What Makes a Border Secure? Building a Healthier Border Dialogue

Danilo Zak
Date of Publication: 
August, 2022
Source Organization: 
National Immigration Forum

The U.S. currently spends more money on border security and immigration enforcement than on all other federal law enforcement agencies combined. Yet, in 2011, researchers Edward Alden and Bryan Robert explained how “the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has never clearly defined what border security means in practice.” Even in 2022, this statement remains true. In “What Makes a Border Secure? Building a Healthier Border Dialogue,” Danilo Zak of the National Immigration Forum seeks to create an actionable border security framework using the best available data, and clearly defined metrics and benchmarks. Zak starts by reviewing current and past efforts to describe and quantify border security. He then proposes a better border security framework, which would include: 1) restricting the number of migrants entering without inspection; 2) limiting the flow of illegal drugs; 3) effectively processing arriving migrants and overseeing cross-border trade; and 4) preventing the entry of terrorists. The paper also proposes policy recommendations to shape a healthier dialogue about securing our border. Zak recommends providing more resources to and expanding the authority of the DHS Office of Immigration Statistics, as well as using existing and newly created metrics for border security and border management to make policy decisions. He suggests clarifying border security goals, connecting border funding and pilot programs to clear, metric-based outcomes. The time has come, he suggests, to reconsider the “Sisyphean” goal of eliminating all unlawful entries. (Erika Hernandez for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Zak, D., (2022) What Makes a Border Secure? Building a Healthier Border Dialogue. National Immigration Forum. https://immigrationforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/What-Makes-a-Bor...