Obama to Appoint ‘Border Czar’
The Obama administration is expected to appoint Alan Bersin, a former U.S. Attorney in San Diego, to be its new “border czar”.
“The position will focus on illegal immigration into the U.S. as well as southbound gun trafficking and cash smuggling,” a Department of Homeland Security official told The Los Angeles Times. The appointment is expected to be announced today when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visits the Southwest border.
Bersin, who held a similar position during the Clinton administration, is credited with having helped cracked down on illegal immigration in the 1990s, slowing the number of “banzai” runs, where hundreds of people dash across the freeways and canyons from Tijuana into the United States. However, most experts say that only shifted illegal immigration eastward, and made it more dangerous for the migrants who make the trip. A recent Government Accountability Office report says that the number of border crossing deaths doubled between 1995 and 2006.
One thing Bersin will hopefully keep in mind as he attacks border violence is his experience as U.S. Attorney in San Diego, where the federal courts at the time (I was a law clerk to a federal judge there during Bersin’s tenure) were overwhelmed by drug cases, mostly involving marijuana trafficking across the border. Advising the Obama administration on how to use those federal resources more effectively — including, perhaps, decriminalizing marijuana — could prove far more effective at reducing border violence than driving more illegal immigrants into the far reaches of the Arizona desert.