He led the 1990s crackdown on illegal border crossings, and now former U.S. attorney and Justice Department official Alan Bersin will be America’s first “border czar,” in charge of overseeing efforts to quell drug cartel activity on the U.S.-Mexico border and to diminish illegal immigration. Appointed today by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Bersin and Napolitano pulled a Strasbourg and gave a presser on a bridge over the Rio Grande that connects the U.S. to Mexico. Speaking in both Spanish and English, Bersin cautioned against overstating the cartels’ threat to the U.S., pointing out that violent spillover north of the border has been relatively low. Bersin dismissed some people’s calls for America to position troops on the Mexican border: “The posse comitatus have served this country well,” he said, referring to the legal statutes that keep the U.S. military from operating as law enforcement stateside. Both Bersin and Napolitano were U.S. attorneys during the Clinton administration. Bersin’s Justice Department service included border patrol increases in the American southwest and San Diego. Earlier, he was superintendent of the San Diego public school system.
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