With the debate over strengthening U.S. boarder security focussed almost exclusively on the illegal movement of people and drugs into the southern United States from Mexico, a new paper by Arlington, Virginia-based think tank The Lexington Institute stresses that a strong American maritime industry and the Jones Act should not be overlooked.
The paper notes that the land border of the U.S. is dwarfed by its 95,000 miles of national shoreline, warning that without the Jones Act most of America’s major cities in nearly 40 states could be exposed to foreign threats.
“The task of securing U.S. seaports and foreign cargoes is daunting by itself,” the paper says. “It makes no sense to add to the burden facing domestic security agencies by allowing foreign-owned ships operated by foreign crews to move freely throughout America’s inland lakes, rivers and waterways.”
The paper also reinforces the critical need for the Jones Act to secure a robust shipyard industrial base and skilled mariners necessary to uphold our nation’s defense sealift capability but it also asserted that the law’s benefits to homeland security should not be overlooked.
“The requirement that all the officers and fully 75 percent of the crews of vessels engaged in cabotage be U.S. citizens goes a long way to reducing the risk that terrorists could get onboard or execute an attack on a U.S. target. In effect, there is a system of self-policing that reduces the requirement for law enforcement and homeland security organizations to expend time and effort to ensure that these vessels and crews are safe to traverse U.S. waters. Were the Jones Act not in existence, the Department of Homeland Security would be confronted by the difficult and very costly requirement of monitoring, regulating and overseeing foreign-controlled, foreign crewed vessels in coastal and internal U.S. waters.”
The Lexington Institute’s white paper, Venerable Jones Act Provides An Important Barrier To Terrorist Infiltration Of The Homeland, can be found on its website HERE.