• U.S. officials barred from reviewing social media postings of visa applicants

    Officials from DHS and the Department of State, as a general policy, do not check social media postings of applicants out of civil liberties concerns. With this policy in place, the department’s officials who handled Tashfeen Malik’s application could not have seen her pro-ISIS postings and note her growing radicalization. Officials from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pressed for a change in DHS policy in light of the fact that social media  is increasingly used by followers of jihadist groups to declare their allegiance, but the disclosures by Edward Snowden about NSA surveillance programs was behind the reluctance of DHS high officials to change the policy for fears such a change would further damage the administration’s standing with civil rights groups and European allies.

  • The third intifada; new, smaller Schengen; EU border patrol

    Mahmud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has been warned by the military wing of the PLO that unless he can persuade the UN Security Council to vote for a resolution calling for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, a new intifada will be launched to convince Israel that a continued occupation of Palestinian lands will be costly; European officials are planning to abandon the 30-year old Schengen Agreement and replace it with a much smaller, Western Europe-only free-travel zone; facing rising seas, residents of the Pacific island of Tuvalu are looking for a new home.

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  • Merkel: Germany will “drastically reduce” number of refugees arriving in Germany

    German chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that she wanted to “drastically decrease” the number of refugees coming to Germany, indicating she would willing to compromise with critics within her own conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). These critics have charged that her open-door policy posed security risks to Germany and would expand the government welfare rolls.

  • CBP begins biometric entry/exit testing at Otay Mesa port of entry

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin testing new biometric technology at the Otay Mesa pedestrian crossing this week to enhance identification of certain non-U.S. citizens entering and exiting the United States. CBP says its Entry/Exit strategy includes three core pillars: identify and close the biographic gaps and enhance the entry-exit system; perform targeted biometric operations; and transform the entry/exit process through the use of emerging biometric technologies.

  • Tijuana airport’s bridge-connected terminals straddle U.S.-Mexico border

    The Tijuana airport is only the second airport in the world straddling an international border, with terminals on each side of the U.S.-Mexico border. Before the bridge opened, travelers had to drive a rental car or be driven in shuttle buses for about fifteen minutes to a crowded land crossing, where they often had to wait several hours to enter San Diego by car or on foot. On the new airport bridge, it takes passengers five minutes to walk to a U.S. border inspector.

  • Refugee system “vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups”: U.S. intelligence

    On Monday, in his inaugural State of Homeland Security Address, House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) highlighted new concerns regarding refugees with ties to terrorist groups in Syria who might try to enter the United States. He revealed that a letter sent to him earlier this year by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that “The refugee system, like all immigration programs, is vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West.”

  • Trump calls for barring all Muslims from entering U.S. (updated)

    In an extraordinary rhetorical escalation Donald Trump on Monday called for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States because, he argued, Islam is rooted in hatred and violence. The ban should be in place until the country’s leaders and security agencies can “figure out what is going on.” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told the Associated Press that the ban would apply to “everybody,” including both immigrants and tourists.

  • French regional elections: No one can dismiss Le Pen as an also-ran now

    Marine Le Pen probably won’t be the next president of France, but the regional elections are proving that her Front National has truly become a major player. Le Pen’s party has taken 28 percent of the vote in the first of two rounds to elect regional assemblies. The right-wing Republicans, led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, came a close second, with a shade under 27 percent. The ruling Socialist Party trailed, with just 23 percent of the vote. There is one week to go until the decisive second round, but even if the left and right somehow manage to block their path, the FN has already struck a major blow ahead of the presidential election in 2017.

  • Trump Calls for preventing all Muslims, including immigrants and tourists, from entering U.S.

    In what must be seen as an extraordinary rhetorical escalation even for a presidential candidate not known for nuance and subtlety, Donald J. Trump on Monday called for the United States to prevent all Muslims, without exception, from entering the United States until the country’s leaders and security agencies can “figure out what is going on.” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told the Associated Press that the ban would apply to “everybody,” including both immigrants and tourists.

  • 72 DHS employees were found to be on the terrorist watch-list

    Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts) was among the forty-seven Democrats who supported a GOP bill to tighten screening requirements for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. He explains: “I have very low confidence [in DHS’s ability to vet refugees] based on empirical data that we’ve got on the Department of Homeland Security. I think we desperately need another set of eyeballs looking at the vetting process.” He also revealed that a DHS IG investigation found that seventy-two DHS employees were on the terrorist watch list.

  • GOP lawmakers draft bill to bolster Visa Waiver security

    About twenty million people use the Visa Waiver program to come to the United States every year. A bill being considered in the House would block anyone who has traveled to Syria, Iraq or a few other nations in the past five years from participating in the Visa Waiver program. It would also require the United States to collect more information about those who avail themselves of the program, codifying a policy already in place.

  • Texas sues to block resettlement of Syrian refugees

    The Texas Health and Human Services Commission on Wednesday filed suits in federal court against the U.S. State Department, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and other organizations as part of the state effort to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Texas.

  • Major reorganization at CBP: Two new offices created

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been significantly reorganized, according to a recent internal agency memo. CBP’s current four Operations Offices, however, will not be a part of the reorganization. These four offices, which employ 75 percent of CBP’s total workforce, include the Office of Field Operations, the U.S. Border Patrol, Air and Marine Operations, and the Office of International Trade. New offices in the proposed reorganization include Operations Support and Enterprise Services. The CBP reorganization comes in the wake of an unprecedented CBP scandal.

  • U.S. modifies Visa-Waiver program to make it more secure

    The United States announced Monday that it would make changes to the Visa Waiver program in an effort to prevent terrorists who are citizens of Visa Waiver countries from easily entering the United States. The New York Times reports that the White House has admitted that the changes — which would impose higher fines for airlines which fail to verify passengers’ identities and increased information-sharing among countries — are limited, and that more sweeping changes would require Congressional action. Law enforcement and security experts say that the Visa Waiver program — which allows more than twenty million foreigners form the thirty-eight Visa Waiver countries to travel to the United States each year without being interviewed at American consulates and embassies — dwarfs the administration’s Syrian refugee plan, and poses a far greater threat to national security.

  • More than 500 travelers to U.S. flagged daily for “national security concerns”

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data show that every day, hundreds of travelers going through airports, seaports, and land border crossings are flagged for “suspected national security concerns.” In 2014, the average daily number of those flagged for national security concerns was 548.