Growing up in a small border town, we weren’t accustomed to large volumes of crime, such as road chases, home break-ins, damaged property, large amounts of drugs, and human smuggling rings in our own backyard. The morning chatter from my neighbors used to be ranchers looking for lost livestock or congratulating the local basketball team on a win. Now, with a very unsecure border, we’re starting to forget what life was like just a couple of years ago.
Today’s morning chatter is the elderly woman who got into her car to find two male migrants sleeping in the backseat. The mother who doesn’t play outside with her children on their own ranch unless she has a pistol strapped to her. The rancher who sustained thousands of dollars in property damage due to smugglers breaking down fencing and burning down barns.
At its core, national security is the same as personal home security. The safety and security of the people and belongings inside a person’s home is directly dependent upon their ability to control who and what enters that home, and when. The same applies to the safety and security of the United States, only it is Congress that determines who and what is allowed to enter the country and how much money will be allocated to support the enforcement of the rules.
It is important to understand the agencies and tactics involved in the critical mission of national security at our nation’s borders. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) officers apply the laws enacted by Congress to determine who and what is allowed to enter into the country through a Port of Entry (POE). U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents are charged with making sure everyone uses one of those 328 POEs. USBP does not exist to protect the borders, it exists to protect the nation, our citizens, and our guests by ensuring that we know who and what enters our home. While personnel are vital to this mission, there are many ways and means by which USBP works to secure the nation.
The threats the U.S. faces at the southern border range from nation-state infiltrations and Mexican cartel violence to a component of migrants defrauding the system with the belief they are doing what is right. But the most significant adversaries are the criminal organizations that exist solely to facilitate illegal cross-border activity. Criminal organizations are in the business of making money by defeating our security—and they work at it full time.
Texas has been at the forefront of an unprecedented border crisis that is quickly turning every state in America into a border state. The Lone Star State has been working overtime to fill in crucial gaps made by devoid and perilous federal policies. We delved into the many facets of border security that Texas employs—most notably, the significant role played by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the National Guard. Along with USCBP and USBP, they are able to share resources to help better secure the border. Wall infrastructure alone, while effective in some respects, will not get the job done. Border wall technology, cameras, towers, drones, artificial intelligence, and more, all play a role in securing the nation via its southern border.
With criminal organizations working hard to beat border personnel and technology, it is vital that we continue to evolve and enhance our tools and tactics across the southern border and bolster the many personnel involved in the process. While border security threats, enforcement priorities, and tools and tactics continue to shift, the fundamental mission remains the same: to protect and defend the United States, our citizens, and our guests by ensuring that we know who and what enters our home.
For more on the border, read our full report here.