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 BTI Institute

Borders, Trade, and Immigration Institute Ribbon Cutting Showcase 

The Borders, Trade, and Immigration Institute, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, hosted an open house on March 27 to promote its mission to strengthen border security, facilitate legitimate trade and travel, and ensure the integrity of our nation’s immigration policies.

The event consisted of a ribbon cutting ceremony and a showcase of research projects from all partner institutions focusing on technology and policy research related to border issues, trade, and immigration. Additional projects concentrating on education and workforce development were also presented.

The ribbon cutting ceremony started with an original contemporary dance performance from Karen Stokes Dance group, whose thematic material and accompanying video projection referenced the Houston Ship Channel and the flows of goods and people across borders.

The BTI Institute welcomed several distinguished speakers and guests, including:

  • Robert Griffin, Under Secretary (Acting) for DHS Science and Technology Directorate (by video)
  • Matthew Clark, Director of the Office of University Programs, DHS Science and Technology Directorate (comments via letter)
  • Cynthia F. Whittenburg, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Andrew K. Scharnweber, Associate Chief, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Louis Guthrie, Chief, Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Police Department
  • Joe Frank Martinez, Sheriff, Val Verde County, and Chairman, Southwest Border States Sheriffs Coalition
  • Bradley L. Etter, Chief Intelligence Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement OR Homeland Security Investigations

Ivan Sanchez presented a certificate of congressional recognition for the mission of the BTI Institute to Director Ioannis A. Kakadiaris on behalf of United States Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

Following introductions, BTI director Kakadiaris presented the vision of the BTI Institute. All speakers recognized the importance and impact of the BTI mission and reiterated the need for and commitment to long-term collaboration with BTI Institute.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was followed by a showcase event where current partners demonstrated their projects to event attendees. All projects had a poster available for viewing. Two projects had live demos available: Face Recognition and Modeling of Traffic Flows through Ports of Entry. One additional project had a video demonstration of its results on automatically measuring wait times at Ports of Entry. Print materials (Announcements, After Action Reports, and Research Briefs) were also made available for upcoming and previous events in the Homeland Security Symposia Series.

The project showcase was comprised of 12 researchers from Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Rutgers University, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, University of Houston, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of Texas at El Paso, West Virginia University, and Voir Dire International LLC.

Special guests at the event included Oscar Rodriguez-Cabrera, Consul General Mexico, Carlos H. Pacheco-Murillo, Consul General Costa Rica, Oscar Solis Floris, Consul, Mexico, and Welcome Wilson, Sr.


Learn more about the day's activities at the Ribbon Cutting.

Showcase Research

Transnational Flows of People (Policy)




Immigration Workshop

University of Houston

Luis Torres

luis torres

Uncovering Human Smuggling Patterns from Guatemala to the U.S.

Voir Dire International, LLC

Gary Hale

gary hale

Transnational Flows of People (Technology)




Modeling Methodology and Simulation of Port-of-Entry Systems

Rutgers University

Benjamin Melamed

benjamin melamed

Developing a Concept of Operations for an Innovative System for Measuring Wait Times at Land Ports of Entry

Texas A&M Transportation Institute

Juan Villa

juan villa

A Systematic Process for Vulnerability Assessment of Biometric Systems at Borders

University of North Carolina - Charlotte

Bojan Cukic

bojan cukic

Image and Video Person Identification in an Operational Environment: Phase I

University of Houston

Ioannis Kakadiaris

ioannis kakadiaris

Unconstrained Face Recognition using Cell Phone Devices: Faces in the Wild

West Virginia University

Rutgers University

Thirmimachos Bourlai

thirimimachos bourlai

Dimitris Metaxas

dimitris metaxas

Transnational Flows of Goods

Title Institution Researcher(s)

Leveraging U.S. Export Control Reform: New Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Government Efforts to Counter WMD Proliferation through Enforcement of Export Controls

Middlebury Institute of International Studies

Robert Shaw

robert shaw

GPS/GNSS and Communication Authentication Standards for RECONS

University of Minnesota

Demoz Gebre-Egziabher

demoz gebre-egziabher

Participatory Technology Assessment (PTA): evaluating and predicting the operational effectiveness of Cargo Security Technologies

University of Houston

Maria Burns

maria burns

Education and Workforce Development




Security Technologies Kitchen

University of Houston

Shishir Shah

shishir shah

Homeland Security Symposium Series

The University of Texas at El Paso

Victor Manjarrez

victor manjarrez