House Homeland Security Committee Passes SIA-Backed Border Security Bill

Border security

The Security Industry Association (SIA) endorsed H.R. 3548, the Border Security for America Act of 2017 (BSAA), authored by House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R.-Texas, and co-sponsored by 70 members of Congress. The House Homeland Security Committee gave the bill a favorable report on Oct. 4.

On Wednesday, McCaul said the bill would authorize critical border security enhancements: “Today the Committee passed legislation that will protect our homeland by strengthening the security of our borders. This is a 21st Century, multi-layered approach, which authorizes $10 billion for the construction of a border wall, $5 billion for the modernization of our ports of entry, provides other tactical infrastructure and cutting-edge technology, puts more boots on the ground, and better empowers the Department of Homeland Security’s Secretary to take other necessary actions to secure the border.”

Additionally, SIA supports the phased deployment of biometric entry/exit data systems for international visitors mandated in the bill.

In September, SIA wrote to the Committee to express strong support of the legislation, and the Committee recognized SIA as a key supporter of BSAA on its website—alongside the International Biometrics + Identity Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and several other organizations. SIA commended the Committee’s efforts to strike an effective balance between additional physical barriers and increasing use of security technologies to deter unlawful entry into the United States, depending on the border region. SIA’s support letter can be found here.​

“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. 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,” SIA CEO Don Erickson wrote in the letter.

“Another critical component will be the use of counter-drone technology to mitigate against the threat posed by the use of drones by drug cartels and other criminals to circumvent border barriers—a growing issue well publicized in several recent examples,” he added.

Erickson also expressed approval for the authorization of an additional $33 million in fiscal 2018 to fully implement the Border Security Deployment Program, which will help modernize surveillance and intrusion detection systems at land ports of entry along the southern and northern borders. Additionally, SIA supports the phased deployment of biometric entry/exit data systems for international visitors mandated in the bill, which is long overdue since its initial authorization in 2004.

SIA urges the House of Representatives to promptly consider the Border Security for America Act at its earliest opportunity.

About the author

Jake Parker is SIA Director of Government Relations.