In the early twentieth century, we charged mounted inspectors of the US. Immigration Service with protecting the country’s borders, but gave them few tools to assist with coordinated enforcement.
By the mid-1920s, there was an impetus to make necessary enhancements to border security. This led to the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 which placed numerical limits on immigration into the US and led Congress to pass the Labor Appropriation Act of 1924. The US Border Patrol was established as a result, and enforcing the laws of entry took on a renewed focus.
Fast-forward to the late twentieth century. Modernized technology began to help arm the increasing number of Border Patrol agents with equipment such as night-vision scopes and sensors. The rapid pace of global technological improvements was bound to have an impact on US border security.
Now, with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) under the domain of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), there is a push to make the equipment agents use smaller, more portable and more covert than ever. And when the threat in question is radiological material – a border security threat that although infrequent could have drastic consequences depending on the type and amount of material – the newest technology must go even further than simple detection — it must provide rapid and precise identification.
Read the complete report here in the current December/January Homeland Security Today.
Mark Deacon is technical manager, radiation measurement and security instruments, Thermo Fisher Scientific.