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April 2nd, 2010
Grijalva Praises Obama Appointment of Alan Bersin to Head $11 Billion U. S. Customs and Border Protection

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today praised the selection of Alan Bersin to head U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an $11 billion agency that includes the U. S. Border Patrol and other customs and enforcement offices. Bersin was previously Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Grijalva praised his experience and said his familiarity with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would “serve both him and the country very well in the coming years.” Bersin’s duties included serving as Napolitano’s lead representative on border affairs and strategy regarding security, immigration, narcotics and trade matters, as well as coordinating the secretary’s security initiatives along the nation’s borders. Before coming to the federal government, Bersin served as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s secretary of education and once headed a Justice Department unit overseeing U.S.-Mexico border affairs.

As Congress and the nation continue to discuss the best way to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, Grijalva said, “having someone in that position with Mr. Bersin’s expertise in handling sensitive border issues is a necessity. I hope to work closely with him to maintain border safety, combat drug and vigilante violence and protect immigrant rights, because a good immigration policy needs that multi-focus approach.”

Republicans in the Senate had objected to Bersin’s appointment despite his strong record and qualifications. His nomination had been on hold for six months, leading President Obama to grant Bersin a recess appointment along with 14 other officials on March 27.

“A government needs public servants like Mr. Bersin at their posts in order to function effectively,” Grijalva said. “Delaying his nomination without a serious reason was deeply irresponsible, and I applaud the president for cutting through the obstruction and putting the country’s needs first.”

According to Homeland Security information, CBP oversees operations along 7,000 miles of border with Canada and Mexico as well as 2,000 miles of coastal waters surrounding the Florida peninsula and off the coast of Southern California. The agency also protects 95,000 miles of maritime border in partnership with the United States Coast Guard and at 327 air, land and sea ports of entry nationwide.

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