"Border Czar" Alan Bersin Meets with State AG, Calls Arizona "Most Lawless Corridor" on Border
So-called "Border Czar" Alan Bersin and other Homeland Security officials met with state Attorney General Terry Goddard today to discuss how to get different agencies working better together.
During the meeting, Bersin (pictured above) reportedly called Arizona, "the most lawless corridor on the Southwest border."
We have no idea what that means, but it sounds bad.
Goddard pushed for new rules that would allow him to re-start his investigations of money wiring transactions flowing from Mexico to states other than Arizona, a tactic recently shot down by the Arizona Supreme Court. He also lobbied for the feds to do something about gift cards, which smugglers use freely to transfer money across the border.
It appears the officials had a nice chat. Whether the talk accomplished anything, only time will tell. Below is the text of Goddard's news release:
Terry Goddard, Homeland Security Officials Pledge Stronger Cooperation
(Phoenix, Ariz. - June 19, 2009) Attorney General Terry Goddard today
received pledges of greater federal cooperation in the fight against
border violence and drug cartels from senior officials of the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security during a meeting in Phoenix.
Goddard met with several Homeland Security officials, including Alan
Bersin, Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special
Representative for Border Affairs, and John Morton, Assistant Secretary
for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Goddard invited the group to his office to explain Arizona's efforts
to combat border violence and ask for stronger federal support of
successful programs developed by the Attorney General's office to stop
the flow of money to drug cartels.
"This was a highly productive meeting, and I am greatly encouraged by
the desire expressed in working more cooperatively. State and federal
law enforcement should become a more seamless operation, and we've
taken a major step in that direction today."
Bersin, who is sometimes referred to as the "Border Czar," called
Arizona "the most lawless corridor on the Southwest border" and
stated his commitment for increased federal and state cooperation. More
specifically, he said he would push for closer collaboration among state
prosecutors, U.S. attorneys, Homeland Security and the U.S. Department
of Justice. Bersin also complimented Goddard and Arizona "for taking a
lead among the states" in the fight against border crime.
Among the topics discussed, Goddard asked for border-wide
implementation of the program pioneered by the Attorney General's
Office to identify and seize smuggling proceeds sent by wire transfer
services. The Arizona program successfully seized $17 million in
smuggling proceeds in Arizona and caused a dramatic drop in smuggling
proceeds sent by wire transfer through Arizona each year. The program
would also enable federal regulators to more quickly root out specific
money transmitter locations that are complicit with smugglers who
illegally send thousands of dollars at a time across the border.
Goddard also voiced the need for federal regulation and improved
transparency in the use of "stored value cards." These cards, which
use technology similar to retail store gift cards, are not yet
recognized by the federal government as a form of currency. Because of
this loophole, smugglers are moving millions of dollars across the
U.S.-Mexico border in cards pre-loaded with thousands of dollars at a
time, without any penalties. Goddard wants federal regulators to
classify these cards as a form of currency and require that they be
formatted in a way that law enforcement can identify how much money is
stored on them.
Goddard, Bersin and Morton briefly addressed the media following the