Report assesses DoD role in southwest border security

On April 17, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report assessing the Department of Defense’s (DoD) role in securing the United States’ southwest border. The report, GAO-12-657T, is based on work completed in September 2011, which focused on the costs and benefits of an increased role of DOD at the southwest land border.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the United States’ southwest border continues to be vulnerable to illegal activity, including trafficking in persons and narcotics. Several federal agencies are involved in border security efforts, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Justice, and State. GAO-12-657T addresses (1) the costs and benefits of DoD’s role to help secure the southwest land border, including the deployment of the National Guard or additional DoD personnel; (2) the challenges related to DoD’s role at the southwest land border; and (3) considerations of an increased DoD role to help secure the southwest land border.

While officials from the agencies involved in U.S. border security stated that there are many benefits from DoD’s increased role on the border, the DoD efforts are still disputed. One of the challenges facing National Guard and active-duty military forces supporting law enforcement on the southwest border are concerns about militarizing the U.S. border. Other concerns include the absence of a comprehensive strategy for southwest border security and potential problems in identify and planning DoD’s role. DHS officials are apprehensive because DoD’s role in border assistance is limited, as DoD can only assist when legal authorities allow and resources are available.

For more information about GAO-12-657T, please follow the link below.
GAO-12-657T, Border Security: Observations on Costs, Benefits, and Challenges of a Department of Defense Role in Helping to Secure the Southwest Land Border

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