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DHS Gathering Intelligence Aimed to Deter Migrants at the Border

The Department of Homeland Security has announced intelligence-gathering plans including aerial surveillance, the monitoring of social media, and collaboration with the law enforcement agencies of foreign countries to better curb and track the influxes of migrants headed to the United States’ southern border with Mexico.

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    What is the plan and what are they looking for?

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to re-build an intelligence-gathering cell that would track and monitor migrant groups from Central and South America as they make their way to the United States’ southern border with Mexico. This new intelligence cell should be operational by the end of October 2021 and aims to collect information about migrant surges making their way to the border by monitoring social media and studying the aerial surveillance of trucks, migrant camps, and other masses on the borders. In addition, it also hopes to foster increased communication with law enforcement agencies in Central and South American countries.

    The Office of Intelligence and Analysis is now being rebuilt under the Biden administration as a way to better obtain reliable information about migrant groups in real-time. This decision to rebuild the office was partly made as a result of the U.S. being unprepared for a sudden influx of 30,000 Haitian migrants who arrived in Texas in September 2021.

    people on their phones

    Where are they looking?

    The intelligence-gathering cell will use information gathered from many U.S. government agencies including CBP, ICE, and the Coast Guard along with other intelligence gathered from foreign countries in Central and South America. In addition, the cell hopes to build and monitor algorithms that monitor social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to find out more about how some migrant groups organize. The social media monitoring algorithms will also focus on finding individuals who may be involved in criminal activities such as the smuggling of narcotics and human trafficking. In the future, the DHS is also hoping to collect biometric data from migrants as they cross other countries’ borders on their way to the United States so that they can have better information about the backgrounds of those individuals looking to enter the United States.

    What does this mean?

    The DHS is hoping to use this information to better prepare itself with migrant surges at the border by shifting resources to places where an influx of migrants is predicted. DHS also hopes that this new plan will help deter the spread of misinformation spread online or by cartels that give false hope to immigrants hoping to immigrate and/or seek asylum at the border.

    Some argue that this new intelligence surveillance system is a step in the wrong direction for the Biden administration who campaigned on the platform of overhauling the U.S. immigration system to make it friendlier to immigrants. Critics argue that the Biden administration should handle the crisis at the border by providing better resources to help provide asylum-seekers with a timely and just hearing instead of investing in an intelligence-gathering surveillance system.

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