INS' Southwest Border Strategy:

Resource and Impact Issues Remain After Seven Years

GAO-01-842: Published: Aug 2, 2001. Publicly Released: Aug 2, 2001.


Richard M. Stana
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To deter illegal entry between the nation's ports of entry, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) developed its Southwest Border Strategy. INS has spent seven years implementing the border strategy, but it may take INS up to a decade longer to fully implement the strategy. This assumes that INS obtains the level of staff, technology, equipment, and fencing it believes it needs to control the Southwest border. Although illegal alien apprehensions have shifted, there is no clear indication that overall illegal entry into the United States along the Southwestern border has declined. INS' current efforts to measure the effectiveness of its border control efforts could be enhanced by analyzing the data in its automated biometric identification system (IDENT). These data offer INS an opportunity to develop additional performance indicators that could be incorporated into its Annual Performance Plan review process and could help INS assess whether its border control efforts are associated with an overall reduction in the flow of illegal aliens across the border. Borderwide analysis of the IDENT data could be used to address several important questions related to illegal entry. The strategy's impact on local communities has been affected by the timing of INS, infusion of agent and other resources intended to protect the local community from a surge in illegal alien traffic; what routes the illegal aliens have used in crossing the border; and INS' involvement with the community. INS has learned the importance of outreach efforts in attempting to mitigate the potential negative effects the strategy can cause a community and the harm that can befall illegal aliens who risk injury and death to cross the border.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendation for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To better gauge the effects of its border control efforts, the INS Commissioner should develop specific performance indicators using the IDENT data and incorporate these indicators into INS' Annual Performance Plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Prior to the creation of DHS in March 2003, INS established an IDENT Data Analysis Working Group to discuss and evaluate IDENT data and its usefulness as a performance indicator. However, as of January 2010 DHS had not established specific performance indicators using the IDENT data.

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