The pressures on the Southern Border continue to grow, with South Texas authorities announcing a willingness to permit cross border engagements by the members of local law enforcement. The Southern Border is rapidly becoming the Third Front for the United States, with officers regularly being challenged or engaged in cross-border exchanges of gunfire. There are a number of reasons why local law enforcement officers shouldn’t engage in this kind of activity; the two most compelling are the risk of escalating the situation and the need to respect international boundaries.
The House of Representatives has voted to cut funding for the exit program of the US VISIT, the nation’s first biometric-based system designed to maintain a record of foreign travelers who enter our country, and whether or not they leave when they are supposed to. Congress is short-sighted in not funding this critical homeland security program appropriately.
Both the fourth circuit and the ninth circuit courts have ruled that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) searches of laptops and other electronics are legal; however, people are still proclaiming their protests. A recent USA Today op-ed accused the CBP practice to be “without focus” and “arbitrar[y].” Constitutional objections have also been invoked, claiming the searches to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Earlier this week the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by environmental groups in a case brought to slow the progress on the construction of the border fence, a giant step forward in the effort to secure America’s borders. This was not only good for border security, but it also respected the legislative authority of Congress.
The DHS announcement today awarding REAL ID grants seems to be a positive step in meeting the recommendation of the 9-11 Commission to make identification documents more secure. With the adoption of a “verification hub” approach, where states work with other states to verify identities, DHS is letting the folks who issue driver licenses control their own processes – previously a source of irritation for many Governors.
The ongoing bipolar inconsistency of the U.S. Congress — that institution responsible for drafting our laws on immigration, among other things — was once again on display this past week. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey kicked it off with a harangue in which he accused federal immigration agents of everything from racism to general rudeness. Why? For enforcing the laws that Congress passed.
Folks in Washington think that they not only have all the answers, they think they don’t have to leave town to get them. They’re wrong – Washington does not have all the answers. There is no issue that that truism is truer for than understanding the challenge of securing the nation’s broken borders. And, there is no place to understand border problems better than Nogales, Arizona.
To listen to the paranoid debate now taking place over the REAL ID Act in Congress, some state legislatures and the blogosphere, one might think that this legislation was some Bush administration plot to create a national identity card and spy on innocent Americans. The reality is much more serious and mundane. In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombings and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there is a need to set some kind of minimum standards to ensure that driver’s licenses and other forms of government-issued identification cannot be tampered with and used by terrorists.
After five years of getting beaten up routinely by the Congress on a bipartisan basis, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) appears to have found a whole new set of friends in Congress. As sister agencies CBP, ICE and FEMA face increasing scrutiny and oversight, Kip Hawley’s recent testimony shows that Members are almost surprisingly satisfied with the the security aspects of air travel.
Under the REAL ID Act, federal agencies are prohibited, effective May 11, 2008, from accepting a driver’s license or a state-issued personal identification card for an “official purpose” unless the issuing state is meeting the requirements of the REAL ID Act. Bottom line? Travelers from non-compliant states will likely encounter significant travel delays because they will be required to undergo secondary screening.