Protecting the nation’s borders—land, air, and sea—from the illegal entry of people, weapons, drugs, and contraband is vital to our homeland security, as well as economic prosperity. DHS has deployed unprecedented levels of personnel, technology, and resources and made has made critical security improvements to secure and manage our borders.
Standardize Secure Identification
- Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative: In 2009, DHS successfully implemented the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) for land and sea travel to the U.S., requiring that U.S., Mexican and Canadian citizens present a passport or other secure travel document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. Prior to WHTI, U.S. or Canadian travelers could present any of numerous documents and simply make an oral declaration of citizenship. In 2005, DHS checked five percent of all passengers crossing land borders by vehicles against law enforcement databases. Today, due to WHTI, the national query rate is over 97 percent.
- Trusted Traveler Programs: DHS continues to expand trusted traveler programs, which provide expedited screening at ports of entry, and allow DHS to focus resources on passengers about whom it knows the least. CBP has increased enrollment in its trusted traveler programs from approximately 80,000 members in 2003 to over 1.3 million today, through programs such as NEXUS, SENTRI, and Global Entry.
- International Agreements: DHS and DOS have worked with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom to develop routine sharing of biometric information collected for immigration purposes. To date, this effort has identified many cases of routine immigration fraud, as well as dangerous people traveling under false identities.
- The Border Patrol is better staffed today than at any time in its 88-year history. Along the Southwest border, DHS has increased the number of boots on the ground from approximately 9,100 Border Patrol agents in 2001 to more than 18,500 today.
- CBP now screens 100 percent of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs, and cash, has expanded Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) coverage to the entire Southwest border and completed 651 miles of fencing.
- Boots on the Ground: Currently, CBP has more than 2,200 Border Patrol agents on the Northern border, a 500 percent increase since 9/11. In addition, there are nearly 3,700 CBP Officers managing the flow of people and goods across ports of entry and crossings along the Northern border.
- Aerial Coverage: Approximately 950 miles along the Northern border from Washington to Minnesota are currently covered by unmanned aircraft, in addition to approximately 200 miles along the northern border in New York and Lake Ontario—none of which were covered prior to the creation of DHS.
- Ports of Entry: CBP is using Recovery Act funds to modernize 31 CBP-owned land ports of entry (LPOE) to meet current operational requirements and security standards. To date, CBP has finished 17 LPOE modernization projects; an additional four will be completed by the end of FY12, and the rest are scheduled for completion in FY13.
- DHS established joint Port of Entry Committees at the 20 largest land border ports of entry, and in 2012, established similar committees at the 8 Canadian airports at which CBP conducts preclearance.
Apprehensions and Interdictions
- Illegal immigration attempts, as measured by Border Patrol apprehensions, have decreased 53 percent in the past three years, and are less than one third of what they were at their peak.
- Over the past three years, DHS has seized 74 percent more currency, 41 percent more drugs, and 159 percent more weapons along the Southwest border as compared to fiscal years (FY) 2006-2008.
Collaboration with State and Local Law Enforcement
- DHS works closely with state and local law enforcement along the border, serving together on task forces, conducting joint operations, providing the latest intelligence, and coordinating operational priorities.
- DHS has increased the funding state and local law enforcement can use to combat border-related crime through Operation Stonegarden—a DHS grant program designed to support state and local law enforcement efforts along the border. Based on risk, cross-border traffic, and border-related threat intelligence, 81 percent of Operation Stonegarden awards between 2009 and 2012 went to Southwest border states.
- ICE also continues to expand its BESTs, which were first established in 2005 to bring together federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations which pose significant threats to border security. There are currently 31 BESTs throughout the United States, including 12 along the Southwest border.