Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley , a Democrat from Waterloo, spent Tuesday in Arizona with two other members of the House touring U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facilities along the Mexican border. Braley says he learned some new things in seeing the operations first hand — such as the U.S. facilities operate in very rural areas where the power grids are not the best.
Braley says the chief enforcement officer told them he has next generation x-ray equipment that would be an upgrade, but he says there’s no place to plug it in. "So power is a hug issue down here," Braley explains. Braley visited the border station at Nogales, Mexico, and says getting the latest technology isn’t the biggest problem.
Braley says they have great computer technology, but if they don’t have the ability to implement it, it doesn’t matter how many resources they have if they can’t implement it. He says officials tell him they need more infrastructure to do a better job at the port of entry and in the field. Braley says from what he has seen, he wouldn’t change his view that a fence across the entire border is unnecessary.
Braley says a fence has to be strategically place so it can funnel people attempting to illegally cross the border into a targeted area, where they can be identified and intercepted in an efficient manner. Braley says a fence across the entire border would not be an efficient use of the resources the border agents need to do their jobs. Braley was asked why so many Democrats seem to be visiting the border, and if his visit and others were politically motivated. Braley says his visit was part of his desire to find out more about the pilot transportation program between the U.S. and Mexico that was developed in his transportation committee.
Braley says he raised "some serious concerns" about the pilot program and this gave him a chance to see the program first hand and talk with those who’re implementing the program. Braley say he was able to visit the commercial cargo facility and Arizona D.O.T. facility were many of the inspections are taking place to see how it impacts the safety and commerce in the U.S. Braley says he’s found there are many things involved in border safety.
He says the number one significant thing he’s taken away is the issue of national security on the borders is much broader than the issue of illegal immigration, which Braley says most Americans seem to be focusing on. Braley says illegal entry is a "major concern," but the broader issue of security includes, food safety, drug trafficking and the transport of goods and materials across the borders. Braley is a freshman congressman representing the second district in eastern Iowa.