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Homeland Security

Monday, June 16, 2003

Statement of Robert C. Bonner Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection House Select Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Infrastructure

Chairman Camp, Ranking Member Sanchez, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to testify. I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the strategy for securing our nation's ports of entry while ensuring a free flow of legitimate trade and travel.

I. Introduction

As you know, on March 1, 2003, immigration inspectors of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, agricultural border inspectors of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Border Patrol, and the U.S. Customs Service merged to form the Bureau of Customs and Border and Protection (BCBP) within the Border and Transportation Security Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security. Now, for the first time in our country's history, all agencies of the United States government with significant border responsibilities have been brought under one roof. With our combined skills and resources, we will be far more effective than we were when we were separate agencies. For example, immediately after BCBP was established, we were able to ensure for the first time that all primary inspectors at our ports of entry were provided with radiation detection equipment. In addition, this unified chain of command, when coupled with Departmental emphasis on information sharing throughout the law enforcement and intelligence communities, will ensure that BCBP personnel have and share the information they will need to do their job. I was honored to be appointed by the President to serve as the Commissioner of U.S. Customs in September 2001, and now I have the great privilege of serving as the first Commissioner of Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.

The priority mission of BCBP is the homeland security mission. That means BCBP's priority mission is to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States - plain and simple. And we are doing everything we reasonably and responsibly can to carry out that extraordinarily important priority mission.

BCBP also is continuing to perform the traditional missions of the predecessor agencies that make up BCBP. These missions include apprehending individuals attempting to enter the United States illegally; stemming the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband; protecting our agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests and diseases; protecting American businesses from theft of their intellectual property; regulating international trade; collecting import duties; and enforcing U.S. trade laws.

At BCBP, we know that we must perform both our priority and traditional missions without stifling the flow of legitimate trade and travel. We have twin goals: (1) increasing security, and (2) facilitating legitimate trade and travel. These twin goals do not have to be mutually exclusive. They can and should be achieved simultaneously. As we develop ways to make our borders more secure against terrorism, we also have an opportunity to develop ways to ensure the speedy flow of legitimate trade and travel. How do we do this? We do it by building a smarter border. Three components of a smarter border that I will discuss today are the use of advance, electronic information; the extension of our zone of security beyond our physical borders; and the use of non-intrusive detection technology. I will also briefly discuss the US VISIT program that was recently announced by Secretary Ridge and that will be overseen by the Border and Transportation Security Directorate.

II. Using Advance, Electronic Information

One of the most important keys to our ability to build a smarter border - to increase security without stifling legitimate trade - is information. Good information, received electronically and in advance, enables us to more accurately and more quickly identify - or target - what is "high risk," defined as a potential threat, and what is low risk or absolutely no risk whatsoever. The separation of high risk from no risk is critical because searching 100 percent of the cargo that enters the United States is not possible, wise, or necessary. Even if the resources were made available to do so, it would unnecessarily cripple the flow of legitimate trade to the United States. When inspections were increased on September 11th, the impact was immediate. Commercial trucks waited for as long as 10 to 12 hours to get into the U.S. on the land border. This nearly brought our economy to its knees.

What is necessary and advisable is searching 100 percent of the high-risk cargo that enter our country. To do this, we need to be able to identify what is high risk, and do so as early in the process as possible.

24-Hour Rule - Advance Information for Oceangoing Cargo

This past year, we worked closely with the trade community to develop an advance manifest regulation addressing that issue with respect to oceangoing cargo. The final version of that regulation, the so-called "24-hour rule," took effect on December 2, 2002. It requires the presentation of accurate, complete manifest information on cargo destined for the United States 24 hours prior to loading of a container on board a vessel at the foreign port. The regulation also improves the quality of information presented, because under the regulation, vague descriptions of cargo such as "FAK" (Freight All Kinds) are no longer acceptable. When we receive the information, the data is processed through BCBP's Automated Targeting System, and reviewed by our National Targeting Center, to identify high-risk oceangoing cargo.

On February 2, 2003, BCBP began a strategy to ensure compliance with the 24-hour rule, following a 90-day grace period (which included 30 days following the date of the rule's publication) to permit the trade to adjust its business practices. The compliance strategy has involved, for the first time, issuing "no-load" orders and denying permits to unlade in the event of non-compliance. We are seeing significant compliance with the rule.

