The National Center for Border Security and Immigration
A DHS Center of Excellence Newsletter - March 2014

El Paso Region Tunnel Project

El Paso, TX -- NCBSI
The criminal elements use of cross-border tunnels is a significant and growing matter of concern to DHS agencies. There have been over 167 cross border tunnels discovered since 1990, most of which have occurred along border locations in California and Arizona. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is responsible for investigating individuals and criminal organizations engaged in illegal tunneling activity.

Research's at the National Center for Border Security and Immigration (NCBSI) at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), are working with local HSI officials in collecting, coordinating, consolidating, and analyzing 'open source' information regarding the number and use of interconnecting tunnels in the El Paso, Texas area. The El Paso area is cluttered with abandoned mining shafts, storm drains, and smuggling tunnels from the Mexican revolution and Prohibition eras that are either partially plotted or simply unmapped, with many of those originating at the border and leading to points within the city. It is well documented that there have been instances where individuals who have entered storm drains in the immediate border area have exited at various points in the city.

While a map of existing tunnels would be very beneficial to local DHS agencies, there is currently no single agency at any level of government in the El Paso region that collects or maintains an all-inclusive listing or map of interconnecting tunnels. It appears that many agencies maintain partial tunnel information without much effort given to coordinating the information for the region. All information is independently collected and stored without any analysis being conducted as to the vulnerability of tunnels being exploited or easily connected by the criminal element in the El Paso region.

Lead by Professors Drs. Kyle Susa, and Raed Alduri, the NCBSI research team hopes to deliver a comprehensive geospatial map of the interconnecting tunnels in the El Paso Region. The team is currently in the data collection phase of the study. They have identified 28 entities within the El Paso region that may have maps or ancillary information that may be useful to their research. Dr. Susa stated that, "We have been very meticulous in developing a sound approach to this research, we want to make sure every agency or every person in the region who may have information is contacted, and that we follow through with all potential leads." In the end researchers believe the GIS map will be a tangible tool that will be a tremendous asset to HSI and all interested stakeholders.

In This Issue

  • El Paso Tunnel Project


  • Supervisory Training Curricula

  • AVATAR featured at CES

  • About Us

  • Contact Information

BORDERS Participates Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Tucson, AZ -- BORDERS
First year PhD student and DHS Career Development Grant recipient, Steven Pentland, traveled to Austin, Texas February 13th to 15th for the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Pentland participated in a talk and poster session where he presented his research on automated facial analysis for deception detection. The work combines nonverbal behavior analysis and computer vision technology to look for cues in the face that can be used to predict deception.

"The SPSP Conference was a great opportunity to share the potential benefits of combining technology with social science theories" says Pentland. He hopes his facial analysis research can be incorporated into automated screening systems such as the AVATAR to make travel safer and security checkpoints more efficient.

Customs & Border Protection Supervisory Curricula Review & Gap Analysis

El Paso, TX -- NCBSI

Click on image to enlarge
As part of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) effort to constantly improve the leadership development of their managers, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Training and Development (OTD) has requested assistance from the National Center for Border Security and Immigration (NCBSI) at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in reviewing existing CBP supervisory training curricula for first and second line supervisors. NCBSI was tasked to: create a cross-walk between Supervisory Leadership Training (SLT) and Second Level Command Preparation (SLCP) training objectives (competencies) and to compare the various dimensions of the DHS and CBP leadership requirements. Additionally, NCBSI will identify gaps where they exist between the DHS Leadership Framework and existing course content, recommend appropriate topical areas and learning outcomes to help close those gaps, and identify methods to thread the two supervisory training courses so that one builds upon the next along a coherent and developmental trajectory.

The benefits of this review to DHS include: ensuring alignment between the new CBP Leadership Development Framework, DHS Keystone and Cornerstone requirements, and existing supervisory training courses, making sure that all Framework dimensions and requirements are adequately covered in the first and second line supervisory training curricula, and that the first and second line supervisory courses are properly integrated and developmental in nature. Once completed, NCBSI will incorporate appropriate components of the CBP Leadership Framework and curricula development for these two courses into a leadership development course to be offered by the NCBSI to local, state, and other federal law enforcement agencies in the future.

"The project once completed has the potential to have long lasting and significant impacts on the leadership of the DHS workforce."

Thomas Lott, UTEP NCBSI Project Manager
Course related materials and written guidelines applicable to these training courses were received and analyzed by NCBSI staff members for their content, proper alignment with DHS Leader Development Framework, and for integration between SLT and SLCP. Upon receiving course material from CBP and OTD, NCBSI staff would begin analysis by determining where the documents fit within the Leadership Development Framework and whether or not training course documents properly addressed leadership competencies set by both DHS and CBP. To properly map course content from CBP’s first line and second line supervisor training, multiple leadership frameworks as well as competencies were considered and utilized.

AVATAR Featured at The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Tucson, AZ -- BORDERS

EyeTech Digital Systems, manufacturer of the eye-tracker used in the AVATAR kiosk, invited BORDERS to exhibit the AVATAR kiosk in their booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014. The exhibit floor was open January 7 - 11. Over 150,000 people attended the show with approximately 50 people inquiring about the kiosk including individuals from Minolta, Raytheon, and MITRE.

Eric Case, a BORDERS PhD student and DHS CDG Fellow, attended CES with Nathan Twyman, a BORDERS post doctorate researcher. Eric used the opportunity to speak with speech recognition vendors at the show and developed several contacts that can help improve the quality of speech recognition for AVATAR.

CES 2014 The International CES is the world's gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. Held in Las Vegas every year, it has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for more than 40 years -- the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace.


The National Center for Border Security and Immigration, co-led by the University of Arizona in Tucson and the University of Texas at El Paso, is developing technologies, tools and advanced methods to balance immigration and trade with effective border security, as well as assess threats and vulnerabilities, improve surveillance and screening, analyze immigration trends, and enhance policy and law enforcement efforts.

Questions and Comments

For inquiries regarding the Center, please contact: Elyse Golob, Executive Director, BORDERS or Victor Manjarrez, Associate Director, NCBSI:

- Elyse Golob, University of Arizona, Executive Director,
- Victor M. Manjarrez, Jr., University of Texas at El Paso, Associate Director,

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