Borders play a significant role in the security of the US. However, due to increased insecurity and crime rates, the US border enforcement efforts introduced new interventions of border security based on deterrence (Williams, 2020). The change in enforcement strategies involved moving border security agents from the cities around the border to patrolling the intermediate border. In addition, the approach calls for the placement of officers in highly visible positions to deter unauthorized entry into the country (Williams, 2020). The main objective of this strategy is the protection of a distinct line and reinforcing the long-held belief that borders are merely demarcations. Therefore, although the US introduced several strategies to enhance its security at its borders, a deep understanding of the border as an ecosystem is required to develop effective interventions.
The Background to Enhancing US Border Security
There was an increased need to make the US impervious to illegal entry of individuals and contraband that occurred after the 9/11 incident. The country started feeling unsafe because people thought the operations at the border were ineffective (Kenney, 2019). After the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, the term border security became part of everyday speech in the US. The Department of Homeland Security was created on March 1, 2003, to enhance the security of its borders. Based on this, the connection between terrorist acts and border patrol was formalized (Kenney, 2019). Thus, the shift in ideology placed a higher emphasis and resources on enhancing the security of the external borders of the US, which stressed the demarcation of borders and increased focus on improving border security.
The Mission of The US Border Security
The demand to safeguard the border was made, which was exceptional compared to what was anticipated. According to Koslowski and Schulzke (2018), the Secure Fence Act was formed in 2006 and served as a prime example of the new strategy. In the statute that was passed by Congress, the concept of operational control was utilized to provide further context about border security. The primary objective of the policy was to stop any illegal immigration into the US. The fact that admission of any illegal person or contraband is considered a breach of border security. The breach can be caused by the introduction of any illegal item into the country. The fundamental principle underlying the concept is that border security should prioritize the guarding of a clearly defined boundary.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a new counter-terrorism mission was added to the existing ones. However, it did not replace the ones that were there before. In reality, the mission goals are all connected because the places, routes, and methods used to bring people and goods to the US illegally for economic, criminal, or terrorist reasons are the same (Koslowski & Schulzke, 2018). Based on this, trying to stop people from sneaking into the US through the border illegally is a way to meet all its goals in securing the border. This focus helps with goals that do not get much attention, such as stopping the flow of large amounts of US currency, stolen goods, protected technologies, and goods that violate intellectual property rights. Therefore, the mission of the US in protecting its border is to enhance security.
The Challenges Experienced in Border Security
Even though mass migration makes it hard to keep the border safe, they are nothing compared to the chaos that comes from legal trades and travel across the southwest border. The huge amount of trade activity and movement of people across the border create chaos that makes it hard for US Customs and Border Patrol to focus on more serious threats to border security (Hiemstra, 2019). Based on this, the criminal and terrorist groups will take advantage of being able to hide their illegal activities in numerous legal trades and travel. As a result, even though illegal economic migrants coming into the US are not usually seen as a big deal, criminal groups will sneak more serious violations and border security concerns into the large flow of illegal immigrants.
Border security is more complicated than a simple static defense of a line on a map. This is because there are different missions and overlapping jurisdictional responsibilities (Hiemstra, 2019). At the border, the security environment is composed of how different processes work together and how they change depending on the situation. Because each layer of the border security environment has different properties and reacts differently, ecological niches are made by how the variables in the border security environment respond to the changes in the situation. Knowing the many parts of a border security environment helps determine what people can do and what might happen (Hiemstra, 2019). Therefore, because border security is complicated, there is a possibility that it cannot be viewed as a single, linear process.
Strategies Adopted to Protect the US Border
The Formation of The Container Security Initiative
The US Customs Service formed the Container Security Initiative within a few months of the 9/11 attack. According to Zhang & Roe, 2019, CSI looks at how terrorists could use a maritime container to send a weapon, which could hurt border security and trade worldwide. CSI wants to establish a security system to make sure that all containers that could be used for terrorism are found and checked at foreign ports before being put on ships headed for the US. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has placed teams of US officers in other countries to ensure they can work with their governments. Their job is to look for and pre-screen containers terrorists could use to send dangerous cargo to the US. As a result, they are supposed to find more ways to look into the terrorist threat.
CBP Immigration Inspection Program
The US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs protects US citizens’ lives and interests. It makes fair decisions about passport applications from US citizens and visa applications from people who want to come to the US (US Customs and Border Protection, 2017). At the Port of Entry (POE), everyone who comes into the US is checked to see if they can come in. People’s documents are looked at to determine where they are from and other elements of their identity. The inspection process starts outside the US, where immigration inspectors check the documents, and the US Department of State gives visas to those who are eligible. At POE, these people are checked again to ensure they can legally enter the country. Therefore, CBP officials allow citizens into the country after proving they are citizens.
Border security needs to be improved to make sure that the right steps need to be taken. First, a strategic understanding of the border variable gives a big picture of the things that affect border security. Policymakers and leaders of government agencies should look at long-term planning again to come up with new ways of doing things. Second, the operational components of security should be adaptable enough to accommodate shifts in their surrounding environment. If changes are identified early on, it may be possible to reallocate resources to prevent mass migration from becoming a crisis. Finally, those who have a vested interest in the matter of border security ought to examine it through the prism of the ecological systems theory.
In the US, border security has been seen as protecting a definite line on a map for many years. This approach worked well when the people thought that the borders would be controlled instead of secure. However, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it became clear that there was a need to ensure the borders were safe. Based on this, the main purpose and mission of border security departments and agents have changed over time to include fighting terrorism, stopping illegal immigration, and smuggling illegal drugs. When border security is seen as a complex system with many different parts, it is easier to understand how the system works and how it might leave the country vulnerable to threats from both inside and outside the country. Thus, border security should be viewed as an ecosystem, a complicated system with a wide range of actors, interests, and actions connected to legal and illegal groups.
US Customs and Border Protection (2017). CBP border security report. Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection.
Hiemstra, N. (2019). Pushing the US-Mexico border south: United States’ immigration policing throughout the Americas. International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 5(1-2), 44-63. Web.
Kenney, K. L. (2019). The Department of Homeland Security: A look behind the scenes. Compass Point Books.
Koslowski, R., & Schulzke, M. (2018). Drones along borders: Border security UAVs in the United States and the European Union. International Studies Perspectives, 19(4), 305-324. Web.
Williams, J. M. (2020). Affecting migration: Public information campaigns and the intimate spatialities of border enforcement. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 38(7-8), 1198-1215. Web.
Zhang, X., & Roe, M. (2019). Maritime container port security: USA and European perspectives. Springer International Publishing.