• SBInet, the sequel

    DHS has begun the process of contracting to replace the SBInet system it scrapped last week by issuing a request for information (RFI) on interconnected surveillance towers; the department’s plan calls for acquiring proven, ready-made technology tailored to the terrain of each border region, as opposed to the now-defunct $1 billion SBInet; DHS is looking for tools that will offer automatic, continuous wide-area surveillance that are largely open, or not tied to any one brand’s proprietary technology

  • Smart phone app sheds light on airport screening procedures

    New iPhone app allows users to share their experiences at airport security checkpoints; the app, released by Elguji Software, is called TSAzr — Share Your TSA Experience; users can rate, review, and comment on every U.S TSA-staffed airport

  • Family of dead wheel-well stow-away to sue TSA

    Delvonte Tisdale, 16, snuck into the wheel well of a U.S. Airways flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Boston; when the plane landed at Logan, his mutilated body fell onto the tarmac; law enforcement officials say they do not know how Tisdale was able to evade airport security; Tisdale’s family is moving to sue the TSA for negligence

  • Video shows women climbing U.S.-Mexico border fence in less than 18 seconds

    The United States has spent millions of dollars — the barrier costs taxpayers on average about $4 million per mile — to build a fence along portions of the U.S.-Mexico border; a new video shows two women climbing the fence’s concrete-filled steel pipes in less than eighteen seconds

  • More states push for stricter immigration laws

    Kentucky and Nebraska have introduced tough Arizona-style immigration laws; critics hold that these laws violate civil liberties and encourage racial profiling; more states will likely pass similar immigration enforcement bills; a federal court has already struck down the most controversial portion of the Arizona immigration law and the Department of Justice is challenging it; paradoxically a majority of Americans support stricter enforcement and a path to citizenship

  • DHS pulls plug on virtual border fence project

    DHS has cancelled the ambitious SBInet border security project; the project aimed to erect a virtual fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, consisting of a system of cameras and sensors which would allow officers to monitor crossings and dispatch Border Patrol agents to catch anyone entering the United States illegally; Boeing, the primary contractor, was hobbled by technical problems involving the effectiveness of video cameras and other elements, resulting in the project falling far off schedule; a year ago, after DHS had spent $672 million on the project and Boeing had little to show for the money, the project was put on hold; DHS will now look at an alternative system which is likely to rely more on UAVs and thermal imaging

  • Mexican war toll: 34,612 drug-war deaths in four years

    A total of 34,612 people have died in drug-related killings in Mexico since December 2006; the four-year figure included 30,913 execution-style killings, 3,153 deaths in shootouts between gangs, and 546 deaths involving attacks on authorities; the killings reached their highest level in 2010, jumping by almost 60 percent to 15,273 deaths from 9,616 the previous year

  • U.K. joins European fingerprint database

    Home Office joins Eurodac fingerprint database, which collects the fingerprints of asylum seekers and some illegal entrants to the European Union; Eurodac consists of a Central Unit within the European Commission, equipped with a computerized central database for comparing fingerprints, and a system for electronic data transmission between EU countries and the database

  • Unmanned U.S.-Mexico border crossing to re-open in Big Bend National Park

    A U.S.-Mexico border crossing in Texas’ Big Bend National Park that was once popular among U.S. tourists and Mexican shoppers will re-open in April 2012; the unmanned port of entry will be monitored by immigration officials hundreds of miles away. U.S. citizens will scan their passports and the identity of Mexican nationals will be biometrically confirmed

  • Republicans introduce bill to repeal birthright citizenship amendment

    Four Republican lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday that would end automatic granting of American citizenship to children born in the United States to illegal immigrants, arguing “birthright citizenship” is an incentive for illegals to race for the U.S. border; automatic citizenship is enshrined in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; the provision, ratified in 1868, was drafted with freed slaves in mind; the four congressmen said the current practice of extending U.S. citizenship to so-called “anchor babies” is a “misapplication” of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment

  • Mexico violence hits new levels in scale, brutality in 2010

    Mexico’s drug violence in 2010 was striking not only for its scale but also for its brutality; more than 13,000 people were killed across the country in drug violence, up from an estimated 9,600 a year earlier; the number of people killed since the government launched its war on the drug cartels in December 2006 has reached 31,000; analysts say that the violence is the result of the collapse of the old political structure — the 80-year one-party system ran by the PRI, which came to an end in 2000, when Vicente Fox came to power; the old system, with its unwritten rules and tacit understandings, is yet to be replaced by a new, consensual system; what has exacerbated the anarchical situation are two new elements: the rise of drug trafficking through Mexico, and the free flow of arms into the country, mostly from the United States

  • U.S. terror watch list streamlined, updated instantaneously

    Now a single tip about a terror link will be enough for inclusion in the watch list for U.S. security officials, who have also evolved a quicker system to share the database of potential terrorists among screening agencies; a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said that officials have now “effectively in a broad stroke lowered the bar for inclusion” in the list; the new criteria have led to only modest growth in the list, which stands at 440,000 people, about 5 percent more than last year; also, instead of sending data once a night to the Terrorist Screening Center’s watch list, which can take hours, the new system should be able to update the watch list almost instantly as names are entered

  • ATF to require gun dealers to report multiple rifle sales

    Mexico, reeling under the weight of the escalating armed conflict between the government and the drug cartels, is on the verge of becoming a failed, ungovernable state on the U.S. door-step; U.S. and Mexican experts say that 90 percent of the tens of thousands of the semi-automatic rifles in the arsenals of the cartels are smuggled from the United State; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has announced a new measure, requiring U.S. gun dealers to report multiple sales of rifles to authorities; Texas law enforcement authorities say that since the reporting requirements will only include the southwest border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California — guns will continue to flow into Mexico from other parts of the United States — and from other countries

  • Border security advocates criticize wilderness area restrictions

    A proposal to consolidate a swath of 250,000 acres of wilderness study areas in New Mexico has sparked an outcry from groups fearing an influx of illegal immigrants and drugs from Mexico; the Border Patrol says the designation has little effect on its work

  • Republican leaders to pursue immigration priorities different than Obama's

    Incoming Republican congressional leaders have plans of their own for border and workplace enforcement; Obama says he still has hope for a path to citizenship for at least some illegal residents; incoming chairmen Peter King (House Homeland Security Committee) and Lamar Smith (House Judiciary Committee) say they have different priorities on immigration than the Obama administration