Senators Bob Graham and Bill Nelson stated last week that the Bush administration is failing to take stronger measures to prevent an influx of Haitian refugees from entering the United States. The Democratic Senators from Florida are concerned with the possibility of an immediate influx of Haitian refugees fleeing to the US as a result of the recent rebellion in Haiti. According to the Coast Guard, 149 Haitians were intercepted at sea in February.
The Bush administration met with Canadaís foreign minister and leaders of the Caribbean Community last week. Canada and France offered to send police officers to Haiti once peace is restored.
In response to concerns by the US Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, a senior Homeland Security official defended the Department of Homeland Securityís new biometric border identification scheme.
The new system, called US-VISIT, requires visa holders to be digitally photographed and fingerprinted at ports of entry and compared to watch lists of terrorists and other criminals. The system was only implemented in the nationís airports and seaports January 5, but businesses worry about the implementation of the project at the 50 busiest land crossings.
Stewart Verdery, Assistant Secretary of the Border and Transportation Security Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security, told an audience at the Heritage Foundation in Washington that the DHS is looking into new technology measures in an attempt to keep wait times down for travelers.
Park Rangers in the Huachuca Mountains in he Coronado National Memorial in Arizona have recently been faced with an increase in armed drug smugglers and illegal immigrants. In the past two weeks, federal officials have fired three times at suspects, including once where a suspected smuggler pulled a gun on a ranger.
The Rangers argue that they are understaffed and need more rangers to combat the sudden rise in armed drug smugglers and illegal border crossers.
A group of Phoenix volunteers have followed the lead of Humane Borders Inc. in providing water stations in the desert at the Arizona-Mexico border. The non-profit volunteers have been trying to recruit more volunteers in an attempt to double the number of water stations from last yearís 45 to 90.
Humane Borders gave the Phoenix group a flatbed pickup truck with a 350-gallon water tank, which in turn uses the truck to fill two water stations twice a month. Humane Borders began their project in March 2001 in response to the increase in migrant deaths in the hot Arizona desert.
Critics of the volunteers say that by increasing the number of water stations in the desert, they are actually encouraging more illegal immigrants to cross the US-Mexico border.