Borders

  • Emerging threatsNew technologies developed to deal with growing illegal migration

    Mass migration driven by climate change is pushing the global demand for border security solutions. It is not just that climate change displaces people through floods, storms, and rising sea levels; it also displaces them through scarcity of food and water, and by the conflicts that are in turn sparked by scarcity and migration. Companies specializing in border solutions are developing new technologies to help border agents track and identify illegal migrants.

  • CBPViolence and corruption scandal at CBP: FBI clean up or cover up? Pt. 6

    By Robert Lee Maril

    It has been more than a year since James F. Tomsheck, the senior executive at Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs (CBP IA), was unceremoniously reassigned to a new position at CBP. In response to his demotion from assistant commissioner at CBP IA, Tomsheck lambasted CBP leadership with charges of rampant mismanagement and accused CBP employees of widespread violence and corruption. Have these systemic problems within the largest federal law enforcement agency in the land been resolved, or have the FBI, CBP, and DHS senior leadership chosen to ignore these problems? Is there reasonable public accountability for the alleged criminal behavior at CBP and CBP IA, or are the alleged victims — all the honest, hardworking CBP employees, and the general public — still in the dark about both the hard facts and the consequences of this unprecedented scandal? In short, has there been a clean-up or a cover up?

  • ImmigrationImmigrants held for days in freezing, unsanitary cells file class-action lawsuit

    Tucson Sector Border Patrol holds men, women, and children in freezing, overcrowded, and filthy cells for extended periods of time in violation of the U.S. Constitution, a group of legal organizations allege in a class-action lawsuit filed Monday. The class-action suit, which was filed on behalf of two people detained in the Tucson Border Patrol Station as well as a Tucson man detained multiple times in that facility, describes Border Patrol limiting or denying access to beds, soap, showers, adequate meals and water, medical care, and lawyers, in violation of constitutional standards and Border Patrol’s own policies.

  • Border securityAbbott signs sweeping border security bill

    By Julián Aguilar

    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.”

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  • SurveillanceComputer 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.

  • Border & immigrationDHS 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.

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  • Virtual shooterDHS S&T completes Virtua Shooter robotic device, delivers it to ICE

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) the other day announced the successful completion of a robotic device that tests multiple types of handguns and ammunition. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will use the device to supplement manual testing of the weapons by laboratory staff.

  • African securityEU 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.

  • Border securityBill 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.

  • Border security More money, different approach offer opportunities to border security tech companies

    The number of border agents has reached roughly 21,000, up from 5,000 two decades ago. In fiscal year 2012, spending for border and immigration enforcement totaled almost $18 billion — 24 percent more than the combined budgets of the FBI, the DEA, the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (total: $14.4 billion). One major trend driving the border security industry is the government’s shift from large-scale border security infrastructure projects to small unit security systems.

  • Border securityLawmakers 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.”

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

    By Robert Lee Maril

    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.

  • Nuclear terrorismDrug 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.

  • Visa Waiver ProgramBill 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.

  • VisasWith 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.