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Written testimony of CBP for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing titled “Stopping the Shipment of Synthetic Opioids: Oversight of U.S. Strategy to Combat Illicit Drugs”

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: May 25, 2017

342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Chairman Portman, Ranking Member Carper, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the role of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in combating the flow of dangerous synthetic opioids, particularly illicit fentanyl, into the United States.

Since 2014, there has been an escalation of fentanyl use in the United States. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that depresses the central nervous system and respiratory function to alleviate pain without the loss of consciousness. In its pure powder form, fentanyl is approximately 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. At first glance, it is often mistaken for other drugs which appear as white powders such as cocaine or heroin.

As America’s unified border agency, CBP plays a critical role in the Nation’s efforts to keep dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl out of the hands of the American public. Interdicting drugs at and in between our Ports of Entry (POEs), leveraging targeting and intelligence-driven strategies, and working with our partners to combat Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) are key components of our multi-layered, risk-based approach to enhance the security of our borders. This layered approach reduces our reliance on any single point or program, and extends our zone of security outward ensuring our physical border is not the first or last line of defense, but one of several.

Fentanyl Trends, Interdictions, and Challenges

Interdicting illicit drugs, particularly synthetic opioids, is both challenging and complex. The majority of U.S. trafficked illicit fentanyl is produced in other countries such as China, and is principally smuggled through international mail facilities, express consignment carrier facilities (e.g., FedEx and UPS), or through POEs along the Southern land border.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, CBP officers and agents seized or disrupted more than 3.3 million pounds of narcotics across the country1 including approximately 46,000 pounds of methamphetamine and approximately 4,800 pounds of heroin. CBP seizures of fentanyl remain relatively small compared to heroin, but have significantly increased over the past three years, from approximately 2 pounds seized in FY 2013 to approximately 440 pounds seized in FY 2016. Fentanyl is the most frequently seized illicit synthetic opioid, but CBP has also encountered various types of fentanyl analogues.2

Fentanyl is also smuggled into the United States from China and other countries. DTOs and individuals purchase powdered fentanyl online and can access open source and dark web marketplaces for the tools needed for manufacturing. Fentanyl, pill presses and binding agents are then shipped into the United States primarily using the U.S. Mail or express consignment couriers, such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL. We assess these transactions made over both the open and dark webs and comprised of smaller quantities of fentanyl (less than 1 kilogram) will likely continue in FY 2017. Based on increased flow and improved detection capabilities, CBP anticipates that both heroin and fentanyl seizures will rise over FY 2017.

U.S. law enforcement suspects that there are also some clandestine fentanyl production labs present in Mexico that likely obtain production chemicals from China. Heroin is often spiked with fentanyl to increase drug potency, or fentanyl is mixed with adulterants and sold as “synthetic heroin.” This practice stretches the product of DTOs, increasing profits. The practice also increases the safety risk to heroin users, who are sold heroin of unpredictable strengths and compositions. Additionally, mixtures are primarily exploited on the Southwest Border, making it more challenging for CBP to pinpoint exactly how much fentanyl is seized at the border.

In the mail and express consignment environments, DTOs and individual purchasers move fentanyl in small quantities to try to evade detection. CBP operates within nine major International Mail Facilities (IMF) inspecting international mail arriving from more than 180 countries, but is challenged in interdicting fentanyl and other synthetic drugs by a lack of advanced manifest data which would aid in targeting shipments, and challenged by the sheer volume of mail and the hazardous nature of various types of synthetic drugs. Due to the lack of advance data, the processing of inbound international mail is primarily manual, requiring CBP Officers to sort through large bags or bins of parcels. This manual process, again coupled with the tremendous volume of inbound mail to the United States, creates a daunting task for CBP.

Despite these challenges in the mail environment, CBP officers continue to utilize experience and trained intuition to target suspect packages for inspection. On April 20, 2017, CBP Officers working at the IMF in Chicago, Illinois intercepted a package from China destined for LaFayette, Indiana that was not manifested and had no declared value. CBP Officers selected the package for further examination due to prior seizures utilizing similar packaging. A physical examination of the package revealed 2.27 pounds of a fentanyl analogue.

In the land border environment, CBP uses the same drug-interdiction methodology to seize fentanyl arriving from Mexico as it uses to detect other illicit drugs. However, the detection of fentanyl remains challenging due to limited field testing capabilities and the myriad of fentanyl analogues on the market. Just as the illicit drug manufacturers seek to outpace the law with new drug analogues, new drug analogues can come and go faster than the canine training needed to detect these emerging drugs. Currently, all suspect substances must be sent to CBP’s Laboratories and Scientific Services Directorate (LSSD) for identification.

1 FY 2016 Border Security Report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2016-Dec/CBP-fy2016-border-security-report.pdf
2 These include: acetylfentanyl, butyrylfentanyl, beta-hydroxythiofentanyl, para-fluorobutyrylfentanyl, pentanoylfentanyl, alpha-methyl acetylfentanyl, para-fluoroisobutyrylfentanyl, para-fluorofentanyl, carfentanil, furanylfentanyl, and most recently benzodioxolefentanyl, acrylfentanyl, and methoxyacetylfentanyl.

 

CBP Resources and Capabilities to Detect, Target and Interdict Fentanyl

CBP, with the support of Congress, has made significant investments and improvements in our drug detection technology and targeting capabilities. These resources, along with enhanced information sharing and partnerships, are critical components of CBP’s ability to identify and deter the entry of dangerous illicit drugs in all operational environments.

CBP’s National Targeting Center (NTC)

Global trade and travel continue to increase in pace and threats to the United States and our allies continue to evolve. Adversaries are always attempting to exploit vulnerabilities in global travel and supply chains. The NTC is the entity within CBP where advance data and access to law enforcement and intelligence records converge to facilitate the targeting of those travelers and items of cargo which pose the highest risk to our security. The NTC employs a layered enforcement strategy taking in large amounts of data, and using sophisticated targeting tools and subject matter expertise to analyze, assess, and segment risk at every stage in the trade and travel life cycles. As the focal point of that strategy, the NTC leverages classified, law enforcement, commercial, and open-source information in unique, proactive ways to identify high-risk travelers and shipments at the earliest possible point prior to arrival in the United States.

CBP’s NTC – Cargo (NTC-C) Narcotics Targeting team addresses illicit narcotics smuggling on a global scale through an aggressive targeting and analysis program, identifying narcotics smuggling schemes in all modes of inbound transportation. NTC-C has the lead role for CBP of identifying global trends and patterns in the narcotics trade and in responding accordingly. NTC-C narcotics analysts have identified numerous smuggling trends and combatted DTOs by successfully identifying shipments of drugs, pill presses, and precursor chemicals.3

To bolster its targeting mission, the dedicated men and women of the NTC collaborate with critical partners on a daily basis including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, other members of the Intelligence Community, and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). Moreover, NTC works in close coordination with several pertinent taskforces including the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, and the Joint Interagency Task Force-West, as well as the Department’s Joint Task Force-West and Joint Task Force–Investigations.

Non-Intrusive Inspection Equipment

CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) utilizes technology, such as non-intrusive inspection (NII) x-ray and gamma ray imaging systems, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) equipment to detect the illegal transit of synthetic drugs hidden on people, in cargo containers, and in other conveyances entering through POEs, and at international mail and express consignment carrier facilities. Since September 11, 2001, NII technology has been a cornerstone of the CBP multi-layered enforcement strategy. As of May 1, 2017, 304 Large-Scale (LS) NII systems are deployed to, and in between, our POEs. In FY 2016, LS-NII systems were used to conduct more than 6.5 million examinations resulting in more than 2,600 seizures and over 163,128 kilograms (359,636 pounds) of seized narcotics.4

Laboratory Testing

Due to the risk of unintentional exposure and subsequent hazardous drug absorption and/or inhalation, the testing for the presence of fentanyl is best executed in a laboratory by trained scientists and technicians. Expedited analysis can have a turnaround time of a day or two; however, the turnaround time for non-expedited samples can take up to two months.5 LSSD has adequate laboratory technology and resources to test for fentanyl and its analogues. CBP’s most effective means of performing fentanyl detection in the field is its triage program which is deployed at the IMFs and Express Courier Consignment Facilities (ECCF). The triage program utilizes ruggedized FTIR equipment whose data is transmitted to scientific personnel to provide presumptive results within one business day. LSSD is working to expand the field testing program, along with the scientific assets and personnel who are able to provide real time chemical composition determinations.6

The composition and size smuggled packages seized at the Land Ports of Entry (LPOE) are different than those at the ECCFs and IMFs. The narcotics seized at the IMFs and ECCFs usually have a purity of greater than 90 percent, while the purity of seizures along the Southwest border average around 7 percent controlled substance content due to DTO’s practice of mixing fentanyl with other substances. Additionally, DTOs continually adjust their operations to circumvent detection and interdiction by law enforcement, quickly taking advantage of technological and scientific advancements and improving fabrication and concealment techniques. Smugglers use a wide variety of tactics and techniques for concealing drugs. CBP Officers regularly find drugs concealed in body cavities, taped to bodies (body carriers), hidden inside vehicle seat cushions, gas tanks, dash boards, tires, packaged food, household and hygiene products, in checked luggage, and concealed in construction materials on commercial trucks.

Accordingly, different techniques and instrumentation are used to detect illicit drugs at the different venues. At the IMFs and ECCFs, the data is transmitted to LSSD for interpretation, without the instrument providing an analysis directly to the officer, while at the LPOEs, the instruments provides a read out to the officer and agents. The low purities of fentanyl found along the Southwest border, the detection limits of the instruments, and the instrument’s ability to correctly interpret chemical spectra at these low levels, all add to the difficulty of detecting fentanyl in this environment.

Canines

Canine operations are an invaluable component of CBP’s counternarcotic operations. CBP deploys approximately 1,227 Concealed Human and Narcotic Detection Canine teams at and between our Nation’s POEs. Synthetic opioids present unique challenges to canine teams due to the potency of the drug and the associated danger to the health and safety of the canines and their handlers. Thus, CBP’s LSSD has been conducting special research to determine the detection and identification of signature odor profiles for fentanyl compounds. The relevant CBP components are working together to conduct a pilot course to assess the feasibility of safely and effectively adding fentanyl as a trained odor to OFO’s deployed narcotic detection canine teams. The project will continue through the remainder of FY 2017, with evaluations conducted at scheduled benchmarks.

