The federal plan to control illegal immigration and cut deaths along the Arizona-Mexico border this summer is over budget, understaffed, and behind schedule, says the Arizona Republic. When the Department of Homeland Security announced the Arizona Border Control Initiative in March, it planned to add 260 agents, four helicopters and two unmanned aerial drones, and expand detention space for undocumented immigrants. It was supposed to be in full swing yesterday, but more than half of the promised border agents have not arrived, officials have scrapped plans to add tents for detained immigrants and the drones remain on the ground. Asa Hutchinson, Homeland Security undersecretary, says the push to secure Arizona’s 350-mile border stretch has posed significant challenges, including “substantially exceeding” the $10 million cost estimate.
Hutchinson is scheduled to visit Tucson today to assess progress. He said the initiative has been successful in “breaking the cycle” of smuggling groups that shuttled undocumented immigrants from the border to Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, a distribution hub for the rest of the country. Arrests of undocumented immigrants in Arizona have increased from an average of about 2,000 a day to 3,000 daily since March.