For all the talk and clichés about a global market and a global economy, the talk and clichés have morphed into truth. How do we stack up in the United States? Not so good. We are hampered by our out-of-date approach to customs and immigration. Unless we make some changes, the United States will remain on the sidelines of a global hub system. And if you are not a hub, you are a spoke.
Five years ago, I could have written that CBP was the worst agency in the federal government, almost hopeless. It was not responsive to stakeholders, seemed resistant to doing business new ways, and was being starved of resources by Congress. Fortunately, recent leadership at CBP has been much more open to new thinking. Old policies and staffing models remain a frustration, but the attitude has changed for the better.
On its face, the President’s announcement of Jeh Johnson’s appointment to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security seems politically questionable. Why throw your untested nominee who has to prepare for and endure a Senate confirmation process into the middle of an immigration reform fight? Because Johnson does not appear to have much of a history in the citizenship or border control policy arenas, questions will focus on how he will implement immigration reform legislation.
By Lora Ries
The House of Representatives is experiencing a burst of energy to encourage DHS to implement a biometric exit system. While we remain without a biometric exit system, the lack of such a system has not been for a lack of legislation. It has been the leadership of DHS that has declined to implement a biometric exit system. What will it take to actually implement biometric exit?
The House Committee on Homeland Security held hearings on yet another “biometric exit” mandate, which would require collection of biometrics from travelers departing the country and matching them to biometrics obtained at arrival. Yet, there are already several laws mandating entry-exit data matching. It’s almost like there is some sort of disconnect between the Hill and DHS.
By Lora Ries and Chris Wiesinger
At pivotal points in the nation’s history, immigration reflected an openness to the world and the possibilities of the American future. Current immigration reform initiatives also reflect a vision of the future, but that vision is static and lacks optimism because it aims to fix the mistakes of the past instead of building a foundation for the future. The House of Representatives has key opportunities to shape immigration into something that reflects an optimistic vision of America’s future.
The bipartisan immigration proposal filed this month in the Senate would create a 24/7 surveillance system at U.S. borders that would rely significantly on increased use of drones.
Americans are suspicious of drones. Reports of the unmanned aerial vehicles’ use in war zones have raised concerns about what they might do here at home. For instance, in Seattle earlier this year, a public outcry forced the police department to abandon plans for eye-in-the-sky UAV helicopters.
The Center for International Policy recently released a report entitled “Drones Over the Homeland,” which provides an excellent analysis of CBP’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program from inception to the present. It adds significantly to the debate Congress should be having about the wisdom of using UAVs for surveillance. I hope congressional appropriators will take note.
Border security, by some yardsticks, has come a long way in the past decade. The United States has spent at least $100 billion in its name, to the point where it now eclipses all other federal law enforcement spending. The Border Patrol has doubled in size to more than 21,000 agents. Apprehension of illegal immigrants recently fell to a 40-year low.