In the next two years Customs and Border Protection expects to dramatically increase its inspection of vehicles and cargo entering the U.S. at land ports of entry along the nation’s southwest border, an agency official said on Wednesday.
Currently, large-scale non-intrusive inspection (NII) systems scan less than 2 percent of passenger vehicles and 15 percent of commercial vehicles crossing the southwest border but those numbers are expected to increase to 40 percent and 72 percent respectively by fiscal year 2023, Diane Sabatino, deputy executive assistant commissioner for CBP’s Office of Field Operations, told a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing. That schedule is in line with CBP’s plans the past two years.
This year, CBP awarded two separate NII contracts to multiple vendors that will lead to the uptick in the scanning of vehicles and cargo crossing the border. Most recently, Astrophysics, Leidos [LDOS] and OSI Systems [OSIS] Rapiscan Systems division were selected to compete for a potential $390 million to provide low-energy drive-through portals that will allow for the safe scanning of passenger-occupied vehicles at primary crossing points.
Earlier this year, the agency awarded Leidos, Rapiscan and Britain’s Smiths Detection a potential $480 million contract to compete to provide multi-energy portals that allow for the scanning of trucks at ports of entry without the driver having to exit the vehicle.
CBP currently has more than 350 large-scale NII systems deployed at land and seaports of entry. In FY ’20, these systems conducted 6.4 million examinations, leading to the seizure of more than 470,000-pounds of drugs and $11.5 million in unreported U.S. currency. Sabatino said about 90 percent of these seizures resulted from the relatively small percentage of vehicles and trucks scanned by the NII systems at the southwest border.
The deployments of the new NII systems will help CBP achieve its “port of the future” vision, which includes the drive-through scanners that provide advanced security while keeping the flow of commerce moving, lining these scanning systems to other security equipment such as license plate readers, radio frequency identification scanners, and facial recognition technology to “create an integrated viewing platform with the latest anomaly-detection technology capabilities,” and better controlling the flow of traffic at the ports through command centers, Sabatino said.
Regarding biometrics technology, she said that CBP’s facial comparison systems have been deployed to all pedestrian crossings along the southwest border, 21 pedestrian ports of entry along the northern border, and 10 locations for closed-loop sea cruises.
Since deploying facial comparison technology in 2018 for people entering the U.S. at all port environments, CBP has identified over 950 impostors using genuine travel documents, with over 600 of these at the southwest border in 2021, Sabatino said.