3 The two main materials that are used to produce fentanyl, NPP and ANPP, are federally regulated. However, other precursor chemicals used to produce fentanyl are currently non-regulated and have legitimate uses. CBP has the authority to seize precursors if they can be identified as having illicit end-uses, including the production of illicit drugs. CBP targets precursor chemicals transiting the United States with destinations to Mexico and other countries. When these shipments are identified through interagency collaboration as having illicit end-uses, the shipments are offloaded for further inspection and enforcement action by external agencies such as the DEA and ICE-HSI.
In addition to targeting illicit substances directly, CBP also targets related equipment such as pill presses and tablet machines. DEA regulates pill press/tablet machines. Additionally there is an ICE Diversion Coordinator assigned to the DEA Special Operations Division (SOD) who oversees the investigations of pill press/tablet machine imports being diverted for illicit uses. The Diversion Coordinator works closely with the NTC to identify and target individuals importing and diverting pill press/tablet machines to produce fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. In FY 2014, 24 pill press/tablet machines were seized by CBP, and the number increased to 51 in FY 2015 and 58 in FY 2016.
4 Recent specific examples include: On May 8, 2017, CBP Officers at the Port of San Ysidro, California, discovered 23.99 pounds of fentanyl and 23.90 pounds of methamphetamine concealed in the spare tire of a privately owned vehicle. On April 26, 2017, CBP Officers at the Port of Nogales, Arizona, seized 23.15 pounds of fentanyl concealed within the dashboard of a privately owned vehicle.
5 Routine samples are treated as non-expedited. Samples that are treated as expedited are samples that are destined for controlled deliveries, have an impending court date, person or persons under arrest or detention, or generally having a very good reason to be placed in the front of the line.
6 LSSD has provided reachback on 5,299 submissions during FY 2015, and 8,384 submissions for FY 2016. Since the inception of the program, LSSD has triaged 20,158 submissions within a business day and has generated many controlled deliveries because of the rapid turnaround.

 

Advance Information, Targeting, and Information Sharing

Substantive and timely information sharing is critical in targeting and interdicting shipments as well as individuals who move drugs and illicit merchandise from the POEs to their destinations throughout the United States. CBP contributes to the whole-of-government effort to identify and disrupt sophisticated routes and networks used by DTOs for the smuggling of illicit drugs by sharing critical information on individuals and cargo with investigative and intelligence partner agencies.

An important element of CBP’s layered security strategy is obtaining advance information to help identify shipments that are potentially at a higher risk of containing contraband. Under the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act or SAFE Port Act of 2006, (Pub. L. No. 109-347), CBP has the legal authority to collect key air and maritime cargo data elements provided by air, sea, and land commercial transport companies (carriers) — including express consignment carriers and importers. This information is automatically fed into CBP’s Automated Targeting System, an intranet-based enforcement and decision support system that compares cargo and conveyance information against intelligence and other enforcement data.

CBP is working to implement the same effective module in the international mail environment. USPS receives mail from more than 180 countries, the vast majority of which arrives via commercial air or surface transportation. As discussed above, inbound international mail inspections are largely conducted by hand. The international mail system is not integrated and there are few opportunities for foreign postal administrations to provide advance manifest data to USPS (which may then be passed on to CBP).

Hence within the mail environment, CBP Officers must rely on intelligence, selectivity, risk management, and physical or X-ray examinations to carry out their enforcement mission. CBP and the USPS have been conducting an advance data pilot on express mail and e-packets from some countries. CBP and USPS continue to work together to improve this metric to meet both agencies’ performance expectations, and CBP continues to work with the USPS and the United Postal Union to address the issue of electronic advanced data.7

Because of the complex tracking used by express consignment carriers, when CBP identifies a high risk shipment in the express consignment environment, it has the ability to place an electronic hold and to notify the carriers that a particular parcel needs to be presented to CBP for inspection. The major international air shipping carriers have a tracking number system that allows them to pull these parcels for inspection when they are scanned into the computer system as arriving at their particular air hubs.

7 Per Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulation, international mail destined for the United States is considered air cargo and, as a result, is subject to all existing security controls. These security controls, which include screening for explosives and other unauthorized incendiaries items in accordance with TSA regulations and security program requirements, are applied outside the United States prior to transporting international mail on aircraft regulated by TSA. These requirements are not dependent on advance electronic manifest data, as provided by express consignment operators and other participants in the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) pilot program.
Upon arrival in the United States, all international mail requested for inspection by CBP is turned over to CBP by USPS. CBP screens all international mail for radiological threats, x-rays all international mail packages presented by USPS, and physically examines those deemed to be high-risk. Although this process is largely manual and labor intensive, CBP is able to identify items that pose a risk to homeland security and public safety while facilitating legitimate mail.

 

Operational Coordination

CBP works extensively with our Federal, state, local, tribal, and international partners and provides critical capabilities toward the whole-of-government approach to address drug trafficking and other transnational threats at POEs and along the Southwest border, Northern border, and coastal approaches. Our targeting, detection and interdiction efforts are enhanced through special joint operations and task forces conducted under the auspices of multi-agency enforcement teams. These teams are composed of representatives from international and Federal law enforcement agencies who work together with state, local, and tribal agencies to target drug and transnational criminal activity, including investigations involving national security and organized crime. We noted some of NTC’s key partnerships above, and of note as of April 2017, the NTC has two permanent USPIS employees working within the NTC narcotic targeting units under a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

CBP continues to collaborate and strengthen ties with investigative partners from the USPS, ICE, and DEA. CBP is sharing information with these agencies and conducting joint enforcement initiatives including intelligence-driven special operations designed to identify and disrupt drug smuggling at the border. CBP is also actively working with DEA’s Special Operations Division to link foreign synthetic drug mail shipments and suppliers to domestic distribution networks in furtherance of investigative cases and to identify new shipments.

For example, in January 2017, CBP Officers at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, International Mail Facility, partnered with ICE-HSI, DEA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch "Operation Mail Flex." This five-day joint operation targeted and interdicted illicit fentanyl and other opioids shipments that posed a health and safety risk to consumers. Operation Mail Flex focused on express consignment carrier packages originating in China and Hong Kong. This successful operation resulted in the seizure of 2.4 kilograms (5.31 pounds) of fentanyl and 134 other controlled substances. It also resulted in the seizure of 1,297 non-compliant imports and provided law enforcement officers with the opportunity to conduct eight controlled deliveries to unsuspecting drug smugglers.

DTOs are known to use legitimate commercial modes of travel and transport to smuggle drugs and other illicit goods. Therefore, CBP also partners with the private sector to provide anti-drug smuggling training to carriers to assist CBP with stopping the flow of illicit drugs; to deter smugglers from using commercial carriers to smuggle drugs; and to provide carriers with the incentive to improve their security and drug smuggling awareness. Participating carriers sign agreements stating that the carrier will exercise the highest degree of care and diligence in securing their facilities and conveyances, while CBP agrees to conduct site surveys, make recommendations, and provide training.

Officer Safety

Fentanyl presents a significant safety threat to CBP Officers. Explicit instructions, including to canine handlers, have been distributed to the field regarding the safe handling of fentanyl. Additionally, in response to the upsurge in the use of heroin (which is increasingly cut with fentanyl) across the nation and increased seizures at POEs, in October 2015, CBP completed Phase 1 of a pilot program to train and equip CBP Officers with naloxone, a potentially life-saving drug for the treatment of opioid overdoses. During Phase I, CBP Officers, at seven participating POEs8 received training in recognizing the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, administering naloxone, and were certified as CPR instructors. In February 2016, CBP initiated Phase 2 of the Naloxone Initiative Pilot Program, expanding the pilot to an additional eight POEs and deploying 602 dual-dose Narcan Nasal Spray® kits to the field.9 The naloxone program has also expanded to LSSD to help protect its scientists both in its main and satellite laboratories. CBP was the first Federal law enforcement agency to implement such a program.

8 Phase 1 Naloxone Pilot Program POEs include El Paso; Laredo; Fort Lauderdale International Airport; John K. Kennedy International Airport; San Luis: San Ysidro; and Seattle/Blaine.
9 Phase 2 Naloxone Pilot Program POEs include Miami Int’l/Miami Seaport; Boston; Buffalo; Detroit; Newark; Chicago; Houston Int’l/Houston Seaport; and Dallas.

 

Conclusion

With continued support from Congress, CBP, in coordination with our partners, will continue to refine and further enhance the effectiveness of our detection and interdiction capabilities to combat transnational threats and the entry of fentanyl and other dangerous synthetic drugs into the United States. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to improve the efficiency of information sharing, guide strategies, identify trafficking patterns and trends, develop tactics, and execute operations to address the challenges and threats posed by DTOs to the safety and security of the American people. CBP will continue to work with USPS and USPIS to improve interdiction in the mail environment through improved advanced data, and other security best practices at the nation’s International Mail Facilities.

Chairman Portman, Ranking Member Carper, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I look forward to your questions.

Topics:  Border Security Keywords:  drug interdiction, illicit drugs, opioids, Fentanyl

Written testimony of DHS Secretary Kelly for a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing titled “Review of the FY2018 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security”

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: May 25, 2017

138 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Chairman Boozman, Ranking Member Tester, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee:

It is a great honor and privilege to appear before you today to discuss the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) crucial missions of protecting the homeland and securing our borders.

The men and women of DHS are exceptional and dedicated professionals who work tirelessly in support of our mission to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values with honor and integrity. I am pleased to appear before you to present the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget request for the Department of Homeland Security.

The President’s Budget puts America first, and builds on DHS’s accomplishments over the past 14 years. It makes critical investments in people, technology, and infrastructure for border security and the enforcement of our immigration laws. It advances cybersecurity programs, strengthens our biometric identification programs, promotes the expansion of E-Verify, and supports our new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office. The Budget also sustains the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), our nation’s fifth service, to continue its important mission of ensuring maritime safety, security, and stewardship.

DHS is committed to the rule of law. Our men and women take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and uphold the laws of this great country against all enemies— foreign and domestic—and we get it done. We face diverse challenges and adversaries that do not respect the rule of law, or our borders. Our government must remain vigilant in detecting and preventing terrorist threats, including threats we face from “lone offenders,” who may be living in our communities and who are inspired by radical, violent ideology to do harm to Americans. I remain committed to tirelessly protect our country from threats, secure our borders, and enforce our laws—all while facilitating lawful trade and travel, and balancing the security of our nation with the protection of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

The President’s FY 2018 Budget requests $44.1 billion in net discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security. The President’s Budget also requests $7.4 billion to finance the cost of emergencies and major disasters in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Disaster Relief Fund.

In order to ensure we are stretching every one of these dollars, we are striving to further improve information sharing, collaboration, and transparency, all of which are essential to leveraging the full value of every dollar DHS receives. We are expanding our cooperation with State, local, tribal, territorial, and regional partner nations, particularly Canada and Mexico. These partnerships are critical to identifying, monitoring, and countering threats to U.S. national security and regional stability.

I am also working to improve transparency and information sharing across the DHS enterprise to build efficiencies into our intelligence processes. An example of this is my ongoing support of DHS’s Joint Task Forces, which link the authorities and capabilities of multiple DHS components in a unified approach that addresses emerging and priority threats to our nation. The magnitude, scope, and complexity of the challenges we face— including illegal immigration, transnational crime, human smuggling and trafficking, and terrorism—demand an integrated counter-network approach.

