UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Homeland Security

Washington File

25 June 2003

Hutchinson Outlines Homeland Security Department Achievements

(Under secretary's House committee testimony) (3780)
Securing the United States' air, land, and sea borders "is a difficult
yet critical task," says Asa Hutchinson, under secretary of homeland
security.
In June 25 testimony before the House Select Committee on Homeland
Security, Hutchinson briefed lawmakers on a series of initiatives
launched by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during the past
six months, with particular emphasis on the activities of the Border
and Transportation Security (BTS) Directorate.
"The Border and Transportation Security Directorate is one of five
Directorates within DHS, and -- in partnership with the Coast Guard --
watches over our nation's borders and transportation systems,"
Hutchinson explained. BTS employees are responsible for safeguarding
U.S. borders, ports of entry, and transportation systems; facilitating
the flow of legitimate commerce; and enforcing U.S. immigration laws.
Citing "a number of operational and programmatic successes" that the
BTS Directorate has achieved since its inception on January 24, 2003,
Hutchinson described a wide range of ongoing security measures --
including law enforcement cooperation with Canada and Mexico -- that
are deemed critical by the Department of Homeland Security.
For example, "as a result of the Shared Border Accords between the
U.S. and Canada, a number of activities are underway to meet the
Accord's 30 action items for increasing security, enhancing joint law
enforcement, improving technology and facilitating trade," Hutchinson
observed. Moreover, "Mexican and U.S. border control personnel are
operating on a 22-point agreement to protect and secure
infrastructure, and ensure the smooth flow of legitimate persons and
goods" between Mexico and the United States, he said.
Hutchinson stressed the importance of coordinating U.S. efforts with
those of neighboring governments, especially when addressing such
issues as migrant safety. Even as Mexico and the United States work
together to deter illegal border crossings, both countries seek to
minimize loss of life in dangerous border regions where undocumented
immigrants often try to make their way across rivers or arid stretches
of desert. "The [U.S.] Border Patrol conducted a bi-national training
event for elements of the Mexican government responsible for border
control activities," the under secretary noted. "The training included
elements of search and rescue [techniques], first aid, and aquatic
safety."
In fiscal year 2003, "the Border Patrol has apprehended 670,387
illegal entrants to date," Hutchinson recalled. "This is in addition
to the 698,549 illegal entrants apprehended" in fiscal year 2002.
Advances in technology are an essential component of DHS's plan for
securing U.S. borders, Hutchinson indicated. The Bureau of Customs and
Border Protection (BCBP) "is implementing the Free and Secure Trade
Initiative (FAST)," he said. The FAST program enables BCBP "to focus
its security efforts and inspections on high-risk commerce while
making sure legitimate, low-risk commerce faces no unnecessary and
costly delays," he reported. He pointed to other sophisticated
screening programs, known as NEXUS and SENTRI, which "are also being
implemented to facilitate the travel of legitimate visitors" at the
northern and southern borders of the United States.
To thwart any attempts to smuggle contraband into the United States
through U.S. sea ports, "the Container Security Initiative has
established tough new procedures targeting high-risk cargo containers
before they embark en-route to U.S. ports," Hutchinson told
legislators. "Twenty-five ports (including three Canadian) -- through
which approximately two-thirds of cargo containers coming to the U.S.
will pass -- have agreed to participate in the program."
The airline industry now routinely utilizes new screening protocols,
as well. "BCBP requires all airlines to provide information on U.S.
inbound and outbound passengers prior to their arrival; information is
then checked against the FBI's and other relevant databases,"
Hutchinson said.
He then reviewed the performance of DHS's Bureau of Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (BICE). BICE combines "all the investigative
functions of Customs, Immigration and the Federal Protective Service
into one bureau," he said. "In conjunction with the Foreign Terrorist
Tracking Task Force, BICE agents have apprehended more than 1,000
immigrants for a variety of offenses, of whom over 500 were deported."
