more secure now” than it has ever been.  But exactly how secure is that?  Does it mean 50% of our border is fully secure, or maybe 75%?  Try 15%:

(Reuters) – Less than half of the United States’ porous southwest border with Mexico is under the operational control of the U.S. Border Patrol, a government watchdog reported on Tuesday.

The study by the Government Accountability Office said that the Border Patrol had achieved “varying levels of operational control” over just 873 miles, or 44 percent, of the nearly 2,000-mile border by the end of last year.

The report found that the number of miles under operational control increased an average of 126 miles per year from 2005 through 2010.

The GAO, which is the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, noted that only 129 of those miles, or 15 percent, were classified as “controlled” — the highest level for detecting and arresting intruders. (emphasis mine)


Of the nine Border Patrol sectors along the southwest border, only Yuma, in far western Arizona, had achieved complete operational control along its stretch of the border. The remaining sectors noted between 11 and 86 percent of their area under operational control .

The “Border Patrol attributed the uneven progress across sectors to multiple factors, including prioritizing resource deployment to sectors deemed to have greater risk from illegal activity,” the report said.

Of the 1,120 miles of the border where operational control had not been achieved, around two-thirds were classified as “monitored,” meaning that the Border Patrol had a high probability of detecting intrusions, although their ability to respond depended on the available resources.

The border may be “more secure than ever before,” but that still doesn’t mean that it’s enough.  It looks as if Janet has a lot more work to do.