Securing the Borders
Securing the borders of the
United States is one of the most important tasks of the Department of Homeland
Security, Customs and Border Protection, and the American people. Since the attacks of 9/11 more agents
have been added to help secure the borders. There are many different types of borders that need to be
secured; those are air, sea, and land.
Securing the borders will actually have a multi-fold purpose. Some of those are keeping the trade
safe and expedited and well as help to slow down and stop criminal
activity. The addition of more
agents alone is not the answer to securing the borders but the addition to adding
technology will help to increase it.
Since the attacks of
9/11 one thing that has been high on a lot of people agenda and radar is the
security of the American people and the security of the American borders. This
is something that is not an easy task and a huge undertaking. Border Security
has come a lone way from what it was when it was first created in 1924. When it
was first created the agents were poorly equipped. At that time they were just
given a badge, a revolver, and some oats to eat. If they even wanted a horse
they had to provide their own. The Department of Homeland Security along with
Customs and Borders Protection and the United States Coast Guard are working
hard to ensure the security. Securing the borders is something that is
important to not only the Department of Homeland Security but to the American
people. The borders that need to be secured are those of air, land, sea
borders, and all other approaches. There are also other goals that are needed
at the borders as well. Those are for safeguard and expedite trade and disrupt
and dismantle criminal activity. Looking at the different ways to help secure
the borders will help to control them and keep them safe. The addition of
technology alone with the human aspects will only help to enhance the mission.
“In a speech in El Paso, Texas,
in May, U.S. President Barack Obama claimed that the United States had
strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible” (Alden and
Roberts, 2011). Although the
president gave this speech there are many who think this not to be true. While
looking at the security of the borders it is first important to understand
fully what that means. Protecting the borders is not just a one or two point
project. There are many different areas that need to be looked at and worked
into the plan. Those areas are protecting the borders for the movement of
illegal weapons, drugs, contraband, and people. While doing that there also
must be a way of keeping the movement of lawful entry and exit into the
borders. This is something that is vital to homeland security, economic growth,
and national sovereignty.
This is a task that is
not one that is easy. The borders the America shares with Mexico and Canada is
over 7,000 miles long. This does not include land, lakes, rivers, and the
coastal waterways that are all long the borders. The borders are the point of
entry and play a vital role in the economic impact on the country. Every year
there are trillions of dollars of trade that go though the borders and hundreds
of millions travelers every year.
The Department of
Homeland Security works to keep the borders secure. This task is one that is
completed by the deployment of agents, technology, and infrastructure. This is
a task that is also help out by the Canadian and Mexican governments as many
other federal, state, tribal, and local agencies. Agents, agriculture
specialist, Air and Marine specialist, and many officers patrol the borders to
keep America’s front line secure. With the increase in all of these steps the
borders have been made more secure however there is still some work that can be
done to help secure the borders even more.
Many experts have
started to think that the security of the borders is something that is well
within reach. This is something that is a coordinated effort though. They think
for this to happen the focus need to be the people, technology, and not just
the infrastructure. Former Aguilar, who is the former deputy commissioner of
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, met with the Senate Homeland land Security
and Government Affairs Committee and told the that “There is not a one size
fits all solution to border security” (Naegele, 2017). Securing the border is a
team effort and something that is very complex.
The steps that have been
taken to secure the borders have resulted in a decrease in the illegal
population in the United States. It has also led to the increased partnership
with Mexico and Canada with the increase in cross border security cooperation.
These are efforts that need to be sustained and maintained. This is not
something that will come easy, as there are many challenges and struggles that
are faced. Some people say that the money should be spent on technology and not
on hiring more agents.
One of those challenges
if the fact the drug and crime cartels are working with some of the border
locations. The cartels have gained control of areas of land on and along the
Mexico and U.S. border. Some the these cartels are the Gulf Cartel, The
Federation, the Tijuana Cartel, the Sinaloa, and the Juarez Cartel. What makes
them even more dangerous is that some of these groups have joined together and
made alliances with each other. These groups’ sells drugs, run guns, practice
human trafficking, and money launder. These cartels are not like the normal
gang activity but act more like a terrorist group. They are highly equipped
with weapons and training, intelligence, and other equipment that they might
need. A lot of times they carry out their acts and are not bothered by the Mexican
Police. It is not because the police do not want to face these problems in is
due to at time the cartels are better equipped then the police are. With this
the cartels are at time able to carry out there terror with the border of the
There are also gaps
along the fence border between the United States and Mexico. It is estimated
the there are about 11 million illegal immigrates within the United States. It
is also thought that there are about 375,000 people per year who enter the United
States illegally. Most of these are coming though the gaps within the border
fence. This is something that is taking a strain on the government services.
