Janice Kephart's blog

How to Fix H.R. 3141, The Biometric Exit Improvement Act of 2013

By Janice Kephart, October 9, 2013

On October 9, 2013, the House Homeland Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) and Ranking Member Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) were scheduled to hold a meeting to mark up their bill, H.R. 3141, "The Biometric Exit Improvement Act of 2013". The meeting was postponed but the committee should be commended for trying to deal with this issue in a considered manner, and for seeking to build consensus on a difficult issue that has plagued the U.S. immigration system since 1996. Read more...

Widening Existing Vulnerabilities

By Janice Kephart, July 19, 2013

(Ms. Kephart recently returned from a Special Counsel position with the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she advised and supported Senator Jeff Sessions' (R-Ala.) work during the committee's consideration of immigration legislation.)

Read Part 1

The Senate-passed S.744 has three distinct, mandatory airport exit requirements, only two of which involve seaports. None solve the air carrier problem, only one provides funding, and all conflict with current law. Read more...

Widening Existing Vulnerabilities

By Janice Kephart, July 8, 2013

(Ms. Kephart recently returned from a Special Counsel position with the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she advised and supported Senator Jeff Sessions' (R-AL) work during the committee's consideration of immigration legislation.)

The national security implications of the recently passed Senate immigration bill, S.744 (the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act") are pervasive. The kinds of damage that S.744 would do to national security, if passed, are manifold and are at least as bad as the border security provisions that have received significant attention. Read more...

Update: Most Terrorist Incidents in the Past Five Years Committed by Foreign-Born Individuals

By Janice Kephart, April 19, 2013

According to the Terrorist Screening Center, 98 percent of the approximately 550,000 individuals on the terrorist watchlist are foreign-born. Roughly 10,000 to 20,000 on the watchlist reside within the United States. It is therefore not surprising that four of the 13 most notorious terrorism arrests since 2009 involved naturalized U.S. citizens. Five cases involved native-born U.S. Read more...

US-VISIT Is Now the Office of Biometric Identity Management (and That's a Good Thing)

By Janice Kephart, April 15, 2013

Every day, 30,000 authorized federal, state, and local government users query US-VISIT's data in order to accurately identify people and determine whether they pose a risk to the United States. US-VISIT supplies the technology for collecting and storing biometric data, provides analysis of the data to decision-makers, and ensures the integrity of the data.

By using biometrics, US-VISIT is helping to prevent the use of fraudulent documents, protect visitors from identity theft, and stop thousands of criminals and immigration violators from entering the country.

US-VISIT website

Five More States Submit REAL ID Compliance Packages

By Janice Kephart, March 8, 2013

With states facing a new REAL ID compliance deadline of July 15, 2013, and DHS enforcement action tentatively set to begin as early as autumn 2013 (DHS hopes), DHS tells me that five more states have submitted compliance packages to the DHS REAL ID Office that DHS says meet the law's certification requirements. These five all have submitted the compliance packages since the December 21, 2012, DHS press release setting forth its compliance and enforcement policy. Read more...

Closing the Gap on REAL ID: 48 of 56 Jurisdictions Have Digitized Vital Records

By Janice Kephart, March 5, 2013

As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pursues driver's license security law compliance under the REAL ID Act of 2005 in the coming months it will be imperative that the underlying material requirements are available for all 56 jurisdictions (the 50 states plus D.C. and the five island territories) to incorporate into their driver's license issuance processes. With DHS granting a six-month grace period (until July 2013) to comply with the driver's license security law, according to a December 2012 press release, stakeholders are still rumbling that two key elements of the 36 compliance requirements do not exist. They are both right and wrong. Read more...

Birth Certificate Standards: Drafted Eight Years Ago, Still Not Published

By Janice Kephart, February 20, 2013

Buried deep in federal government bureaucracies, tenacious mid-level directors worked arduously eight years ago to prepare minimum standards for issuance of birth certificates, something recommended by the 9/11 Commission and enacted into law by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA). Read more...

ICE Agents Have Standing to Sue DHS Over DACA

By Janice Kephart, February 3, 2013

In the midst of a "comprehensive immigration reform" package that could legalize the controversial so-called Morton memo on prosecutorial discretion and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directive for a DREAM Act-like deferred action amnesty (known as DACA), a legal challenge to both was upheld in a federal appeals court ruling last month. The ruling, issued by Judge Reed O'Connor in Dallas, concluded that 10 ICE agents and officers have standing to challenge both DHS initiatives aimed at limiting ICE agents from upholding immigration law. Read more...

Can Amnesty Push Survive an Increase in Illegal Entries?