As part of its mission to ensure the integrity and lawful operation of
U.S. financial systems, BICE has implemented safeguards to block the
misuse of U.S. banks and money-transfer businesses. These safeguards
are designed to deny funds to terrorists or other organized crime
entities.
In much the same way, Project Shield America -- a BICE initiative --
"continues to prevent sensitive U.S. technology and munitions from
falling into the hands of terrorists and other U.S. adversaries,"
Hutchinson said. "Under this initiative, BICE agents partner with U.S.
manufacturers and exporters to guard against illegal arms exports."
The under secretary concluded his testimony by highlighting the
efforts of DHS's Office of Domestic Preparedness, which awards grants
in support of security initiatives throughout the United States, and
the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which provides training
for Federal Flight Deck Officers and Federal Air Marshals. "This list
[of accomplishments] is far from complete, but I believe it shows that
the BTS Directorate is hard at work on the task before us," he said.
Following is the text of Hutchinson's remarks, as prepared for
delivery:
(begin text)
Statement of Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson
Department of Homeland Security
Before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security
June 25, 2003
Good morning, Chairman Cox, Congressman Turner, distinguished members
of the Committee. I am delighted to appear before you today to discuss
the progress, status and plans for the Department of Homeland
Security's Directorate of Border and Transportation Security.
On this my first appearance before this committee, I wish to commend
you on its creation and for your willingness to serve our nation in
this fashion. I came to know many of you during my time in the House
of Representatives and have the utmost respect for your focus on
advancing what is best for the nation and for its citizens. Your
dedication to ensuring the security of our homeland will be a critical
element in the Department's success. Today's hearing marks a
significant milestone in our combined effort to ensure the Department
of Homeland Security, and in particular, the Border and Transportation
Security (BTS) Directorate, fulfills its promise and potential.
Securing our nation's air, land, and sea borders is a difficult yet
critical task. The United States has 5,525 miles of border with Canada
and 1,989 miles with Mexico. Our maritime border includes 95,000 miles
of shoreline, and a 3.4-million square mile exclusive economic zone.
Each year, more than 500 million people cross the borders into the
United States, some 330 million of whom are non-citizens, through 317
ports of entry.
The Border and Transportation Security Directorate is one of five
Directorates within DHS, and -- in partnership with the Coast Guard --
watches over our nation's borders and transportation systems. The BTS
Directorate is comprised of the former U.S. Customs Service, part of
the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Transportation
Security Administration, the Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP),
the Inspections Division of the Agriculture Plant Health Inspections
Service (APHIS), the Federal Protective Service (FPS), and the Federal
Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). Its extraordinarily dedicated
employees -- over 100,000 of them -- were brought together under the
BTS roof because of their common focus of ensuring the security of our
nation's borders, ports of entry and transportation systems, on
facilitating the flow of legitimate commerce and on enforcing our
nation's immigration laws.
In the five months since the creation of the Department, and less than
three since we truly became an operational entity, the BTS Directorate
has taken a number of strides to integrate its component agencies and
streamline their operations. We have achieved a number of operational
and programmatic successes and challenges since the 24th of January,
and I'd like to share some of those accomplishments with you in the
hope that you will share my assessment that we are, indeed, off to
good start.
Since its inception on January 24, 2003, the Border and Transportation
Security Directorate has:
-- Initiated a comprehensive reorganization of its component agencies,
creating two new bureaus: the Bureau of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.
-- Deployed new technologies and tools at land, air and sea borders.
-- Expedited distribution of billions of dollars in grant monies to
states and cities, with more to come.
-- Created a 24-hour Radiation/WMD Hotline to assist BCBP and BICE
officers with scientific and technical needs regarding Chemical,
Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) alerts along the border.
-- We have held bilateral meetings with U.K. Home Secretary David
Blunkett, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, and Mexico's
Secretary of Interior Santiago Creel to continue progress on security
initiatives of mutual interest.