Border security is a high priority, and involves protecting 7,000 miles of land border, approximately 95,000 miles of shoreline, and 328 ports of entry along with staffing numerous locations abroad. We appreciate the support Congress has provided to improve security at our borders and ports of entry. With that support, we have made great progress, but more work must be done.

The President’s Budget requests $1.6 billion for 32 miles of new border wall construction, 28 miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande, where apprehensions are the highest along the Southwest Border, and 14 miles of new border wall system that will replace existing secondary fence in the San Diego Sector, where a border wall system will deny access to drug trafficking organizations. The Budget also requests $976 million for high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology improvements for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Under the President’s Executive Order No. 13767, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, CBP is conducting risk assessments to the needs of frontline officers and agents that will be used to tailor an acquisition strategy going forward.

While technology, equipment, and physical barriers certainly help secure our borders, we also must have more boots on the ground. I remain committed to hiring and training new Border Patrol agents and commensurate support personnel as supported by the President’s Budget and Executive Order No. 13767. Let me be clear, we will maintain our standards, yet we will streamline hiring processes. This includes initiatives like waiving polygraph testing requirements for qualified Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers, as well as members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and members of the Reserves or the National Guard, as contemplated by legislation now pending before the Congress. On a broader scale, my Deputy Secretary, Elaine Duke, and I are working hard across DHS to attract, retain, and enhance career opportunities for our workforce.

Effective border security must be augmented by vigorous interior enforcement and the administration of our immigration laws in a manner that serves the national interest. As with any sovereign nation, we have a fundamental right and obligation to enforce our immigration laws in the interior of the United States—particularly against criminal aliens. We must have additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers to expand our enforcement efforts. The FY 2018 Budget requests over $7.5 billion in discretionary funding for ICE to support both the expansion of transnational criminal investigatory capacity within Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) as well as ERO’s expanded targeted enforcement activities, including increases for more than 51,000 detention beds to accommodate expected increases in interior arrests of criminal and fugitive aliens, associated transportation and removal costs, and an estimated 79,000 participants in ICE’s Alternatives to Detention Program contract. Included in the request is $185.9 million to hire more than 1,600 additional ICE ERO officers, HSI agents, and support personnel.

Detaining illegal aliens, and deporting them to their countries of origin, does not address the needs of members of our public who have been the targets of their crimes. For this reason, the Budget also requests an additional $1 million to enhance the current operations of DHS’s new VOICE Office, which supports victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens. As I have noted before, all crime is terrible, but these victims are unique because they are casualties of crimes that should never have taken place. The people who victimized them should not have been in this country in the first place.

To protect the American people, we must continue to improve our identification verification and vetting processes.

E-Verify is currently a voluntary program administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that deserves more of our attention. Through E-Verify, our nation’s employers verify the employment eligibility of their employees after they are hired, which in turn helps protect American workers from unfair competition. The President’s Budget requests $131.5 million for E-Verify operations, which includes an additional $15.2 million for expansion of the program to support the mandatory use of E-Verify nationwide within three years—should Congress provide the authority to do so. We appreciate the continued support of Congress for this program.

Biometrics is another critical DHS identification and verification initiative, and I am committed to the pursuit of robust capabilities in this area. The Budget requests $354 million to support biometric initiatives. We continue to make progress on the Biometric Entry-Exit System, with the goal of making air travel more secure, convenient, and easier.

The threat to aviation security remains high, and criminals and terrorists continue to target airlines and airports. We must continue to improve how we screen the belongings of travelers and cargo. We are in the business of protecting lives, and improved screening technologies coupled with additional Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Officers working security functions at the checkpoints, will help us deter, detect, disrupt, and prevent threats to aviation security. DHS continues to prioritize explosives screening, threat assessments, and detection capabilities, and the President’s Budget includes $77.0 million for research and development in this area. The Budget also includes $277.2 million for checked baggage screening and explosives detection equipment.

Currently, TSA Officers screen more than two million passengers and their belongings each day, and this number is growing. Additional TSA Officers must be deployed to airport checkpoints to meet the increasing volume of travelers. The President’s Budget offers a sound, two-part approach to meeting this challenge. First, the Budget proposes a much-needed increase in TSA passenger fees—only one dollar, changing the fee from $5.60 to $6.60, for each one-way trip. While Congress previously denied this increase, Congress must act now in order for TSA to continue to meet its mission to protect our nation from ever evolving security threats.

Second, the Budget proposes that TSA cease staffing airport exit lanes, which will enable placement of an additional 629 TSA Officers at the checkpoints. This solution reflects risk-based analysis; TSA Officers are specially trained to ensure no metallic or non-metallic threat items make it onboard planes. Their security screening skills and expertise are not being put to good use while staffing airport exit lanes, and this is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The President also requests $8.4 billion in operating expenses and recapitalization costs for USCG to promote maritime safety and security. Increases to Coast Guard’s operating budget will ensure the agency keeps parity with the pay and benefits increases provided to the other armed services. Additionally, the Budget funds the crewing and maintenance requirements for all new ships and aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2018. Within the $1.2 billion request for Coast Guard’s acquisition programs, $500 million is provided to contract for the Coast Guard’s first Offshore Patrol Cutter and long lead time material for the second OPC.

In addition to our physical security and protection activities, we must continue efforts to address the growing cyber threat, illustrated by the real, pervasive, and ongoing series of attacks on public and private infrastructure and networks. The FY 2018 Budget includes approximately $971.3 million for the National Protection and Programs Directorate’s cybersecurity activities, including $397 million for continued deployment and enhancements for EINSTEIN, which enables DHS to detect and prevent malicious traffic from harming Federal civilian government networks. It also provides $279 million for our Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation Program to provide hardware, software, and services to strengthen the security of Federal civilian “.gov” networks.

DHS also must be vigilant in preparing for and responding to disasters, including floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other disasters. The FY 2018 President’s Budget reflects FEMA’s efficient use of taxpayer dollars to improve the nation’s resilience from disasters. FEMA will prioritize programs that contribute most significantly to its emergency management mission, streamline business processes, harness innovative technologies, and better utilize public and private sector partnerships. The President’s Budget requests $7.4 billion to support disaster resilience, response, and recovery, primarily through the Disaster Relief Fund.

The Budget provides $1.9 billion for FEMA’s grant programs that support State, local, territorial, and tribal governments to improve their security and resilience posture against risks associated with man-made and natural disasters. It represents a continued investment in State and local preparedness while spending taxpayer dollars on programs that make the most difference. The Budget also proposes a 25 percent non-Federal cost-share for those preparedness grants that do not currently have a cost-share requirement. By using a cost-sharing approach, Federal dollars are spent on activities that our non-Federal partners themselves would invest in, providing clear results in priority areas.

In addition to protecting our nation’s financial infrastructure, under the leadership of our new Director Tex Alles, the men and women of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) protect our nation’s highest elected leaders, visiting foreign dignitaries, facilities, and major events. Using advanced countermeasures, USSS conducts operations to deter, minimize, and decisively respond to identified threats and vulnerabilities. The President’s Budget includes $1.9 billion to support USSS’s missions, including investment in of advanced technologies and task force partnerships to enforce counterfeiting laws, and safeguard the payment and financial systems of the United States from financial and computer-based crimes. The funding also supports 7,150 positions – the highest staffing levels since 2011, and includes Presidential protection in New York and much-needed enhancement of technology used to protect the White House.

In closing, the challenges facing DHS and our nation are considerable. We have outstanding men and women working at DHS who are committed to protecting our homeland and the American people. The President’s FY 2018 Budget request recognizes our current fiscal realities, as well as the serious and evolving threats and dangers our nation faces each day. You have my commitment to work tirelessly to ensure that the men and women of DHS are empowered to do their jobs.

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of DHS. I remain committed to working with Congress, and look forward to forging a strong and productive relationship to prevent and combat threats to our nation.

I am pleased to answer any questions.

Topics:  DHS Enterprise Keywords:  FY 2018 Budget Request

TSA Ensures Security Preparedness for High Summer Travel Volume

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 10:49
Release Date: May 24, 2017

For Immediate Release
TSA Public Affairs
Contact: 571-227-2829

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration is preparing for the start of the summer travel period, typically marked by the Memorial Day holiday weekend and continuing through Labor Day. Record numbers of passengers are expected at airports this summer, with peak travel periods occurring in June and July, including the July 4th weekend. During the busiest days of the summer, TSA will screen more than 2.5 million passengers per day.

Through the TSA Airport Operations Center and in coordination with airport and airline partners, TSA aims to maintain effective and efficient security operations at checkpoints nationwide during the busy travel season. The center tracks daily screening operations, rapidly addresses any issues that arise, and deploys personnel, canine teams and technology where needed. This summer, 50 more passenger canine teams will be in use compared to last summer, and 2,000 more TSA officers will be working this year compared to last year.

“As we approach the summer break, securing the travel of millions of passengers daily remains our top priority,” said TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowadia. “It is well known that terrorists continue to focus on aviation, which is why TSA continues to focus on providing robust security screening. TSA takes many security measures, seen and unseen, while working closely with industry partners such as airlines and airports to enhance the traveling experience and ensure every passenger arrives to their destination safely.”

“TSA is tasked with a complex, critical security mission that can only be accomplished through close collaboration with stakeholders and partners. We will not compromise our security mission of protecting air travelers as we face an evolving threat by a determined enemy,” she said.

Additionally, TSA continues to team up with vendors and airlines, for instance, to develop and deploy innovative technologies at airports. Automated screening lanes offer several features designed to improve the screening of travelers this summer by allowing travelers to move more swiftly and efficiently through checkpoints. Fifty automated screening lanes are currently in operation at Newark Liberty International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and more are expected to become operational in the coming months. These lanes are state-of-the-art in advancing security effectiveness, increasing efficiency, and improving the passenger experience.

With the increased volume during summer travel, delays at the airport may occur. Travelers can enhance their travel experience through the airport by arriving early. Passengers should expect that there may be delays for traffic, parking, rental car returns and airline check-in. Preparedness can have a significant impact on efficiency at security checkpoints nationwide, so travelers should arrive up to two hours in advance of their flight departure time for domestic travel and three hours for international flights when flying out of the nation’s busiest airports.

