Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano traveled to Shelter Island Monday to check up on border operations in San Diego.
Her visit is part of a short tour between California and Texas to discuss the department’s efforts to secure the border while also encouraging lawful trade.
She said at a media appearance Monday she was on a "fact-finding mission" for the Obama Administration as it works toward comprehensive immigration reform.
Napolitano also touted an increase in the number of agents and inspectors who work the ports of entry and patrol the border, and also the growing arsenal of high-tech equipment and unmanned drones that are in service to stretch the resources.
"What we have seen now compared to 20 years ago is the difference between a rocketship and a horse and buggy," she said Monday. "Now we have manpower factors of twice, thrice, ten times what we had a few years ago."
The trip comes after federal lawmakers announced proposals to reform immigration policies and strengthen border security.
Mayor Bob Filner joined Napolitano in urging feedback on policy reforms.
“We want our lawmakers in DC to know that local border mayors and police chiefs need to be part of the discussion on border security,” said Filner in a statement. “Crime along the border has decreased over the last decade and San Diego is an example of that.”
The immigration reform plan that's emerging from a bipartisan group of senators on Capitol Hill calls for U.S. borders to be "appropriately secure" from terrorist threats and trafficking in humans, narcotics, weapons and stolen goods.
The lawmakers are demanding this happen before creating a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. It's not clear what specific, objective criteria must be met, or who will make the assessment of whether an immigrant is appropriately secure.
Leading Democrats want the Dept. of Homeland Security to have that power. Republicans aren't yet on board with giving Napolitano such authority.
In 2011, San Diego had the third-highest number of apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol agents. That number has declined since 2009, according to DHS immigration statistics.
As of June, certain young people who were brought to the United States as children, do not present a risk to national security, and meet several criteria are eligible for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.