The annual Border Issues Conference will once again bring the needs of the border region to the forefront of discussion among top leaders in our nation’s capital. This year’s conference will feature panels on strengthening the security cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico, improving bi-national trade, commerce, and tourism amid current economic and security challenges, and enhancing socioeconomic development along the border.
One of the objectives of the conference is to ensure that lawmakers and other leaders from the U.S. and Mexico continue to recognize and address the unique socioeconomic and security challenges that are confronting border communities today.
The conference began yesterday with a special tribute to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, a Member of the Congressional Border Caucus. Sister city guests Mayor Manuel de Jesus Baldenebro Arredonde of San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico and Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla of City of San Luis, Arizona will also be recognized. Today the conference continues with three panels and the keynote address.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will keynote the Conference. Other conference participants include Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Matthew Rooney. The bipartisan conference is co-chaired by Congressman Silvestre Reyes and Congressman Michael McCaul.
In her remarks, Secretary Napolitano underscored the Obama Administration’s unprecedented efforts to strengthen security along the Southwest border, which include increasing the number of Border Patrol agents from approximately 10,000 in 2004 to more than 20,700 today; doubling the number of personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces; and deploying approximately one quarter of all U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel to the Southwest border region – the most ever.