• A top DHS official says that E-Verify, the program set by DHA to allow employers to verify the legal status of employees and job applicants, is accurate and reliable; she writes that the famous Westat study “concluded that E-Verify was accurate 96 percent of the time” and that, “Since then, the Obama administration has taken steps further to improve E-Verify”

  • In 2006 Boeing won the contract for the ambitious Secure Border Initiative Net (SBINet) project — a system of cameras, radar, and other sensors aiming to detect illegal immigrants as they cross the U.S.-Mexico border; after countless technical glitches and many delays, DHS freezes funding for the project to allow it too assess how to deal with Boeing’s failures and decide on future steps

  • Advocates of immigration reform are pushing for a bill in the Senate which would create a national biometric identification card all American workers would eventually be required to obtain; the biometric data would likely be either fingerprints or a scan of the veins in the top of the hand; employers will not be able to hire applicants who do not present a valid ID

  • Many news reports about a DHS-sponsored evaluation of the effectiveness of the E-Verify project said that the study found that the program was accurate in only 54 percent of the cases submitted to it for verification; the heavily statistical analysis is not easily penetrated, but what the report said was that due primarily to identity fraud, the inaccuracy rate of E-Verify for unauthorized workers is approximately 54 percent

  • E-Verify was launched to allow employers to verify the legal status of job applicants; a study done for DHS finds that the program is ineffective: the inaccuracy rate for unauthorized workers at about 54 percent, meaning that one in two illegal workers makes it through the screening

  • Placing radiation detectors at U.S. ports of entry would help prevent the smuggling of nuclear material into the United States — but it is also a business issue for Washington state: 400 employees work at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington; the proposed DHS budget contains only $8 million for these detectors, and the Washington congressional delegation presses for more

  • Land down under

    The Australian government has launched a $69 million plan which will require citizens of ten countries — not named yet — to submit fingerprint and facial images to apply for electronic visas to enter Australia; Foreign Minister Stephen Smith: “there may well be a diplomatic effort required in respect of some of those countries as you would expect”

  • GAO investigators test for vulnerabilities along the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders; they examine both ports of entry and unmonitored areas of the border; GAO concluded that a determined cross-border violator would likely be able to bring radioactive materials or other contraband undetected into the United States by crossing the U.S.-Canada border

  • DHS has spent $57.7-million – and waived more than thirty environmental laws in 2008 — to build a 3.6 mile fence on Otay Mountain; critics question the cost, effectiveness and environmental effect of erecting a fence where those who hiked three days up a steep, arid peak were often met by border agents anyway

  • As of 31 March 2009, all U.K. universities have been required to monitor foreign students and academics; for instance, university staff must check international student attendance, and if a student fails to attend 10 “expected interactions” (seminars, lectures, tutor meetings, etc.), the professor is obliged to report them to the U.K. Border Agency; professor say this is too much

  • The population of illegal immigrants in the United States has declined by 7 percent – from an estimated 11.6 million to 10.8 million – for the year ending January 2009, compared to the previous year; about 37 percent are believed to have entered the country in the last decade; 44 percent entered the United States during the 1990s and 19 percent during the 1980s

  • The future of the U.S.-Mexico border fence is in doubt; the project, contracted by DHS to Boeing, has been plagued by technical glitches from the start; among other things, the radar system had trouble distinguishing between vegetation and people when it was windy; also, the satellite communication system took too long to relay information in the field to a command center; by the time an operator moved a camera to take a closer look at a spot, whatever had raised suspicion was gone; Obama’s proposed 2011 budget cuts $189 million from the venture

  • Federal program aims to keep illegal immigrants off job sites; a coalition of labor unions wants Baltimore County Council members to adopt a new requirement that contractors working for the county verify the immigration status of their employees or risk losing county business; the hourly pay rate of members of the Ironworkers Union – a pay which includes health and retirement benefits — is about $40; workers in the United States illegally often get $12 an hour with no benefits

  • Two South Korean women have managed to fool Japan’s expensive biometric border-control system by using special tapes on their fingers; the invisible tape carries the finger prints of another person, and the South Korean broker who supplied the tape also provided false passports to go with it; this is the third known case of South Korean women using the fingerprint-altering tape to enter Japan; in all three cases, the women managed to fool the biometric screening, but were later caught because they over-stayed their visas

  • Native American companies may not have expertise in running detention centers, but they have something more important: preference rights; preference gives Alaska Native corporations a priority shot at getting federal contracts; immigrant detention means business, and several Native American firms are profiting from the get-tough policy on immigration; contract awards to Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) by all federal agencies increased by 916 percent from 2000 to 2008, rising from $508.4 million in 2000 to $5.2 billion in 2008

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents searched more than 1,500 electronic devices at the U.S. border over a period of nine months between October 2008 and June 2009; customs agents forwarded electronic files found on travelers’ devices to other agencies almost 300 times; civil liberties groups argue this policy is overly broad without meaningfully contributing to U.S. security

  • A proposal will be debated in Congress to create a new class of visa eligibility; the start-up visa would be granted to foreign entrepreneurs if their business plan attracts either $250,000 from a venture capital operating company that is primarily U.S. based or $100,000 from an angel investor; they must also show that the business will create five to ten jobs or generate a profit and at least $1 million in revenue

  • Researchers at the University of California-San Diego develop GPS-based cell phone application aiming to help illegal immigrants by directing them to prepositioned water bins in the desert; critics say this amounts to aiding law-breaking, while supporters argue this is the humane thing to do

  • The only thing we can say for sure about 2010 is terrorists, criminals, and mother nature will surprise us at some point during 2010; still, based on what we do know, we offer a short list of topics we predict will dominate the homeland security discussion in the coming year – from whole-body scanners to 100 percent air cargo screening to social Web sites to communication interoperability to the consequences of climate change (or is there a climate change?)

  • Canada has a long borders, and before 9/11 the Canadian federal government made it easier for travelers to cross into Canada at remote border crossing where security is not as tight as it is in major cross points; a new study says this system must change because it is not secure enough