Border Security

Border Security is defined as the security of the nation’s air, land, and sea borders to prevent illegal activity while facilitating lawful travel and trade. The Department of Homeland Security’s border security and management efforts focus on three interrelated goals: Effectively secure U.S. air, land, and sea points of entry; Safeguard and streamline lawful trade and travel; and Disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal and terrorist organizations.





“Technology Needed to Secure America’s Borders”
Joe Eyerman, Ph. D.
Congressional Testimony 08/01/2014

IHSS director, Joe Eyerman, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees on Research and Technology and Oversight on the use and application of technology in border security. Eyerman emphasized how “strong and potentially beneficial technologies can be derailed by nontechnical problems stemming from a failure to understand the needs and abilities of the community of practice [Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and the willingness of the community of benefit [the public] to accept the technology in their daily lives.” In his testimony, Eyerman highlights the need for a dedicated social and behavioral sciences unit in DHS to promote coordination between technology development and the transition to implementation. Such a unit would help identify the needs, abilities, and perceptions of the community of practice and the community of benefit, which would help track changing mission needs, workforce, and public perception in applying new border security technology.

Link to full written testimony


“Border Crossing Improvements, Induced Travel, and Security”
Brooks Depro, Ph.D.
Published 02/26/2010

Commercial freight truck border crossings have increased considerably over the last decade. As border traffic grows, public agencies continue to try to identify innovative ways to relieve congestion while still maintaining security. Achieving the “right balance” between open borders and security continues to be a top national priority. To meet the challenge, governments have implemented new trusted shipper/traveler programs. Stakeholders continue to advocate trusted shipper/traveler programs and other border improvements because reduced congestion encourages commerce. However, route-switching and other “induced travel” responses to border crossing improvements may offset anticipated benefits (reduced congestion). We review and discuss how social scientists have studied induced travel in order to help decision makers better understand and prioritize ways to improve border crossing benefit-cost analysis.

Link to Research Brief

“Uses of RFID Technology in U.S. Identification Documents”
Noel Greis, Ph.D.
Published 03/16/2010

The investigations following the attacks of September 11, 2001, showed that our ability to verify a person’s identity is crucial to our national security. To carry out an attack on American soil, foreign terrorists must cross our borders—which requires passing an identification screening. A valid passport also allows a terrorist to obtain other valid documents (e.g., driver’s license, credit cards, health insurance card) that are important to performing normal life activities while maintaining a low profile and avoiding detection. Four projects, currently in different stages of implementation, use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or Machine-Readable Zones (MRZ) technologies for verification and validation of identity in the United States. The use of RFID enables data to be stored electronically in chips embedded in identification documents and shared quickly in digital format by law enforcement personnel. Documents with RFID chips and a secure networking environment to exchange data are deemed more secure and less prone to counterfeiting than conventional, non-electronic documents. However, there is still debate about how to best balance the security benefits from RFID-enabled identification documents with concerns about privacy.

Link to Research Brief



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