-- BTS is in the first phase of developing the US-VISIT system and we
will have an initial deployment at air and sea ports of entry by
December 31, 2003. The system will be capable of tracking the entry
and exit of foreign visitors who require a visa to the U.S. US-VISIT
will make entry easier for legitimate travelers and more difficult for
illegal entrants through the use of biometrically authenticated
documents.
-- Conducted a series of listening sessions at strategic ports
throughout the U.S.
-- Participated in Operation Liberty Shield, the first comprehensive
national plan to increase protections of America's citizens and
infrastructure.
-- Completed TOPOFF II, the largest terrorist response exercise in
history.
Accomplishments to strengthen and improve security by BTS component
agencies include:
Transportation Security Administration
TSA's approach to transportation security is one designed to provide
layered protection. To date, TSA has achieved significant
accomplishments in both its overall approach and within the specific
transportation modes:
-- TSA is screening passengers and checked baggage at our nation's
airports, including electronic explosives detection for checked
baggage at nearly all commercial aviation airports -- all within the
Congressionally mandated deadlines and all with the congressionally
approved methods of screening set forth in the Aviation and
Transportation Security Act that was passed by Congress and signed by
President Bush on Nov. 19, 2001. As a side note, I would like to
mention that nationally, about 92 percent of all bags are screened
electronically. Prior to 9-11, only about 5 percent of all bags were
being screened by any means.
-- TSA is working with airports on the installation of equipment
needed to screen all bags electronically and is preparing Letters of
Intent for several major airports that will commit federal funds to
projects for the installation of electronic screening equipment.
-- TSA dramatically expanded the Federal Air Marshals program to cover
a significant percentage of both international and domestic flights.
-- TSA worked with the FAA in administering a program for air carriers
to install hardened cockpit doors for commercial passenger aircraft.
-- TSA is developing a new and improved successor to the current
Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS). CAPPS II will
assist the agency in identifying terrorist threats to the aviation
system while also dramatically reducing the number of travelers
subjected to additional screening procedures at the nation's airports.
This system is being carefully designed to improve security while
respecting the civil liberties of American travelers.
-- Enhanced security in general aviation through the private charter
and the "12-5" rules.
-- TSA screeners at Denver International Airport developed a pilot
program, "Tots Friendly," designed to put children at ease as they go
through security. The program is being evaluated for possible
nationwide expansion.
-- TSA implemented a full-scale training program for screening persons
with disabilities and those with special situations.
-- TSA launched Federal Flight Deck Officer training program to enable
qualified flight crews to be armed while on duty. The first class
concluded on April 19th, with 44 pilots certified to carry firearms in
the cockpit as Federal Flight Deck Officers.
-- TSA developed a strengthened "Known Shipper" program for air cargo
including strengthened requirements to achieve Known Shipper status,
and is developing additional layers of security to "pre-screen" cargo
for targeted inspections.
-- TSA has worked with airlines, airports and other airport employers
to ensure that background checks have been done on all of their
employees. This includes criminal background checks done by the
airports. More than 1 million background checks have been completed.
-- TSA has launched a development program for the Transportation
Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).
-- TSA has promulgated a new background check rule for hazmat
transportation under the Patriot Act.
-- TSA has undertaken planning to run a consequence management drill
with Amtrak and New York City's Penn Station.
-- TSA has developed an initiative with the Chlorine Institute to
address their bulk hazardous materials shipments.
-- TSA has begun coordinating with the Federal Railroad Administration
to develop a rail system inspection guide for use by rail law
enforcement and security personnel to inspect trains for explosives
and other threats.
-- TSA is partnering with BCBP and DOT on Operation Safe Commerce
(OSC), a program to enhance the security of the international and
domestic supply chain while ensuring efficient cross-border
transportation, and recently announcing the award of $58 million in
OSC grants.
-- TSA recently announced the award of $170 million in Port Security
Grants, with additional surface transportation grants (e.g.,
inter-city bus grants) in process.
Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
-- The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP) has consolidated
incoming inspectional resources into a single face of government at
ports of entry by establishing Interim Port Directors to integrate all
of the incoming border agencies into one chain of command. A single
field manager can implement a change in threat level in what used to
be three disparate workforces.
