Securing the Border: Understanding Threats and Strategies for the Maritime Border, hearing before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourteenth Congress, First Session, July 15, 2015   [open pdf - 412KB]

This is a testimony compilation of the July 15, 2015 hearing on "Securing the Border: Understanding Threats and Strategies for the Maritime Border," held before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. From the opening statement of Chairman Ron Johnson: "The United States coastline, which includes the Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific and Great Lakes coasts, measures over 95,000 miles long--one of the longest coastlines in the world. Across these coastlines migrants from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti seek to illegally enter the U.S., often forced into overcrowded boats with unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Transnational criminal organizations also transport drugs--marijuana on the west coast and cocaine on the east coast--into the U.S. via the maritime border. Terrorism is also a continuing threat across our maritime borders. In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security released its Northern Border Strategy, which in part focused on the vulnerabilities in the Great Lakes region. The report cautioned that these shared waterways provided a conduit for potential exploitation. In particular, the ability of small vessels to traverse the Great Lakes and blend in with commercial trade and recreational boaters creates a challenging enforcement environment. As a Wisconsinite, I can attest to this observation firsthand. Despite these threats, as compared to the southwest border, the U.S. has very little domain awareness across our maritime border. And of the threats of which we do become aware, the U.S. Coast Guard is only able to respond to approximately 30 percent. This means that, similar to our southwest border, along which we are only interdicting 5 to 10 percent of the drugs smuggled across, a large amount of drugs are coming across our maritime border undetected." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following:

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