Under former President Barack Obama's leadership, the Department of Homeland Security failed to equip its employees at the border with the tools they needed to effectively do their jobs.
According to a new report released by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch, the IT system that Customs and Border Protection agents use is unreliably slow, frequently blacks out and fails to prevent entry to foreigners with "harmful intent." A recent DHS inspector general's report revealed the faulty systems, which thousands of CBP agents rely on.
"CBP’s IT systems and infrastructure did not fully support its border security objective of preventing the entry of inadmissible aliens to the country," the report states. "The slow performance of a critical pre-screening system greatly reduced Office of Field Operations officers’ ability to identify any passengers who may represent concerns, including national security threats."
"Further, incoming passenger screening at U.S. international airports was hampered by frequent system outages that created passenger delays and public safety risks. The outages required that CBP officers rely on backup systems that weakened the screening process, leading to officers potentially being unable to identify travelers that may be attempting to enter the United States with harmful intent," it adds.
What else did the report find?
According to the report, the problems weren't limited to the CBP's IT systems. Other problems included "network outages [that] hindered air and marine surveillance operations" and problems with the Border Patrol's computer system, known as e3, which the report said is "famously slow and suffers lots of outages," according to Judicial Watch.
The slow Border Patrol system prevented agents from "[carrying] out border apprehension and enforcement activities" and prevented agents from using a shared portal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which meant that agents frequently did not meet "court deadlines for submitting information about criminal aliens for possible prosecution," the DHS report said.
CBP is the largest law enforcement agency in the country with more than 60,000 employees and an annual budget of $13 billion, according to Judicial Watch.
What can Trump do about this?
One of the central campaign promises of President Donald Trump was to be tough on immigration. He said he would limit the number of visas issued annually, limit immigration from countries that are traditionally hostile to the U.S., and he vowed to build a wall on the Southern U.S. border.
But it's clear, given the DHS' report, that the agency that protects America's borders is in dire need of a massive IT update. Trump's predecessor wasn't concerned with increased illegal immigration and other immigration reforms — see DACA — but since Trump ran on stiff immigration reform, a great place to start would be to arm CBP agents with the technological tools they need to effectively do their jobs.