Border Insecurity by Sylvia Longmire – Some Lessons and Takeaways


Border InsecuritySo, last December, when we planned our books for each month for the Urban Engagement Book Club (sponsored by CitySquare), we chose this 2014 book for November: Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer by Sylvia Longmire. I will present my synopsis for this today at the Urban Engagement Book Club.

Kind of “good timing,” after the discussions regarding border security following the terrorist attack in Paris.

Here is how the author defines border security:

Border security is the act of denying our enemies the means to enter the United States to do us harm. This is achieved by identifying and prioritizing border crossers based on the level of threat they pose to our national security, and focusing our resources on either preventing their initial entry or apprehending them before they can commit criminal or violent acts on US soil.
Our borders will be considered secure when US citizens can reasonably expect that our enemies cannot penetrate them without resorting to extraordinary means for which there are no existing countermeasures.
This definition takes into account the fact that we, or any other country in the world, will never be able to keep 100 percent of everyone and everything from crossing a border without detection.  

The book does discuss the issue of terrorists trying to come across our border — and many other types of people who make the dangerous journey. This quote was especially enlightening:

Few Americans have ever lived the experience of traveling from their home country to a foreign land in the back of a truck over the course of several days, and sometimes weeks, confined like sardines with dozens of other migrants.

The book is filled with warnings about the ingenuity of determined people seeking to crossing our border — many doing so successfully.

• Here are my lessons and takeaways:

#1 – 100% monitoring of and responding to crossings of the borders is not possible.

#2 – There are dangerous people coming across the borders – but different kinds of dangerous people. In other words, not all dangerous people are alike.

#3 – When profit is to be made – (and there is much profit to be made) – then profit will be made. Whether it actually works for the good of all, or not.

#4 – There really are people “running for their lives” to get to this country. Others are simply coming for a better life. There is a difference between these two kinds of people.

#5 – Misinformation abounds…

The author, Sylvia Longmire, is an independent consultant, former Air Force officer and Special Agent, and a former senior intelligence analyst for the State of California. She is also frequently an expert witness in US immigration cases. (from the Amazon page).

In other words, she knows something about this challenge. If you are looking for a good “overview” book about the issue of border security (and insecurity), this book is worth a careful look.

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