The Border To-Do List: New Report Explores Immigration Improvements, Remaining Challenges Ten Years after 9/11

Sep 15, 2011, 09:00 ET from Center for Immigration Studies

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ten years after 9/11 our borders are significantly more secure. Borders are now understood as pivotal to keeping terrorists out. Our country is safer for that recognition.

Many vulnerabilities remain, however, allowing potential terrorists who were already here before 9/11 to stay and others to get here subsequently. To address these weaknesses and achieve the next generation of border security goals, the Center for Immigration Studies has published "The To-Do List: Curtailing Terrorist Travel Ten Years after 9/11" by Janice Kephart, the Center's National Security Policy Director at the Center for Immigration Studies and former border counsel to the 9/11 Commission.

The report is online at . Among Kephart's recommendations:

  • Give DHS full authority over visa security policy and expand Visa Security Units to enable investigations into potential terrorists overseas and prevent access to US visas, while expanding DHS visa issuance authority to include revocation authority.
  • Eliminate the Diversity Visa Program that is burdened with fraud and remains a large national security vulnerability.
  • Hone watchlisting for frontline officers with cloud computing, dynamic encryption keys, biometrics, "person-centric traveler histories," and continued access to passenger name record data.
  • Enhance inspections at ports of entry with adequate personnel, insistence on passport or equivalent for all seeking entry, and sufficient contraband detection technologies.
  • Assert an apprehension policy based on the rule of law, through a comprehensive border strategy applied equally to all, with a goal of operational – not "reasonable" – control of the border; this strategy should include biometrics and detection technologies when possible to identify and prioritize case loads; and removal and deportation procedures that both reduce recidivism and the drain on detention and court costs.
  • Revise borderland wilderness laws to enable all federal law enforcement to have equal access to federal lands that will discourage illegal use and is not punitive to Border Patrol.
  • Using Operation Jumpstart as a model, properly engage the National Guard to support the Border Patrol and work alongside state and local law enforcement already deployed to the border, helping to augment the Border Patrol's mission to achieve operational control of vulnerable border regions; and help build appropriate, even double layer fencing, in areas where necessary to discourage easy, repeated illegal entry.
  • Revisit and recognize the value of a "common operating picture," and incorporate the researched, piloted, and successfully deployed Secure Border Initiative technologies; other sensing detection technologies for tunnels, maritime, and ultralight aircraft, ensuring greater apprehensions, rescues, and operational safety and efficiencies for Border Patrol agents; fill in gaps with expedited acquisition of readily-available tactical equipment where geography puts fencing and a common operating picture scenario out of reach.
  • Establish an exit-tracking program at airport TSA checkpoints to inform aviation security and border data/security; the administration's current plan will only address the overstay issue after departure.
  • Finish REAL ID implementation by not further delaying compliance with REAL ID; the states are pursuing REAL ID for their own reasons of minimizing fraud, catching criminals, keeping out illegal aliens, and honing budgets for future years; states should be reimbursed in a fair and equitable manner.
  • Issue birth certificate standards that have been waiting on the books for five years with no congressional oversight, and fund the remaining vital records digitization process through E-Verify.

The report was released at a panel discussion on Capitol Hill examining changes in immigration policy and politics in the decade since the terrorist attacks. The panel featured Rep. James Sensenbrenner, author of REAL ID and other security-related legislation; Kephart; Jessica Vaughan, the Center's Director of Policy Studies and former Foreign Service Officer; and Roy Beck, executive director of Numbers USA. A video and transcript of the panel discussion will be online next week.

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.

Contact: Janice Kephart

SOURCE Center for Immigration Studies