Lexington Institute: Jones Act vital to US border security

The following is the text of a news release from the American Maritime Partnership:

(WASHINGTON) — The Lexington Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank, released a white paper on March 24 stressing the critical role that the American maritime industry and the Jones Act play in strengthening U.S. border security and helping to prevent illegal immigration.

As the paper notes, the land border of the U.S. is dwarfed by its 95,000 miles of national shoreline. Domestic transportation on this "liquid highway" operates under the Jones Act, which requires ships traveling between U.S. ports are American-crewed, American-owned and American-built. The new paper warns 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. 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 report says.

The report 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 report says.

To read the full report, click here.

By Professional Mariner Staff