A new bill subjecting every vehicle and cargo container passing through a legal border crossing into the United States to a scan search is closer to becoming law.
The new bill, named The Securing America’s Ports Act seeks to scan all vehicles and cargo crossing the nation’s borders using “large-scale non-intrusive inspection systems,” or NII systems. Its long-term objective is to bring the vehicle-scanning rates at all land ports of entry up to 100% to improve border security and what many describe as a ‘broken’ immigration system.
The bipartisan legislation is led by Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small who has called attention to the fact CBP only currently scans 15% of commercial trucks and less than 2% of passenger vehicles entering the United States.
The Securing America’s Ports Act would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to:
- Develop a plan to increase CBP’s NII scanning rates to 100 percent of commercial and passenger vehicles at all land ports of entry that includes incremental timeframes and estimated costs by port.
- Provide annual status reports to Congress regarding efforts to implement the 100 percent NII plan.
- Conduct research and development to enhance NII systems and improve utilisation of NII, given variation of configurations among land ports of entry.
The NII technology required to strengthen these positions would vary from large-scale X-ray and gamma-ray imaging scanners to portable handheld scanners. According to CBP’s recent Trade and Travel Report, in 2019 320 large-scale NII systems were used at land and seaports of entry to perform 6.6 million examinations resulting in 3,026 seizures of contraband like drugs, weapons, stowaways and undeclared currency. A cargo container inspection takes only 8 minutes using NII systems, compared to a physical search, which takes an average of 120 minutes, according to CBP.
The bill passed the House of Representatives Feb. 10. 2020. The next stage is a vote in the Senate.
As a key and trusted supplier of services to the X-Ray scanning industry and having just completed a trip to the States to build new and existing client relationships, we are keen to see the development of this new bill unfold and will be keeping updated with its progress as it enters the Senate.