The paper at hand aims at studying one of the most critical issues faced in the current-day United States – the issue of border security. Specific attention will be paid to how the perception of border security evolved over time to become what it is today. In particular, it will be identified how the 9/11 terrorist attacks and cultural diversity affected the understanding of border security. More than that, the paper will address the main challenges related to maintaining border security, as it will analyze the list of the most common threats and risks determined by the legislation. It will be pointed out how the list of threats expanded over time and what led to such changes. Finally, the paper will point to the main responsibilities of federal and state law enforcement agencies in coping with the challenges with the main stress made on the superiority of the federal agencies and the supportive operations of state agencies.
II. The impact of 9/11 on border security
III. The connection between cultural diversity and border security
IV. Different responsibilities of federal and state law agencies in ensuring border security
Ensuring border security is the top priority and responsibility of state and federal agencies. Over time, the perception of border security has evolved in response to external threats, such as terrorist attacks, and internal developments including the growing trend towards cultural diversity. However, regardless of the changing understanding of this concept, the responsibilities in maintaining it differ. These differences, along with the evolution of the concept, will be reviewed in detail in the paper at hand.
To begin with, maintaining border security has always been a critical matter and a top priority. Traditionally, it was a vital issue because of the long coastlines and land borders of the United States so that the main priorities came down to assuring the legal crossing of these borders and minimizing the risks of drug trafficking (Partida, 2014). Some other issues that were of concern in terms of border security are the issues of legal trade and transportation that would protect economic and agricultural interests as well as guard the state from diseases and pest (Tussing, 2008). It was mainly achieved by processing vehicles and cargoes crossing the borders of the United States. Before analyzing the evolution of the perception of border security in the United States, it is peculiar to note that there is no legally determined and generally recognized concept of what border security is. Nevertheless, main challenges associated with it are clearly stated in different legal acts and frameworks.
Based on what has been mentioned above, the main peculiarity is that, historically, the United States citizens believed that they lived in a safe country. It changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that made thousands of Americans question whether the country is as secure as it was seen. Since then, another priority was added to the list of primary concerns – the threats connected to terrorists crossing the borders illegally and arriving to the US with the aim of attacks and destabilizing political and social environment. From this perspective, the issues related to border security were reviewed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in order to minimize the threats of similar acts of terror in the future. The point here is that terrorists might potentially use the routes and methods used by smugglers to transport weapons to the United States (Partida, 2014), thus creating additional threats.
Another development that had a significant impact on perceiving and maintaining border security is the increasing commonality of cultural diversity. This one as well derives from the historical perception of the United States as a safe country. For this reason, traditionally, the issues related to cultural diversity and border security came down to the problem of illegal migrants, especially those from Mexico (Partida, 2014). However, in the current-day United States, specific attention is as well paid to terrorism-related challenges connected to cultural diversity. This problem was mainly caused by the 9/11 attacks, as anyone with a differing cultural or ethnic background was seen as a potential source of threat. Also, it is commonly believed that unauthorized immigrants could be interested in destroying social harmony by initiating strikes (Tyler & Marciniak, 2014). In this case, no stress is made on their origin. In this way, it is the fear of difference that has driven the change in border security, as illegal immigrants might be seen as members of gangs or those involved in organized criminal activities (Tussing, 2008).
As it has been mentioned above, the roles and responsibilities of state and federal law enforcement agencies differ when it comes to maintaining border security. To be specific, it is the federal government that is responsible for issuing laws determining the threats and challenges to be addressed. Additionally, these are federal law enforcement agencies that are responsible for maintaining border securities and minimizing risks of all those threats mentioned above. The main responsible agency is the Department of Homeland Security that not only investigated cases related to security-related law violation but also controls borders, customs, and trade in order to address risks (Martin, 2017). Still, regardless of the differences in main responsibilities related to border security, both state and federal law enforcement agencies are expected to cooperate in order to prevent threats and maximize the effectiveness of the effort. To be more specific, state law enforcement agencies are commonly seen as those responsible for analyzing whether there are any risks within their territories, especially in the states located close to the borders and coastlines. They are expected to engage with the federal law enforcement agencies on noting any risks as well as identifying any routes that could be potentially used by illegal immigrants, smugglers, and terrorists (Best, 2010).
Summing up, maintaining border security in the United States is one of the most vital challenges associated with numerous concerns. This concept is a dynamic one, as it has evolved over time, especially after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the increasing cultural diversity. In particular, traditionally, the main challenges were connected to the issues of trade, economics, and agriculture, illegal immigration, and drug trafficking. In some most critical instances, human trafficking would as well be perceived as a challenge. However, over time, this list was extended to include the risks of organized criminal activities, gang activity, and the threats of terrorism. All of these are successfully addressed by state and federal law enforcement agencies. Although federal agencies are seen as responsible for tackling any risks, the cooperation with the state law enforcement agencies is as well expected to improve the effectiveness of security maintenance initiatives.
- Best, R. A. (2010). Securing America’s borders: The role of the intelligence community. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.
- Martin, G. (2017). Understanding homeland security (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
- Partida, H. R. R. (2014). Post-9/11 U.S. homeland security changes and challenges: A policy impact assessment of the Mexican front. Norteamerica, 9(1), 55-78. doi:10.1016/S1870-3550(14)70113-2
- Tussing, B. (2008). New requirements for a new challenge: The military’s role in border security. Homeland Security Affairs, 3(4). Retrieved from https://www.hsaj.org/articles/117
- Tyler, I., & Marciniak, K. (Eds.). (2014). Protesting citizens: Migrant activism. New York, NY: Routledge.