Borders

  • 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.

  • Border securityTexas 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.

  • ImmigrationU.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.

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

    By Robert Lee Maril

    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.

  • ImmigrationThousands 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.

  • ImmigrationIn 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.

  • Visa Waiver ProgramLawmakers want more security features to be added to Visa Waiver Program

    The recent attacks in Paris have led U.S. lawmakers to propose restrictions on, or adding more security to, the U.S. Visa Waiver Program(VWP), which allows citizens from thirty-eight countries to travel to the United States for up to ninety days without obtaining a traditional visa. Concerns now revolve around the threat that some of the roughly 3,000 European nationals who have traveled to Syria to fight alongside Islamic extremist groups, and are now equipped with skills to launch an attack, may return to Europe and then book a flight to the United States to launch an attack.

  • Border securityHouse delays vote on “the toughest border security bill ever”

    The House was supposed to vote on Wednsday on what Republicans have called “the toughest border security bill ever,” but the bill encountered harsh criticism from different sides of the GOP caucus. Some complained the measure does not address the pressing issue of immigration reform, while others complained it was the first step on slippery slope toward such reform. The border security bill, Secure Our Borders First Act (H.R. 399), sponsored by House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), would impose harsh penalties for federal agencies that fail to meet certain requirements. One mandate aims for DHS to achieve “operational control,” or prevent illegal entry across the southern border, within five years. If DHS fails to achieve that objective, political appointees at the agency would be prohibited from traveling in government vehicles, receive reimbursement for nonessential travel, or receive pay increases or bonuses.

  • Border securitySaudi Arabia constructing 600-mile wall along its border with Iraq

    Saudi Arabia has been busy since September busy building a 600-mile East-to-West barrier which will run along its Northern border with Iraq.The primary purpose of the wall is to keep out Islamic State (ISIS) militants who have claimed that their goals are the eventual takeover of the holy cities of Mecca and Medinia, which lie well inside of Saudi Arabia’s borders.

  • Visa Waiver programVisa Waiver program scrutinized in wake of Paris terror attacks

    Following the deadly terror attacks in Paris last week, there has been a renewed criticism of the U.S. visa waiver program which has allowed travel without visa by many. The program is now subject to second thoughts by some and questions whether, as currently constituted, it may expose the United States to unjustified risks. “The visa waiver program is the Achilles’ heel of America,” said one critic, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California).

  • CBPTomsheck’s “July Amnesty”: CBP IA loses hundreds of cases alleging criminal activity by CBP Employees -- Pt.3

    An unprecedented scandal continues to unfold within Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Fueling this scandal are allegations by James F. Tomsheck about the U.S. largest federal law enforcement agency. Further investigation suggests that the “July Amnesty,” initiated in Tomsheck’s CBP IA’s Integrity Programs Division (IPD) headed by Director Janine Corrado and Assistant Director Jeffrey Matta, casts doubt on Tomsheck’s allegations against his CBP superiors. Along with the July Amnesty in 2011 and the alleged discrimination and firing of Navy Lieutenant Commander (Ret.) J. Gregory Richardson in March 2014, there appear to be a number of other events calling Tomsheck’s leadership at CBP IA into question.

  • Border securityDHS IG questions value of CBP’s border drone program

    DHS’s 8-years-old drone program, now consisting of nine drones operating in Arizona, Texas, and North Dakota, has been unsuccessful, according to a just-released DHS inspector general report. Customs and Border Patrol(CBP) expected 23,000 total flight hours per year, but it only logged about 5,100 in fiscal year 2013. The inspector general’s report notes that drones helped in less than 2 percent of apprehensions of illegal immigrants.CBP has used the dronesto cover just 170 miles of the U.S. border – and a 2014 GAO report noted that a fifth of CBP drone flights were conducted within the interior of the United States and beyond the 100-mile range of operations of CBP jurisdiction points.

  • Border securityObama’s immigration executive order fuels a resurgence of armed border groups

    The last few years have seen the influence of armed border militias, such as the Minuteman Project, on immigration matters, diminish. A combination of dwindling financial resources, bad publicity, and anti-immigration measures passed by conservative legislatures in border states caused the influence of these groups on the immigration debate to decline, as was their ability to sustain a presence along the Southwest border. President Barack Obama’s recent executive order to provide work permits to roughly five million undocumented immigrants who have been in the country illegally for years, has caused a resurgence of border groups.

  • African securityKenya’s harsh new security laws put hundreds of thousands of refugees at risk

    By Neil James Wilson

    Kenya has passed a controversial amendment to the country’s existing security laws, days after heated debates led to brawling on the floor of the Kenyan Parliament. Despite the fracas, the bill was passed with only minor changes, to the dismay of observers at home and abroad. Domestic and international attention has mainly focused on the impact the bill would have on the period of detention without charge, the tapping of communications without court consent, the erosion of media freedom and the limitations placed upon the right to protest. But the world has paid less attention to the severe implications the new amendments have for refugees in Africa’s second-largest refugee-hosting country.