Border and Coastal Security
UNITED STATES AND CANADA AND MEXICO BORDER Border Patrol focus has been detection, apprehension and/or deterrence of terrorists and terrorist weapons (Securing America’s Borders). 2011). The duties and responsibilities of the Border Patrol is one of the most important jobs and it is to detect and prevent the entry of illegal immigrants, terrorists, and smugglers into the United States. The amount of travellers that come through the United States, the trade that the United States engage in, and the number of immigrants entering the United States makes us a target for terrorist attacks from different angles.
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The Department of Homeland Security was created to deal with and address the threat of international terrorism (Securing America’s Borders). The priority mission of this department is homeland security. The Hart-Rudman Commission had three innovations they were trying to accomplish. The first of which the commission thought the United States needed to push its borders outward, developing what it called a “layered defense” (Alden, 2009, p. 39). The senators thought that the U. S. eeds to work more with foreign countries to try to identify threats and/or terrorists before they arrive in the U. S. Secondly, the commission recommended the government need to work with companies, mainly private shipping companies, who ships goods or products to other countries or around the world (Alden, p. 39). This would help not only the government but the companies involved in order to try to prohibit them (the companies) from becoming a sort of accomplice in carrying out a criminal or terroristic act (Alden, p. 39).
The last innovation or recommendation and perhaps the most important to the commission is to have new and much better intelligence gathering, data handling, and information sharing among government agencies so that our border security officials and others involved for border security would be better able to target high risk goods and persons who could and does pose a threat. There are those who feel that these innovations or recommendations would not work because the cooperation from foreign countries including businesses and even the governments themselves may not work (Alden, p. 9). Foreign countries and foreign based companies may not want to provide us with the pertinent information or data we would need to try to identify and/or stop potential threats, whether it is terrorists or the deadly weapons used to commit heinous acts (Alden, p. 40). Another issue against these innovations is that even our own U. S. government and business information sharing could use some help (Alden, p. 40). The information that could be pertinent is scattered throughout different agencies so how could anyone now what information he/she needed and/or had.
Also, the commission’s plans were not clearly setting or showing what their strategic priorities were, they were not clearly defining what their alternatives would be, and they were providing a clear set of the specific resources that would be needed in order to carry out its goals (Krepinevich, Vickers and Kosiak, 2000). The U. S. and Canada border had been known as the “Longest Undefeated Border in the World” (Securing Canada’s Border). The Canadian border was seen as having opportunities for trade but this unfortunately changed on September 11, 2001.
Since the attacks, security has become a big issue and this in turn has created problems and/or issues with how the border is operated. The U. S. and Canada Border had not had much of a security concern before 9-11. Those entering the U. S. from Canada were able to do so without showing any documentation. The Canada-U. S. Free Trade Agreement and later the North American Free Trade Agreement were put into place to help businesses and also facilitate access into the United States. Canada started being looked upon as a security risk because of its lax attitude on immigration policy.
It was thought that if Canada adopted more rules and policies similar to that of the United States, there would not be as much security requirements necessary at the border (Securing Canada’s Border). The “Smart Border” Declaration was put in place to “enhance the security of our shared border while facilitating the legitimate flow of people and goods” (Securing Canada’s Border). One key feature of this declaration was to make Canadian identification easier to process when trying to cross the border.
Another element of the Smart Border Declaration was the Safe Third Country Agreement in which refugees could enter the U. S. on a travel visa but their refugee claims had to be made in the country of initial entry instead of being made at the Canadian Border (Securing Canada’s Border). This agreement has cut the refugee claims in half that is made in Canada. Another initiative within the agreement is the Passenger Information Sharing System which allows nations to share airline traveller’s information including whether this person is thought to pose a risk or not (Securing Canada’s Border).
The Joint Passenger Analysis Unit is a part of this which screens passengers in advance of their travel dates. The last part of the agreement is to merge Canada and America’s border security policies together to see how compatible their immigration procedures and databases are to each other. Two national programs, NEXUS and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST), have been created in order to improve our security system without putting a hamper on people and cargo entering into the U. S. The NEXUS program allows those travellers who pose no risk to be able to enter into the U. S. ithout having to go through as much scrutiny as those who are considered to be high risk and/or those that the State officials have no knowledge of (Securing America’s Borders). The travellers who apply to the NEXUS program have provided personal background information and officials of the U. S run their information against crime and terrorist organizations to make sure there is no association. The FAST program works illegal entry on the other end of the spectrum. They handle cargo, importers, trucking companies, and truck drivers who enroll in the program and are expedited through the borders without any holdups.
