Borders

  • Government agencies recognized for engagement with industry

    The Washington Homeland Security Roundtable (WHSR) established the Industry Engagement Awards to recognize exceptional efforts by government agencies to collaborate, engage, and partner with industry. Last year, WHSR recognized both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Border Patrol for their engagement and programs with industry through WHSR. At their upcoming 4 December holiday reception, WHSR will again recognize various government leaders of DHS component agencies for their contributions to partnering and engaging with industry.

  • Sahel-Sahara countries to build joint security training center in Rabat

    At a meeting on common security challenges in north and west Africa, government officials from nineteen Sahel, Sahara, and Maghreb countries agreed to build a joint security training center in Rabat, Morocco, to increase the competency of the region’s security forces to deal with growing terrorist and jihadist threats. The nineteen countries will also increase information sharing and harmonize the legal means they use to fight security threats. The ministers said that one of the first steps toward improving security in west and north Africa would be to improve monitoring of border and increase border security.

  • TCOM’s aerostat systems help U.S. Border Patrol

    Several TCOM aerostat systems are being evaluated by Border Patrol agents in operational environments along U.S.-Mexico border. TCOM’s aerostat systems enable operators to view activity along the border. The system can typically remain aloft for two weeks to one month at a time. With operational altitudes of up to 5,000ft, the aerostats provide monitoring of thousands of square miles.

  • Going underground: More sophisticated tunnels built under U.S.-Mexico border

    Law enforcement officials in San Diego recently discovered a “super tunnel” used to smuggle drugs from Tijuana, Mexico to an industrial park in San Diego. Considered the most sophisticated tunnel discovered to date, the tunnel is only one of 140 drug trafficking tunnels discovered since 1990. The 600-yard tunnel was equipped with lighting, ventilation, and an electric rail system. Experts say that smugglers turn to tunnels because above-ground border security has been bolstered.

  • Pyreos, ultra‐low power consumption IR sensor specialist, secures $4 million investment

    Edinburgh, Scotland-based Pyreos Limited, a specialist in ultra‐low power consumption infrared sensor technology, the other day announced plans for international expansion after securing a further funding round of $4 million. It is possible to use Pyreos sensor arrays in many applications, among them border security, where they can identify human movement at distances of several kilometers.

  • Johnson’s nomination marks shift in DHS focus

    Analysts say that President Barack Obama’s nomination of Jeh Johnson to replace Janet Napolitano as head of the Department of Homeland Securityis an indication of a shift in DHS priorities — from a focus on immigration and border issues to a focus on security and counterterrorism.

  • Strike Two: The CBP’s failure to polygraph its future employees

    Two recent reports – one by the DHS OIG, the other by the GAO — raise an alarm not just about CBP’s failure to monitor and ameliorate the use of excessive force by its agents and officers, but also call into question the quality and character of CBP’s current work force. Rather than reassure the public that the CBP is transitioning into a modern, professional law enforcement agency, these two reports highlight the need for increased congressional oversight and study of an agency which is so vital to our national security.

  • Decline in U.S. unauthorized immigrant population halted

    The sharp decline in the U.S. population of unauthorized immigrants which accompanied the 2007-9 recession has bottomed out, and the number may be rising again. As of March 2012, 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States, according to a new report.

  • Gulf States to “detect” gay travelers at border, barring them from entry

    The six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates— will set up a “detection” system at all points of entry to “detect” gay travelers in order to prevent them from entering the six countries. The detection system will also be used to detect gay expats who come back to visit their families, so they could be barred, too. Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament, is in a tight spot.

  • House Dems propose comprehensive immigration bill

    House Democrats last week released a proposed immigration bill aiming to tighten border security and provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. The House Judiciary Committee has advanced several bills offering narrower changes to the current immigration law. It is not clear whether the rancor characterizing the budget debate would allow for a bipartisan consideration of either side’s immigration legislative preferences.

  • Free-market solution to the immigration problem

    Supporters of a free-market approach to the immigration problem advance the “Red Card Solution,” a system to issue short-term unlimited guest worker visas. The system calls for private businesses to operate labor offices inside the United States and abroad, in which foreigners could apply for jobs. Hired applicants would be given a temporary red card to enter the United States and work with the security of legal worker status, and the understanding that they would leave the country upon completion of the job. Under the Red Card Solution, only applicants who have passed a criminal background check and secure legitimate employment would be granted worker status.

  • Immigration court cases in limbo during government shutdown

    The shutdown of the U.S. federal government has left hundreds of thousands of immigration cases in limbo. Immigration lawyers note that it is likely that political asylum cases and deportation cases would be deemed non-urgent, and could thus be put off for months if the government shutdown continues. “Situations change. Memories fade. Evidence gets lost,” one immigration lawyer said. “If you have a court date now, and it is kicked off the calendar, it could be a matter of life and death.”

  • Advancing U.S.-Canada dialogue on border issues

    US/Canada Border Conference laid the foundation for a successful annual gathering focused on increased border security and the facilitation of legitimate trade and travel between the United States and Canada.

  • Texas draws more illegal immigrants, but overall numbers fall

    Border Patrol numbers show that there has been a shift east in recent years in illegal immigration along the Southwest border, with more illegal crosser being apprehended in Texas at the same time that the overall numbers of illegal border crossers falling in other border states. Experts say that a combination of tougher law enforcement in Arizona, a strong Texas economy, and a greater number of Central American immigrants choosing the “relatively closer route” through Texas may be driving the shift.

  • Behind the recent reports on corruption in Customs and Border Protection

    Two recent government reports on the status of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – one by the GAO, the other by the DHS IG — must be considered in light of agency history, including organizational culture, rapid growth, and methods of data collection. The GAO report (the DHS IG report will be discussed in a future column), by failing to address some of the fundamental problems CBP faces, contributes to masking these real issues and, as a result, continues to expose CBP employees to systemic corruption by offering only superficial remedies. This GAO report does not demonstrate the increased efficacy of the CBP. Rather, when placed in a historical, organizational, and fact-based context, it reveals vital structural problems requiring public examination and comment.