Borders

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

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  • 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.

  • Lawmakers 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.

  • House 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.