Commissioner Speaks to Government, Industry Execs
CBP is looking toward small and large companies to help strengthen border security and expedite trade and commerce while facing an unprecedented flood of families and unaccompanied children attempting to cross the Southwest border into United States. That was the message Commissioner Kevin McAleenan gave to the contractors, business owners and government representatives attending the Federal Law Enforcement Conference in Ballston, Virginia, Tuesday.
The conference brings together senior executives from industry and government to discuss key law enforcement issues.
The Commissioner spoke about how CBP deploys medical staff to offer aid and address health concerns to families apprehended at the border. At the same time, the Border Patrol is often required to hold up to 200 people in processing facilities designed for just 50, challenges where contractors can offer solutions, the Commissioner explained.
Transnational criminal organizations manage the human smuggling cycle from the point of departure in countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, to final destination in cities like New York, Houston or Washington, D.C. In additional to illegal drugs, human smuggling has become a multi-billion dollar line of business for the cartels. Smugglers not only profit from extorting money, valuables and even labor from migrants, they also use families and children to divert CBP law enforcement personnel away from drug smugglers operating nearby.
In the first four months of this current fiscal year, CBP’s Office of Field Operations seized more than 330 pounds of fentanyl at ports of entry, a 200 percent increase over the same timeframe last year.
Technology and border barriers are critical solutions to CBP’s biggest challenges.
As an incentive, CBP is offering contractors and innovators an opioid detection competition worth $1.5 million in business. Solutions are needed in non-intrusive technologies such as radiation detectors and X-ray portals to detect illicit narcotics shipments through the U.S. mail and e-commerce, said the Commissioner.
“The solution to the migration problem for me starts with development in Central America,” said the Commissioner, where trade in the Northern Triangle region can move at a snail’s pace. “It can take 36 hours for a truck to cross the El Salvador - Honduras border,” he pointed out. “They have some of the most inefficient borders in the world.”
While CBP is working with Northern Triangle governments to develop systems that promote trade, the agency is relying on companies that can build the technology and assist with the consulting leading to economic opportunities in Central America, McAleenan said.
At U.S. ports of entry, contractors are supporting CBP in transforming airport screening with facial recognition technology that provides instant validation along with the passenger’s history. With a yearly 5 percent growth in international travel, CBP is seeking ways to rapidly move passengers through ports of entry. “We’re looking for Global Entry without people stopping at all,” he said.
CBP is building the partnerships needed to develop new technologies with a $14.9 billion budget, an increase of more than $929 million over fiscal 2018. “This is a great budget for CBP, and it’s balanced,” said the Commissioner.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.