Some helpful tools and travel tips for the airport security checkpoint include:

  • Apply for TSA Pre✓® or other trusted travel programs like Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI. These programs help improve security and provide a more convenient travel experience by affording travelers access to TSA Pre✓®expedited screening lanes. Travelers using the TSA Pre✓® lane do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets at more than 180 U.S. airports. To find the program that best suits your travel needs, use the DHS trusted traveler comparison tool.
  • Tweet or Message AskTSA. Issues receiving TSA Pre✓® on your boarding pass? Unsure if an item is allowed through security? Get live assistance by tweeting your questions and comments to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also reach the Contact Center at 866-289-9673.
  • Prepare for security. Avoid over packing your carry-on bag and consider checking bags when feasible. Remember to have a valid ID and boarding pass readily available. If you are traveling abroad, be aware of the recent changes to international travel carry-on items. Also read the FAQ or fact sheet about upcoming REAL ID requirements.
  • Follow the liquids rule. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and all containers must fit inside a single quart-size plastic bag and be placed in a bin for carry-on baggage screening. This includes sun block and tanning lotions.
  • Call TSA Cares. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as arrange for assistance at the checkpoint. 

As a reminder, public awareness is key for supporting TSA’s security efforts. Travelers are encouraged to report suspicious activities, and remember, If You See Something, Say Something™. For individuals traveling abroad, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Know Before You Go page to learn about required documentation. 

For further information about TSA procedures and other trusted traveler programs, read the frequently asked questions, watch TSA’s travel tips videos and visit DHS's new Trusted Traveler Comparison Tool.

### Topics:  Transportation Security, Trusted Traveler Programs Keywords:  TSA, TSA PreCheck, Trusted Traveler, Trusted Traveler Comparison Tool

Written testimony of DHS Secretary John F. Kelly for a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing regarding the DHS FY 2018 Budget Request

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: May 24, 2017

2358-A Rayburn House Office Building

Chairman Carter, Ranking Member Roybal-Allard, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee:

It is a great honor and privilege to appear before you today to discuss the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) crucial missions of protecting the homeland and securing our borders.

The men and women of DHS are exceptional and dedicated professionals who work tirelessly in support of our mission to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values with honor and integrity. I am pleased to appear before you to present the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget request for the Department of Homeland Security.

The President’s Budget puts America first, and builds on DHS’s accomplishments over the past 14 years. It makes critical investments in people, technology, and infrastructure for border security and the enforcement of our immigration laws. It advances cybersecurity programs, strengthens our biometric identification programs, promotes the expansion of E-Verify, and supports our new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office. The Budget also sustains the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), our nation’s fifth service, to continue its important mission of ensuring maritime safety, security, and stewardship.

DHS is committed to the rule of law. Our men and women take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and uphold the laws of this great country against all enemies— foreign and domestic—and we get it done. We face diverse challenges and adversaries that do not respect the rule of law, or our borders. Our government must remain vigilant in detecting and preventing terrorist threats, including threats we face from “lone offenders,” who may be living in our communities and who are inspired by radical, violent ideology to do harm to Americans. I remain committed to tirelessly protect our country from threats, secure our borders, and enforce our laws—all while facilitating lawful trade and travel, and balancing the security of our nation with the protection of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

The President’s FY 2018 Budget requests $44.1 billion in net discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security. The President’s Budget also requests $7.4 billion to finance the cost of emergencies and major disasters in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Disaster Relief Fund.

In order to ensure we are stretching every one of these dollars, we are striving to further improve information sharing, collaboration, and transparency, all of which are essential to leveraging the full value of every dollar DHS receives. We are expanding our cooperation with State, local, tribal, territorial, and regional partner nations, particularly Canada and Mexico. These partnerships are critical to identifying, monitoring, and countering threats to U.S. national security and regional stability.

I am also working to improve transparency and information sharing across the DHS enterprise to build efficiencies into our intelligence processes. An example of this is my ongoing support of DHS’s Joint Task Forces, which link the authorities and capabilities of multiple DHS components in a unified approach that addresses emerging and priority threats to our nation. The magnitude, scope, and complexity of the challenges we face— including illegal immigration, transnational crime, human smuggling and trafficking, and terrorism—demand an integrated counter-network approach.

Border security is a high priority, and involves protecting 7,000 miles of land border, approximately 95,000 miles of shoreline, and 328 ports of entry along with staffing numerous locations abroad. We appreciate the support Congress has provided to improve security at our borders and ports of entry. With that support, we have made great progress, but more work must be done.

The President’s Budget requests $1.6 billion for 32 miles of new border wall construction, 28 miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande, where apprehensions are the highest along the Southwest Border, and 14 miles of new border wall system that will replace existing secondary fence in the San Diego Sector, where a border wall system will deny access to drug trafficking organizations. The Budget also requests $976 million for high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology improvements for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Under the President’s Executive Order No. 13767, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, CBP is conducting risk assessments to the needs of frontline officers and agents that will be used to tailor an acquisition strategy going forward.

While technology, equipment, and physical barriers certainly help secure our borders, we also must have more boots on the ground. I remain committed to hiring and training new Border Patrol agents and commensurate support personnel as supported by the President’s Budget and Executive Order No. 13767. Let me be clear, we will maintain our standards, yet we will streamline hiring processes. This includes initiatives like waiving polygraph testing requirements for qualified Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers, as well as members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and members of the Reserves or the National Guard, as contemplated by legislation now pending before the Congress. On a broader scale, my Deputy Secretary, Elaine Duke, and I are working hard across DHS to attract, retain, and enhance career opportunities for our workforce.

Effective border security must be augmented by vigorous interior enforcement and the administration of our immigration laws in a manner that serves the national interest. As with any sovereign nation, we have a fundamental right and obligation to enforce our immigration laws in the interior of the United States—particularly against criminal aliens. We must have additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers to expand our enforcement efforts. The FY 2018 Budget requests over $7.5 billion in discretionary funding for ICE to support both the expansion of transnational criminal investigatory capacity within Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) as well as ERO’s expanded targeted enforcement activities, including increases for more than 51,000 detention beds to accommodate expected increases in interior arrests of criminal and fugitive aliens, associated transportation and removal costs, and an estimated 79,000 participants in ICE’s Alternatives to Detention Program contract. Included in the request is $185.9 million to hire more than 1,600 additional ICE ERO officers, HSI agents, and support personnel.

Detaining illegal aliens, and deporting them to their countries of origin, does not address the needs of members of our public who have been the targets of their crimes. For this reason, the Budget also requests an additional $1 million to enhance the current operations of DHS’s new VOICE Office, which supports victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens. As I have noted before, all crime is terrible, but these victims are unique because they are casualties of crimes that should never have taken place. The people who victimized them should not have been in this country in the first place.

To protect the American people, we must continue to improve our identification verification and vetting processes.

E-Verify is currently a voluntary program administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that deserves more of our attention. Through E-Verify, our nation’s employers verify the employment eligibility of their employees after they are hired, which in turn helps protect American workers from unfair competition. The President’s Budget requests $131.5 million for E-Verify operations, which includes an additional $15.2 million for expansion of the program to support the mandatory use of E-Verify nationwide within three years—should Congress provide the authority to do so. We appreciate the continued support of Congress for this program.

Biometrics is another critical DHS identification and verification initiative, and I am committed to the pursuit of robust capabilities in this area. The Budget requests $354 million to support biometric initiatives. We continue to make progress on the Biometric Entry-Exit System, with the goal of making air travel more secure, convenient, and easier.

The threat to aviation security remains high, and criminals and terrorists continue to target airlines and airports. We must continue to improve how we screen the belongings of travelers and cargo. We are in the business of protecting lives, and improved screening technologies coupled with additional Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Officers working security functions at the checkpoints, will help us deter, detect, disrupt, and prevent threats to aviation security. DHS continues to prioritize explosives screening, threat assessments, and detection capabilities, and the President’s Budget includes $77.0 million for research and development in this area. The Budget also includes $277.2 million for checked baggage screening and explosives detection equipment.

Currently, TSA Officers screen more than two million passengers and their belongings each day, and this number is growing. Additional TSA Officers must be deployed to airport checkpoints to meet the increasing volume of travelers. The President’s Budget offers a sound, two-part approach to meeting this challenge. First, the Budget proposes a much-needed increase in TSA passenger fees—only one dollar, changing the fee from $5.60 to $6.60, for each one-way trip. While Congress previously denied this increase, Congress must act now in order for TSA to continue to meet its mission to protect our nation from ever evolving security threats.

Second, the Budget proposes that TSA cease staffing airport exit lanes, which will enable placement of an additional 629 TSA Officers at the checkpoints. This solution reflects risk-based analysis; TSA Officers are specially trained to ensure no metallic or non-metallic threat items make it onboard planes. Their security screening skills and expertise are not being put to good use while staffing airport exit lanes, and this is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The President also requests $8.4 billion in operating expenses and recapitalization costs for USCG to promote maritime safety and security. Increases to Coast Guard’s operating budget will ensure the agency keeps parity with the pay and benefits increases provided to the other armed services. Additionally, the Budget funds the crewing and maintenance requirements for all new ships and aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2018. Within the $1.2 billion request for Coast Guard’s acquisition programs, $500 million is provided to contract for the Coast Guard’s first Offshore Patrol Cutter and long lead time material for the second OPC.

In addition to our physical security and protection activities, we must continue efforts to address the growing cyber threat, illustrated by the real, pervasive, and ongoing series of attacks on public and private infrastructure and networks. The FY 2018 Budget includes approximately $971.3 million for the National Protection and Programs Directorate’s cybersecurity activities, including $397 million for continued deployment and enhancements for EINSTEIN, which enables DHS to detect and prevent malicious traffic from harming Federal civilian government networks. It also provides $279 million for our Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation Program to provide hardware, software, and services to strengthen the security of Federal civilian “.gov” networks.

DHS also must be vigilant in preparing for and responding to disasters, including floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other disasters. The FY 2018 President’s Budget reflects FEMA’s efficient use of taxpayer dollars to improve the nation’s resilience from disasters. FEMA will prioritize programs that contribute most significantly to its emergency management mission, streamline business processes, harness innovative technologies, and better utilize public and private sector partnerships. The President’s Budget requests $7.4 billion to support disaster resilience, response, and recovery, primarily through the Disaster Relief Fund.

The Budget provides $1.9 billion for FEMA’s grant programs that support State, local, territorial, and tribal governments to improve their security and resilience posture against risks associated with man-made and natural disasters. It represents a continued investment in State and local preparedness while spending taxpayer dollars on programs that make the most difference. The Budget also proposes a 25 percent non-Federal cost-share for those preparedness grants that do not currently have a cost-share requirement. By using a cost-sharing approach, Federal dollars are spent on activities that our non-Federal partners themselves would invest in, providing clear results in priority areas.

In addition to protecting our nation’s financial infrastructure, under the leadership of our new Director Tex Alles, the men and women of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) protect our nation’s highest elected leaders, visiting foreign dignitaries, facilities, and major events. Using advanced countermeasures, USSS conducts operations to deter, minimize, and decisively respond to identified threats and vulnerabilities. The President’s Budget includes $1.9 billion to support USSS’s missions, including investment in of advanced technologies and task force partnerships to enforce counterfeiting laws, and safeguard the payment and financial systems of the United States from financial and computer-based crimes. The funding also supports 7,150 positions – the highest staffing levels since 2011, and includes Presidential protection in New York and much-needed enhancement of technology used to protect the White House.

