UA to Co-Lead DHS Center for Border Security and Immigration

The UA will lead the center's research functions.
Feb. 26, 2008
The U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. is on the left. (Photo by Gerald L. Nino)
The U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. is on the left. (Photo by Gerald L. Nino)

The University of Arizona will co-lead a team of research universities that have partnered to form the Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration. The Center will receive $15 million over six years.

The UA will lead the research functions of the center, to be known as COE BSI, and the University of Texas at El Paso will lead its educational components.

The establishment of the center by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security follows more than two years of work assembling a team of U.S. universities and Mexican and Canadian institutions, government agencies, technology companies and national laboratories.

Research at COE BSI will focus on new technologies such as surveillance, screening, data fusion and situational awareness using sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles and other technologies. The center also will provide research on population dynamics, immigration administration and enforcement, operational analysis, control and communications, immigration policy, civic integration and citizenship, border risk management and international governance.

Educational programs will include training programs to develop science, technology and management solutions to prepare the next generation of border security professionals while further enhancing the skills of personnel currently in the field. The center also will provide tools and practices that can be rapidly deployed to end users.

“This is the latest example of how the UA can leverage its geographical advantage to serve the people of Arizona,” said UA President Robert N. Shelton. “By applying the expertise of our faculty to the challenges of immigration and border security, we are expanding our standing as international leaders into a new realm of social challenges, and the beneficiaries will be the people of the United States, Canada and Mexico.”

The Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration will be led by Jay Nunamaker Jr., Regents’ Professor and Soldwedel Professor of Management Information Systems, Computer Science and Communication. He currently serves as the director of the UA’s Center for Management of Information in the Eller College of Management. Elyse Golob will serve as the associate director. She currently serves as the director of the UA Office of Economic and Policy Analysis.

“The UA provided a strategic location for the center because of its position along the U.S.-Mexico border and its long-standing relationships with border stakeholders, as well as with Mexican and Canadian institutions," Golob said. “Particularly beneficial was our leadership of the Southwest Security Border Consortium, a partnership of border universities created last year to develop and disseminate scientific and policy solutions to the issues we all face along the border.”

“What is really exciting about the Center of Excellence are the numerous programs we are able to draw upon from the UA itself,” Nunamaker said. “We have deception and intent detection based on emerging technologies, and Dark Web terrorism research from the Eller College of Management, immigration policy from the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and the Center for Latin American Studies from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Our College of Optical Sciences is developing new sensors and the College of Engineering is creating new platforms for deployment of sensors.”

“The Center of Excellence is important in recognizing the UA and its partners as experts in this growing field of industry and study, and also highlights an emerging industry cluster in the area of companies based on border technology in Tucson,” said Bruce A. Wright, UA associate vice president for economic development. “We have seen an increased focus among companies specializing in technologies related to border security. The center will assist in the development and commercialization of new technologies and policies that address issues of border security and immigration with the hope of creating new companies utilizing technologies developed in the center.”

Leslie Tolbert, UA vice president for research, graduate studies and economic development, added that the center "will take advantage of the breadth of UA research, and it provides welcome recognition of our growing expertise in border technology."

"The center will build on our well-established infrastructure for cross-disciplinary research by bringing together the best from across the University, the region, and internationally to address border concerns shared by the United States, Canada and Mexico," she said.

Center of Excellence partners include:

Universities: UA, University of Texas at El Paso, Arizona State University, New Mexico State University, New Mexico Tech, San Diego State University, University of Texas-Pan American, University of Minnesota, University of Washington, West Virginia University, University of Southern California, University of Albany

Centers of Excellence: National Center for Food Protection and Defense, University of Minnesota; Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, University of Southern California

National Labs: Sandia/Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Brookhaven

Government Agencies (partial list): Arizona departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Commerce; Arizona-Mexico Commission, Canamex Trade Corridor, Border Research Technology Center, Western Operations

Industry: Boeing, Raytheon, Motorola, SAIC, ESRI, Alion

Think Tank: Migration Policy Institute

Border Stakeholders: Port Authority of Greater Nogales and Santa Cruz County, Fresh Produce Association, Pima County Sheriff's Department, Port Authority of Yuma, Tucson Police Department, Pascua Yaqui Public Safety Department

International Organizations: Canadian Consulate, Canadian Mounted Police Research Centre, National Research Council, CONACyT

Mexican and Canadian Institutions: COLEF, ITESM, Carleton University, University of British Columbia

Expertise in border security and immigration police from the Arizona university system includes:

University of Arizona: NSF COPLINK Center; Dark Web Terrorism Research; DHS BorderSafe; Regional Information Sharing and Collaboration; DOD Multi-University Research Initiative on automating detecting deception; Auto-Identification of Hostile Intent; Center for Identification Technology Research: Linguistic Analysis of Security Police Statements; NSF IED Workshop; Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy; Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology; Mexican American Studies and Research Center; and Center for Latin American Studies; UA Science and Tech Park.

Arizona State University: Wireless communications, supply chain management, transportation security, Decision Theate, North American Center for Transborder Studies, established relationships with Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, B.C., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, University of Alberta, and York International University.