Border crossings

  • ImmigrationU.S. mulls ways to handle complex child immigration issue

    The influx of unaccompanied children crossing into the United States has reached crisis proportions, with 90,000 now in the United States. The children are escaping violence and deprivation in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, but a George W. Bush-era law prevents their rapid repatriation. Leading Republicans want to change the law, but many Democrats condition such a change on folding it into a comprehensive immigration reform.

  • Border securityTo stem flow of minors, U.S. goes after human traffickers’ finances

    Many of the 57,000 Central American minors who have crossed the Southwest border since October 2013 did so with the help of smugglers operating as part of a human trafficking network. To bring down these networks, federal agents from DHS and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network(FinCEN) are reviewing suspicious bank transactions at U.S. banks, specifically accounts that are experiencing a sudden surge in transfers to Mexico.

  • Border securityEffectiveness of Texas National Guard border troop surge questioned

    Texas governor Rick Perry’s plan to send nearly 1,000 Texas National Guardtroops to the Rio Grande Valley has been applauded by the governor’s supporters, but critics question its effectiveness. Gov. Perry’s decision to send nearly 1,000 guardsmen to the Rio Grande Valley is described as “symbolic,” and top officials in border counties agree that sending more guardsmen to the border would bring little change to the current situation.

  • ImmigrationWave of illegal children immigrants shifts debate on use of executive powers

    After several immigration bills stalled in Congress, President Barack Obama, in 2012 and 2013, issued a series of executive orders to limit the number of deportations of illegal immigrants. Many who advocated a tougher stance on immigration have charged Obama with failure to consult with Congress. The Obama administration is now trying to find a way to deport Central American illegal immigrants, many of them unaccompanied children, without running afoul of a George W. Bush 2008 law which makes such deportation difficult – and some of his immigration criticswant him to take executive action on the issue, a shift from their usual criticism that he has abused his executive powers.

  • Border securityEfforts to discourage unaccompanied minors from entering U.S. have so far failed

    The administration’s efforts to discourage children from Central America and Mexico from illegally entering the United States continue to gain little traction, and the number of migrants under eighteen years old illegally crossing the U.S-Mexico border continues to increase. Officials blame the surge in young migrants on the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a 2008 law which made it difficult to repatriate unaccompanied minors without letting then appear before an immigration judge. The administration has asked Congress to change the 2008 law to give DHS greater discretion in repatriating Central American children more quickly, but some Senate Democrats have vowed to block narrow changes to immigration laws.

  • Border securityProposed border security surge threatens to create ghost towns along the border -- again

    The U.S. Customs and Border Patrolhas apprehended more illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley in the first eight months of fiscal 2014 (160,000) than it did for all of fiscal 2013 (154,453). Last May, agents apprehended over 1,100 illegal immigrants per day in the Rio Grande Valley. Texas officials have now authorized the Department of Public Safety(DPS) to send additional law enforcement personnel to patrol areas along the Texas-Mexico border at a cost of $1.3 million each week for the remainder of the year. Some residents compared the proposed surge, announced last week, to 2013’s Operation Strong Safety, which, these residents say, resembled a police state which created ghost towns along the border where illegal immigrants became afraid to go to work or send their children to school for fear of deportation.

  • Border security1.6%: CBP data show dysfunctional Internal Affairs

    By Robert Lee Maril

    The good news is that James F. Tomscheck, the head of internal affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol since 2006, was reassigned last week to another job within his agency. The bad news is that CBP internal affairs supports a decades-old culture mired in cronyism and secrecy. Last month, for example, CBP finally disclose data about internal affairs investigations into allegations of abuse by its own agents. Even so, the numbers are so out of whack that this federal report easily might be confused with the Chinese government’s recent version of the violence at Tiananmen Square in 1989: out of 809 complaints of abuse by CBP agents from January of 2009 to January of 2012, only an astounding thirteen required disciplinary action against CBP agents. The public is supposed to believe, in other words, that under Tomscheck’s leadership, a mere 1.6 percent of the charges against his agents over a three-year period had merit.

  • VisasEconomic relationships, not terrorism fears, drive visa decisions: study

    Despite heightened focus on preventing global terrorism since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, researchers have found that the economic relationship between two countries is the most significant factor in determining the acceptance or rejection rate of visas. “Surprisingly what I find is the global reputation a state garners as a prominent origin of terrorism has a very minute impact when you take into account trade interdependence,” the study’s author says.

  • ImmigrationSharp increase in the number of unaccompanied children crossing into U.S.

    DHS’ Office of Immigration Statisticsreports that U.S. Border Patrolagents apprehended 30,000 children traveling alone illegally across the Mexican border in 2013. The Border Patrol expects to arrest as many as 90,000 children this year, and about 142,000 children in 2015. The Office of Management and Budgethas notified the Senate Appropriations Committeethat the increase in the number of children crossing the border alone would cost the government at least $2.28 billion, about $1.4 billion more than the Obama administration had budgeted for in its Unaccompanied Alien Childrenprogram.

  • Border securityLawmakers criticize DHS’s spending on border security projects

    Lawmakers last week raised concerns about what they described as DHS undisciplined spending on various birder security projects. The hearing was held a week after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report citing DHS as a “high risk” for government waste. The DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act, which aims to improve the department’s discipline, accountability, and transparency in acquisition program management, will be considered by the full House after the Committee on Homeland Security gave its recommendation to the act last week.

  • Border securityRecords show Border Patrol agents typically not disciplined for abusing immigrants

    Records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Immigration Council(AIC) found that of 809 abuse complaints reported to the Border Patrol’s internal affairs unit between January 2009 and January 2012, only thirteen led to disciplinary action, and most of the agents cited for disciplinary action were only ordered to undergo counseling. One expert on unauthorized migration says that Border Patrol agents are not properly trained or disciplined by the agency.”People are not being held accountable for their actions,” he said. He conducted a survey in which he found that 10 percent of migrants reported abuse by Border Patrol agents when they were found illegally crossing the border.

  • SurveillanceMore Americans see their electronic equipment seized by DHS at the border

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released details of an investigation showing how U.S. law enforcement and other agencies exceed their powers in the name of homeland security. The ACLU points to the practice of the U.S. border agents searching and seizing the electronic devices of Americans at the border. Public data shows that more Americans are having their electronic devices searched.

  • ImmigrationCritics: Gang of Eight bill will create new surge of illegal immigration

    The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonprofit organization critical of U.S. policies toward both legal and illegal immigration, says the Gang of Eight bipartisan immigration reform bill will not solve the U.S. illegal immigration problem, but rather exacerbate it. FAIR notes that in 1986, the Reagan administration pushed a bill through Congress which gave amnesty to nearly three million illegal aliens — but the problem of illegal immigration has only grown worse.

  • ImmigrationDHS cannot locate 266 “illegal overstays of concern”

    According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, and 21 May 2013 Hill testimony by Rebecca Gambler, director of the Homeland Security and Justice for GAO, DHS, since 2011, has identified 1,901 “illegal overstays of concern.” As of March 2013, 14 percent of them, or 266, are still missing.

  • Border securityBorder entry fee opposed by border-state lawmakers, businesses

    DHS, in its 2014 budget proposal, asked for permission to conduct a study about imposing fees at U.S. land border crossings. The proposal is bitterly opposed by both businesses on the northern border, which make most of their money from Canadians who cross into the United States just to shop, and lawmakers from states along the U.S.-Canada border, who say such fees will hurt both commerce and relations between the United States and Canada.