The security of the United States and its residents has become much more of a priority since the terrorist attacks that occurred on 9/11. Even with intensified efforts, it has been difficult to prevent all terrorist led events. This is because perpetrators are now more prevalent, better organized, and more diverse than ever before.
Security measures continue to increase in response to each new threat, but the average citizen seems to notice these measures only when an incident occurs or when traveling. Check in at airports, cruise ship terminals, and even bus depots are complex and time consuming. Customs and security officers are very thorough and carry-on baggage is frequently opened and emptied. The long lines to board are frustrating but understandable. Then there is the issue of immigration. Whether or not you have any interest in politics, it is hard to ignore the debate over the numbers and nationalities of people who should be able to enter the country and those who should be allowed to stay. A once welcoming nation has become much less friendly and the possibility of building a wall on part of the land is real.
The regulations for those entering the US or traveling by sea have become even more stringent because the flow of traffic is more difficult to control. The issue of refugees flooding the coastlines of a foreign country is not restricted to the United States. In 2015, Europe suffered an immigration crisis when Africans fleeing from their homeland poured onto the European shores. Many were legitimately seeking asylum, but immigration has often been used as a cover for terrorist activity. To find a solution, some European nations sought assistance from the UN created International Maritime Organization to help secure their borders.
In the United States, the first maritime security Act was signed in 1996 as a way to better regulate the country’s waterways. It was extended in 2003 as the National Defense Authorization Act. This act was in place until 2015 when it was extended once again to be in effect until 2025. The current program lists the US policies and statutes as they relate to any security threat and details the procedures that will be followed in case of piracy or a terrorist or cyber-attack. The program is responsible for the immediate communication of any issues and for providing advice on situations involving global sea trade and transportation. Through the Act, a private fleet of 60 ships is employed to handle all national defense.
As mentioned above, the focus on security has intensified to such a high level that in 2002 the Department of Homeland Security was created to oversee the entirety of the country’s efforts to fight terrorism. This cabinet department employs 240,000 individuals and combines the efforts of 22 different agencies to implement a unified program of defense. The department’s responsibilities include disaster relief, the protection of cyber space, the reasonable enforcement of immigration laws and the protection of the nation’s borders, and the strengthening of the nation’s defenses against terrorism.