• Abbott signs sweeping border security bill

    To Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas), signing a sweeping, multimillion-dollar border security bill hundreds of miles from the Rio Grande made sense. “Here in Houston, there are more than 20,000 dangerous gang members that are associated with cross border traffic-related crime,” Abbott said Tuesday as he was flanked by lawmakers and peace officers at a Texas Department of Public Safety facility. “More than 100,000 of those gang members operate across the state of Texas.”

  • Computer searches at border subject to case-by-case reasonableness: Court

    A Washington, D.C. District Court has upheld a ruling that U.S. intelligence and border security agents must have “reasonable suspicion” to seize and search any computer or storage media at the border – especially if the computer and storage media belong to an individual about to leave the country. A South Korean businessman, suspected of buying missile parts for China, was stopped at LAX on his way back to Korea. He was allowed to leave, but his laptop and storage media were seized by agents. Judge Amy Berman Jackson stressed that in border searches, the government has a more compelling interest in searching things that are being brought into the country than things that are about to leave the country. Kim’s lawyers asked the judge to suppress any incriminating evidence found on Kim’s laptop during a warrantless search conducted by the case agents, and she granted to lawyers’ motion. DHS says it will appeal her decision.

  • DHS selects U Houston as Center of Excellence for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) yesterday announced the selection of the University of Houston as the lead institution for a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research. S&T will provide the Center for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research with an initial $3.4 million grant for its first operating year.

  • EU to launch Mediterranean military operation to end human trafficking

    As soon as 25 June, the EU will launch a sea and air mission aiming to stop human traffickers from bringing more African migrants into Europe. The operation will include the destruction of vessels used by the traffickers, and may involve operations on Libyan territory against traffickers’ targets. So far this year, more than 1,800 migrants have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean on their way from Libya to Italy. The EU operation, which will initially be authorized for one year, will be run out of Rome and will be under the command of an Italian rear admiral, Enrico Credendino. Refugee rights groups have expressed concern over the EU plan.

  • Bill allowing Border Patrol activity within 100 miles of border unnecessary, damaging: Environmentalists

    The U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last Wednesday approved S.750, a bill which would waive all laws for any Border Patrol activity within 100 miles of Arizona’s border with Mexico. Environmental organizations say that the bill, marketed as an improvement for Border Patrol’s access to public lands, is more about overreach and overkill than access, and will result in more harm to U.S. public lands, including those far from the border.

  • Lawmakers want more attention to be paid to security along the northern border

    Over the years, concerns over U.S. border security have largely focused on the southern border, where hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants have been apprehended and millions of dollars in illegal drugs have been seized by border patrol agents. One reason for the inattention to the northern border is that it is not associated with highly charged issues such as immigration, day laborers, and violent drug traffickers.Scotty Greenwood, a senior adviser to the Canadian-American Business Council, is not surprised that the southern border gets more attention than the northern border. “The political theater isn’t as intense when you’re talking about what a good job we do.”

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  • CBP IA Operation Hometown reduces violence and corruption: Tomsheck shuts it down -- Pt. 5

    Operation Hometown appears to be yet another example in a series of programs at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) demonstrating blatant dysfunctionality and mismanagement within the Department of Homeland Security. Meticulously designed to target border violence and corruption among CBP employees, Operation Hometown was labeled a success in reaching its stated objectives. CBP Internal Affair’s (IA) James F. Tomsheck,however, shut the program down. As Congress and President Obama debate various aspects of a new federal immigration policy,few politicians are willing to acknowledge the serious problems at CBP Internal Affairs – but they should, as these problems may directly impact the success of any or all new immigration reforms.

  • Drug cartels, terrorists may cooperate in smuggling materials for a nuclear device into U.S.

