• Border securityCBP MVSS border surveillance system: Another border program mired in delays

    By Robert Lee Maril

    Political parties debate crucial immigration issues, including a call for a new border wall, but an essential component — frequently neglected in the run up to the November elections — is the efficacy of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) contract acquisition and management process. What is frequently overlooked is the “business side” of CBP – but the business side of CBP is crucial to any immigration policy. CBP agents and officers finally are benefiting from the much-delayed delivery of the Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) surveillance technology program, but the status of the Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS) and Ultra-Light Aircraft Detection (ULAD) surveillance technology programs has not been ascertained. After many needless Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition (OTIA) delays and problematic contract management decisions, both the MVSS program, along with the Mobile Surveillance Capabilities (MSC) program, now appear to be dead in the water. 

  • Land disputeMexico Senate considering bill which would take back land from U.S. if Trump is elected

    Mexico’s Senate is considering a bill to revoke Mexico’s bilateral treaties with the United States, including the 1848 agreement which transferred half the country’s territory to the United States. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed to bring a two-year war between the two countries – a war which Mexico lost — to an end. As part of the treaty, Mexico gave the United States a vast swath of territory, which is now New Mexico, California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado. The proposal contains a clause which stipulates that the bill will go into effect only if Donald Trump is elected president – and if he insists on Mexico paying for the border wall he pledged to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, and goes ahead with unilateral changes to NAFTA.

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  • Nuclear detectionScanners more rapidly and accurately identify radioactive materials at U.S. borders, events

    By Rob Matheson

    Among the responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, DHS, among other things, has increased screening of cargo coming into the country. At MIT, the terrorist attacks gave rise to a company dedicated to helping DHS — and, ultimately, other governments and organizations worldwide — better detect nuclear and other threats at borders and seaports. Today, Passport — co-founded in 2002 by MIT physics professor emeritus William Bertozzi — has two commercial scanners: the cargo scanner, a facility used at borders and seaports; and a wireless radiation-monitoring system used at, for example, public events.

  • Refugee crisis Many migrants arriving in Europe this year are unaccompanied children

    More than 9 out of 10 refugee and migrant children arriving in Europe this year through Italy are unaccompanied, prompting UNICEF to warn of the growing threats of abuse, exploitation, and death facing them. In a report, Danger Every Step of the Way, released the other day, UNICEF says that 7,009 unaccompanied children made the crossing from North Africa to Italy in the first five months of the year, twice as many as last year.

  • Border securityLawsuit seeks information on CBP's complaint process

    The American Immigration Council the other day filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the release of additional documents related to the complaints process at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Immigration Council says it is seeking to update information received from CBP in its previously filed FOIA request, in which it obtained data concerning 809 complaints of abuse lodged against U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents between January 2009 and January 2012.

  • Border securityCBP MSC vehicle contracts to Telephonic appear problematic

    By Robert Lee Maril

    According to federal government documents, problematic contract inconsistencies predominate in yet another CBP surveillance technology program. The CBP contract in question calls for the production of Multiple Surveillance Capability (MSC) vehicles. Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of these documented problematic delays in the CBP and Office of Technology Innovation and Assessment (OTIA) acquisition process with Telephonics MSC vehicle contracts have serious ramifications. Equally troubling is that CBP MSC contract delays from 2010 to 2015 mirror SBInet delays from 2006 to 2011. These contract delays with Telephonics MSC vehicles, a surveillance technology already in place in other countries, continues to create a U.S.-Mexican border far less secure or safe than it should or has to be.

  • Border securityTighter U.S.-Mexico border enforcement has backfired: Study

    From 1986 to 2010, the United States spent $35 billion on border enforcement, but the net rate of undocumented population growth doubled. The rapid escalation of border enforcement over the past three decades has backfired as a strategy to control undocumented immigration between Mexico and the United States, according to new research that suggests further militarization of the border is a waste of money.

  • RefugeesGermany to put a Syrian refugee on trial for war crimes

    A Syrian national who arrived in Germany as a refugee has been arrested and charged with war crimes in his home country. The man is accused of leading a 150-strong armed militia which tortured civilians, kidnapped others for ransom, and enriched itself by selling looted art.

  • Refugee crisisTerrorists may have entered Europe hiding among asylum-seekers: EU border police

    Frontex, the EU’s border police, has said that terrorists may have entered Europe by hiding among asylum seekers. Frontex noted that two of the bombers in last November’s Paris attacks made it to the continent in a smuggling boat from Turkey. “As the vast majority of migrants arrive undocumented, screening activities are essential to properly verify their declaration of nationality,” the report says.

  • Border securityThe real cost of CBP’s failed SBInet is $1.389 billion

    By Robert Lee Maril

    Since its approval by Congress in 2006, the exact cost to taxpayers of the Secure Border Initiative network (SBInet) has remained difficult to substantiate. The real cost to date of the failed SBInet program , a cost which excludes the SBInet impact upon both federal agents, border residents, and border crossers, far exceeds the commonly used estimate of $1 billion. The quality, utility, and efficiency of CBP’s failed SBInet program should be judged, like any other federal program, by its real cost to the public. According to government data, that cost to date is $1.389 billion.

  • Border securityFixing failed SBInet: Contract delays, quality issues at CBP

    By Robert Lee Maril

    Since DHS secretary Janet Napolitano in 2011 cancelled the failed SBInet program, CBP’s Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition (OTIA) has awarded defense contractors approximately $186,000,000 to replace it. Mark Borkowski’s Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition (OTIA) has created problems which directly impacting safety and productivity of Border Patrol agents: The needlessly delayed Integrated Fixed Towers (IFT) project has once again placed Border Patrol agents in harm’s way because the men and women who risk their lives patrolling the line still do not possess sophisticated surveillance technology to fight the drug cartels, human traffickers, and potential terrorists crossing our international borders.

  • Quick takesBrazil-Israel stand-off over embassy appointment; teaching German to children refugees

    Israel’s outgoing ambassador to Brazil, Reda Mansour, has completed his tour in Brasilia last week and returned to Israel. Brazil, however, is unwilling to accept his replacement — Dani Dayan, a former head of the Jewish settlement council in the Palestinian territories who lives in the occupied West Bank; Germany is in the process of recruiting 8,500 teachers to teach German to children of refugees. The German government estimates that about 196,000 refugee children will enter the German school system this year.

  • RefugeesNew biometric measures to identify, track refugees

    Refugees applying to come to the United States go through several different security measures aiming to make sure that they who they say they are, and that they are involved with terror organizations or criminal gangs. The security screening includes detailed interviews, three levels of background checks, three fingerprint screenings, contagious disease screening, and cultural orientation. The United States has plans in the works for additional biometric measures, including iris scanning and rapid-turnaround DNA testing.

  • Border securityCBP 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.

  • Syrian refugeesCBP detains 8 Syrians trying to cross Texas border illegally

    Eight Syrians have been detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents as they tried to enter the United States from Texas in the Laredo Sector. DHS issued a statement confirming that two Syrian families were taken into custody Tuesday, but clarified that they families were not trying to “sneak in.” A Syrian did attempt to enter the United States illegally through Texas in late September. The Syrian was found to be using a passport that belonged to someone else, and U.S. authorities decided against prosecuting anyone involved owing to “circumstances.”