WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- Newly appointed border czar Alan Bersin said Wednesday his position is a "magical opportunity" to bolster security on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Bersin, named Homeland Security Department assistant secretary for international affairs and special representative for border affairs, told CNN his job is about "stopping illegal contraband coming north, controlling illegal immigration, (and supporting) all the efforts to stop drugs coming into this country."
In addition, Bersin said he would be cooperating with Mexican officials to stop the flow of illegal guns and cash from the United States into Mexico.
"So," he said, "it's a magical opportunity, north and south, to actually strengthen security for both sides of the border."
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Bersin's appointment and introduced him during a visit to El Paso, Texas.
Bersin, who served as California's education secretary, was U.S. attorney in San Diego and former Attorney General Janet Reno's border czar during the Clinton administration.
Some immigration groups have criticized Bersin for his role in Operation Gatekeeper, a federal crackdown on illegal immigration along the western portion of the U.S.-Mexico border, Politico said. While the program reduced illegal immigration in the area, some said the operation lead to increased immigrant deaths in the desert and on highways and shifted the illegal crossings east.