In closing, the challenges facing DHS and our nation are considerable. We have outstanding men and women working at DHS who are committed to protecting our homeland and the American people. The President’s FY 2018 Budget request recognizes our current fiscal realities, as well as the serious and evolving threats and dangers our nation faces each day. You have my commitment to work tirelessly to ensure that the men and women of DHS are empowered to do their jobs.

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of DHS. I remain committed to working with Congress, and look forward to forging a strong and productive relationship to prevent and combat threats to our nation.

I am pleased to answer any questions.

Topics:  DHS Enterprise Keywords:  FY 2018 Budget Request

Adminstration's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request Advances DHS Operations

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 11:51
Release Date: May 23, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON—The president’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget proposal was delivered to Congress today, requesting $44.1 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a $2.8 billion, or 6.7 percent, increase over the FY 2017 annualized Continuing Resolution.

The budget funds the administration’s priorities and includes $4.5 billion for DHS to implement Executive Orders that strengthen border security, enhance enforcement of immigration laws, and ensure public safety in communities across the United States.

“The president’s budget prioritizes funding for programs that address our nation’s immediate security needs, and it supports the dedicated men and women of this Department as they execute DHS’s wide-ranging and critical missions,” said Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

The budget supports increased staffing for surging apprehension, enforcement, and deportation activities in the full enforcement of our immigration laws. It provides $2.7 billion for multi-layered border security, including targeted construction of a wall along the highest-risk areas of the southern border as well as increased staffing and the technology and equipment needed by our workforce on the frontlines. In support of increased enforcement initiatives, the budget provides approximately $1.7 billion for additional law enforcement and support staff, detention beds, transportation and removal costs, and the Alternatives to Detention program. The budget also provides $354 million to support biometric initiatives to help accurately identify those individuals entering and leaving the United States and supports expansion of the E-Verify program. To secure our maritime borders and approaches, the budget sustains current funding levels for the U.S. Coast Guard, including $500 million in funding for the Coast Guard’s first Offshore Patrol Cutter.

As exemplified by the world-wide ransomware attack earlier this month, cybersecurity remains a critical mission for DHS and the budget provides $971 million in funding for both ongoing and new cybersecurity initiatives. The budget also makes key investments in explosives detection research and developments to enhance aviation security.

For more information, see the DHS FY 2018 Budget in Brief.

 

###

Keywords:  budget, Border Security, immigration enforcement, public safety

Written testimony of CBP for a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration hearing titled “Building America’s Trust Through Border Security: Progress on the Southern Border”

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: May 23, 2017

226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Chairman Cornyn, Ranking Member Durbin, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee: It is a great honor and privilege to appear before you today to discuss the crucial mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to protect the homeland and secure our Nation’s borders while facilitating lawful international travel and trade. As a Nation, control of our borders is paramount. Thanks to the support of Congress, during the past decade CBP has deployed more personnel, resources, technology, and tactical infrastructure to secure our borders than at any other time in history. And thanks to the hard work of the men and women of CBP, and the leadership of the President, the Secretary, and the Acting Commissioner, we are making significant progress towards securing our borders.

Executive Actions

As you know, since taking office, the President issued Executive Orders to secure our borders, enforce immigration laws, and keep Americans safe. The purpose of the orders on border security are to direct executive departments and agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure our Southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States, and to repatriate illegal aliens swiftly, consistently, and humanely.

The men and women of CBP work hard every day to secure our borders and keep our Nation safe. By providing tools and resources to support CBP’s dedicated men and women who are responsible for securing the border--to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism--these executive orders significantly enhanced our capacity to secure our southern border.

Stemming the Flow of Illegal Aliens

As a result of the Executive Orders issued by the President, and the implementing policies issued by the Secretary, as well as earlier policy changes and the significant investments we have made in border enforcement personnel, technology, and infrastructure, we are seeing a historic shift in illegal crossings along the Southwest border. Since January 2017, the number of illegal aliens we have apprehended on the Southwest border has drastically decreased, indicating a significant decrease in the number of aliens attempting to illegally enter the country. The number of illegal aliens apprehended in March 2017 was 30 percent lower than February apprehensions and 64 percent lower than the same time last year.

Push factors creating a demand for both legal and illegal immigration to the United States remain fairly constant for Latin America populations and Eastern Hemisphere populations. However, we have seen indications that individuals’ perception of their ability to remain in the United States after illegal entry has been affected by recent policy changes. Individuals who might seek to enter the country through unlawful channels do not want to invest significant resources only to be turned around at the border or removed soon after they arrive in the United States.

We have shown that we are serious about border security and enforcing our immigration laws. We have focused on apprehending, prosecuting and convicting the traffickers, or “coyotes,” themselves. We have significantly increased the issuance of detainers for removal. We will continue to expand our approach to include the prosecution of anyone—including family members—who pays human traffickers, especially when it involves children under the age of 18.

We have seen a dramatic decrease in the human smuggling of Cuban nationals since the end of the Cuban “wet foot, dry foot” policy. Inadmissible Cuban nationals requesting asylum in the United States or claiming fear of return to their country, are now detained pending adjudication of their claim with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review. As a result, our Office of Air and Marine Operations (AMO) has seen a dramatic decrease in the smuggling of Cuban nationals throughout the Florida Straits in particular. This has resulted in a significant decrease in overall maritime apprehensions of illegal aliens. AMO’s Southeast Region apprehensions have decreased from 721 in the second quarter of Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 to 439 in the second quarter of FY 2017; a decrease of approximately 39 percent.

Following changes in DHS enforcement policy with respect to Haitian nationals and the resumption of routine removal flights to Haiti in September 2016, there has been a significant decrease in the number of Haitians encountered at the Southwest border. The number of Haitians deemed inadmissible at the Southwest border fell from more than 3,400 in October 2016 to fewer than 50 in April 2017.1 The resumption of repatriation flights is sending a clear message to the Haitians arriving in Tijuana and Mexicali that if you cross unlawfully into the United States and have no legitimate claim to asylum, you will be apprehended and returned to Haiti.

Recent reporting indicates human smuggling costs are rising, potentially due to a perception of increased risk by human smugglers or an attempt by smugglers to make up for lost revenue with fewer aliens attempting illegal travel. Aliens who persist despite policy changes will likely increasingly use alien smuggling organizations to either attempt to bypass border security or to procure fraudulent documents in an attempt to gain entry at the Ports of Entry (POEs). This is evident in the doubling of assaults against Border Patrol Agents compared to the same time last year. We are working with our partners throughout Latin America to provide continuous monitoring of this situation to provide early warning.

However, the end results are clear and positive: during FY 2016 over 415,816 illegal aliens from Central America and Mexico—including over 137,614 unaccompanied children and families—were apprehended on our Southwest border.2 While more than 16,000 family units were apprehended at the border in December of 2016, only 1,125 were apprehended in March of 2017. That means fewer women and children are making this dangerous journey. We will continue to do anything in our power, and within the law, to end this flow of illegal immigration.

1 Numbers pulled from CBP’s Southwest Border Inadmissibles by Field Office report https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/ofo-sw-border-inadmissibles
2 Numbers pulled from CBP’s FY 2016 Border Security Report: https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2016-Dec/CBP-fy2016-border-security-report.pdf

 

Securing Travel

In addition to CBP’s role in apprehending illegal aliens, last year CBP also inspected over 390 million arriving international travelers, of whom over 119 million flew into air POEs. That’s about 327,000 international air passengers each day.

Visitors make up about 50 percent of those arrival numbers, and they are generally split into two categories – visa and visa waiver. Visitors requiring a visa must apply at a U.S. Embassy overseas, and the Department of State (DOS) adjudicates, interviews, and fingerprints applicants. For Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers, CBP developed an on-line application process known as Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). These travelers must have an approved ESTA to board an aircraft destined for the United States from overseas, and CBP has built a verification system with the airlines to support this. CBP adjudicates ESTA applications against a series of law enforcement and intelligence databases. For the first half of this fiscal year, CBP has approved about 6.9 million ESTA applications and denied over 35,600. Of these denials about 1,050 were due to national security concerns.

Following the enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (Pub. L. No. 114-113), which included the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, CBP took several steps to apply the new VWP restrictions for individuals who, since March 1, 2011, have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen, and for individuals who are dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria. So far this fiscal year, CBP has denied ESTAs to about 13,000 travelers due to the travel-related restriction, and nearly 3,000 for dual nationality.

Once a visa or ESTA is issued, CBP’s National Targeting Center (NTC) conducts continuous vetting against a host of law enforcement and intelligence databases to ensure travelers remain eligible. If any issues arise, then CBP may revoke the ESTA authorization, or work directly with DOS to revoke a visa. For the first half of this fiscal year, over 1,800 visas have been revoked as a result of NTC vetting. Over 450 of these were due to national security concerns.

Once travel is actually booked, CBP conducts pre-departure vetting of all international passengers coming to the United States. By law, airlines are required to provide CBP with advance passenger manifest data and access to their reservation systems. CBP reviews this data along with previous crossing information, intelligence reports, and law enforcement databases to identify any potential risk factors.

When risk factors are identified, CBP has built several mechanisms to address those questions while the traveler is still overseas – Preclearance Operations, the Immigration Advisory Program (IAP)/Joint Security Program (JSP), and our Regional Carrier Liaison Groups.

CBP has 15 air preclearance locations in six countries. At these locations uniformed CBP Officers have the legal authorities to complete the same immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections of travelers as at domestic airports. This is our highest level of capability overseas. If found ineligible to travel to the United States at a preclearance location, CBP has authority to deny entry on foreign soil. In FY 2016, CBP Officers processed 18.3 million travelers for entry into the United States at international preclearance locations, totaling over 15 percent of travelers bound for the United States. Of this total, CBP prevented 6,451 inadmissible travelers from boarding flights bound for the United States, a figure that includes those with a possible national security risks.

Secondly, CBP has the IAP and the JSP. Through these programs, CBP has plain clothes Officers at major gateway airports in Western Europe, with a presence in Mexico, Central America, Asia and the Middle East as well. Using advance information from the NTC, IAP Officers work in partnership with host governments and the airlines to address any national security risks and immigration issues. If any concerns remain, CBP can issue a no-board recommendation to the air carrier, and refer the traveler back to the U.S. Embassy for a more thorough review of their status. Last fiscal year, IAP Officers recommended over 4,500 no-boards referrals to the airlines.

For foreign locations not covered by either preclearance or IAP, CBP leverages what are known as Regional Carrier Liaison Groups - located in Honolulu, Miami and New York. This is where CBP Officers contact the commercial airlines directly to advise them of travelers who are likely inadmissible from entering the United States, and recommend no boarding them and directing them to the U.S. Embassy. Last fiscal year, CBP Officers recommended over 9,700 no boards to the airlines.

