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Immigration Reform, Technological Solutions Among Suggestions for Improving Border Security

Comprehensive immigration reform, new technology, stronger oversight and collaboration with Mexico are among the proposals the Center for American Progress suggests for improving security along the U.S. border, according to a report released today.

Here’s the complete list of CAP’s ten reform proposals for the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Border Initiative (SBI), a program aimed at reducing illegal immigration and major drug trafficking operations, particularly along the U.S.-Mexico border:

  • Congress should address border security through comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
  • Continue to pursue technological solutions.
  • Reach out to local communities (“Border towns need to be brought into the discussion”).
  • Collaborate with Mexico on border security.
  • Draw on the expertise of academia and industry to shape a long-term border security blueprint.
  • The federal government should maintain tight control over the performance of con- tractors and agencies, while setting schedules with the understanding that they may need to be adjusted.
  • Allow a wider variety of businesses, including small technology companies and unsuccessful SBI bidders, to join in solving border security problems.
  • Improve inter-agency communications and planning and maintain flexibility in technology design.
  • The federal government should consider a more “horizontal” approach in which a single type of technology is implemented over a broad area.
  • Improve the viability and performance of border technology programs.

During a CAP conference call today, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), chairman of the House subcommittee on border, maritime and global counter-terrorism, echoed the report’s suggestions, saying collaboration with Mexico is essential and aid to the Mexican government for controlling cartel violence needs to be expedited.

According to the CAP report, SBI is flawed because of a border fence that is too heavily relied on for border security; management and oversight issues; a Department of Homeland Security that is too slow to address mistakes; and misguided spending decisions (namely on SBInet, a technology-heavy program designed to help Border Patrol detect illegal immigrants and smugglers along the border).

Cuellar said border security should, among other things, involve detention for immigrants as a deterrent for future illegal immigration — something that he said has worked in his district. He also said there should be more funding for the use of drones as a monitoring tool along the border.

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