-- BCBP continues to deploy multiple technologies to support our
layered inspection process, using various technologies in different
combinations to detect the adversary who might defeat a single sensor
or device.
-- To date, more than 250 devices that are non-intrusive inspection
systems and/or portal radiation detection devices have been deployed
to detect and deter the entry of radiological material into the
country.
-- BCBP has provided all of its front-line (BCBP) inspectors across
the country with personal radiation detectors that alert them to the
presence of radioactive material.
-- As a result of the Shared Border Accords between the U.S. and
Canada, a number of activities are underway to meet the Accord's 30
action items for increasing security, enhancing joint law enforcement,
improving technology and facilitating trade.
-- Mexican and U.S. border control personnel are operating on a
22-point agreement to protect and secure infrastructure, and ensure
the smooth flow of legitimate persons and goods.
-- The Border Patrol conducted a bi-national training event for
elements of the Mexican government responsible for border control
activities. The training included elements of search and rescue, first
aid, and aquatic safety.
-- The Border Patrol is working with local tribal law enforcement in
historic new agreements to protect tribal lands from unlawful entry
along the over 250 miles of borders adjacent to tribal lands. For
example, the Border Patrol is providing basic interoperability between
federal and state law enforcement agencies and the Tohono O'odham
Indian nation.
-- BCBP continues to harden the entire Northern Border ports-of-entry
through the installation of technology and infrastructure, such as
barriers, gates, bollards, lighting and video security systems.
-- The Border Patrol will deploy an additional 387 agents along the
U.S. and Canadian border by January 2004, bringing the total number of
agents deployed to over 1,000.
-- BCBP's Border Patrol has deployed additional helicopters and fixed
wing aircraft at 8 Northern border Sectors and at 7 of the 9 Southern
border Sectors.
-- Integrated Border Enforcement Teams have been created in each
Northern border Sector to promote better coordination and
inter-operability among law enforcement agencies and the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police.
-- In FY 2003, the Border Patrol has apprehended 670,387 illegal
entrants to date. This is in addition to the 698,549 illegal entrants
apprehended in FY 2002.
-- BCBP is implementing the Free and Secure Trade Initiative (FAST).
The FAST program enables the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
to focus its security efforts and inspections on high-risk commerce
while making sure legitimate, low-risk commerce faces no unnecessary
and costly delays. NEXUS and SENTRI are also being implemented to
facilitate the travel of legitimate visitors on the Northern and
Southern Borders.
-- BCBP continues implementation of the Customs-Trade Partnership
Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), a public-private partnership aimed at
securing the global supply-chain against terrorism, while also
facilitating legitimate trade.
-- The Container Security Initiative has established tough new
procedures targeting high-risk cargo containers before they embark
en-route to U.S. ports. Twenty-five ports (including three Canadian)--
through which approximately two-thirds of cargo containers coming to
the U.S. will pass -- have agreed to participate in the program.
Fifteen initial ports are operational.
-- Along with CSI, BCBP began enforcing the new 24-hour rule in
February, requiring submission of electronic advance cargo manifests
by sea carriers 24 hours before U.S. bound cargo is loaded aboard the
vessel at a foreign port. The information obtained is used as a factor
in determining which containers are high-risk. This foreign-based
activity can preclude a risk from ever arriving in the USA.
-- BCBP continues to coordinate with the Coast Guard to have expanded
Passenger Analysis Units at seaports around the country to target and
identify high-risk travelers and immediately react to threats. BCBP
cross checks advance notice of arrival information provided to the
USCG 96-hours prior to arrival at U.S. ports, rather than the previous
24-hour notice, for potentially dangerous crew, passengers and cargo,
thus allowing USCG to act appropriately prior to arrival in the U.S.
port.
-- BCBP requires all airlines to provide information on U.S. inbound
and outbound passengers prior to their arrival; information is then
checked against the FBI's and other relevant databases.
