Research: Publications

The Border Patrol's Strategic Muddle

December 3, 2012 | Report

By Tom Barry

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How the Nation's Border Guardians Got Stuck in a Policy Conundrum, and How They Can Get Out

The U.S. Border Patrol has released a new strategic plan – the third in its nine-decade history. Rather than clarifying the agency’s strategic focus, the new plan underscores the agency’s lack of strategic direction.

The 2012-2016 Border Patrol Strategic Plan comes amid mounting criticism of the billion-dollar high-tech programs, its excessive and cross-border violence, and its continuing failure to provide performance measures and cost-benefit evaluations of its array of new border security initiatives.

Framed as a military-type strategy and replete with references to border risks and threats, the Border Patrol's plan fails to indicate on what grounds risks will be assessed, how threats will be evaluated, and how new spending will be determined. Nowhere can be found even the hint of a commitment to make its border security programs more transparent, accountable, and cost-effective.

The Border Patrol’s Strategic Muddle outlines the agency’s policy conundrum and chronicles how the Border Patrol came to be stuck in its current state.  The report offers common-sense prescriptions for extricating the agency from its "strategic muddle" and for setting new directions for the future.

Please click here for the report's executive summary.

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