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Border Czar: America Needs a '21st Century Border' for a 'New Era


"A more holistic view of border management"

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Alan Bersin says the United States needs to undertake a "paradigm shift" in how citizens view the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a recent speech at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., Bersin claimed that this perception shift needs to include "a road to citizenship" for immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally. Additionally, Bersin said that Americans said the "best way" to secure the southern border is to allow Mexicans to work in the United States in the future in what he called "a legitimate labor market" between the U.S. and Mexico.

According to, a CBP spokesperson has since clarified Bersin's remarks, saying the U.S. needs "a temporary worker program" that is "conducive to our labor needs.”

Bersin has been on the job since March, appointed by President Barack Obama after having formerly served as secretary of education for the state of California and as chairman of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority.

During his remarks to the Migration Policy Institute, the border "czar" recalled negotiations between President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon in May in which the two leaders "articulated the vision for this new era -- the creation of a 21st Century border, one that enhances our security and mutual economic competitiveness in an increasingly globalized world."

“Underlying this new vision is a paradigm shift—a change in how people view the border,” Bersin said.

“Historically, governments have approached border management as, essentially, ‘holding the line.’ But the border isn’t an isolated place disconnected from the interiors of the United States and Mexico. What we do at the border has effects that are felt far away from the jurisdictional line—especially in an era of international trade and global supply chains. Although policing the line will remain a key element of any border management approach, we must shift our thinking and take a more holistic view of border management, one that is based on securing the flows of trade and travel.”

Bersin dismissed ideas of "mass amnesty" and "mass deportations," insisting the country needs to implement a "long road to citizenship" for illegal aliens.

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