Video Provision

After recommending strategies for on-the-border video cameras and other security technologies, Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) and her colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives have passed H.R. 1299, known as the Secure Border Act. The bill ensures that the use of electronic physical security equipment will be a priority for the Department of Homeland Security’s border security strategies.

H.R. 1299 promotes the use of a comprehensive technology plan for major surveillance and detection technology programs. The Security Industry Association (SIA) announced full support of the passage of this bill—partly because staffers helped draft and create this critical legislation.

According to SIA, the Secure Border Act will direct the DHS secretary to submit to Congress a detailed and comprehensive strategic plan for gaining operational control of the international borders between U.S. ports of entry. The legislation also calls for development of a five-year plan that will ensure complete operations control is being met in border areas.

Miller, who introduced the Secure Border Act, said that for too many years this nation has lacked a clear and comprehensive plan to gain and maintain operations control of the borders.

“My legislation directs the secretary of Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategy for securing our borders and ports of entry by taking into account personnel, technology and other resources to meet our nation’s security requirements,” Miller said. “Our common defense begins with effectively securing our borders, and the American people rightly expect and demand that the federal government take the responsibility to secure the borders.”

Not too many months ago, I created a little havoc by writing that the current administration isn’t doing enough to protect the borders. A couple of our readers took exception and felt I shouldn’t wander into the political arena. I’ve thought long and hard about this, but what is the border about if it isn’t about security?

Therefore, let me heap a little praise on the White House for signing a bill that raises the federal criminal penalties for building or financing the building of border tunnels from Mexico into the United States.

Authored by Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), the new law received broad bipartisan support in May and was signed by the president on June 5.

“This legislation will further deter tunnel activities by providing enhanced investigative tools to law enforcement and increasing options to prosecute people involved in these crimes,” Reyes said.

During the past three years, the current administration has boldly increased the number of border agents, and DHS for the first time ever has taken flight with unmanned aerial drones that cover the border from Texas to California.

Cross-border tunnels, however, have become more common along the southern border, especially in Arizona and California, as drug smugglers look for new ways to circumvent law enforcement in the many aboveground routes. The tunnels are often very sophisticated and have extensive ventilation and cooling systems, as well as cargo-moving facilities. The tunnel smugglers have to be stopped, and, hopefully, this will help thwart the drug industry, which is brazen in its every attempt to bring its illegal product into the United States.

“I’m proud to see the president sign this important legislation into law,” said Rep. Ben Quayle (RAZ). “For too long, criminal cartels have been able to construct and use illegal cross-border tunnels to smuggle weapons, drugs and people across our border without facing adequately harsh consequences. This bill is an important step in our efforts to secure our southern borders.”

It seems apprehensions along the border have risen because there have been far fewer attempts to cross illegally, in part due to the dramatic increase in seizures of illegal currency, drugs and guns. This doesn’t mean that all is well on the southern border.

The Government Accountability Office has indicated that only 44 percent of the Southwest border has been under operational control and that only 32 of the nearly 4,000 northern border miles have reached an acceptable level of security. Investments in border security should not be ad hoc but rather part of a larger strategic plan.

“I am encouraged by the release of the first-ever DHS Northern Border Strategy,” Miller said. “As chairman of the subcommittee on border and maritime security, I have been calling on the department to focus on the unique challenges on the northern border by putting a stronger emphasis on sharing information to protect our citizens, facilitate trade across our borders, decrease wait times for cargo and people who cross the border and to make infrastructure investments needed to facilitate these goals.”

One of the most important responsibilities of our government and this Congress is the enumerated powers of the Constitution for providing for the common defense of the citizens. Proper security on the border is a common defense that must be funded to meet that mission.

This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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