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Follow up Report on Border Patrol's Efforts to
Improve Northern Border Security (Redacted Version)

Report No. I-2002-004
February 2002


Since September 11, the INS has stepped up its efforts to enhance northern border security. In December 2001, the INS, the Attorney General, and the Canadian government agreed to a 30-point plan to accomplish this task. The 30-point plan is a work in progress and it is too early evaluate implementation or assess its effectiveness. Many elements contained in Border Patrol's 1994 Strategic Plan Phase IV for securing the northern border are part of the 30-point plan.

Although we have not reviewed the 30-point plan in depth as part of this follow-up review, we believe the INS should transform appropriate elements of the 30-point plan into a formal INS strategic plan to address the continuing, long-term needs of the northern border.

We found that the Border Patrol has made some improvements in enhancing its northern border operations. The INS's IBET/IMET initiatives to increase international and multi-agency cooperation should improve security. The northern border sectors have received increases in sensor systems, night vision devices, computer systems, and vehicles. Yet there still are areas that need attention. The northern border has received minimal Border Patrol agent enhancements and no support staff enhancements. Many stations still cannot operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The communication system is still inadequate and not only presents a law enforcement problem but could pose a safety issue for Border Patrol agents.

As of December 2001, only 368 full-time Border Patrol agents monitor the 4,000-mile northern border. This understaffing continues to offer an avenue for aliens, criminals, and terrorists to enter the United States illegally. Even though the Border Patrol agents are augmented by the temporary assignment of Border Patrol agents, an increase in sensor systems and other devices, the Border Patrol's current staffing and resources still cannot adequately assess or respond to illegal activity on the northern border.