By Janice Kephart, February 1, 2013

The Washington Times is reporting that amidst the president's assurances that the border is secure enough for the country to pursue amnesty for 11 million or more illegal aliens, the number of border arrests is increasing. Read more...

REAL ID Compliance and the Effect of Deferred Action

By Janice Kephart, January 15, 2013

Facing a final compliance deadline of today, January 15, 2013, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last month issued a press release providing a six-month grace period for states to become fully compliant with the federal driver's license law known as the REAL ID Act of 2005. DHS states that enforcement would then begin at the earliest in the autumn of 2013. Read more...

Agent Ivie Death Likely a Result of Confusion Surrounding Drug Smuggling; Another Agent Dead in Texas

By Janice Kephart, November 5, 2012

According to the Arizona Republic, a 39-page report on the October 2 death of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie has been released by Cochise County, Ariz., Acting Sheriff Rod Rothrock. The report includes interviews with both of the surviving agents involved as well as first responders to the scene. Read more...

Another Potential Government Eye on Our Borders, but Not the Type Americans Need

By Janice Kephart, November 1, 2012

Sequestration threatens to eliminate thousands of homeland security jobs on January 2, 2012, including about 8,700 border-related jobs. But President Obama is not working to break the congressional budgetary logjam, instead issuing an executive order on October 26 authorizing appropriations for a new "Homeland Security Partnership Council". Yes, indeed, the federal government will be coming to your community soon to identify issue areas and partnership nominees for this council. Read more...

Friendly Fire Incident Highlights Border Tensions, Strained Resources

By Janice Kephart, October 8, 2012

News continues to emerge concerning the death of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie. Current evidence has led Border Patrol Union President George McCubbin to conclude that Ivie was killed after firing on a pair of agents responding to the same tripped sensor. This unusual tragedy highlights just how high tensions are riding on the unsecured Arizona border. Read more...

T.J. Bonner's Unfortunate Circumstance

By Janice Kephart, September 26, 2012

I read with consternation the specific allegations of embezzlement against former Border Patrol Union president T.J. Bonner. I have known Bonner since before 9/11, when I was counsel in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information under the chairmanship of Arizona Senator Jon Kyl. Representing a border state and sitting on both the judiciary and intelligence, it was Sen. Read more...

No Hezbollah in Mexico?

By Janice Kephart, September 21, 2012

Just a month ago, the State Department's Counterterrorism Coordinator, Daniel Benjamin, said Hezbollah is "a very ambitious group with global reach." Benjamin did so at an event that re-designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, this time for its support of Assad's regime in Syria. He was asked more than once about Hezbollah's threat here in the United States, and while he tried to say nothing ("I'll just leave it at that"), he did: not only is Hezbollah an ambitious group with global reach, but clearly there is more to the story. "I'll just leave it at that" from the State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator means "I just can't tell you right now." Read more...

ID Innovate Conference: Secure ID Technologies You'll Want to Know About

By Janice Kephart, September 5, 2012

Last month, I delivered the keynote address at the first-ever ID Innovate conference in Cambridge, Mass. (See the Memorandum version of my presentation.) My mission was to highlight issues of identity that have a national security element and the role of technology in supporting security. While I was there to educate, however, I was the one who ended up being educated. Read more...

Why Were Mexicans Illegally Training to be Pilots in South Texas?

By Janice Kephart, July 27, 2012

While the Hill focused last week on a Government Accountability Office report, "General Aviation Security: TSA's Process for Ensuring Foreign Flight Students Do Not Pose a Security Risk Has Weaknesses", no one seems to remember that this same issue arose last year only to fall on deaf ears. Read more...

Border Patrol Training Videos Say to "Hide", "Run Away" in Active Shooter Situations

By Janice Kephart, July 13, 2012

The National Border Patrol Council Local 2544 in Tucson, Ariz., is just a little angry. Local 2544, which is the largest Border Patrol union local with over 3,300 dues-paying members, tags itself as "the real border security experts". What are they angry about? Apparently, the current administration's Department of Homeland Security (DHS) senior officials have created what agents call "virtual brainwashing videos". Read more...

Terrorist Travel Remains a Priority for al Qaeda; Obama Policies Support Easy Entry, Embedding

By Janice Kephart, June 22, 2012

Terrorist travel may not still be at the top of the agenda for politicians on Capitol Hill, but travel remains a top priority for terrorists. The world was given a glimpse of how al Qaeda top leadership conducted reconnaissance in a recent trial in the United Kingdom of a British Airways employee now serving 30 years for his participation in an airline plot with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric killed by a drone in Yemen last September. Read more...

