The U.S. Border Crisis Brings Attention to Advanced Technology

By Chuck Brooks, Vice President and Client Executive, Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Border security has been a hot topic recently, and it’s one we’ve already explored in this blog on The Hill. In my latest post, I investigate the role that Native Americans could play to help protect and secure our borders.

However, Native Americans tracking illegal aliens and drug smuggling by monitoring the borders on foot are not the only piece to the puzzle. We’ve all heard about how technology is shaping every aspect of government, and it also has the opportunity to enhance border security. Dedicated soldiers, Native Americans and Border Patrol, in tandem with technology, could be a lethal weapon in the fight against illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

Air surveillance has played a large part in border security, but recently the use of drones to enhance and support ongoing operations, specifically when tracking illegal cross-border smuggling, has been a focus for many, including President Barack Obama. The President requested an additional $39 million to fund 16,526 additional drone and manned aircraft flight hours and 16 extra drone crews to help detect and stop illegal activity.

The government is also using big data analytics to help Border Patrol detect unwanted visitors. Real-time analytics and access to years’ worth of data can provide the necessary insights to make more intelligent decisions regarding who is allowed in the country, ultimately increasing homeland security.

Entering the country isn’t the only problem when it comes to border security. Making sure foreign visitors exit the country and don’t overstay their visas is also important. Don’t think this affects our homeland security? Think again. A Moroccan immigrant named Amine El Khalifi was living in Virginia after his visa expired in 1999, and in 2012 he attempted to bomb the U.S. Capitol Building. To help keep tabs on these travelers, the DHS is exploring the use of facial and iris recognition. According to officials, their goal is to have a system, which includes fingerprint, iris and facial detection solutions, to biometrically identify more than 97 percent of foreigners.

Beyond tracking illegal aliens and drugs, the U.S. is also concerned with illegal money smuggling.  According to the American Chemical Society, billions of dollars are sent over the border to Mexico and tracking this activity is harder to detect than drug trafficking. To help prevent this issue, KWJ Engineering is developing a device that mimics dog ‘sniffing’ to detect concealed money. The technology would extract gas samples and be able to trace currency emissions.

As you can tell, there are many moving parts and issues when it comes to illegal immigration, drug trafficking, tracking foreigners and border security. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach that will address all the issues mentioned above; but if the U.S. government is flexible and agile when developing a multi-pronged approach and utilizes technology, they will be more successful in the long run.


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