The regulation and monitoring of cross-border flows is central to the modern state’s claims of territorial sovereignty. However, the focus and concern vary significantly across time. In the post-cold-war era of global economic integration, many states are less concerned about deterring cross-border military threats or imposing tariffs on cross-border commerce and are, instead, more concerned about policing prohibited cross-border economic activities. 1 Enhanced state efforts to police these prohibited activities—such as the smuggling of drugs, people, and dirty money—contrast sharply with the general trend toward opening borders and reducing the role of the state in the economy.
The United States is perhaps the leading example of this bifurcated trend. The post-cold-war U.S. security agenda, it seems, is increasingly dominated by concerns over crime fighting rather than war fighting; law evasion rather than military invasion. The rising prominence of law enforcement concerns is reflected in the transformation of the federal policing apparatus. During a period when most federal agencies are merely surviving, law enforcement is thriving. Budgets are growing, 2 agency missions are expanding, new and tougher laws are being implemented, policing is becoming more federalized and internationalized, 3 national security and law enforcement institutions are increasingly integrated, and more sophisticated and powerful surveillance technologies are being developed. In short, “reinventing government” in this case is more about redeploying, rather than reducing, government.
Among the leading concerns are criminal organizations engaged in a wide variety of prohibited cross-border activities. A conference report from the Center