It is critical to note that upon arrival in the United States, all persons are subject to inspection by CBP. The experience and intuition of each individual Officer is invaluable and this provides the final piece to the pre-arrival vetting and background checks. CBP Officers review travel documents, review the results of the pre-arrival vetting, collect biometrics if required, and then interview all travelers to determine purpose and intent of travel. If any questions remain as to a person’s admissibility, customs declaration, agriculture concerns, or any national security concerns, the person is referred for a secondary screening where CBP Officers or Agriculture Specialists have more time to complete the inspection.

CBP continuously strives to improve our vetting and intervention initiatives to identify and close security vulnerabilities. We remain closely engaged and coordinated with our federal counterparts, foreign governments, and the private sector.

The United States will always be a welcoming country, but we are also a country of laws, and the rule of law must be followed. CBP will continue to play a pivotal role in the enforcement of immigration laws and in keeping our country safe.

Narcotics Interdiction

Another key role played by CBP in securing our borders is the interdiction of narcotics. In FY 2016, CBP Officers and Agents seized and/or disrupted more than 3.3 million pounds of narcotics across the country3 including approximately 46,000 pounds of methamphetamine and 4,800 pounds of heroin. CBP heroin seizures by weight rose 43 percent from 1,913 kg in FY 2012 to 2,739 kg in FY 2015. CBP seizures of cocaine have remained steady between FY 2012 and FY 2016 averaging approximately 200,000 pounds of cocaine seized each fiscal year.

The majority of heroin seizures occur at the Southwest border: 82 percent of all CBP heroin seizures between FY 2012 and FY 2016. Mexico is the primary supplier of heroin to the United States, with Mexican DTOs cultivating opium poppies, producing heroin in Mexico and then smuggling the narcotic across the Southwest border into the United States. According to Intelligence Community reporting, the amount of potential pure heroin production in Mexico for Calendar Year (CY) 2016 is estimated to be 81 metric tons, a marked increase from the CY 2014 estimate of 42 metric tons. We assess that the Southwest border will continue to be the dominant entry point (by weight) for heroin entering the United States.

CBP seizures of fentanyl remain relatively small compared to heroin, but have significantly increased over the past three years, from approximately two pounds seized in FY 2013 to approximately 440 pounds seized in FY 2016. Fentanyl is the most frequently seized illicit synthetic opioid, but CBP has also encountered various types of fentanyl analogues.4

Illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are commonly mixed into white powder heroin, stretching the product of drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and increasing profits. Illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are also increasingly being sold alone, or pressed into counterfeit prescription pills and sold as commonly misused substances such as Norco (a form of hydrocodone) and Xanax (a benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drug). Many users are unaware they are purchasing heroin or pills laced with fentanyl or a fentanyl analogue, increasing the safety risk to users. When illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are combined with white powder heroin or other substances- which is what we encounter most often on our Southwest border- it becomes more challenging for CBP to pinpoint exactly how much fentanyl is seized at the border.

Fentanyl is also smuggled into the United States from China and other countries. . DTOs and individuals purchase powdered fentanyl online and can access open source and dark web marketplaces for the tools needed for manufacturing. Fentanyl, pill presses and binding agents are then shipped into the United States primarily using the U.S. Mail or express consignment couriers, such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL. We assess these transactions made over both the open and dark webs and comprised of smaller quantities of fentanyl (less than 1 kilogram) will likely continue in FY 2017. Based on increased flow and improved detection capabilities, CBP anticipates that both heroin and fentanyl seizures will rise over FY 2017.

To combat this threat to our Nation and the American people, CBP has deployed technology to identify synthetics at mail facilities and POEs along the Southern border, increasing our capability to identify fentanyl trafficking. We are actively leveraging our data holdings, unique authorities, and expertise on trade, travel and border security in order to develop collaborative relationships with foreign and domestic law enforcement agencies, U.S. Intelligence Community partners, and private sector and international partners to provide a fuller understanding of illicit, cross-border networks and their vulnerabilities.

This collaborative, counter-network approach provides intelligence-driven insights into key network-based national security threats that will inform, enhance, and support U.S. operational and intelligence activities against not just regional DTOs but also producers and shippers of illicit precursor chemicals in an effort to dismantle the entire network of actors who are involved in trafficking illicit narcotics to the United States.

3 FY 2016 Border Security Report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2016-Dec/CBP-fy2016-border-security-report.pdf
4 These include: acetylfentanyl, butyrylfentanyl, beta-hydroxythiofentanyl, para-fluorobutyrylfentanyl, pentanoylfentanyl, alpha-methyl acetylfentanyl, para-fluoroisobutyrylfentanyl, para-fluorofentanyl, carfentanil, furanylfentanyl, and most recently benzodioxolefentanyl, acrylfentanyl, and methoxyacetylfentanyl.

 

Border Technology

In addition to the crucial roles played by our law enforcement personnel and infrastructure, technology is a key multiplier in CBP’s efforts to secure our more than 5,000 miles of border with Canada, 1,900 miles of border with Mexico, and approximately 95,000 miles of shoreline.

CBP is committed to securing our borders and associated airspace and maritime approaches to prevent illegal entry of people and goods into the United States. The border environment in which CBP works is dynamic and requires continual adaptation to respond to emerging threats and changing conditions. DHS is seeking to take immediate steps to implement a full complement of solutions to meet border security requirements. CBP is committed to securing our Southern border with barriers, technology, and personnel.

Thanks to the support of Congress, CBP continues to deploy proven, effective technology to strengthen border security operations and compliment tactical infrastructure between the POEs in the land, air, and maritime environments. Tactical infrastructure, including physical barriers, has long been a critical component of CBP’s multi-layered and risk-based approach to securing our Southern border. Border barriers have enhanced – and will continue to enhance – CBP’s operational capabilities by creating persistent impedance, and facilitating the deterrence and prevention of successful illegal entries.

Investments which compliment physical barriers- including advanced detection capabilities such as surveillance systems, tethered and tactical aerostats, unmanned aircraft systems and ground sensors- will all which work in conjunction with improvements to tactical border infrastructure and increased manpower. By using these tools together as an integrated border security system,5 CBP is enhancing its ability to quickly detect, identify, and respond to illegal border crossings.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to border security technology acquisition. CBP’s Office of Acquisition works collaboratively with operational offices including the U.S. Border Patrol, (USBP), the Office of Field Operations (OFO), and AMO to develop requirements, test and evaluate technology, and deploy effective technology in support of CBP’s border security mission.

Fixed, Persistent Surveillance

With enhanced surveillance capabilities, CBP can improve its situational awareness remotely, direct a response team to the best interdiction location, and warn the team of any additional danger otherwise unknown along the way. As a result, these investments increase CBP’s visibility on the border, operational capabilities, and the safety of frontline law enforcement personnel. For example, fixed systems provide line-of-sight surveillance coverage to efficiently detect incursions in flat terrain. The USBP integrates mobile and portable systems to address areas where rugged terrain and dense ground cover may allow adversaries to penetrate through blind spots or avoid the coverage areas of fixed systems.

Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) systems are one of the technologies that are in the process of being acquired and deployed to the Southwest border in Arizona. IFTs are fixed surveillance assets that provide long-range persistent surveillance. These systems cover very large areas and incorporate a Common Operating Picture (COP), a central hub that receives data from one or multiple tower units. The tower systems automatically detect and track items of interest, and provide the COP Operator(s) with the data, video and geospatial location of selected items of interest to identify and classify them. By the end of this year, IFT will be fully deployed in three specific Areas of Responsibility in Arizona.

Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS) are another fixed technology asset used in select areas along the Southwest and Northern borders. These systems provide short-, medium-, and long-range persistent surveillance mounted on stand-alone towers, or other structures. The RVSS uses cameras, radio and microwave transmitters to send video to a control room and enables a control room Operator to remotely detect, identify, classify and track targets using the video feed. The RVSS deployment planned as part of the Arizona Technology Plan is now complete.

Mobile Capabilities

The border environment between the POEs is dynamic. Working in conjunction with fixed surveillance assets, CBP’s mobile technology assets provide flexibility and agility to adapt to changing border conditions and threats. Mobile technologies are deployed in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas as well as several Northern border locations. Along the Southwest border, Mobile Surveillance Capability systems provide long-range mobile surveillance and consist of a suite of radar and camera sensors mounted on USBP vehicles. An Agent deploys with the vehicle to operate the system, which automatically detects and tracks items of interest and provides the Agent/Operator with data and video of the observed subject.

Mobile Vehicle Surveillance Systems provide short- and medium-range mobile surveillance equipment mounted on telescoping masts and consist of a suite of camera sensors mounted on USBP vehicles. An Agent deploys with the system, which detects, tracks, identifies, and classifies items of interest using the video feed. The Agent/Operator observes activity on the video monitor to detect intrusions and assist Agents/Officers in responding to those intrusions.

Another system, which does not need to be mounted to a vehicle, is the Agent Portable Surveillance System. These systems provide medium-range mobile surveillance, and are transported by two or three Agents and mounted on a tripod. Two Agents remain on-site, one to operate the system, which automatically detects and tracks items of interest and provides the Agent/Operator with data and video of selected items of interest.

In some areas along the Southwest border, CBP also uses Unattended Ground Sensors (UGS), which provide short-range persistent surveillance. These sensors support our capability to detect, and to a limited extent, track and identify subjects. Sensor capabilities include seismic, passive infrared, acoustic, contact closure, and magnetic, although these capabilities are not necessarily available in all deployed UGS. When a ground sensor is activated, an alarm is communicated to a data decoder that translates the sensor’s activation data to a centralized computer system in an operations center. Some UGS are used in conjunction with Imaging Sensors (IS). The UGS/IS include an imaging capability to transmit images or video back to the operations center. As with UGS, UGS/IS are monitored in a centralized system and geospatially tracked.

CBP’s Tactical Aerostats and Re-locatable Towers program, originally part of the Department of Defense (DoD) Re-use program, uses a mix of aerostats, towers, cameras, and radars to provide USBP with increased situational awareness through an advanced surveillance capability over a wide area. This capability has proven to be a vital asset in increasing CBP’s ability to detect, identify, classify, and track activity.

The absence of mobile surveillance technology would limit the USBP’s ability to detect, identify, classify, track, and rapidly respond to illicit activity. These technologies not only provide significant security benefits and multiply the capabilities of law enforcement personnel to detect, identify, and respond to suspicious activity, but also assist with public safety along the border. Mobile surveillance technology systems enable Agents to position the technology where it is needed at a specific moment, extend our observational capabilities, and increase the accuracy and speed of our response.

