The possibility that terrorists and criminals might exploit border vulnerabilities and enter the United States poses a serious security risk, especially if they were to bring radioactive material or other contraband with them. Although Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has taken steps to secure the 170 ports of entry on the northern and southern U.S. borders, Congress is concerned that unmanned and unmonitored areas between these ports of entry may be vulnerable. In unmanned locations, CBP relies on surveillance cameras, unmanned aerial drones, and other technology to monitor for illegal border activity. In unmonitored locations, CBP does not have this equipment in place and must rely on alert citizens or other information sources to meet its obligation to protect the border. Today's testimony will address what GAO investigators found during a limited security assessment of seven border areas that were unmanned, unmonitored, or both--four at the U.S.-Canada border and three at the U.S.-Mexico border. In three of the four locations on the U.S.-Canada border, investigators carried a duffel bag across the border to simulate the cross-border movement of radioactive materials or other contraband. Safety considerations prevented GAO investigators from attempting to cross north into the United States from a starting point in Mexico.
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