-- BCBP's National Targeting Center and enhanced Automated Targeting
System continue to identify those containers and travelers that pose a
high risk of terrorism.
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE)
-- BICE combined all the investigative functions of Customs,
Immigration and the Federal Protective Service into one bureau. BICE
has taken steps to provide a single point of contact within DHS for
U.S. Attorneys and other law enforcement agencies.
-- In conjunction with the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, BICE
agents have apprehended more than 1,000 immigrants for a variety of
offenses, of whom over 500 were deported.
-- Operation Joint Venture, a special operation initiated by BICE to
identify and remove persons with unknown or questionable identities
with access to restricted areas of military installations, has
resulted in 37 arrests, of which 28 were removed from the United
States.
-- A BICE operation initiated after the tragic deaths of 19 persons
believed to be undocumented immigrants in Texas has resulted in the
indictment of 14 individuals.
-- BICE has removed 100,886 individuals to date in FY 2003 through its
Detention and Removal program, in addition to the 149,599 removed in
FY 2002.
-- BICE acquired and deployed additional "A-STAR" and "HUEY"
helicopters to bolster enforcement efforts along the U.S. Southern
border.
-- BICE continues in its efforts to ensure the integrity and lawful
operation of U.S. financial systems.
-- Project Shield America, a BICE initiative, continues to prevent
sensitive U.S. technology and munitions from falling into the hands of
terrorists and other U.S. adversaries. Under this initiative, BICE
agents partner with U.S. manufacturers and exporters to guard against
illegal arms exports.
-- The BICE Office of Air and Marine Interdiction (OAMI) provided 24-7
airspace security coverage over Washington, D.C. During Operation
Liberty Shield, OAMI expanded this mission to include airspace
security coverage over New York City as well.
Office of Domestic Preparedness
-- The Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) has made available more
than $4.4 billion dollars in funding for grants since March 1, 2003.
-- ODP recently announced the award of $100 million in urban area
security initiative grants to high-threat areas; and made available an
additional $700 million in urban area security initiative grants for
30 cities and their contiguous counties and mutual aid partners; of
this $700 million, $65 million was in grants to 20 transit agencies
for security enhancements and $75 million was to enhance port
security.
Funds are clearly flowing. While these awards have been announced, a
large amount of this funding is still making its way down to our first
responders, as states, localities and vendors do what they need to do
as part of these programs.
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)
-- FLETC, in partnership with the TSA, is providing training for
Federal Flight Deck Officers and Federal Air Marshals.
-- FLETC is upgrading its counter/anti-terrorism, weapons of mass
destruction, and first responder training to accommodate the training
needs of all 75 of its partner organizations.
-- FLETC is developing a new training for CBP Inspectors, scheduled to
commence Oct. 1.
Conclusion
This list is far from complete, but I believe it shows that the BTS
Directorate is hard at work on the task before us. We are shaping a
new department, improving the security of our country and still
sustaining the centuries old traditions of operational excellence that
our individual components have brought to the BTS Directorate.
Because of the efforts of the dedicated employees of the Border and
Transportation Security Directorate, undertaken in partnership with
the American people, our federal, state, local, private and
international counterparts, and our other colleagues within the
Department of Homeland Security, America is becoming safer and more
secure every day. A number of challenges lie ahead, but we are taking
the necessary steps to improve the security of our borders, ports of
entry, transportation systems; facilitate the movements of people and
goods. As we fulfill these missions, we are redoubling our efforts to
protect the freedoms and liberties that have made this country so
great, as exemplified by the President's guidance to law enforcement
agencies to minimize the likelihood of racial profiling. We are keenly
aware of the importance of the contributions of our partners in this
effort, including you, the Congress, and we look forward to working
with you to continue the successes we have achieved in the last five
months and ensure that our homeland is indeed safer and more secure in
the months and years ahead.
Thank you again for inviting me to appear before you today. I look
forward to your partnership and I would be happy to answer any
questions you may have at this time.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list