Border and Port Security

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Border and port security agencies are charged with keeping their nations safe from terrorists and illegal, smuggled goods. RAND researchers examine border and port security challenges and immigration issues, and also advises U.S. Customs and Border Security on ways to best allocate its limited resources.

  • Protesters hold a banner reading 'We are all citizens of the world, no frontier, no borders' in Ventimiglia, Italy, August 7, 2016, photo by Jean-Pierre Amet/Reuters

    Journal Article

    The Costs of Reintroducing Border Controls in Europe

    Oct 13, 2016

    The Schengen Agreement in 1985 led to the end of border controls across 26 European nations. Reintroducing these controls would cost billions of euros in economic costs. Social and political costs would also be substantial.

  • Transportation soldiers and civilian harbormasters move cargo containers onto awaiting vessels in a training exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, photo by Spc. Cal Turner/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Ten Years After the Safe Port Act, Are America's Ports Secure?

    Apr 6, 2016

    The economic importance and visibility of America's ports make them attractive terrorism targets. Port security has improved, but many of the threats that motivated the Safe Ports Act in 2006 remain, and new dangers have emerged, including cyber threats.

Explore Border and Port Security

  • Passengers walks past sign prior to immigration control

    Commentary

    European Security Cooperation Should Remain Comprehensive—Especially After Brexit

    During Brexit negotiations, it could be tempting for the UK and EU to use certain security structures as 'bargaining chips'. However, it is in no one's interests for both sides to adopt a 'zero-sum' approach to security discussions.

    Mar 28, 2018

  • People speak through the U.S.-Mexico border wall at Border Field State Park in San Diego, California, November 18, 2017

    Commentary

    Prioritizing Security at the U.S. Border with Mexico

    As debate on border security continues, policymakers would be wise to look beyond the heated rhetoric to clearly identify priorities and make informed decisions about how best to deploy finite resources to get the strongest security for the investment.

    Jan 29, 2018

  • A French gendarme stands guard near a line of lorries as migrants wait in bushes in the hopes of boarding a truck to make their way across the Channel to Britain, near Calais, France, Janaury 21, 2016

    Commentary

    Is Macron Set to 'Take Back Control' of UK-France Border After Brexit?

    As French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in London for the 35th UK-France Summit, there is growing French discomfort with arrangements at the UK-France border. The UK's decision to leave the European Union has added new urgency to this already fraught debate.

    Jan 17, 2018

  • The border fence between United States and Mexico

    Commentary

    The Big Border Security Question

    What does a secure U.S.-Mexico border look like? And what kind of security measures are needed? Despite investing billions of dollars since 9/11, it's still a struggle to measure how effective U.S. border security operations are.

    Dec 9, 2017

  • Prototypes for a U.S. border wall are shown near completion behind the current border fence near Tijuana, Mexico, October 23, 2017

    Commentary

    Broken Border or Broken Policy?

    What does a secure land border look like? The U.S. government's inability to provide an answer has trapped America in a vicious cycle. Every decade, the perception that the U.S.-Mexico border isn't secure enough leads to big investments—with mixed results.

    Nov 17, 2017

  • Migrants at the Anti-Illegal Immigration Authority in Tripoli, Libya, September 10, 2017

    Commentary

    Addressing Europe's Migrant Crisis Takes More Than Stopping the Boats from Libya

    Treating migration from Libya as a border security issue has reduced migration across the Mediterranean. But efforts to keep migrants in Libya are fraught with risks, exacerbate a massive human rights problem, and do not address Libya's long-term economic and political stabilization.

    Sep 25, 2017

  • A man walks past the European Commission headquarters on which is displayed a banner celebrating 60 years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, Brussels, Belgium, March 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Sixty Years Later European Integration Has Benefited EU Countries

    Sixty years after the Treaty of Rome, the EU is facing one of its most challenging periods. Closer ties and shared values across EU member states have provided social and economic benefits but any moves towards closer integration in Europe will fail to materialize in the absence of political will.

    Mar 28, 2017

  • Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands

    Commentary

    How Will Defense and Security Be Affected by Brexit?

