WASHINGTON – During today’s hearing, “Securing the Border: Understanding Threats and Strategies for the Maritime Border,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, emphasized the need for a multi-faceted, multi-layered approach to securing our nation’s vast maritime borders.
“Over 95,000 miles of shoreline act as natural barriers and super highways along America’s maritime borders. The vastness of the oceans, rivers and lakes that border the United States can make it challenging to combat illegal activities such as human and drug trafficking. That means coordination among federal agencies is critical if we want to effectively secure our maritime domain,” Sen. Carper said. “During today’s hearing, Department of Homeland Security officials from the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement emphasized the importance of intelligence and information sharing among their agencies to help keep our maritime borders secure. Those officials also called on those of us in Congress to ensure that our maritime security agencies have the resources they need to bolster their capabilities to stay ahead of current and evolving threats. At the same time, our maritime agencies must use every tool currently in the toolbox effectively in order to fulfill their mission. I have given steadfast support to the President’s budget requests for ‘force multiplier’ equipment for DHS agencies that result in better border security, whether it’s land or maritime borders.”
“Today’s hearing also shined a light on the importance of addressing the root causes of illegal activity along our maritime borders, including illegal immigration and drug trafficking,” Sen. Carper continued. “Our nation’s insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels drug trafficking in the Northern Triangle, which in turn breeds violence and instability, and aggravates already desperate conditions for many of those who live in the Northern Triangle region of Central America. Ensuring an efficient and effective comprehensive border security and immigration system is incredibly important, but we must not lose sight of the reasons why so many families feel the need to flee their native countries. That’s why I continue to give my steadfast support for the President’s recent request for $1 billion in aid for Central America. I am encouraged by actions by the Senate Appropriations Committee to support part of this request, and I encourage my colleagues in Congress to join me in seizing this window of opportunity to make substantial and sustainable progress in Central America by supporting the security and development efforts already begun by the governments of the Northern Triangle through the Alliance for Prosperity.”
Witnesses at the hearing reiterated that a multi-faceted, multi-layered approach is critical to achieve improved security across our nation’s vast maritime borders. According to Assistant Commissioner Alles, a comprehensive maritime security strategy should focus on several components – maritime domain awareness, law enforcement intelligence and information, response capability and capacity, small vessel accountability and unity of effort.
“The various attributes of maritime security and law enforcement agencies are complimentary by design,” Assistant Commissioner Alles testified. “No single entity has the capability or capacity to address all aspects of maritime security. Unfettered information sharing is critical to understanding the nature of maritime threats. Effective coordination must occur across organizational and jurisdictional lines.”
In case you missed it, last week, Sen. Carper visited the U.S. Coast Guard Station Indian River Inlet in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. To view or download photos from his visit, click here.