Policing the Borders

February 22, 2002 • Volume 12, Issue 7
Can the United States guard against terrorists?
By Patrick Marshall

Introduction

Customs Service agents are now on high alert at some 300 U.S. ports of entry to keep contraband from coming into the country on buses, trucks, airliners and ships.  (U.S. Customs Service Photo/Gerald L. Nino)
Customs Service agents are now on high alert at some 300 U.S. ports of entry to keep contraband from coming into the country on buses, trucks, airliners and ships. (U.S. Customs Service Photo/Gerald L. Nino)

To keep America safe from terrorists, customs and immigration agents must monitor 7,500 miles of land and sea borders, dozens of airports and 300 official ports of entry. They also monitor the 11 million trucks, 2.2 million rail cars and 7,500 foreign-flag ships that enter the country each year. And they oversee the 31 million non-citizens — mostly tourists — who visit each year. After Sept. 11, President Bush formed the Office of Homeland Security, and Congress passed sweeping legislation giving police and intelligence agencies more power to monitor U.S. borders. But experts disagree over which security steps would be most cost-effective and least disruptive to trade and Americans' daily lives. And civil libertarians warn that some proposed measures — such as linking driver's licenses to a national database and targeting certain ethnic groups — would undermine civil liberties.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Terrorism
Apr. 01, 2016  Defeating the Islamic State
Jan. 29, 2016  Unrest in Turkey
Jun. 27, 2014  Assessing the Threat From al Qaeda
Sep. 02, 2011  Remembering 9/11
Sep. 03, 2010  Homegrown Jihadists
Mar. 12, 2010  Prosecuting Terrorists Updated
Nov. 2009  Terrorism and the Internet
Feb. 13, 2009  Homeland Security
Apr. 21, 2006  Port Security
Oct. 14, 2005  Global Jihad
Apr. 02, 2004  Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism
Feb. 22, 2002  Policing the Borders
Oct. 12, 2001  War on Terrorism
Jul. 21, 1995  Combating Terrorism
Aug. 26, 1988  New Approach to Mideast Terrorism
May 30, 1986  Dealing With Terrorism
Oct. 08, 1982  Prospects for Peace in Northern Ireland
Mar. 27, 1981  Anti-Terrorism: New Priority in Foreign Policy
Dec. 02, 1977  International Terrorism
Jan. 26, 1973  Control of Skyjacking
May 13, 1970  Political Terrorism
Jul. 24, 1952  Red Terrorism in Malaya
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Immigration and Naturalization
Military Intelligence
Terrorism and Counterterrorism