• Border walls may pose serious challenges to biodiversity, but smaller challenges to humans

    With the prospect of a U.S.-Mexico border wall looming, research and reporting on the ecological impacts of walls is both important and timely. Reporting in BioScience on such barriers’ known effects on wildlife, science journalist Lesley Evans Ogden describes the potential effects of the proposed structure along the 2000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. “If the wall is completed, it will create a considerable biodiversity conservation challenge—one unlikely to disappear anytime soon,” she writes.

  • Border wall will not stop drug smugglers: Studies

    A U.S. government report shows that drug traffickers adapt their techniques in response to increased overland security, undermining the argument that a border wall will prevent the entry of illicit drugs into the United States. Most of the drugs enter the United States concealed in passenger vehicles or hidden among legitimate goods on freight vehicles. Government agencies say that there are better ways than building a wall to address cross-border trafficking. These would include improved detection technology, inter-agency coordination, and better techniques for gathering and analyzing information and intelligence.

  • Some visa applicants would be asked to provide five years’ worth of social media posts

    The State Department is planning to ask people who apply for visas to live and work in the United States, to allow government officials to review their social media post going back five years. The State Department will also ask applicants for their email addresses and phone numbers, and for their work and travel history during the previous fifteen years. Applicants will also have to provide the names and dates of birth of immediate family members. The new measures would apply only to individuals who have been identified as requiring additional security screening – for example, people who have travelled to countries and areas where known terrorist organizations are active. The State Department estimates that the new policy would apply to about 65,000 people a year, or about 0.5 percent of visa applicants.

  • Lawsuits filed about electronic privacy, profiling abuses at borders, airports

    Earlier this week, two lawsuits were filed in federal court to demand that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) release information about how federal officials have treated travelers who are Muslim or who are perceived to be Muslim at United States borders, including airports. The lawsuits highlight the numerous recent reports of individuals who are or are perceived to be Muslim having their electronic devices searched while traveling or having their trusted traveler status revoked without explanation.

  • Efforts to prevent alternative methods of border crossing need better monitoring: GAO

    As DHS has increased the security of overland smuggling routes, transnational criminal organizations have adapted their techniques to smuggle drugs and humans through alternative methods. These methods include cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational maritime vessels. GAO says that while these methods account for a small proportion of known smuggling, they can be used to transport significant quantities of drugs or for terrorist activity.

  • Rewriting NAFTA has serious implications beyond just trade

    President Donald J. Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) our “worst trade deal.” After flip-flopping between scrapping NAFTA altogether and saying that the agreement required only tweaks, Trump is trying to force a renegotiation of a deal that supports three million American jobs. This may seem like just another trade dispute, but NAFTA has bound together North America’s economic and security considerations. The renegotiation of NAFTA may thus have serious implications not only for trade and the continental economy, but also for immigration and border security. Bad deal or not, NAFTA has fundamentally reshaped North America’s immigration and security policies. Any changes to NAFTA will certainly have repercussions that reach far beyond the economy.

  • U.S. border agents illegally turning away asylum seekers at U.S. border: Report

    Human Rights First on Wednesday released a new report documenting dozens of instances in which U.S. border agents illegally turned away asylum seekers from the U.S. southern border. “We’ve documented dozens of cases in which individuals seeking protection from violence and persecution have been unlawfully turned away. These actions by U.S. border agents not only violate U.S. laws and treaty commitments, but put individuals’ lives in danger by sending them into the hands of persecutors, traffickers, or cartels,” said the lead researcher on the report.

  • Every minute counts: Australian man faces 6 months in jail for overstaying visa by 1.5 hours

    Baxter Reid, A 26-year old Australian, has been detained by U.S. border officials for overstaying his visa for just over an hour. Baxter and his American girlfriend were traveling to Canada to comply with the requirement of leaving and re-entering the United States every six months, in order to keep his five-year visa valid. They arrived at the border crossing near Buffalo with two hours to spare – but paperwork problems on the Canadian side forced them to stay on the U.S. side, and Baxter was arrested at 1:30 a.m. for overstaying his visa by an hour-and-a-half. He is being kept in a Buffalo jail, and was told he could face six months in jail before his case is heard by a judge.

  • How crossing the U.S.-Mexico border became a crime

    It was not always a crime to enter the United States without authorization. In fact, for most of American history, immigrants could enter the United States without official permission and not fear criminal prosecution by the federal government. That changed in 1929. On its surface, Congress’s new prohibitions on informal border crossings simply modernized the U.S. immigration system by compelling all immigrants to apply for entry. However, in my new book City of Inmates, I detail how Congress outlawed border crossings with the specific intent of criminalizing, prosecuting, and imprisoning Mexican immigrants.

  • Border wall plans spur effort to help Texas landowners with eminent domain

    As the Trump administration sets its sights on building a barrier on the country’s southern border, a group of Texas attorneys aims to help border residents ensure they are properly compensated for whatever land the government seizes. The Texas Civil Rights Project says it will focus its efforts on lower-income residents who don’t have the skills or knowledge needed to fight through the complicated eminent domain process that’s looming as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security moves ahead with plans for the wall’s construction.

  • Sharp increase in number of non-criminal undocumented immigrants arrested by ICE

    The number of immigrants with no criminal records arrested has more than doubled under President Donald Trump. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement made 21,362 arrests from January to mid-March, which is an increase of roughly one-third compared to 16,104 during the same period last year. The number of non-criminals arrested doubled to 5,441, suggesting Trump’s administration is enforcing immigration laws more aggressively than the previous administration.

  • The face of Latin American migration is rapidly changing. U.S. policy isn’t keeping up

    A fundamental shift in U.S. immigration patterns is well underway. Recent rhetoric from President Donald Trump and the focus of U.S. immigration policies suggest that Mexicans entering the U.S. without authorization are the principal challenge facing policymakers. That is no longer the case. The era of Mexico as the primary source of immigrants to the U.S. appears to be coming to a close. An increasing number of individuals are now arriving at the U.S. southwest border because of crime, violence and insecurity in Central America. These are now far more decisive factors in decisions to emigrate than the traditional pull of economic opportunity in the U.S. This change in the profile of those arriving at the border suggests two things. First, far more emphasis should be placed on improving the U.S. immigration court system than on efforts to strengthen an already well-fortified border. Second, there is a need to move beyond a view of those arriving at the U.S. southwest border as a monolithic group driven by purely economic motives.

  • Trump likely to eye treaties, E-Verify as part of immigration strategy

    The Trump administration may not be able to move mountains — literally — in its quest to build a coast-to-coast wall along the nation’s southern border. But that doesn’t mean the White House won’t review some long-standing treaties that have stymied past administrations in their efforts to erect such barriers, Former immigration and border officials say the Trump administration is floating ideas that range from nullifying treaties to expanding employment screenings.

  • Developing data-driven solutions for faster, more secure border

    Unisys Corporation and CSIRO’s Data61 today announced a collaboration to develop an advanced data analytics solution for automated security risk assessment of travelers and cargo at air, land and sea borders. Under the collaboration, Unisys will fund joint research with Data61 to develop an advanced data analytics solution capable of detecting potential border security risks posed by travelers, visa applicants, cargo and parcels.

  • New technology helps protect biometric databases

    More and more people are leaving their fingerprints behind – in passports, when logging in to online banking or their mobile phones. Have you thought about where your fingerprint information is stored and who has access to it? Whether we store fingerprints on our mobile phone chip, with our server host or in the cloud, security is always a concern. Scientists are constantly searching for new and better security solutions to protect your information.