Technology is critical to border security operations. A tailored blend of fixed, mobile, and portable surveillance systems that complement one another increases the USBP’s effectiveness in targeting a response to high-risk areas, enabling rapid response strategies to maximize manpower, and adjusting to seasonal/periodic traffic patterns.

Air and Marine Capabilities

AMO increases CBP’s situational awareness, enhances its detection and interdiction capabilities, and extends our border security zones, offering greater capacity to stop threats prior to reaching the Nation’s borders. Through the use of coordinated and integrated surveillance capabilities – including aviation, marine, tethered aerostats and integrated ground-based radars – AMO detects, interdicts, and prevents acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, narcotics, and other contraband toward or across the borders of the United States. These assets provide multi-domain awareness for our partners across DHS, as well as critical aerial and maritime surveillance, interdiction, and operational assistance to our ground personnel.

AMO’s maritime assets are tailored to the conditions of the threat environment in which we operate, and equipped with the capabilities required to interdict attempted illicit smuggling of narcotics and illegal aliens. Often there is little time to interdict inbound suspect vessels and AMO has honed its maritime border security response capability around rapid and effective interception, pursuit, and interdiction of these craft. AMO employs high speed Coastal Interceptor Vessels that are specifically designed and engineered with the speed, maneuverability, integrity and endurance to intercept and engage a variety of suspect non-compliant vessels in offshore waters, as well as the Great Lakes on the Northern border.

The DHS air surveillance network provides air domain awareness on the Southern border. The system includes the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS), and data from ground-based radar systems owned by the Federal Aviation Administration, DOD, and Mexico. These sensor systems provide continuous surveillance coverage over fixed geographical areas, or persistent surveillance. Extensive law enforcement and intelligence databases, flight plans, and other information is combined with the sensor data to provide meaning to the area surveilled.

CBP’s aerial surveillance capabilities are enhanced through recent investments and deployments of Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA). The MEA has a multi-mode radar for use over water and land, an electro-optical/infrared camera system, and a satellite communications system. The MEA replaces several older, single-mission assets and is customized to provide maritime support in the near-shore customs waters. With its sophisticated technology systems, the MEA is a highly capable, twin-engine aircraft and a critical investment in CBP’s maritime, land, and aerial surveillance capabilities.

P-3 Long Range Trackers and Airborne Early Warning Aircraft provide critical detection and interdiction capability in both the air and marine environment. Sophisticated sensors and high endurance capability greatly increase CBP’s range to counter illicit trafficking. AMO P-3s are an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with the Joint Interagency Task Force - South. The P-3s patrol in a 42 million square mile area that includes more than 41 nations, the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and seaboard approaches to the United States. This effectively pushes our border out to sea, where large quantities of illicit traffic can be interdicted or disrupted long before reaching our shores.

Another important asset is the DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). It bridges the gap between the strategic P-3 and Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) assets and the smaller assets providing support in the littoral waters. This tool allows AMO an unprecedented level of situational awareness in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

AMO’s tactical resources have also received a number of technological upgrades to add to their utility. The AS-350 helicopter has received avionics upgrades to allow the Operators to focus more of their attention on the mission, making them more effective. AMO has also added detection technology to its fixed wing light observation aircraft, greatly increasing its tactical capabilities.

Additionally, UAS are increasingly instrumental in CBP’s layered and integrated approach to border security. The UAS consists of an unmanned aircraft, sensors, communication packages, pilots, and sensor Operators. UAS are used to meet surveillance and other mission requirements along the Southern border, Northern border, Southeast coastal area, and in the drug source and transit zones. Four of CBP’s UAS are equipped with Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER) sensor systems, which are capable of detecting human movement along the ground and increase CBP aerial surveillance, enforcement, and security to prevent potential threats from illegally entering the United States. Since 2012, VADER has detected over 40,000 people moving across the Southern border. Since 2006, this versatile platform has been credited with interdicting/disrupting 13,144 pounds of cocaine and 321,330 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $1.8 billion. The UAS program has achieved over 35,900 flight hours since program inception in FY 2006.

UAS and P-3 aircraft are equipped with technology that provides full-motion video capture and provides real time and forensic analysis. This advanced detection and communication system enables CBP to disseminate images and other sensor data to operational users in real-time, increasing response effectiveness and speed.

Perhaps the most important advancements come in the area of data integration and exploitation. Downlink technology, paired with the BigPipe system, allows AMO to provide a video feed and situational awareness to our law enforcement partners in real-time. In addition, the Minotaur mission integration system will allow multiple aircraft to share information from multiple sources, providing a never before seen level of air, land, and sea domain awareness. As the Minotaur system evolves, it will provide even greater awareness for a greater number of users.

AMO also combats airborne and maritime smuggling with an integrated long-range radar architecture comprised of ground-based radars and elevated radars deployed on tethered aerostats. AMO, in partnership with DOD, operates and maintains a large network of terrestrial radars to establish and maintain wide-area, persistent surveillance of commercial and non-commercial aircraft flying toward, arriving at, or passing through our borders. With the awareness generated by this sensor network, CBP can detect and respond to air and maritime movement anomalies that could pose a threat to our homeland, including trafficking organizations attempting to deliver contraband across the border by flying beneath the radar field of view of our ground-based radars.

AMO’s TARS monitors the low-altitude approaches to the United States and denies this airspace for illicit smuggling. With eight aerostat sites – six along the Southwest border, one in the Florida Keys, and one in Puerto Rico – the TARS elevated sensor mitigates the effect of the curvature of the earth and terrain-masking limitations associated with ground-based radars, enabling maximum long-range radar detection capabilities. FY 2015 and FY 2016 TARS recorded over 500 suspect aircraft approaching the U.S. border from Mexico. These aircraft, referred to as short landers, are used to transport narcotics through Mexico, landing just south of the border where contraband is transferred to other conveyances for follow-on movement into the United States. These detections represent approximately 82 percent of all short landers detected. In FY 2016, interdiction of short landers resulted in the reported seizure of 323.8 pounds of heroin, 421.8 pounds of cocaine, 4,806 pounds of methamphetamine, and 9,316.8 pounds of marijuana.

A vital component of DHS’s domain awareness capabilities, CBP’s Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC) integrates surveillance capabilities and coordinates with other CBP operational components, including USBP and other federal, state, local, and international partners to detect, identify, track and support interdiction of suspect aviation and maritime activity in the approaches to U.S. borders, at the borders, and within the interior of the United States. Coordinating with extensive law enforcement and intelligence databases and communication networks, AMOC’s command and control operational system, the Air and Marine Operations Surveillance System (AMOSS), provides a single display that is capable of processing up to 700 individual sensor feeds and tracking over 50,000 individual targets simultaneously. The eight TARS sites represent approximately two percent of the total available radars in AMOSS, yet were able to account for detecting 46 percent of all suspect target detections in FY 2015 and FY 2016.

As we continue to deploy border surveillance technology, particularly along the Southwest border, these investments in fixed and mobile technology, as well as enhancements of domain awareness capabilities allow CBP the flexibility to shift more Officers and Agents from detection duties to interdiction of illegal activities on our borders.

5 Including 654 miles of border fencing

 

Security at the Ports

As the lead DHS agency for border security, CBP also works closely with our domestic and international partners to protect the Nation from the dynamic threats posed by containerized cargo arriving at our air, land, and sea ports.

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, CBP has established security partnerships, enhanced our targeting and risk-assessment programs, and invested in advanced technology, all essential elements of our multi-layered approach to protecting the Nation from the arrival of dangerous materials, including radiological and nuclear materials, at our POEs.

CBP has several key programs that enhance our ability to assess cargo for risk, examine high-risk shipments at the earliest possible point, and increase the security of the supply chain.

First, CBP receives advance information on every cargo shipment, every vessel, and every air passenger before they arrive at our POEs. Second, our advanced targeting techniques use the data collected to enhance our ability to assess the risk associated with these cargo shipments and with the entities involved. The NTC, using the Automated Targeting System, has developed state-of-the-art capabilities to assess cargo shipments before they are laden onboard vessels destined for the United States.

Third, our partnerships — those with our DHS and Federal partners, private industry, and foreign counterparts — increase information sharing, and enhance our domain awareness, targeting capabilities, and ability to intercept threats at, or approaching our borders. Pushing our security efforts outward, the Container Security Initiative (CSI) — which was established to prevent the use of maritime containerized cargo to transport a weapon of mass effect or destruction — enables CBP to work with foreign authorities to identify and examine potentially high-risk maritime containers at the foreign port before they are laden on vessels bound for the United States. CBP’s 60 CSI ports now prescreen over 80 percent of all maritime containerized cargo imported into the United States.

Working with our private industry partners, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) provides facilitation benefits to rigorously-vetted members of the trade community who volunteer to adopt tighter security measures throughout their entire international supply chain. C-TPAT has grown from seven initial members to over 11,000 members today.

And finally, in partnership with DNDO, CBP has deployed nuclear and radiological detection equipment, including Radiation Portal Monitors (RPMs), Radiation Isotope Identification Devices, and Personal Radiation Detectors to our Nation’s land, sea, and air POEs. This Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) technology enables CBP to detect materials that pose significant nuclear and radiological threat. Using NII imaging equipment, CBP Officers can also examine cargo conveyances such as sea containers, commercial trucks, and rail cars, as well as privately owned vehicles, for the presence of contraband without physically opening or unloading them. NII technologies – both radiological detection and imaging – are force multipliers that enable CBP to screen or examine a larger portion of the stream of commercial traffic while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade, cargo and passengers.

Utilizing RPMs deployed nationwide at our POEs, CBP is able to scan 100 percent of all mail and express consignment mail and parcels; 100 percent of all truck cargo and personally owned vehicles arriving from Canada and Mexico; and nearly 100 percent of all arriving maritime containerized cargo for the presence of radiological or nuclear materials.

In the acquisition and deployment of border security technology, CBP ensures that investments are effective and that procurement processes are efficient, transparent, and compliant with federal law and DHS policy. With all our programs, operations, and activities, we welcome oversight and embrace our responsibility as stewards of American taxpayer resources.

Conclusion

The security challenges facing CBP and our Nation are considerable, particularly along the Southern border. However, we have the laws in place to secure our borders, and we are enforcing them. We have already begun to achieve successes in stemming the flow of illegal immigration. We remain committed to interdicting narcotics before they enter the country. Through the use of technology as the primary driver of all land, maritime, and air domain awareness, we will continue to adapt and respond swiftly and effectively to secure our borders and protect our Homeland.

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of CBP. I would be pleased to answer any questions.

Topics:  Border Security

Written testimony of PLCY, CBP, and ICE for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing titled “Visa Overstays: A Gap in the Nation's Border Security”

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: May 23, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairwoman McSally, Ranking Member Vela, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the progress the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is making to incorporate biometrics into our comprehensive entry/exit system and to identify, report, and address overstays in support of our border security and immigration enforcement missions.

