The United States is confronting a wide array of national security challenges ranging from North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and Russia’s subversive cyber activities, to the perpetual threat of terrorism and security along the southern border. As Representative of the 23rd district of Texas, Congressman Will Hurd has used his background ...

The revised ban on travel and immigration from six Muslim-majority countries ordered by President Donald Trump on March 6 now sits before the Supreme Court, waiting for a final decision on its legality. However, the court’s decision in June to reinstate the executive order until a decision is made – ...

The U.S. State Department recently released a new set of guidelines for foreign nationals seeking to travel to the U.S., requiring their countries of origin to provide additional data and information. The Cipher Brief spoke with Todd Rosenblum, former Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for ...

The State Department circulated a cable last week, outlining new guidelines concerning passport, security measures, and biographical information for visa applications from certain foreign countries. The Trump Administration has said these new measures are necessary to update the outdated security and identification processes of some foreign governments. However, some are ...

Homicides in Mexico surged by 255 percent from 2015 to 2016, and extortion cases increased by 30 percent, according to a recent American Enterprise Institute report. In cities previously identified as success stories – Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, for example – violence has returned to record levels. This year, the ...

Mexico was ranked the most-worsened country this year on the Fund for Peace's Fragile States Index (FSI), tying with Ethiopia for the bottom spot. Although Mexico has long faced violence, corruption, and organized crime, these problems all worsened during the past year, countering a decade-long trend of increasing stability there. ...

Mexico’s stability affects the U.S., and U.S. policy has an effect on its southern neighbor’s stability. The recent Fund for Peace Fragile States Index showed Mexico worsened in terms of stability during the past year. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with the former chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, ...

The Trump administration is building up American ground forces available in Kuwait to fight against Islamic terrorists in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. At the same time, the White House is stepping up its activities here at home to deal with President Donald Trump’s hyped-up concern with undocumented immigrants coming to ...

President Donald Trump’s magnificent wall has had its first setback. The original schedule for contractors to produce bids to build initial sections of the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico has been pushed back from around March 24, to “on or about May 3, 2017,” according to a notice ...

Last Tuesday, days before the current Trump ordered roundup of illegal aliens began, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly went out of his way to urge members of the House Committee on Homeland Security to change the immigration law “if it is a bad law,” otherwise he will have to ...

Kidnappings in Mexico continue to increase, particularly in the states of Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Morelos, Puebla, Zacatecas, and Tabasco.  Although the Interior Ministry reported a 2.1 percent drop in 2016 compared to 2015, the methodology—or lack thereof—leaves a lot to be desired.  Statistics, like those reporting homicides, are hidden or ...

Prepare yourselves. The travel ban fiasco is just the beginning. Ignored so far in last week’s Executive Order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Security is the Trump administration’s requirement for a major expansion of federal detention facilities to house the first of the two million to three million illegal ...

Many of us have seen decades of sporadic attention given to the security of our border, but I believe we are now better positioned to not only define what we mean by border security but identify the appropriate measures of performance and effectiveness that have long seemed unreachable.  To begin ...

Mexico’s homicide rate is surging. Government and independent sources are reporting an up to 18 percent increase for 2016, compared to last year. This comes on the heels of a multi-year decline in criminal violence in many parts of the country. It has been more than six years since Mexico’s ...

Earlier this month, a police truck burned on the side of the road in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, with meter high flames melting the interior and the four bodies, three of them murdered federal police officers, that lay inside. Like so many gruesome crime scenes across Mexico, this one marked a fault ...

The increase in violence over the last year has spread evenly across Mexico (as shown in Figure 1 below) which compares state-level intentional homicide rates per 100,000 residents for the first ten months of 2015 (X axis) and 2016 (Y axis). There are a few states where homicide rates have ...

Border security has been one of the most heavily debated topics in the U.S. presidential race, with most of the discussion focusing on illegal immigration. But that train of thought is not necessarily productive, explained Mike Fisher, former Chief of the United States Border Patrol, at The Cipher Brief’s monthly ...

The Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala – is one of the most violent regions in the world, with a staggering 17,422 homicides recorded in 2015. The solution for many citizens living in the violence: leave and head for the United States. Former Chief of the U.S. Border ...

Does the deteriorating security situation in Mexico affect us here in the U.S.?  Is it really a U.S. national security issue?  If Mexico continues on a downward spiral, as long as you’re not vacationing there, does it matter?  The answer is a big yes.  We share a long 2,000-mile border ...

The U.S.-Mexican border is likely to be a hot a topic of discussion during the Republican debate Wednesday night, with unauthorized immigration as the main focus.  During this election cycle, candidates have differed over how to address the problem of undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. and the problem of ...

In terms of security, since its current borders were defined, the United States of America has been blessed with two vast oceans to its East and West, a friendly neighbor to the North, and a non-threatening neighbor to the South.  This traditionally afforded us the luxury of not having to ...

As Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, Michael Fisher is responsible for planning, organizing, coordinating, and directing enforcement efforts to secure the border.  He sat down with The Cipher Brief to assess how threats along the border are changing and the crucial role of the private sector in ensuring border ...

Erik Lee, the Executive Director of the North American Research Partnership, spoke with The Cipher Brief to assess the solutions advocated by presidential candidates to resolve the problem of unauthorized immigration.  Lee discussed the economic implications of some of the proposals and what he sees as the path forward. The ...

Spanning 1,954 miles, the U.S.-Mexican border has been one of the most discussed topics in this election cycle—though primarily for its security implications.  Equally important is the U.S.-Mexican economic relationship; Mexico is the second-leading purchaser of U.S. exports and the third-leading supplier of U.S. imports.  This equates to hundreds of ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Paola Ávila, the Vice President of International Business Affairs at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, to discuss the benefits of increased U.S. economic integration with Mexico.  Ávila shared why she is a strong proponent of a more open U.S.-Mexican border, and the ...

There are many lessons from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that are relevant to the current debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). First, like the TPP, NAFTA was never mostly about trade and even less about free trade. In 1994, the U.S. already had low tariff barriers to ...

The U.S.-Mexico economic relationship is large, fast-growing, and unique; three important features that make it deserving of significant attention and cultivation. The border between these two countries constitutes both one of the greatest challenges and greatest opportunities to strengthen the competitiveness of the regional economy. The first feature is relatively ...