U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has resigned, and she knew the border security system better than anyone. How could she resign when security is exactly what Republicans are asking for to approve the immigration reform?
More than 1 million people cross the border daily in more than 350,000 vehicles through its 56 entrance points. It is the most traversed border in the world. It sees an exchange of $500 billion in trade each year — more than $1.3 billion each day. In simple terms, Mexico and the U.S. share the world's most active border, which is why it is necessary to find an equilibrium that strengthens our alliances and benefits our economies. Together with Canada, we are trying to build the safest and most economically competitive region in the world. During her visit to Mexico, Napolitano reinforced U.S. interests in sharing intelligence across borders in real time. Four strategies were put in place: the setting of goals region by region; a more orderly coordination between different authorities; the prevention of violence by means of strengthening governmental institutions; and the constant evaluation of the actions each side takes. The discourse on all this has not been much different than that of previous administrations, Institutional Revolution Party and National Action Party alike. The dynamic on both sides of the border is constant and continues. However, there are hints of change in how national interests are respected.
Napolitano's visit took place just 10 days after our secretaries of defense and navy traveled to the U.S. and Canada for the first time in history. It is clear that there exists a trilateral objective to strengthen security in the region. Besides meeting with high-ranking officials in Washington and Ottawa, Secretaries Cienfuegos and Soberon were received by Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, commander of the U.S. Northern Command, in Colorado. The worries surrounding security issues have been constant for the United States. Currently, while it still has its hands full with terrorism and cyberattacks, it is focusing more on organized crime. The coordination of actions and policies is fundamental on the borders of the three countries, and it is of mutual interest to come up with new anticrime strategies, military defense systems, espionage tactics, weapons technology, and now more than ever, effective labor laws.
With the visit of the secretaries of defense and navy and the meeting this week with Napolitano, the Nieto administration has expressed its interest in improving coordination on issues of security and national disasters. Shared bilateral intelligence led to last week's capture of the sought after Z-40. The Mexican government may work out of a one-stop-window, but at least it is finally sending precise orders to all of its cabinet.
The next steps have been decided with Napolitano, as security continues to be an issue on the perimeter of North America. Right now, the situation in Central America represents a strong threat that Mexico must respond to by strengthening its southern border. Napolitano needs to confirm that the issue of border security will maintain the same level of importance it was given by the first Obama administration.
Since last November it has been said that Napolitano would leave her post at the Department of Homeland Security to take that of attorney general, given that Eric Holder was going to resign. That never happened. Now she is leaving when immigration reform is partially at a standstill. Statistics show that if the House of Representatives were to vote today, the 277 votes against would make it impossible for the reform to pass. Napolitano's image is a bit controversial these days: She has always been in favor of immigration reform, which has left many Republicans with questions, and we saw 1.6 million deportations in her past two years as Homeland Security secretary. In many cases, these deportations were unjust and caused quite a stir. While she earned much recognition for securing the border, Napolitano's exit will allow President Obama to completely restaff his security cabinet and strengthen the immigration reform proposal. Napolitano was the only bishop in the previous cabinet. She will now serve as president of the University of California.
Immigration and security are, yet again, key pieces in the bilateral balance.