    Trade and migration issues have dominated Brexit discussions. But the UK's decision to leave the EU also creates challenges for security, deepening uncertainty at a time when little certainty exists.

    Mar 16, 2017

  • Illustration of the flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union

    Report

    What Are the Defense and Security Implications of Brexit?

    Brexit negotiations have focused on trade, sovereignty, and immigration. But the UK's decision to leave the EU also raises important defense and security questions for the UK, Europe, and the world.

    Mar 5, 2017

  • A girl dances while women pray at a protest against the Trump administration's travel restriction at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas, January 29, 2017

    Commentary

    Why a Travel Restriction Won't Stop Terrorism at Home

    It's not unreasonable to seek a review of immigration, and refugee-vetting procedures make sense. But America's jihadist terrorists are not imported from abroad. They are mostly homegrown.

    Feb 10, 2017

  • An international traveler arrives after U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, January 30, 2017

    Multimedia

    Will Banning Travelers and Refugees Make Us Safer?

    In this Call with the Experts, RAND's Brian Michael Jenkins, one of the nation's leading experts on terrorism and homeland security, discusses what we know about the perpetrators of terrorism in the United States.

    Feb 9, 2017

  • Venezuelan soldiers patrol during a military operation to destroy clandestine drug laboratories in Zulia, Venezuela, near the border with Colombia, December 6, 2014

    Report

    How to Counter Transnational Criminal Networks

    Transnational criminal networks have expanded their global reach. In some cases, they have even converged with terrorist groups. How do these networks threaten U.S. interests? And what can be done to combat them?

    Jan 27, 2017

  • Would-be emigrants launch a makeshift boat into the Straits of Florida towards the U.S., on the last day of the 1994 Cuban Exodus in Havana, September 13, 1994

    Commentary

    A Changing Cuba May Create Risks for Maritime Border Security

    A changing Cuba may contribute to less secure maritime borders for the United States. The U.S. should plan accordingly to stop mass movements of both drugs and people.

    Nov 5, 2016

  • News Release

    Re-establishing Border Controls in Europe Could Cost Up to €3 Billion a Year

    Re-establishing border controls across Europe would cost €2 to 3 billion in annual operating costs, plus fixed one-off costs of anywhere between €0.1 and €19 billion. There would also be significant social and political costs.

    Oct 13, 2016

  • A memorial stone for the Schengen Agreement is seen in the small village of Schengen, Luxembourg January 27, 2016

    Commentary

    Why Re-Establishing Border Controls in Europe Could Come at a High Cost

    Reversing the Schengen agreement would come at a high economic cost, while undoing many of the positive social and political developments of the past decade.

    Oct 13, 2016

  • TSA agents screen a passenger at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, February 27, 2015

    Announcement

    RAND Chosen to Operate New Research Center for U.S. Department of Homeland Security

    A new center will conduct analyses and make recommendations to strengthen DHS across its missions to prevent terrorism and enhance security, secure and manage U.S. borders, enforce and administer immigration laws, safeguard and secure cyberspace, and strengthen national preparedness and resiliency.

    Oct 4, 2016

  • Border fence between San Diego, California, U.S. and Tijuana, Mexico

    Commentary

    Would a Border Wall Be Effective?

    A wall along the U.S. border with Mexico would be a wasteful endeavor. Like many walls throughout history, it would probably be undermined by tunnels. And in general, fences and walls don't prevent people from crossing boundaries. They merely slow people down.

    Sep 26, 2016

  • Customs and border security

    Report

    Assessment of the Consolidation of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)

    In 2014, the Australian government integrated its Customs and Border Protection Service and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Analysis examines what these organisations looked like separately, and provides guidance for the newly formed single department.

    Sep 14, 2016

  • Artist Ana Teresa Fernandez and members of cultural organization Border/Arte paint the fence between Mexico and the U.S. to give it the illusion of transparency in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, April 9, 2016

    Commentary

    Walls Won't Keep Us Safe

    Experience along the U.S. southern border demonstrates that even with fortifications, a wall provides only modest capacity to stop illegal crossings. More emphasis should be placed on expanding border security beyond the physical dimension.

    Apr 15, 2016