New law could change scanning procedures at the border

January 8, 2021

Terry Scruton


A new law signed by President Donald Trump this week is meant to change scanning procedures at both Canadian and Mexican land ports of entry into the United States.

The Securing America’s Ports Act would require the Department of Homeland Security to report to Congress within 180 days a plan to “expeditiously scan all commercial and passenger vehicles entering the United States at a land port of entry using large-scale, nonintrusive inspection systems.”

The bill says those systems could be X-ray or gamma-ray imaging systems or similar technology “capable of producing an image of the contents of a commercial or passenger vehicle or freight railcar in one pass of such vehicle or car.”

The plan submitted to Congress must also include an inventory of such systems currently in use and the estimated cost of achieving a 100% scanning rate.

The report must also include the anticipated impact the increased screening will have on wait times at those ports of entry. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reports that currently about 15% of commercial vehicles and 1% of personal vehicles entering the U.S. through land ports are being scanned.

A progress report in one year is also required by the new law and biennial reports after that.

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., introduced the bill in November 2019. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-N.M., cosponsored the bill. The bill passed the House of Representatives Feb. 10 and the Senate on Dec. 10. It arrived on the president’s desk on Dec. 24.

Land Line Copy Editor Chuck Robinson contributed to this article.