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Policing the flood of imports to U.S.

Chinese container ship at port in Florida

TEXT OF STORY

Lisa Napoli: A big Homeland Security bill is still languishing in the corridors of Congress and could come up for a vote this week. In it is an amendment about cargo screening that would require inspections of every one of the 11 million cargo containers that come into the U.S.

Ashley Milne-Tyte says not everyone thinks that makes sense.


Ashley Milne-Tyte: Right now, incoming shipments are inspected depending on the country of origin and their declared contents. But sponsors of this amendment say that system is too risky.

They want radiological and image screening for each piece of cargo headed for U.S. ports. James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation rolls his eyes at the idea.

James Carafano: We're gonna spend billions on something that's really unnecessary.

Unnecessary, he says, because it won't make the U.S. any safer.

Carafano: Here's the dirty little secret that nobody tells you: If you're going to take a photograph of every single container that comes into the United States, you're going to have so much information that no human being could possibly ever look at all this information.

It's not just a security issue. He says shipments will back up, prices for inspections will be passed along, and U.S. consumers will end up forking out more for goods — from sneakers to frozen fish.

In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

About the author

Ashley Milne-Tyte is the host of a podcast about women in the workplace called The Broad Experience.

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