As an FBI Agent, my job was to keep the American people safe from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. On the national security front, those components include a sound counterterrorism strategy, a sound counterintelligence strategy, a sound cybersecurity strategy, a sound foreign policy and a sound national border.
For too long, the issue of border security has been largely ignored by both parties. By failing to secure our borders, our national security remains compromised at a time when we live in a world more dangerous than ever before. When you combine that our enemies are now both more sophisticated and better funded with underfunded, outdated and weakened border security, we are left with a recipe for disaster.
Thankfully, last week, the House began to take action on this crucial front by fully funding our national defense apparatus to better protect our homeland, sending more resources to our borders and clearing the way for a renewed focus on the federal government’s most important duty: the defense of the American people.
While the steps taken by Congress put us on a path to securing our borders, there is still more work to be done.
Working with the Homeland Security Committee this year, I spent time on the ground at our Southern border with our Customs and Border Protection officers and border patrol agents, and spent time both on the ocean and in the sky with our Coast Guard. These brave men and women spend every day on the front lines, defending our borders from those who wish us harm.
They are pleading for Congress to act. Their requests are straightforward and unburdened by the politicking and buzzwords that surround this debate in Washington. To carry out their vital mission they need:
• Increased manpower, to provide them with a sufficient number of agents to interdict not just drugs and guns from cartels, but also criminals and terrorists who seek to do us harm.
• Investments in technology, including drones and aerial surveillance, infrared technology, heat sensors, motion detectors both above and below ground, and an array of 21st century high-tech options that serve as force-multipliers along the border.
• Physical barriers in various forms along various stretches of the border in order to slow down the cartels and allow sufficient response time for the agents to interdict.
• A robust human intelligence program, giving law enforcement the resources needed to recruit human sources on the other side of the border to provide our agents with advance notice of the sources and methods of criminal conspiracies forming along the border.
We should honor their requests as well as do our part in the Capitol to bolster the Office of Inspector General to crack down on border corruption through the use of drug testing, financial screening and polygraph examinations.
While accomplishing these objectives will require debate and compromise by lawmakers, what is most important is that we, regardless of party, resist the urge to politicize this issue. Securing operational control of our border is a national security emergency. My former law enforcement colleagues who are putting their lives on the line every day while protecting our borders are asking for our help. We cannot let them down.
If we're going to take our nation’s border security seriously, we need to deal with it in a deliberate, bipartisan fashion that takes into account the complexity of the situation. Ensuring border security requires a multipronged response that acts on all fronts, not just one or two. The time is now to act on securing our border: north, south, east and west , all components, in all geographic regions.