Trade Act of 2002 - Advance Information for All Commercial Modes

Successful targeting of high-risk goods transported through other commercial modes is as important as successful targeting of high-risk goods transported by sea. As with oceangoing cargo, good information received earlier in the process is the key to that successful targeting and the application of sound risk management principles.

In the Trade Act of 2002, Congress recognized the importance of such advance information by mandating presentation of advance data on all commercial modes, both inbound and outbound. BCBP has worked through the consultative process called for in the Trade Act of 2002 to determine the most appropriate advance information requirements for land, rail, and air cargo. During this process, we have met continuously with all segments of the trade. This will help us ensure that the final rule for requiring this information meets the security objectives of BCBP while also taking into account the realities of the businesses involved in the different transport modes. We anticipate a proposed rule being issued shortly, and a final rule being issued by the end of the calendar year.

Advance Passenger Information System

Advance information is also critical to our efforts to identify individuals who may pose a security threat. Before September 11th, 2001, air carriers transmitted information on international airline passengers in advance of their arrival to the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) on a purely voluntary basis. Legislation enacted by Congress in late 2001 made submission of this information mandatory. This information is obtained prior to arrival in the U.S. for all passengers, and is transmitted electronically to BCBP's APIS.

An informed, enforced compliance plan instituted by BCBP has resulted in 99 percent of all passenger and crew information (including those pre-cleared outside the United States) now being transmitted through APIS in a timely and accurate manner. BCBP, through its combined customs and immigration authorities, uses advance passenger information to evaluate and determine which arriving passengers pose a potential terrorist risk.

III. Extending our Zone of Security Outward

Another important key to building a smarter border is extending our zone of security, where we can do so, beyond our physical borders - so that American borders are the last line of defense, not the first line of defense. We have done this on a far reaching basis by partnering with other countries on our Container Security Initiative, one of the most significant and successful initiatives developed and implemented after 9-11. We have also done this by partnering with Canada on the Free and Secure Trade Program and the NEXUS program, by expanding programs, like SENTRI, on the U.S./Mexico Border, and by partnering with the private sector with our Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.

Container Security Initiative (CSI)

Oceangoing sea containers represent the most important artery of global commerce - some 48 million full sea cargo containers move between the world's major seaports each year, and nearly 50 percent of all U.S. imports (by value) arrive via sea containers. Approximately 6 million cargo containers arrive at U.S. seaports annually.
Because of the sheer volume of sea container traffic and the opportunities it presents for terrorists, containerized shipping is uniquely vulnerable to terrorist attack.

In January, 2002, the Container Security Initiative (CSI) was unveiled to address this threat. Under CSI, which is the first program of its kind, we are identifying high-risk cargo containers and partnering with other governments to pre-screen those containers at foreign ports, before they are shipped to our ports.

The four core elements of CSI are:

. First, identifying "high-risk" containers, using advance electronic information, before they set sail for the U.S. The 24-hour rule, discussed above, has been a critical part of this element of CSI.

. Second, pre-screening the "high-risk" containers at the foreign CSI port before they are shipped to the U.S.

. Third, using technology to pre-screen the high-risk containers, including both radiation detectors and large-scale radiographic imaging machines to detect potential terrorist weapons.

. Fourth, using smarter, "tamper-evident" containers - containers that indicate to BCBP officers at the port of arrival whether they have been tampered with after the security screening.

CSI also involves stationing BCBP officers at the foreign CSI seaports to do the targeting and identification of high-risk containers.

Importantly, CSI adds substantial security to containerized shipping without slowing down the flow of legitimate trade. Containers that have been pre-screened and sealed under CSI will not ordinarily need to be inspected again by BCBP when they arrive at United States seaports. As I mentioned earlier, currently 100% of the containers identified as high-risk are being screened on arrival to the United States. With CSI, it will usually be unnecessary to do this screening here, if it has been done "there" - at a CSI port.

Since CSI was announced in January 2002, the program has generated exceptional participation and support. The goal for the first phase of CSI was to implement the program at as many of the top 20 foreign container ports - in terms of volume of cargo containers shipped to United States seaports - as possible, and as soon as possible. Those ports account for nearly 70 percent, over two-thirds, of all cargo containers arriving at U.S. seaports. To date, the governments representing 19 of the top 20 ports have agreed to implement CSI. CSI has been implemented and is already operational in Le Havre, France; Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Antwerp, Belgium; Bremerhaven and Hamburg, Germany; Felixstowe, England; Yokohama, Japan; Singapore, Hong Kong, and Gothenburg, Sweden. We are also operational at the Canadian ports of Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver. CSI will be operational at other CSI ports soon.

