Late last week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano met with Mexican officials and announced yet another re-focus of her agency’s objectives: hundreds of border patrol agents will be paying just as much attention to what goes into Mexico as to who comes out of it.  In other words:

NAPOLITANO: …from now on, when trucks come into this port, they are going to see something they haven’t seen before, and that’s southbound inspections.

Agents haven’t diverted their attention from stopping drugs and undocumented immigrants from entering the United States. Rather, hundreds of additional agents are being redeployed to stop the weapons and cash that flow into Mexico.  This new initiative comes just one week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted:

I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility…Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade…Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.

Napolitano has also warned that her border policies are no replacement for necessary immigration reform.  If anything, Napolitano is doing her best to work within the broken immigration system that she inherited from previous administrations.  As part of these efforts, Napolitano and Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinosa also helped form a high-level, joint working group to make immigration safer and more orderly.  According to the Associated Press:

The working group will focus on making documented migration easier, protecting migrants’ rights and improving procedures for repatriating migrants.

Though bold and decisive, Napolitano’s actions are no quick fix to current border problems.  Napolitano herself has affirmed that any long-term solution to security and anti-smuggling efforts at the U.S. border must come from Congress in the form of a total overhaul of our immigration laws.  Immigration reform would divert economic migrants from the deserts to regulated ports of entry.  It would cripple smugglers by taking away much of the lucrative trade in human beings, which has escalated to broader and more violent criminal activity. Napolitano said it best in a 2007 editorial:

…our current system is a disaster. I implore lawmakers to go back to the table, iron out their differences and give us an immigration system that is enforceable, and the resources to enforce it.

Photo by eggman.