Reason for this is that these illegal immigrates are using the health care and
education system but not paying taxes.
This shows that the gaps along the border fence are not just an economic
concern but also a safety and security concern.
There are principles that are looked at
when it comes to border security and how it is being done. Those principles are
the following smart security, economics, and a team effort. Many times it is
just looked at by the number of agents who are hired and working, the
technology that is being used and the miles of fence that has been fixed or
built. This however is not the case to smart security. Smart security is also
looking at polices and programs that are used to secure the borders. One of
those programs was the establishment of the Border Enforcement Task Force. This
task force is comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement as well as
Mexican law enforcement.
This group shares
information and work together on matters alone the border crimes. One plus to
this Task Force is the neither country must give up control on their side but
they work together. The border is the hub for an economic engine. It
facilitates trades among companies and countries. One such step that was taken
in order to help ensure the economic effort was the Security and Prosperity
Partnership. This partnership was created in 2005 and is in place for the
United States, Canada, and Mexico. The goal id for the three countries to work
together and hopes to find new ways to help improve the flow of items, cut
though all the red tape, increase the trade rules and regulations, and as many
of these ensure the security. Like many of these efforts that are taken to
secure the borders it is a team effort. This means not just one agency is
responsible for the security of the borders. This includes federal, state,
local, and even private citizens.
Over the past several
years with all the hard work that has been done it is easy to see that the
borders might appear to be more secure. There has been the deployment of the
number of personnel, technology, and resources. Most of these steps have been
taken alone the Southwest border. Along the Northern border the Department of
Homeland Security has added more agents, technology, and infrastructure while
also working to increase the efforts of the maritime borders.
In 2006, the Bush
Administration mad a call for some more Border Patrol agents before the end of
2008. That call was made for a 6,000 agents or officer increase. Those actions
would increase the number from 12,000 to 18,000. With the call made by the Bush
Administration made Customs and Border Protection started a major recruitment
campaign and was able to meet the goal that was set forth for them. As of today
that number is still growing.
On the Southern border
there have been many steps taken to help increase the security of that border.
Since the attacks of 9/11 the borders are staffed with more agents today then
they had been in time in the last 87 years. In 2001 there was only about 9,100
Border Patrol agents where as today there are more then 17,1700 (DHS, 2017).
Along with the increase in the Border Patrol agents the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement has sent a quarter of their agents to the Southern border. This has
been the largest move in the history to add the number of personnel that are to
work in the Border Enforcement Security Task Forces.
The year 2006 brought
even more changes, some of those changes where the passage of the Secure Fence
Act and the Secure Border Initiative. The Secure Border Initiative was awarded
to the Boeing Corporation. This was a move that the borders will a more
increased attention for the equipment that is being used at the borders. Some
of that equipment that has been added is video cameras, language translators,
and unmanned aerial vehicles. Technology is thought to be the key to help
secure the borders. While technology is being used it is still thought to be
one of the highest needs that the border still has. It can give a situational
awareness of what is going on before agents or officers even get there. This
will help them from going into a situation blind.
Looking at and
understanding some of the technology will help to understand how it is helping
in the cause to secure the borders. Cameras and sensors is one type of
technology that is been used at this time. These provide and early warning
device in an area that is just too great to cover. The cameras can be used to
see those are and keep an eye in the sky of what is going on. This is however
something that is in question if it is even working correctly and worth the
price. The amount of money that was spent of sensors and cameras with totaled
hundreds of millions of dollars to put in place over 11,000. That amount of
money was only able to cover about fiver percent of the border.
The Integrated Automated
Fingerprint Identification System program is another piece of technology that
is being used to help secure the borders. It could not come as a surprise that
not all people who a caught at the borders will tell the truth on who they are.
This system links many different databases and tracks someone by their
fingerprints. This will allow agents to know if someone is tell the truth of
who they are, if they have fingerprints on file, and will allow them to know if
that person is wanted.
Systems or Drones are what they sound like they are. They are pilotless
aircraft that are used to give a birds eye view of a given area without putting
someone in danger. They can be given set way points or points of interest to
look at. These types of a device can be a force multiplier.
License plate readers
use a camera and a database system to work together. They take pictures of the
license plate and then use the database to compare that plate to the vehicle.
It can also let the agents know it that vehicle has the correct plate on it or
if that vehicle is stolen. This is technology that has been around for many
years. There is also a mobile system that is being used tough out the United
States to help in the vehicle theft area.
Language Translators are
a great piece of technology to have. Agents are likely to be faced with trying
to talk to someone and there be a language barrier. Language barriers make a
job that is already harder even harder. This piece of equipment works by
someone speaking into it and their words be spoken out of it in a language that
can be understood by the other peron.
