As the cycle of violence continues unabated in Mexico and increasing U.S. terror attacks are being thwarted it remains more important than ever to secure our borders. A recent trip across the San Ysidro border found many border “walk across” entrants were allowed into the U.S. by showing identification, but agents were not entering their documents into the computer system.
“One of the Department of Homeland Security's primary missions is to maintain and regularly update the systems that help red-flag applicants for admission with possible terrorist ties, as well as wanted persons and known smugglers. However, even the best state-of-the-art name-check system is only as good as the diligence of law enforcement officers using it,” says Julia Davis former CBP agent at San Ysidro border crossing.
“Thoroughly scanning and verifying the identity documents of every applicant for admission to the United States is of the utmost importance to the national security. The DHS has no more important responsibility than the protection of all Americans and preventing the entry of any elements posing a potential threat. Powerful information technology puts the data at the fingertips of CBP officers in the field in real time. While the systems of checks are not infallible and need continued improvement, they should be diligently utilized by the officers at our ports of entry to combat the threats we face as a nation,” Davis concluded.
To be fair another agent stated sometimes there are circumstances when the computer system “goes down” and it is up to the Customs and Border Patrol agent to use their judgment when letting citizens or Legal Permanent Residence (LPR) card users into the country.
“In many cases if the subject is questionable they should be sent to secondary where another agent can ask questions and determine the admissibility of said individuals,” he said.
In light of the recent Christmas day incident one would hope the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection would operate with the same set of rules, however it has been reported the airports as well as other ports of entry have the ability to set their own port policies.
The recent increase of terror attacks in the nation and around the globe should be a wake-up call to DHS and CBP. Their jobs would be made much easier if there were uniform rules for entry, a universal identification card and managers at the ports of entry who allow agents to fulfill their job duties to the best of their abilities without the threat of keeping the lines moving.
Currently the following documents will get Americans into the country stress-free; U.S. passport or passport card, a birth certificate or naturalization papers, a trusted-traveler document like SENTRI, radio-chip enhancement drivers license (California does not have this), tribal identification and military identification.
As of June of last year ports of entry have required U.S. citizens to bring their passports when they leave the country, even when traveling to Mexico or Canada. Due to this change in identification requirements all ports of entry into the U.S. have seen a spike in arrests at the POEs due to illegal/fraudulent paperwork or misusing documents to gain entry into the U.S., according to the San Diego Union Tribune. “There was a 30 percent increase compared with the same period a year earlier in the number of people who tried to enter illegally by either declaring themselves to be U.S. citizens, posing as citizens using someone else’s documents or using phony ones.”
A spokesperson for the CBP agency Angelica De Cima said, “I think word has gotten around.”
However, as the line snakes around the streets in Tijuana to gain entry into the U.S. the CBP port of entry allows many entrants into the country without swiping passports cards that contain biographical information including possible BOLOs the government issues for those wanted by the law inside the U.S.
The solution seems simple, check everyone’s legal status and for the Department of Homeland Security to create uniform set of rules to be used at all ports of entry throughout the United States.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner