Friday, August 7, 2009

Is There A Border Security Industrial Complex?

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 set in motion a security-focused approach to border and immigration issues. As part of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the post-Sept. 11 homeland security also gave birth to what some scholars and border observers are calling the “Border Security Industrial Complex.” The term, now used by border scholar Timothy Dunn and others, may at first seem overheated, a facile take-off on the concern that President Dwight Eisenhower expressed about the “military-industrial complex.” How, after all, does the expansion of the Border Patrol and border control infrastructure relate to the pervasive links between DOD and major military contractors like General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Boeing? And how is the Pentagon remotely comparable to the much smaller and less powerful DHS? Does this complex exercise a similar degree of influence in public life? As it turns out, the Border Security Industrial Complex, while not a term that slips off the tongue, has much in common with its older brother and is equally deserving of attention, concern and perhaps alarm. Eisenhower, upon concluding his presidency in 1961, warned: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.” While the term was original, the concept of a newly powerful complex of industrialists, politicians, and military leaders gaining control over foreign policy and economic priorities came from the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills, author of the influential 1956 book Power Elite. Along the southwestern U.S. border, the post-9/11 commitment to increased border security has spurred a major flow of federal dollars for newly fortified ports-of-entry, a tripling of Border Patrol agents, construction of border fences, deployment of high-tech surveillance infrastructure, and support of local law enforcement. Most of the funding influx comes from DHS, but Department of Justice and Pentagon programs have also contributed to the border security boom over the past eight years. In the borderlands, you cannot miss the border security build-up – which some observers note has served as a multibillion dollar economic stimulus to the poor region and others deprecate as militarization or a police state. Whatever one’s perspective, there is certainly a new border security complex that is changing life in the borderlands. But why the term “border security industrial complex”? That’s due to increasing concern that this complex is provides little real security, is skewed by corporate interests, and is exercising undue and unwarranted influence – much like the military-industrial complex. In the spirit of not taking anything for granted and not letting the weight of dollars “endanger our liberties and democratic process,” as Eisenhower so wisely cautioned, the possible rise of a border security industrial complex deserves examination. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano will be delivering an address at the 2009 Border Security Conference on August 11 at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). The conference will bring together politicians, high government officials, industry executives, and the academy – the same type of configuration that constituted the military-industrial complex. The conference’s financial sponsors are all high-tech defense and security industries, including Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and SAIC. Aside from organizing the annual border security conference, UTEP is also deeply involved in border security issues through its National Center for Border Security and Immigration and its Center for Defense Systems Analysis, the former funded by DHS and the latter by DOD. Next: Homeland Security and the Academy


Historyscoper said...

The whole U.S.-Mexico border thing is a sad remnant of the 1848 Apartheid imposed on Mexico back in the naked white supremacist days of the U.S., and now in the Obama era when white supremacy is kaput it's time the apartheid ended. The Obama admin. must call on Congress to officially invite the people of Mexico to dissolve their ever-corrupt govt. and join the U.S. as 10+ new states sans racism, making the border go poof after the U.S. military and coast guard move in to end the lawlessness, after which Mexico can finally be developed as a sector of the U.S., raising the GDP for a win-win solution. Click to read my Megamerge Dissolution Solution showing how it can be done starting as early as 2010.

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