Just last week, Secretary Ridge and I announced Phase 2 of CSI. Under CSI Phase 2, we will implement the program at other foreign ports that ship a substantial volume of containers directly to the U.S., and at ports of strategic importance in the global supply chain. To be eligible for CSI, ports must meet the minimum standards for the program, that is, have acquired the detection equipment and have the capacity and will to implement CSI with us.

Our expansion goals for Phase 2 include ports in the Middle East and other strategic locations, such as the first Arab CSI port, in the United Arab Emirates; ports in Turkey, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka; ports in Africa, such as Durban, South Africa; and ports in Latin American countries such as Panama, Argentina, and Brazil. Under Phase 2, we will also seek to include many additional European ports, such as Gioia Tauro, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; and Marseilles, France.

We believe that Phase 2 of CSI will have the same success of Phase 1. Governments in many of these countries have already expressed an interest in participating in CSI, and once we ensure that they meet the minimum standards necessary for participation in CSI, we will conduct port assessments, sign agreements, and begin implementation as rapidly as possible. In fact, as part of Phase 2, we have already signed CSI agreements with Malaysia and Sweden, covering the two major ports of Malaysia and Gothenburg, Sweden, the main container port for the Nordic countries. By the end of Phase 2, CSI will cover about 80% of all containers coming to the United States. We'll cover nearly 100% of all Europe/U.S. transatlantic trade, and over 80% of transpacific trade to the U.S. By the end of Phase 2, we will be well on our way to thwarting any terrorist attempts to hijack our trading system.

Partnership with Canada

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we have worked closely with Canada to develop and implement initiatives that increase security and facilitate travel and trade at our shared 4,000 mile border. Many of these initiatives have been implemented under the Smart Border Declaration entered into between the U.S. and Canada in December 2001. This Declaration focuses on four primary areas: the secure flow of people; the secure flow of goods; investments in common technology and infrastructure to minimize threats and expedite trade; and coordination and information sharing to defend our mutual border. By benchmarking our security measures and sharing information, we are able to relieve pressure and congestion at our mutual land border.

Free and Secure Trade (FAST)

One of these initiatives is the Free and Secure Trade, or FAST, program. Through FAST, importers, commercial carriers, and truck drivers who enroll in the program and meet our agreed to security criteria are entitled to expedited clearance at the Northern Border. Using electronic data transmission and transponder technology, we expedite clearance of approved trade participants. The FAST program fosters more secure supply chains, and enables us to focus our security efforts and inspections where they are needed most - on high-risk commerce - while making sure legitimate, low-risk commerce faces no unnecessary delays.

FAST was announced by President Bush and Prime Minister Chretien in Detroit in September 2002, and it is currently operational in 27 lanes at six major crossings along the northern border. Eventually, FAST is projected to expand to all 25 commercial centers located throughout the northern border.


With Canada, we have also implemented a program that enables us to focus our resources and efforts more on high-risk travelers, while making sure those travelers who pose no risk for terrorism or smuggling, and who are otherwise legally entitled to enter, are not delayed at our mutual border. This is the NEXUS program, under which frequent travelers whose background information has been run against crime and terrorism indices are issued a proximity card, or SMART card, allowing them to be waived expeditiously through the port of entry.

NEXUS is currently operational at six crossings located at four major ports of entry on the northern border: Blaine, Washington (3 crossings); Buffalo, New York (Peace Bridge); Detroit, Michigan; and Port Huron, Michigan. We also recently opened a new NEXUS lane at the International Tunnel in Detroit. This summer, NEXUS will be expanded to the Rainbow, Lewiston, and Whirlpool Bridges in New York. Other upcoming expansion sites for NEXUS include Alexandria Bay, New York; and Sweetgrass, Montana.

Partnership with Mexico

We have continued important bilateral discussions with Mexico to implement initiatives that will protect our southern border against the terrorist threat, while also improving the flow of legitimate trade and travel.

With respect to cargo crossing our border with Mexico, for example, we will be implementing a pilot FAST program on the southern border in El Paso, Texas by September 2003. We also continue to work on a possible joint system for processing rail shipments and on shared border technology.

