DHS S&T Helps CBP Address Migrant Safety Issues

The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate is pursuing an effort to boost the safety of borders and protect migrants from environmental dangers.

DHS S&T is helping U.S. Customs and Border Protection execute the Missing Migrants Program that aims to address the safety hazards surrounding migrants wanting to enter the country, the department said Wednesday.

“The primary objective of the Missing Migrants Program is to improve our ability to save the lives of migrants that are attempting to enter the U.S. between the ports of entry at our southwest border or circumvent our immigration checkpoints,” said Lorraine Castillo, program manager at DHS S&T.

Migrants lack resources and are exposed to temperatures uncommon to them, reducing their survivability in the border environment.

CBP has stationed rescue beacons and 911 placards across the southwest border to notify border patrol agents when help is needed. The beacons send notification signals to patrol agents and the placards contain contact information on emergency services.

The beacons and placards, however, have technical limitations due to factors like physical terrain and reliance on cellular connectivity.

The program developed an interactive dashboard and an analysis playbook to address these limitations. The dashboard uses geospatial data and allows agents to determine where to strategically place beacons and placards. The playbook provides guidance to other entities that might need to adopt a similar dashboard.

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