Homeland Security

How tech supports CBP priorities

8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego 

Prototypes for a proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Border wall construction, more sensor technology and closing loopholes in immigration policy are all keys to a secure border, the leader of Customs and Border Protection told a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing.

One of CBP's top priorities, Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said, is staying on the "cutting edge" of technology to secure the border.

That technology makes up a complex portfolio,  from fiber-optic cables along border barriers to detect intrusions, ground sensors, integrated fixed towers, non-intrusive drug detection sensors at ports of entry and even extending to wearable technology to monitor the health of CBP's canine officers.

Technological development and deployment, McAleenan told the House Homeland Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee on April 25, is among his five overarching priorities for the agency.

The subcommittee hearing focused on McAleenan's vision for CBP moving forward. Although he has been at the agency for a decade in various positions, including his stint as acting commissioner since the Trump administration took office, McAleenan was just confirmed as commissioner in March.

McAleenan and committee Republicans said closing immigration policy loopholes that allow border crossers to claim they're under threat and remain in the U.S. is also urgent.

Technological innovation, said the commissioner in response to a question from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) about technology procurement, has been a priority for CBP.

That work, he explained, includes developing longer term contracts with larger suppliers as well as leveraging DHS Science and Technology Directorate's relationships with startup companies to rapidly field new technology.

Using start-ups to develop technologies "provides a much faster cycle from identifying capabilities that we could use [to putting them] in the hands of our agents and officers," he said. "We're contracting with start-ups to start pilots and to ultimately apply it. We're doing it in multiple areas," he said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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