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New book questions efficacy of post-9/11 immigration-related security policies

As the thwarted Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound airliner vividly demonstrated, the U.S. government faces a daunting challenge in protecting people on the move from the risk of direct attack and preventing the travel-and-immigration system from being exploited by terrorists and criminals.

In her new book, Securing Human Mobility in the Age of Risk: New Challenges for Travel, Migration, and Borders published by the Migration Policy Institute, author Susam Ginsburg argues that the nation’s post-9/11 approach to immigration and border security is not keeping pace with the scope and complexity of people’s movement around the world, nor with expectations regarding freedom of movement.

Ginsburg, an MPI non-resident fellow who served as senior counsel and team leader on the staff of the 9/11 Commission, proposes a new paradigm that seeks to secure mobility and promote the rule of law in global migration channels while moving away from a system that too often conflates border and immigration enforcement with counterterrorism.

"There has been much confusion about how domestic policy on immigration, border management and travel should join up with foreign policy and security strategy relating to terrorism and crime control," Ginsburg said. "A new migration-related security paradigm is called for: one that better protects legitimate travelers through more proactive, systematic and far-reaching security measures; limits travel by terrorists, human traffickers and other criminals; and precludes uncontrolled, high-volume migration."

The book proposes a range of policy recommendations:

  • Negotiation of new mobility security agreements with Canada and the European Union
  • Improved programs to prevent violations of visa terms and conditions
  • Creation of a redress system for temporary visa denials
  • Establishment of an international organization to promote global mobility security
  • Creation of an interagency, extraterritorial criminal network strike force
  • Adoption of a program to thwart transnational gang migration
  • Addition of a second deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security to oversee the civil security arena

"Susan Ginburg’s new book argues persuasively that the current border security-immigration enforcement paradigm does not sufficiently address the need to secure and promote lawful migration, or to protect our nation from terrorists or transnational criminal threats," said MPI Vice President for Programs Donald M. Kerwin Jr.

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