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Senate group focuses on border security

By The Associated Press Modified: January 31, 2013 at 10:28 pm •  Published: February 1, 2013

Rubio has said that “operational security” of the 2,000-mile border should be achieved before illegal immigrants can begin to achieve citizenship. He's defined that as law enforcement having a very high probability of being able to prevent somebody from illegally crossing the border or apprehending them if they do. A Government Accountability Office report in 2011 said that of the nine southwestern border sectors, only the Yuma, Ariz., sector had reported full operational security.

Rubio also wants a better system of tracking people here on visas and whether they've overstayed their visas.

McCain said Thursday that “we have to have control to the level we have on the Yuma sector today, and we can achieve it and it's doable, so we'll do it.”

“We know what control of the border is. We'll know it when we see it,” McCain said.

The Senate proposal envisions setting up a commission of border state lawmakers and citizens to make a recommendation about when border security metrics have been met, but Schumer said the Homeland Security secretary would have final say.

A year after Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal border crossers plunged to the lowest levels in nearly 40 years agents have seen a slight increase in arrests, according to Border Patrol arrest data obtained by The Associated Press. In the budget year that ended in September, Border Patrol agents arrested 356,873 would-be border crossers along the Mexican border. In fiscal year 2011, agents along the Mexican border made 327,577 arrests.

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