These two programs provide a huge amount of security while at the same time trying not to stop the flow of legitimate people and cargo entering into the United States. These pre-clearance measures are to prevent any problems and/or issues that may occur when crossing the border. These helps travellers and also the border patrol officers who have to do the extensive searches. Border Patrol patrols the border in all types of weather and terrain. These agents work around the clock as we have stated.
The United States believe that the Mexican government would not live up to any deals or compromises between the two countries. They feel that Mexico feel the border is our problem and not theirs (Alden, p. 259). This makes it even harder for Border Patrol if they do not have the cooperation and assistance of other law enforcement. One activity that could take place to hopefully guarantee the safety of those crossing the border legally and to protect he United States citizens is to build “the fence” (Alden, p. 285). The fence would be built along the U.
S. Border with Mexico. The opposition that ranges from the fence being built is that it could spoil the view, that it may seem an unfriendly signal among trading businesses, and the businesses along the border itself fears that no one will want to carry their documented paperwork across the “street” to buy goods which in effect hurts the economy and/or their business profits (Alden, p. 285). The Closing of the American Border (Alden, 2009) states that border enforcement is the government’s only tool for staunching illegal immigration (Alden, p. 71).
Silvestre Reyes, Chief of the Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas authorized 400 of his agents in 1993 to work round the clock duty along the border (Alden, p. 71). By doing this, there were immediate results where the number of illegal immigrants apprehended declined. This approach became known as Operation Hold the Line. Another project named Operation Gatekeeper was initiated and aimed at the detection and apprehension of the thousands of Mexicans who were running across the border near Tijuana and disappearing into communities in San Diego (Alden, . 2). The Absconder Apprehension Initiative is a plan that was implemented in January, 2002 by Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson (Miller,). The purpose of the Absconder Apprehension Initiative was to “locate, apprehend, interview, and deport” the 314,000 immigrants who were to deport from the United States. These persons became known as “absconders” or those that lives in secret and avoids being captured (Alden, p. 102). Once apprehended, the absconders would be prosecuted for failing to depart or for reentering illegally and/or deported.
The Absconder Apprehension Initiative was criticized for involving local law enforcement officers in their search for absconders and also for what some thought were the singling out Arab descent communities (Miller). Immigration and Naturalization Service went through several phases and had its problems from the start. One phase was being renamed from Bureau of Immigration to Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1933 and it was moved from the Department of Labor to being located in the Justice Department in 1940 (Alden, p. 63).
Their new mission was “to keep foreign enemy agents out of the country” (Alden, p. 63). The Alien Registration Act of 1940 (known as the Smith Act) was implemented and required that all foreigners who entered the country and those over fourteen who were here in the United States to be registered and fingerprinted (Alden, p. 63). Record keeping was not one of INS strong points so it was really hard to say how many of the absconders are still here and/or have left. According to Alden, 40 percent of those considered absconders are now living here in the States legally whether as green card holders and/or legal U.
S. citizens (Alden, p. 103). Another problem facing INS was the complaints they were getting from and concerning the airlines and travel industry about the time it took for foreigners and travellers to get through the initial inspections. Again with the influx of foreigners or immigrants coming into the United States because of universities wanting more foreign students, businesses wanting more foreign workers, and the need to unite families together, there were a high number of illegal immigrants getting entry (Alden, p. 64).
It was soon realized that those illegal immigrants who should be here for legitimate reasons were denied and/or encountered numerous problems, those who should not have been here got in easily, and those who were here without permission remained with latitude (Alden, p. 64). Even with these problems and no clear mission for INS, it was constantly getting more and more money. INS was faulted for not approving or disapproving applications in a timely manner (Alden, p. 65). Enforcement was another problem for INS. The immigrants who were living in the States illegally were at one time here legally mostly by visas.
They simply did not return to their home states at the required time (Alden, p. 66). Once INS got the required I-94 form that was filled out by the immigrants upon entering the States and entered the information in the computer, there was no way to tell if the individual was still here and/or had left. Majority of them was still here. There was really no way to enforce the process because the part of the I-94 form that should have been returned to the airlines rarely was returned which made it even more difficult to determine who was still here illegally at this point.
The United States do not have the capacity to house all of the immigrants found here illegally. The biggest problem faced with INS was the huge numbers of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America (Alden, p. 69). The Border Patrol could easily return any Mexican found crossing the border but no others (Alden, p. 66). Because of this there was what was known as “catch and release” enforced. This basically involved releasing an illegal immigrant after he/she was captured and giving him/her an order to appear before a deportation judge.
