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Homeland Security

23 August 2004

U.S. Outlines Steps for Protecting Southern Border Against Terrorism

Customs agency lists measures to enhance border security

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, has issued a fact sheet outlining steps recently implemented to protect the United States' southern border against possible terrorist threats.

These steps, according to CBP, are considered necessary to safeguard the U.S.-Mexican border during a period of increased risk as the U.S. presidential election approaches. The election will be held on November 2.

In its August 20 fact sheet, CBP said that "protective measures include intensified activities in the areas of passenger processing, cargo targeting and inspection, non-intrusive technology inspections" and other initiatives.

Following is the text of the CBP fact sheet, with further details:

(begin fact sheet)

Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C.

August 20, 2004

Fact Sheet: U.S. Customs and Border Protection -- Protecting Our Southern Border Against the Terrorist Threat

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CBP combined the inspectional workforces and broad border authorities of U.S. Customs, U.S. Immigration, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the entire U.S. Border Patrol.

CBP includes more than 41,000 employees to manage, control and protect the nation's borders, at and between the official ports of entry. "U.S. Customs and Border Protection is addressing the terrorist threat nationwide," stated Commissioner Robert C. Bonner. "There have been concerns that terrorists will try to enter our country across our southern border. These reports are not new to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and we have been preparing for the possibility and are taking appropriate actions to better secure our borders against the terrorist threat."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has taken a number of steps to increase security across our borders during the "period of increased risk" leading up to the presidential election. These actions and initiatives include a broad range of strategies and defenses that CBP deploys in its anti-terror mission. CBP's protective measures include intensified activities in the areas of passenger processing, cargo targeting and inspection, non-intrusive technology inspections, as well as a number of initiatives to increase security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In addition to the above critical actions:

CBP works with national intelligence agencies to share data on suspicious activity, and shares information with CBP personnel on the front lines. We are providing extensive anti-terrorism training to uniformed personnel, including specific mention of U.S.-Mexico border threats. CBP has also increased coordination and intelligence sharing with Mexican contacts through the Mexican Liaison Units on the southern borders. CBP's Office of Border Patrol is currently working closely with these units in response to information received and ongoing joint operations.

In conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE's) Anti-Smuggling Units and CBP's Office of Intelligence, CBP's Office of Border Patrol focuses its intelligence and surveillance operations on known smuggling operations that have previously trafficked aliens from significant interest countries, and develop operations to target and disrupt these especially high-interest smuggling activities.

CBP provides referrals for criminal prosecutions for aliens possessing fraudulent documents, making false statements, or committing other immigration violations, where there is a suspicion of a connection of terrorism or other national security interest. Works with the FBI and ICE to improve response and feedback to border interdictions that involve individuals that potentially pose a risk for terrorism.

CBP uses two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to support the Arizona Border Control Initiative.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reassigned 200 CBP Border Patrol Agents to the high-threat smuggling corridors of the Arizona-Mexico border. CBP is continuing deployments of special units including the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, Special Response Teams, and the Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue Team in these areas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will maintain and expand coordinated, heightened security efforts under the Arizona Border Control Initiative (ABCI) to establish operational control over the weakest and most vulnerable area of our southwest border where more than 40 percent of illegal aliens are apprehended.

Conducts increased inspections of rail, truck and air cargo identified through CBP's Automated Targeting System to ensure that all high-risk cargo is subject to further examination. In addition, CBP is increasing the number of examinations utilizing large-scale non-intrusive inspection systems.

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection is addressing the terrorist threat 24 hours a day. We have a multi-layered approach that encompasses working with our foreign counterparts, employing intelligence, technology, advanced information in the field and the most professional and dedicated law enforcement workforce worldwide," Commissioner Bonner said. "We are aware of the terrorist threat and are evolving hourly to face it and keep America safe."

(end fact sheet)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

This page printed from: http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2004&m=August&x=20040823170937GLnesnoM0.2022669&t=livefeeds/wf-latest.html

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