The Border Enforcement
Security Task Force is set forth to work and dismantle crime activity and
organizations along the border. Along with the work of the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement the Customs and Border Protection has also been working to
increase the security. The Customs and Border Protection has sent dual dog team
into this area. The teams are in place in order to identify illegal firearms
and money. As well as the dog teams the Customs and Border Protection also are
using “non-intrusive inspection system, Mobile Surveillance Systems, remote
Video Surveillance Systems, thermal imaging systems, radiation portal monitors,
and license plate readers” (DHS, 2017). The Customs and Border Protection also
screens all rail shipments that are heading south. In those screens they are
looking for illegal weapons, drugs, and cash. They have also started the use of
Unmanned Aircraft Systems. During his term President Obama authorized the use
of National Guard troops to help secure the border.
Along with these steps
President Obama also worked out and international partnership with Mexico. In
2010, President Obama and Mexican President Calderon worked together to make
this happen. Together they issued the Declaration on 21st Century Border
Management. This was set fourth to help with expediting the legal flow of
people and goods across the border. It also had a focus on law enforcement on
the people and goods that that showed the highest risk or that little was known
about them. Along with these presidents working together, Secretary Napolitano,
who was the Secretary of Homeland Security at the time, worked her Mexican
counterpart to sign agreements and declarations. These actions help to add to
the cooperation and collaboration.
Along with the steps
taken along the Southern border there have also been steps taken along the
Northern border as well. The steps along the Northern border are similar to
those that have been taken to the Southern order with one minor change. An
issue has also been worked out on the Northern border as well. In February
2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper of Canada signed the “Shared
Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness” (DHS, 2017). This
signing was one that implied emphasizes on shared responsibility on the safety,
security, and resilience on the United States and Canadian border. In this they
also talked of addressing the threats and the earliest possible point,
facilitating the trade, the economic growth, jobs, working together on cross
border law enforcement, and working together to make a better and more secure
infrastructure and cyber security.
Like on the Southern
Border there has also been an increase of agents on the Northern Border. Since
9/11 there has been a 500 percent increase of agents on that border, it is now
up to 2,200 Border Patrol agents. There are also over 3,700 Customs and Border
Protection Officers who are working on the borders. There are 39 ports of entry
into the United States and Mexico. These officers are working daily to maintain
the flow of personnel and good across the border. The Customs and Border
Protection are also using funds from the Recovery Act to update more than 35
land ports. The updates will ensure that they meet the current safety,
security, and operational needs. Technology is also being used along the
Northern Border. They have deployed thermal cameras, Mobile Surveillance
Systems, and Remote video Surveillance Systems. The use of Unmanned Aircraft is
also being used to secure more the 1150 miles of the Northern border. This was
something that was not being done prior to the creation of the Department of
Along with the land
borders the water borders also need to be secured. This is something that is
being done by the United States Coast Guard. They are doing this through a
system of what is called layered security. The United States Coast Guard is at
sea as a presence and to deter any potential threats, to help to provide mobile
surveillance, increase the warning time, to engage any smugglers at the
earliest possible point, and it also helps to add the time that the Coast Guard
can address any threats before they can do any harm to the US people. The Coast
Guard does this from both the sea and the air. Since the United States Coast
Guard has been doing this it is easy to see how they threats in a faster time.
Alone with the steps
that has been taken to improve technology and to work together with the
countries to the north and south there are others steps that have been taken as
well. One of those is the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative or WHTI. This
was an initiative that took place in 2009. It was established for all travel
from land to sea. It required all people, United States, Mexican, and Canadian
citizens to present either a passport or another secure travel document while
crossing the border. This document has to denote their citizenship and identity
when trying to enter the United States. Before this it was a lot easier to gain
entry for all travelers had to do was give any type of secure document and
declare their citizenship just by saying it.
Technology is also
something that is being used at all types of ports of entry from sea, land, and
even mail facilities, at these areas that are using radiation detection. This
is something that has seen a big change since 2003. In 2003 the amount of items
that was being scanned was only 68 percent of the items, where as today 100
percent of all items are being scanned that are coming in by land and 99
percent of the items that are coming in by sea are being scanned.
Over the years the way
that the borders are secured have changed. The Department of Homeland Security
is working with many others different agencies as well and Canada and Mexico
and is taking measures to help secure the border of America. There are many
different borders in which they must secure. Those borders are the air, sea,
and land. There must be many steps taken to ensure this to happen. The addition
to adding more agents is not the only way. Technology will only add to the
efforts. As it is easy to see this is something that will forever be changing.
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