Border monitoring / protection

  • 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.

  • ImmigrationNo extra funding for increased Pentagon presence on southern border

    Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), has stated that illegal immigration and its effects are threatening to destabilize the region and are a national security threat to the United States. President Barack Obama’s $3.7 billion supplemental request to congress, however,, does not include any additional funding for military operations.

  • 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 securityState collapse in the hemisphere an “existential” threat to U.S.: Southern Command chief

    Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, is asking Congress to allocate more resources to help combat the flow of illegal drugs, weapons, and people from Central America. “In comparison to other global threats, the near collapse of societies in the hemisphere with the associated drug and (undocumented immigrant) flow are frequently viewed to be of low importance,” Kelly said. “Many argue these threats are not existential and do not challenge our national security. I disagree.”

  • DHS budget2015 DHS budget is border patrol “wish list”: critics

    Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved $39.2 billion 2015 budget for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Critics were quick to point out that many items in the budget were not on the original budget request, but were since added after showing up originally on a wish list of hardware that could improve and extend the surveillance capabilities of DHS.

  • 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.

  • 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 securityDHS revises rules for use of deadly force on border

    On 30 May DHS released new guidelines detailing when the use of force by Border Patrol officials is authorized. The lack of explicit scenarios within the rules, however, has led to questions of when such acts are truly warranted.

  • 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.

  • ImmigrationThe influence of the Minutemen Project and similar groups has diminished

    The Minuteman Project and like-minded groups tried to make their own contribution to stopping illegal immigration by positioning their members across the U.S.-Mexico border, equipped with binoculars, American flags, and sometimes guns. Dwindling financial resources and publicized personal troubles of some of the group’s leaders have diminished the group’s ability to maintain a presence along the Southwest border. Observers say that the project represents the past in the debate over illegal immigration.

  • Border securityViolence and corruption by drug cartels hits homeland

    By Robert Lee Maril

    While the American media devotes much time and effort to pinpointing the violence and corruption generated by the drug cartels in Mexico, far less attention is devoted to crimes in this country which are a direct result of these same criminal organizations. The corruption of American law enforcement has become a significant problem along the border. The Mexican drug cartels which control drugs and human smuggling are directly responsible for a spiraling level of violence and crime which instills fear among residents on both sides of the border even as it lowers the quality of life for all who call the U.S.-Mexican borderlands their home.

  • DetectionNew detection technology to help combat nuclear trafficking

    According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the greatest danger to nuclear security comes from terrorists acquiring sufficient quantities of plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU) to construct a crude nuclear explosive device. The IAEA also notes that most cases of illicit nuclear trafficking have involved gram-level quantities, which can be challenging to detect with most inspection methods. Special algorithm coupled with commercial X-ray scanners allows detection of small amounts of fissile materials in luggage.

  • Border securityU.S.-Mexico border security barriers affect movement of animals

    Security barriers in national parks on the U.S.-Mexican border which aim to deter illegal migrants are affecting the movements of some native animal species while not necessarily restricting the movement of humans, according to new research.