Homeland Security vows to offer protection during COVID-19
- By Barry Goodson
- Oct 06, 2020
The onslaught of COVID-19 has elevated security
measures in every border control operation within
the Department of Homeland Security. U.S. entry
points such as airports, ports and borders are being
monitored with many travelers being directed
to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
TSA is standing firm with efforts to diminish the probability
of the disease being purposefully or unknowingly transported
into the United States. TSA has allowed some employees to
“self-isolate at home due to being at higher risk for contracting
COVID-19 if exposed.” Other federal agencies have adopted
special measures as well.
U.S. IMMIGRATIONS AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) faces
significant challenges throughout this crisis. ICE and DHS
energies address our borders, monitor immigration and criminal
activity such as terrorism, gang activity, drug smuggling and
Currently, ICE is not enforcing operations at or near healthcare
facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Individuals who are in fear of civil immigration enforcement
should not refrain from seeking medical care.
U.S. BORDER PATROL
One of the more significant actions taken by the Border Patrol
and TSA relates to the facilitation of expedited efforts to move
medical and personal protective equipment across borders as
rapidly as possible. The Federal Emergency Management Agency
in cooperation with UPS and other similar organizations created
“Project Airbridge” to move such services and supplies across the
Separate border control efforts remain limited to essential travel
restrictions, which include U.S. citizens and lawful, permanent
residents, education-related travel, people traveling to the
United States based on work-related activities, and other similar
constraints (nafsa.org, 2020). Asylum seekers along the Mexico/
U.S. border have posed serious COVID-19 considerations as well.
According to a recent Newsweek article, a majority of Americans
say they support efforts to close the border, reduce immigration
and ban asylum seekers during the coronavirus pandemic.
SIGNIFICANT CONCERNS RELATING TO TERRORISM
Terrorist groups have flooded social media with encouragement
for terrorists to seize this opportunity. With shelter-in-place orders
in most states remaining in effect, the nation has seen a decrease in
crime overall, with gun violence seeing a steady increase. A University
of California research paper estimated that in March through May
2020, there was a 64.3 percent increase in gun sales over what would
have been expected at that time based on previous years.
Additionally, the threat of lone-wolf terrorism—like the
attack at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, in May
2020—suggests the possibility of acts of terror due to the current
situation with COVID-19.
The Department of Homeland Security with cooperation
with related federal and state agencies have responded to the
challenges arising from COVID-19, even with the loss of their
Social distancing policies, along with shelter in place orders,
working from home and other health strategies, may indeed
prevent the rapid spread of this virus. Will crime continue to rise
during this “new normal?” Will terrorists, lone wolfs or others
take advantage of this dynamic situation? These answers lie in
wait for us in the near future.
This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of Security Today.
Barry Goodson, a former Marine and law enforcement officer, holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master's degree in administrative justice and security. He teaches criminal justice at Columbia Southern University, is the vice president of the Human Trafficking Investigations & Training Institute and an administrative trainer for the Department of Homeland Security Bomb-Making Materials Awareness Program. Goodson is also an author of numerous academic papers and two books, “CAP Mot” and “Country Cop: True Tales from a Texas Deputy Sheriff.”