- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Aug 01, 2012
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
“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.
Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.