Pennsylvania's Decision to Play Chicken with the Feds over Driver's Licenses Is a Bad Idea

By Janice Kephart, June 18, 2012

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's decision last month to sign a law rejecting compliance with REAL ID, the federal secure driver's license statute, is putting the state's residents at risk of unknowingly playing the lead role in a game of "chicken" with the feds on airport security ID requirements. Gov. Corbett is claiming an inability to comply with REAL ID standards and exaggerating the costs, both of which are highly inaccurate based on documentation obtained under Pennsylvania's "Right to Know Law". Corbett's irresponsible decisions will not only cost residents more hassle and money, but make a mockery out of 9/11 Commission recommendations on why we need secure IDs. These include facts pertaining to Ziad Jarrah, who crashed United Airlines Flight 93 into a Shanksville, Pa., field on September 11, 2001. Read more...

Lessons for U.S. Southern Border from Interview with Canadian Mountie

By Janice Kephart, June 14, 2012

Barely anyone in the United States bothers to talk about the northern border with Canada because it is basically tranquil. While I blogged about 330 illegal aliens over a 12 mile stretch of Arizona in one night a few weeks ago, Canada's twice-as-long border with the U.S. gets about 1,700 apprehensions a whole year. So we needn't pay attention to the northern border, right?

Wrong. While it may never be possible to 100 percent secure any border, listening to how criminal movement across our borders can successfully be interdicted is essential to anyone who really wants to understand what "border security" can mean. Read more...

On Capitol Hill, a Strong Indictment of Administrative Amnesty Policies

By Janice Kephart, June 12, 2012

Immigration was finally at the top of the agenda on Capitol Hill this week. While the House leadership has refused to take up any real immigration measures this session, individual representatives showed some political will on immigration enforcement via the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill. Perhaps encouraged by some harsh words from Supreme Court justices on the Obama administration's arguments against Arizona's S.B. 1070, the House passed measures by large voting margins to prohibit funding of the administration's "amnesty by any means" programs. Read more...

Massachusetts Senate Attempts to Stop Illegal Alien Access to Driver's Licenses

By Janice Kephart, May 30, 2012

According to an article in the Boston Globe, the Massachusetts Senate seems to be locking horns again with the state's traditionally more liberal House over illegal immigration. The House for years has leaned toward supporting illegal immigration, and the state has not complied with federal driver's license standards or required verification that people are authorized to work. Read more...

House Appropriators Nix Obama Request for Less Enforcement Funding

By Janice Kephart, May 8, 2012

On Wednesday, May 9, House appropriators mark up their FY 2013 Subcommittee Draft Homeland Security Appropriations bill. The budget refuses the Obama administration requests to lower funding for enforcement activity on and inside the border, and denies a reorganization that would have destroyed the independence of arguably the most important border program that checks biometrics at the border to assure that people are who they say they are.

Here are the breakdowns:

Maps Show 330 Illegal Aliens Crossing Ariz. Border in One Night in March, Including Ultralight Incursion

By Janice Kephart, May 8, 2012

During the night of March 23, 2012, illegal activity was significant along 12-mile stretch of border in the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation in Arizona and extending into the United States northwest about 80 miles to the Sonoran Desert National Monument's Vekol Valley on I-8 and about another 20 miles north of the interstate. None of this area is privately owned; it is all owned and operated by the federal government with the exception of the Tohono O'odham Nation's border property. Read more...

Arizona Border Incursion in Camouflage, Non-Tracking Gear

By Janice Kephart, May 4, 2012

As the President argues against Arizona's efforts to enforce immigration laws that the federal government has either ignored or overwritten, he remains silent on illegal immigration flows on the border. Recently Arizona residents reported a growing phenomenon: Asians, often Chinese nationals, illegally crossing into Arizona. Read more...

Hill's Tourism Bill Likely Made Unnecessary by President Obama

By Janice Kephart, April 26, 2012

Congress is currently reviewing H.R. 3039, the "Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act of 2011".

I was asked for my two cents by the Hill, and here are my pennies thrown in the pond.

First, a summary of the bill, dated September 23, 2011 from the Congressional Research Service: Read more...

National Guard Border Drawdown: The Administration's Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

By Janice Kephart, April 25, 2012

Last week, former presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry blasted the White House for reducing the number of National Guard troops on the country's border with Mexico. Even peak deployment was only 250 troops (Perry asked for 1,000) for the entire 1,200-mile Texas border, which now will have no troops on the ground and a handful of helicopters monitoring the border instead. Read more...