The President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday morning announced two members to its transition landing team at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), James Carafano, a national security expert with the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, and Michael Dougherty, CEO of the Secure Identity & Biometrics Association (SIBA), an industry trade association that promotes secure identity technologies and biometric solutions to secure individuals, organizations and governments from identity threats.
Dougherty jointed SIBA as its lead in September 2015 after working at Raytheon [RTN] for six years as a director of business development for homeland security and public safety programs. Dougherty has also been served as legislative council to former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R) and was an ombudsman at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a component of DHS headquarters, and served as acting director and senior policy advisor for Immigration, for the then Border and Transportation Security Directorate at DHS.
Carafano is vice president of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at Heritage and frequently comments in national news media on a broad range of national security issues, including homeland security, cyber security, defense and military policies, science and technology, and more. He served in the Army for 25 years and joined Heritage in 2003.
In March following terrorist attacks in Brussels, Carafano in a commentary for Fox News criticized the Obama Administration for being too optimistic about terrorist threats facing the homeland, arguing that “The U.S. ought to pay a lot more attention to Europe’s troubles.” That said, he acknowledged that it is more difficult for terrorists to travel in and out of the United States compared to Europe.
“That said, the terrorist networks of today have shown remarkable resilience and the capacity to adapt and innovate,” Carafano wrote. “The reality is that the face of global terrorism is rapidly changing, and there are real questions over whether Washington is keeping up with the threat.”
Carafano called for a bipartisan “next-generation 9/11 Commission” to provide a new look at the terrorist threat facing the country.
Trump was very vocal about border security during his campaign, saying in speech in August that “The truth is our immigration system is works than anybody ever realized.” His most prominent border security feature has been a promise to build a physical wall between the U.S. and Mexico to help keep illegal aliens out of the U.S., saying it will be paid for by Mexico. There are already nearly 700 miles of border fencing and wall helping to secure portions of the U.S. Mexico border paid for by the U.S. during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
Trump also said he would deploy the “best technology” to help secure the border, both above ground and below ground. The below ground technology would be to detect tunnels, something that so far current technology isn’t good at and as a result hasn’t been deployed.
Trump also called for completion of a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system, “which we need desperately,” and blamed politicians for failing to make this happen. The U.S. currently uses fingerprints as part of its checks of foreign nationals arriving to the U.S. but the expense and appropriate operating concepts to deploy a biometric exit system have prevented this half of the tracking system from being implemented.
Customs and Border Protection, following direction early this year by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, is currently testing biometric exit concepts and technologies for deployment at an airport in 2018. CBP also this year tested biometric technologies and operating concepts for entry and exit solutions at the Otay Mesa land border crossing in California.
In addition to the ongoing work around transforming the biometric entry and exit processes at U.S. borders, Trump will become president at a time when DHS is starting a competition to upgrade its biometric database that is used for storing, matching and analyzing. The multimodal Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology system will eventually replace the current fingerprint-based IDENT system.
Throughout most of the 1990s and into the early 2000s Dougherty also serviced as a special assistant to the U.S. Attorney, and administrative judge, an attorney advisor at the Justice Department and as a trial attorney for the department’s Office of Immigration Litigation, focusing on immigration issues during those years.