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3.6 Million People a Year

The Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security estimates that 3.6 million people yearly pass through U.S. Customs check points without proper identification. On the "flip-side" of this problem, the same report indicates that 96% of the people crossing into the United States from Mexico or Canada at one of the 39 border crossings do so with a valid passport, border crossing card or birth certificates.

This is not "just" a lapse in the use of border documents, it is a serious security risk. The problem is bigger. Part of the problem lies in the fact that many if not all of our border crossings and check points are undermanned.

...the auditors found that hundreds of thousands of people were still being waved through by customs officers without being referred for a secondary inspection. They also warned that if all the people who flouted the rules were sent for an extended second interview, it would overload customs officers.

Part of the problem also lies in the availability of secure border documents to begin with, along with recent questions of policy about border security. As recently as this Summer, questions were being raised about the possibility that the State Department issued card might be vulnerable to counterfeiting [see U.S. Immigration and Customs alert about counterfeit DSP-150 cards]

Further concern about our border security was raised this month when it was revealed that Mexican travelers woud soon be eligible to apply for a "trusted traveler" status . The concern here is specifically that the cartels might find ways to find and then exploit loopholes in the program. Another, pre-existing program, the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) was recently breached when two SENTRI trusted travelers were caught trying to bring contraband across the border into the U.S. through the SENTRI-only express border passage.

While we have a difficult time preventing illegal immigration, it seems we also have a continuing problem with border security policy and documents. Nearly a decade following the worst attack on our country, this is by far, "not over."

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