Approximately ninety percent never showed up for the hearing (Alden, p. 66). Even those given the chance to voluntarily depart from the States rarely ever departed. The IDENT system put into effect in 1989 was to help with the problems of illegal immigrants who committed crimes but came under scrutiny because although there fingerprints on file, the criminal history of an immigrant was not entered into the system. Skinner (2006) states that Mexico was constantly accusing the United States of unfairly targeting Mexicans and subjecting them to harsher immigration laws.
But Mexico would not do what it could to secure and maintain control of its southern border against illegal immigrants. Both countries feel that most of the financing for the Mexican traffickers comes from the American drug consumers (Mauldin, 2010). United States Secretary Hillary Clinton stated that “Our insatiable demand for illegal drug fuels the drug trade, and that “the United States bears shared responsibility for the drug-fueled violence sweeping Mexico” (Mauldin, 2010).
According to a report by the General Accountability Office (GAO) that was submitted by the National Drug Intelligence Center, reported that between $18 billion and $39 billion in U. S. currency that comes from drug sales crosses the border to Mexico each year (Reichbach, 2010). Trucks bring cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana and heroin into the United States and those same trucks sneak billions of dollars in cash from the drug sales into Mexico (Potter, 2009). Out of these billions of dollars, only $41 million in cash was captured at the land ports of entry.
Under the presidency of Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s government has spent approximately $7 billion USD in fighting the war on drugs (Mauldin). Some feel that the money that is being spent on fighting the war on drugs should be spent instead on prevention, treatment and educational programs. The Clinton Administration funded a cocaine policy study and concluded that $3 billion USD should be given to treatment and taken from federal and local law enforcement (Mauldin). To cut drug use, treatment is the best and most effective way according to the study done.
The United States has to find a way to reduce demand for drugs. It appears that Mexico benefits economically from the inflow of the billions of American dollars that is being entered into its country. Mexico’s economy does not provide jobs and other means for its citizens. In this instance, Mexico’s economy fails to grow at the same pace as its population and workforce (Skinner, p. 8). According to evidence and studies done, the more the U. S. enforces border protection, the more wealthy and lucrative the immigrant smuggling business becomes in Mexico (Skinner, p. ). American citizens are the buyers of the majority of narcotics and these users account for the billions of dollars a year into Mexico and/or its drug lords. All powerful weapons traffickers use comes from the United States. Another proposal discussed was the Secure Border Initiative (SBI). The proposal of this initiative would not only attempt to control the northern and southern borders but also convey that the United States economy needs the labor force the illegal immigrants provide (Skinner, p. 12).
This initiative uses the statement made by President Bush that “most of the people crossing our border illegally are not coming to do us harm. They are crossing the border to find better jobs” (Skinner, p. 12). Drugs crossing the border from Mexico are a problem for the United States and Mexico. Although the Obama Administration has taken steps to restrict bulk cash and illegal weapons being smuggled into Mexico and at ports of entry, there is still a lot of improvement to be done on border infrastructure and technological capabilities.
Although Mexico may feel as if they are caught in the middle of controversy the United States is having with the problem of immigration, their overall economy has been steadily improving and the United States is somewhat a victim of its own successful economy. I believe both countries’ economy is impacted in some way or ways because of illegal immigration and the drug situation. As stated over and over, we have got to secure our borders. The mission is to help make our borders safe while facilitating the flow of legal immigration and at same time preventing the llegal entry into the United States. ? REFERENCES: Working for Border Patrol. (2010). Securing America’s Border. CBP. gov Alden, E. (2009). The closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration and Security since 9/11. Harper Collins Publisher INS: Immigration and Naturalization Service. (2010). US Immigration Support. U. S. Department of Justice. Washington, DC Krepinevich, A. F. , Vickers, M. G. , and Kosiak, S. M. , (2000). Hart-Rudman commission report-a-critique. Backgrounder. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Washington, DC Mauldin, J. (2010). Mexico and the failed state revisited. InvestigatorsInsight. com Miller, T. Blurring the Boundaries between Immigration and Crime Control after September 11. Law Review Journal Potter, M. (2009). Crossing the border: Mexico’s deadly drug war. NBC News Correspondent Reichbach, M. (2010). GAO reports show billions crossing border to drug cartels each year. The New Mexico Independent Skinner, C. D. (2006). USAWC Strategy Research Project: Illegal immigration across the U. S. – Mexico border. Department of Army