    Detonating a nuclear device or dirty bomb in the United States has long been goal of terrorists groups including al-Qaeda. Doing so, however, would require access to nuclear materials and a way to smuggle them into the country. Experts note the nexus between drug organizations, crime groups, and violent extremists and the trafficking of radiological and nuclear materials. A new report points out that al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Colombia’s FARC are the three organizations with the motivation and capability to obtain a radiological or nuclear device.

  • Bill would expand Visa Waiver Program despite security concerns

    U.S. Representatives Joe Heck (R-Nevada) and Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) have re-introduced the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act, which aims to create American jobs by expanding the nation’s Visa Waiver Program(VWP) to more countries. Today, thirty-eight countries are included in the VWP, but with more than 3,000 European nationals flocking to Syria and Iraq to fight in the ranks of terror groups such as Islamic State (ISIS), expanding the VWP to more countries is a security concern.

  • With thousands of Westerners joining ISIS, visa waiver program puts U.S. at risk: Lawmakers

    Security concerns are threatening the 1986 visa waiver program (VWP), which allows millions of people with (mostly) Western passports to travel to the United States for ninety days without a visa. Lawmakers argue that the program, which applies to citizens of thirty-eight countries, has created a security weakness that terrorist groups, specifically the Islamic State (ISIS), could exploit. Thousands of European citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. Security officials fear that many of them could return back to Europe, then board a U.S.-bound flight with the intent of launching an attack on American soil.

  • Texas lawmakers propose bills to bolster border security

    On Monday, more than thirty Texas State House members joined local officials of border towns at the state Capitol to present their solutions to enhancing safety along the Texas border with Mexico. Three bills now being debated would add state police to the border, create a “DPS Officer Reserve Corps” using retired state troopers to assist police work like background investigations, toughen penalties for smugglers, build southbound checkpoints, and create a border protection unit.

  • U.S. cracks down on “birth tourism”

    Each year, thousands of wealthy couples, mostly from China, the Middle East, Africa, and South Korea partake in what authorities have coined “birth tourism,” in which pregnant women pay to visit the United States and give birth, thereby making their child or children U.S. citizens. In most cases, the parents would also gain permanent U.S. resident status. Roughly 40,000 babies are born each year to women visiting the United States for the sole purpose of giving birth.

  • CBP IA’s SAREX: Tomsheck’s program goes rogue – Pt. 4

    As Congressional legislation addresses multiple issues involving immigration and border security, Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs (CBP IA) faces increased scrutiny. The widening scandal at CBP IA, the watchdog agency of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is based upon acrimonious allegations by James Tomsheck against what he labels CBP’s systemic failure to meet professional standards including the proper investigation of criminal behavior by its own employees. According to former CBP IA employees, internal memos, and related government documents and reports, however, it now appears that Tomsheck’s own agency may be guilty of a number of allegations against it. Of particular interest is Tomsheck’s attempt in 2011 and 2012 to fashion the Suspicious Activity Reports Exploitation Initiative (SAREX) program, which at the time appeared as a reasonable strategy to deter CBP employees from corruption and other criminal behavior.

  • Thousands of undocumented immigrants see court hearings delayed to 2019 or later

    Thousands of undocumented immigrants seeking legalization through the U.S. court system have had their hearings canceled, and may have to wait until 2019 or later before an immigration judge hears their case. The surge in cancellations began late last summer when the Justice Department prioritized the roughly 60,000 Central American immigrants, specifically women and children, who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • In U-Visa limbo: Undocumented immigrants who are victims of crimes

    Many immigrants who are victims of crimes, along with their close family members, remain at risk and are denied the opportunity to live and work in the United States as long as Congress fails to increase the number of U-visaswhich immigration authorities can grant per year. Congress established the program in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Actto provide an incentive for immigrant victims to report crimes to law enforcement without fear of deportation. Applicants must allege that they have been the victim of a serious crime and provide a certification form signed by law enforcement confirming the applicant’s help or potential help in investigating the crime. USCIS, which processes the applications in the order they were received, has not evaluated any applications submitted after December 2013.