Border Security in a Time of Transformation
July 14, 2010
The September 11, 2001, attacks transformed American and international conceptions of border control. The U.S. government, for instance, had traditionally viewed border control as a mostly customs- and immigration-based challenge. But after 9/11, policymakers and officials increasingly viewed borders as potential points of entry for would-be terrorists. To better address this shortcoming, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security, to include the unified border enforcement agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The bulked-up law enforcement agency brought together personnel from the former U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, among other departments, and placed a renewed emphasis on protecting the nation’s borders from terrorist infiltration.
Internationally, other countries also took steps to rethink approaches to border security in the post-9/11 environment. As governments have heightened their focus on border control, important differences have become apparent in how individual states approach organizational- and policy-based reforms. EU member states, for instance, have embraced a regional approach to border security by adopting common standards and moving toward a single, external border. Other countries, meanwhile, have turned inward to examine how national capabilities address—or, in some cases, fail to address—a growing litany of border security threats.
Poland and India exemplify these divergent approaches. The former presents an important test case in the European Union’s efforts, through the Schengen Agreement, to eliminate internal EU borders and replace them with a single, external one. India, by contrast, has looked inward and undertaken an extensive overhaul of its border- and domestic-security apparatus following a devastating terrorist attack in November 2008. This brief study examines the Polish and Indian experiences with border control. It reviews their respective successes and shortcomings. And most important, it highlights what their experiences tell us more generally about post-9/11 border security strategy and policy.