Nov 19th 2014 | Posted in Federal, Public Safety, State by Mary Scott Nabers

SPI President & CEO Mary Scott Nabers

SPI President & CEO Mary Scott Nabers

Border safety is among the hottest, most controversial issues of our time. Politicians and elected officials cannot agree on what to do, so there is no consistency and almost no collaboration in current efforts to protect and secure United States borders. A solution has been elusive and there is definitely a lack of collaboration on this issue.

Some state and federal leaders worry that people from countries where Ebola is present will enter the United States illegally and spread the disease by escaping regulatory precautions. Yet, there is no evidence to indicate that Ebola carriers have entered the country.  However, for people living near borders, these statements don’t make them feel any safer.

The fears of some state leaders and many citizens of the state, particularly in border areas, have led to the Texas National Guard being deployed to the border to support federal Border Patrol officials. The deployment of the National Guard in Texas has cost Texans more than $160 million. There has been no indication that federal funds will ever compensate the state.

Just yesterday, the leadership of the State of Texas agreed to a plan to fund the extension of the presence of officers of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens and National Guard troops along the border. If the funding agreement is approved, the state will pay an additional $86.1 million to extend the enforcement initiative until next August.

In Arizona, a more pressing concern is Dengue Fever that has spread across Mexico. As of late last month, Dengue Fever had reached the southern border of Arizona.  The state now reports five confirmed cases of the disease. The virus causes severe joint and muscle pain in addition to headache, fever, vomiting and rash. People who contract the disease are in danger of developing a hemorrhagic fever, which can be deadly.

Currently, the cost to secure the southwestern border of the United States is about $11.7 billion per year.

Other officials are concerned about Mexican cartels that charge from $3,000 to $6,000 to smuggle drugs and individuals into the United States. It has been estimated that Mexican and Colombian organizations reap about $39 billion annually in profit from trafficking drugs and people across American borders. The United States increased its security at the border by $3 billion to address trafficking.

The cost of a fence along the border and its maintenance (as some have suggested) has been estimated at $49 billion.  Drone surveillance along the border would cost at least $39 billion. And, neither solution would do more than simply slow down illegal crossings.

As taxpayers ponder the risks and the costs and weigh in on border security, tempers get short because there is no consensus on anything.

Whatever happens, individual states are likely to continue spending millions on various types of protective processes without any coordinated efforts with any other state or the federal government. How sad that collaboration is not an option at this time.

There are no easy problems to solve in America and border safety and security are among the most difficult.


Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.