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?
By Lora Ries
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.
This past Monday, Politico hosted a Playbook breakfast conversation with the three individuals who have served as DHS Secretary since its inception – Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano. Former Governor Ridge who addressed why America needs a cabinet-level agency to address homeland security issues. While I am a firm believer that America needs a Department of Homeland Security, I am also a believer in continuous improvement, and in that respect, congressional oversight should rightfully be focused on asking questions about DHS as it starts its second decade.
How hard is it for migrants to cross the southwest border illegally and enter into the United States? That question has long been difficult to answer, but it is one that has become more urgent as Congress prepares once again to consider a broader immigration reform. A new report from the Government Accountability Office gives a surprising assessment – that it appears to have become far more difficult than most Americans realize.
Congratulations are in order for the amazing success recently achieved by CBP’s Office of Air and Marine. CBP plans to award a sole source contract to General Atomics to buy up to 14 Predator UAVs, at a potential cost of $443,090,000 over a 60-month period. So, congratulations to CBP. While the rest of the DHS mission will be subject to budget cuts amid the sequestration debate, and seemingly without concern for those personnel who will be laid off, CBP is telling the rest of us we can be comfortable knowing that giant drones will be patrolling the skies above the U.S. borders for up to 20 hours at a time at the mere cost of $3,500 per hour.