SENTRI is another smart border initiative on our southern border. SENTRI is a program that allows low-risk travelers to be processed in an expedited manner through a dedicated lane at our land border with minimal or no delay. SENTRI is currently deployed at 3 southwest border crossings: El Paso, San Ysidro, and Otay Mesa, and expansion plans are being considered. In fact, our SENTRI team met with their Mexican counterparts this spring to discuss expansion logistics.

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism

Any effort to "push our zone of security outwards" and protect global trade against the terrorist threat must include the direct involvement of the trade community. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, C-TPAT, is an initiative that was proposed in November 2001 began in January 2002, to protect the entire supply chain, against potential exploitation by terrorists or terrorist weapons. Under C-TPAT, companies sign an agreement with BCBP to conduct a comprehensive self-assessment of their supply chain security and to improve that security - from factory floor to foreign loading docks to the U.S. border and seaports - using C-TPAT security guidelines developed jointly with the trade community.

Companies that meet security standards receive expedited processing through our land border crossings, through our seaports, and through our international airports, enabling us to spend less time on low-risk cargo, so that we can focus our resources on higher risk cargo. C-TPAT is currently open to all importers, air, sea, and rail carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, consolidators, non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs), and U.S. Marine and Terminal operators. As of October 1, 2002, C-TPAT eligibility for trucking companies along the U.S./Canada border has been made available through the Free and Secure Trade Program. (Participation in C-TPAT is a requirement for bringing goods from the U.S. into Canada through the FAST lane.) We are currently developing the mechanism and strategy to enroll foreign manufacturers and shippers into C-TPAT. The intent is to construct a supply chain characterized by active C-TPAT links at each point in the logistics process.

To date, over 3,422 companies are participating in C-TPAT to improve the security of their supply chains. Members of C-TPAT include 71 of the top 100 importers and 32 of the 50 largest ocean carriers. To make sure that C-TPAT is realizing its promise, BCBP is developing expertise in supply chain security. In December 2002, we began providing training in the security validation process to ten supervisory customs inspectors. We will provide training to a second group of validators beginning June 16, 2003. In January 2003, these individuals started the validation process in cooperation with our C-TPAT partners. To date, over 50 validations have been initiated.

IV. Using Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology

Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) technology provides for a more effective and efficient, as well as less invasive, method of inspecting cargo, compared with drilling or dismantling of conveyances or merchandise. As we deploy additional NII technology throughout the country, we increase our ability to detect conventional explosives, nuclear weapons, radioactive components, and other weapons of mass destruction. NII equipment includes large-scale x-ray and gamma-ray imaging systems, portal radiation monitors, and a mixture of portable and handheld technologies to include personal radiation detection devices that greatly reduce the need for costly, time-consuming physical inspection of containers and provide us a picture of what is inside the container.

We are in the process of adding radiation detection systems and isotope identifiers on the southwest border, radiation detection systems and Mobile Vehicle and Cargo Inspection Systems (VACIS) on the northern border, Mobile VACIS at seaports, isotope identifiers and x-ray equipment for international mail, and isotope identifiers at Express Courier hubs, as well as additional inspector positions for deploying and operating this equipment. This technology will detect anomalies and the presence of radiological material in containers and conveyances, with minimal impact to port operations in a fraction of the time it takes to manually inspect cargo. CBP is also working closely with the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate to assure that the best equipment is procured and deployed in a cost-effective manner, and that lessons learned from the current deployments are applied to the development the next generation of technology.


Another border-related program that is currently being implemented, and that will rely on sophisticated technology and quick access to critical data, is the recently announced US VISIT program. Under this program, the Department of Homeland Security will implement a number of legislative requirements related to the entry and exit of visitors to the U.S. Once implemented, US VISIT will provide BCBP personnel with the capability to use biometric features - such as fingerprints, photographs, or iris scans-- to identify accurately people that are traveling into and out of the United States. In this way, US VISIT will strengthen and increase the reliability of our terrorist and other database checks on such individuals when they enter and exit the United States. As the Secretary has announced, US VISIT will be implemented at air and seaports by the end of calendar year 2003.

VI. Conclusion

Mr. Chairman, I have outlined today several of the BCBP initiatives that are helping us create a smarter border, one that enables us to carry out our twin goals of increasing security and facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. The merger of all of the U.S. border agencies into one agency, BCBP, in the Department of Homeland Security, creates new opportunities for us to continue to build even smarter borders that strike the appropriate and necessary balance between security and commerce. With the continued support of the President, DHS, and the Congress, BCBP will do just that.

Thank you again for this opportunity to testify. I would be happy to answer any of your questions.

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