Trump’s border wall moved one step closer to becoming reality, but will Americans be forced to give up privacy in the name of security?
The House Homeland Security Committee has approved a border security bill which includes $10 billion for Trump’s proposed border wall. Supporters of The Border Security for America Act say it is necessary to stop illegal immigration and violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. However, opponents of the bill are concerned about provisions for drones, DNA collection, social media monitoring, and license plate scanning along the border.
On Wednesday the committee debated the impact the border wall would have on border communities and the local environment, but ultimately the bill was passed with a vote of 18-12. Originally introduced by committee Chairman Michael McCaul, the bill now heads to the House floor for a full debate. The bill currently has 62 co-sponsors.
McCaul said the bill was necessary to “achieve full operational control and situational awareness” of the border and to help put “more boots on the ground.”
“Now that we have a partner in the White House who has made this a top priority, it’s time to send a bill to President Trump’s desk so we can deliver the American people the security they have long demanded and deserve,” McCaul said.
The Border Security for America Act will greatly increase the budget and personnel of the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection, with each receiving 5,000 new agents. The bill provides 10 billion for Trump’s wall and another 5 billion to upgrade the nation’s ports. The bill requires new biometric systems to be up and running at the nations 15 busiest airports, seaports, and land ports within two years. After five years all land and sea ports of entry would require biometric systems to be running.
Some of the most worrisome portions of the bill include biometric scanning of all people who exit the United States, both citizens and foreigners. In addition, the text of the bill calls for DNA collection of “any individual filing an application, petition, or other request for immigration benefit or status.” Perhaps most worrisome is a provision which requires the DHS and the Department of Defense to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones) and automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) along the border. The bill would allocate $125 million to upgrade the ALPRs of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Finally, the bill allows the National Guard and the military to be called upon for intelligence gathering and surveillance activities in the name of securing the border.
The bill is facing opposition from groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation who claim the bill will “dramatically expand dragnet biometric and other surveillance of U.S. citizens and immigrants alike at and near the U.S. border.” Regarding the use of drones and ALPRs, the EFF says, “it is unclear whether the bill’s new ALPR surveillance would be limited to cars that actually cross the U.S. border, or would also apply more broadly to cars at CBP’s many interior checkpoints, some located as far as 100 miles from the border.”
The bill is supported by the Security Industry Association (SIA), The International Biometrics + Identity Association, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. The SIA sent a letter to the House Homeland Security Committee expressing their support for the measure.
“Implementation of H.R. 3548 could result in significant expansion of U.S. border protections by physical barriers as appropriate in high-risk areas as part of this border security infrastructure,” SIA CEO Don Erickson said. “Physical barriers are not effective deterrents without the ability of U.S. border patrol agents to detect breaches and breach attempts. Therefore, the use of modern integrated surveillance technology and analytics used in perimeter security will be just as essential to success as a barrier’s structural design.”
It should come as no surprise that these organizations are in favor of the bill – they stand to profit from the project. What the supporters of this bill are not addressing is the fact that it will further the development of a surveillance state and militarized police state along the U.S. Mexico border. This border is already a dangerous place to be because of the so-called “Constitution Free Zones” where the federal government sets up illegal checkpoints and harasses travelers.
Activist Post previously reported that the Trump administration is using Stingray cell phone surveillance tools to monitor undocumented migrants. When combined with recent plans to scan the face of every person coming in and out of the United States, the growing “biometric wall”, and DHS policy of scanning social media of all immigrants, and a picture of complete and total surveillance comes into view.
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One final reason this bill and the building of a border wall would be a disaster deals with the concept of “eminent domain.” Essentially, when the state wants to implement a new project – a border wall, perhaps – but there are homes or businesses in the path of the project, they simply pay the people off and take their land. (Sometimes they don’t even bother paying.) The Border Security for America Act calls on the Secretary of Homeland Security to take all necessary actions to build the wall, including “the removal of obstacles to detection of illegal entrants.” So if your home or business gets in the way of the federal governments project you will lose it.
No matter which way you look at it, the border wall is a horrible idea. It will increase surveillance and militarization along the border and more than likely the wall will be used to keep Americans in the growing police state known as the United States. Do not fall prey to arguments for border security. Do not allow the tyrants to trick you into accepting a loss of privacy and freedom.