Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Bipartisan Attempt to Restore Credibility to the U.S. Border Enforcement System


Donald Kerwin, Executive Director of the Center for Migration Studies, has this piece in Huffington Post supporting the passage of a "border accountability" bill.  On March 26, 2014, Congressmen Beto O'Rourke (D-TX 16) and Steve Pearce (R-NM 2) introduced the Border Enforcement Accountability, Oversight, and Community Engagement Act of 2014 (H.R. 4303). The Act would create a bi-partisan Border Oversight Commission, with subcommittees for the Southern and Northern Borders. The Commission would provide input on the impact of federal enforcement programs on local communities and would recommend ways to decrease civil rights violations, reduce border crossing deaths, and increase the safety of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. In addition, it would create an Ombudsman for Border and Immigration Related Concerns that would receive, evaluate and resolve complaints against CBP officers, solicit and address the enforcement-related concerns of border residents, inspect border facilities and produce an annual report to Congress with recommendations for systemic reforms. The Act also provides for training to increase the safety of CBP officers and to enhance their ability to detect vulnerable populations like trafficking victims. It would require a much needed assessment of staffing and infrastructure needs at ports of entry, with a focus on increasing security and reducing crossing delays. Finally, it would task CBP with producing a report on migrant crossing deaths (including its plans to reduce deaths) and require a study of federal immigration enforcement "use of force" policies, practices and training.


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