Presently, DHS, in conjunction with the Department of State, collects biometrics for most nonimmigrant foreign nationals1 and checks them against criminal and terrorist watchlists prior to the issuance of a visa or lawful entry to the United States. Furthermore, the Department has developed new capabilities and enhanced existing systems, such as the Automated Targeting System (ATS), to help identify possible terrorists and others who seek to travel to the United States to do harm.

Today, DHS manages an entry/exit system in the air and sea environments that incorporates both biometric and biographic components. Applying a risk-based approach, the Department is now able, on a daily basis, to identify and target for enforcement action those individuals who represent a public safety and/or national security threat among visitors who have overstayed the validity period of their admission. Moreover, with the recent support of Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, (Pub. L. No. 114-113), and as described in the Comprehensive Biometric Entry/Exit Plan provided to Congress in April 2016—combined with the clear commitment and direction of the President in section 8 of Executive Order 13780, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States—CBP is making significant progress toward implementation of a biometric exit system. The Department has also released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report, which contains significant additional data not available in the FY15 version, which itself was the first report issued in over 20 years.

1 The following categories of aliens currently are expressly exempt from biometric requirements by DHS regulations: Aliens admitted on an A-1, A-2, C-3 (except for attendants, servants, or personal employees of accredited officials), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, or NATO-6 visa; children under the age of 14; persons over the age of 79; Taiwan officials admitted on an E-1 visa and members of their immediate families admitted on E-1 visas. 8 CFR 235.1(f)(1)(iv)(A)-(B); and certain Canadian citizens seeking admission as B nonimmigrants per 8 CFR 235.1(f)(1)(ii). In addition, the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security may jointly exempt classes of aliens from biometric collection requirements and the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, as well as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, may exempt individuals from biometric collection requirements. 8 CFR 235.1(f)(1)(iv)(C)-(D).

 

Existing DHS Entry and Exit Data Collection

A biographic-based entry/exit system is one that matches the personally identifying information on an individual’s passport or other travel documents presented when he or she arrives to and departs from the United States. The biographic data contained in the traveler’s passport includes name, date of birth, document information, and country of citizenship. By comparison, a biometric entry/exit system matches a biometric attribute unique to an individual (e.g., fingerprints, a facial image, or iris image).

How DHS Collects Arrival Information

For instances in which an individual requires a visa to enter the United States, biometric and biographic information captured at the time his or her visa application is filed with the Department of State (DOS), along with supporting information developed during an interview with a consular officer. Additionally, for certain visa categories, the individual will have already provided biographic information via a petition filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For individuals seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), biographic information is captured from an intending traveler when they apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).2 If the individual is authorized for travel with an ESTA following the required security checks, the individual is able to travel to the United States under the VWP. Biometric information is captured at the U.S. port of entry (POE) for VWP travelers, where the traveler will also be interviewed by a CBP officer.

In the air and sea environment, DHS receives passenger manifests submitted by commercial and private aircraft operators and commercial sea carriers, which include every individual who actually boarded the plane or ship bound for the United States. This information is collected in DHS’s Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) and all non-U.S. citizen data is then sent to the Arrival and Departure Information System (ADIS), where it is stored for matching against departure records.

For individuals who apply for a visa at posts supported by ICE’s Visa Security Program (VSP), biographic information is captured prior to DOS review to facilitate the screening and vetting of 100 percent of nonimmigrant visa applicants at those posts prior to DOS Consular Affairs visa adjudication. As part of VSP operations, additional information may be developed by the investigative efforts of internationally deployed ICE Special Agents conducting interviews and working with domestic based intelligence analysts.

When a nonimmigrant arrives at a U.S. POE and applies for admission to the United States, a CBP officer interviews the traveler regarding the purpose and intent of travel, reviews his or her documentation, and runs law enforcement checks. If applicable,3 CBP collects and matches biometrics against previously collected data and stores this data within the Office of Biometric Identity Management’s (OBIM) Automated Biometric Information System (IDENT). If admission is granted, the CBP officer will stamp the traveler’s passport with a date indicating the traveler’s authorized period of admission. Based on electronic information already in DHS’s systems, CBP electronically generates a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record that the traveler can print remotely to provide evidence of legal entry or status in the United States. The form also indicates how long the individual is authorized to stay in the United States.

How DHS Collects Departure Information

The United States has a fully functioning biographic exit system in the air and sea environments. Similar to the entry process, DHS also collects APIS passenger manifests submitted by commercial and private aircraft operators and commercial sea carriers departing the United States. Carriers and operators are required by regulations promulgated under the Trade Act of 2002 (Pub.L. 107–210) to report biographic and travel document information to DHS for those individuals who are physically present on the aircraft or sea vessel at the time of departure from the United States and not simply for those who have made a reservation or are scheduled to be on board. Since 2005, collection of this information has been mandatory, and compliance by carriers is nearly 100 percent. DHS monitors APIS transmissions to ensure compliance and, if needed, issues fines for noncompliance. CBP transfers this data (excluding data for U.S. citizens) to ADIS, which matches arrival and departure records to and from the United States.4

2 ESTA collects biographic data and screens passengers against various law enforcement and intelligence databases. ESTA has digitized the Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) for authorized travelers from participating VWP countries.
3 Supra note 1
4 DHS uses this information for a variety of immigration and law enforcement reasons, including to determine which travelers have potentially stayed past their authorized period of admission (i.e., overstayed) in the United States.

 

Addressing Overstays

This integrated approach to collecting entry and exit data supports the Nation’s ability to identify and address overstays. CBP identifies two types of overstays – those individuals who appear to have remained in the United States beyond their period of admission (Suspected In-Country Overstay), and those individuals whose departure was recorded after their lawful admission period expired (Out-of-Country Overstay). The overstay identification process is conducted by consolidating arrival, departure, and change or adjustment to immigration status information to generate a complete picture of individuals traveling to the United States. This process extends beyond our physical borders to include a number of steps that may occur well before an individual enters the United States through a land, air, or sea POE and up to the point at which that same individual departs the United States.

CBP’s ADIS identifies and transmits potential overstays to CBP’s ATS on a daily basis, which screens them against derogatory information, prioritizes them, and sends them to ICE’s lead management system, LeadTrac,5 which retains them for review and vetting by analysts.

Through specific intelligence and the use of sophisticated data systems, ICE identifies and tracks available information on millions of international students, tourists, and other individuals admitted as nonimmigrants who are present in the United States at any given time. Visa overstays and other forms of nonimmigrant status violations bring together two critical areas of ICE’s mission—national security and immigration enforcement.

Enhancing Capabilities

In the past few years, DHS has made substantial improvements to enhance our ability to identify, prioritize, and address confirmed overstays. DHS system enhancements that have strengthened our immigration enforcement efforts include:

  • Improved ADIS and ATS-Passenger (ATS-P) data flow and processing quality and efficiency, increasing protection of privacy through secure electronic data transfer.
  • Extended leverage of existing ATS-P matching algorithms, improving the accuracy of the overstay list. Additional ADIS matching improvements are underway to further improve match confidence.
  • Developed an operational dashboard for ICE agents that automatically updates and prioritizes overstay “Hot Lists,”6 increasing the efficiency of data flow between OBIM7 and ICE.
  • Implemented an ADIS-to-IDENT interface reducing the number of records on the overstay list by providing additional and better quality data to ADIS, and closing information gaps between the two systems.
  • Improved ability of ADIS to match USCIS Computer Linked Adjudication Information Management System (CLAIMS 3) data for aliens who have extended or changed their status lawfully, and therefore have not overstayed even though their initial period of authorized admission has expired.
  • Created a Unified Overstay Case Management process establishing a data exchange interface between ADIS, ATS-P, and ICE’s LeadTrac system, establishing one analyst platform for DHS.
  • Enhanced ADIS and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP) data exchange to increase identification, efficiency and prioritization of TSA AFSP overstays within the ADIS overstay population.
  • Enhanced Overstay “Hot List,” consolidating immigration data from multiple systems to enable ICE employees to more quickly and easily identify current and relevant information related to the overstay subject.
  • Established User Defined Rules enabling ICE agents to create new or update existing rule sets within ATS-P as threats evolve, so that overstays are prioritized for review and action based on the most up-to-date threat criteria.
  • Enhanced the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and ADIS interface, in order to automatically calculate the last date of F, M, or J status and more accurately capture a nonimmigrant’s immigration status. This improved data will reduce fraud and increase awareness by providing government officials actionable intelligence with which to make decisions and initiate investigations.

These measures and system enhancements have proven to be valuable in identifying and addressing overstays. The DHS steps described above have strengthened data requirements through computer enhancements, identified national security overstays through increased collaboration with the Intelligence Community, and automated manual efforts through additional data exchange interfaces. DHS is continuing this progress in FY17.

Reporting Overstay Data

On January 19, 2016, DHS released the first Entry/Exit Overstay Report. This report represents a culmination of the aforementioned efforts to enhance data collection and address issues precluding production of the report in prior years. The Entry/Exit Overstay Report for Fiscal Year 2015 provided data on departures and overstays, by country, for foreign visitors to the United States who were lawfully admitted for business (i.e., B-1 and WB classifications) or pleasure (i.e., B-2 and WT classifications) through air or sea POEs, and who were expected to depart in FY15 — a population which represents the vast majority of annual nonimmigrant admissions.

Recently, the Department released the Fiscal Year 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report. In partnership with other DHS Components, CBP is continuing to improve data provided by ADIS allowing for the FY16 report to include a significantly expanded classes of admission, compared with the FY15.

While the focus of last year’s report was on individuals visiting the United States for business or pleasure, and those traveling under the VWP, this year’s report expands the report population to include foreign student and exchange visitors (F, M and J admission classes) and other in-scope nonimmigrant admission classes (such as H, O, P, Q admission classes). With the expansion of the report population, the FY16 report accounts for 96.02 percent of all air and sea nonimmigrant admissions to the United States in FY16. This represents all in-scope classes of admission (i.e. classes of admission that can produce enforceable overstays), and is expected to be used as the baseline population for reporting annually going forward. However, it does not include vehicular or pedestrian admissions at land ports of entry.

In FY16 there were 50,437,278 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea POEs who were expected to depart in FY16, which represents the majority of annual nonimmigrant admissions. Of this number, DHS calculated a total overstay rate of 1.47 percent, or 739,478 individuals. In other words, 98.53 percent of the in-scope nonimmigrant visitors departed the United States on time and abided by the terms of their admission.

This report breaks down the overstay rates further to provide a better picture of those overstays who remain in the United States beyond their period of admission and for whom there is no identifiable evidence of a departure, an extension of period of admission, or transition to another immigration status. At the end of FY16, there were 628,799 Suspected In-Country Overstays. The overall Suspected In-Country Overstay rate for this scope of travelers is 1.25 percent of the expected departures.

Due to continuing departures and changes in nonimmigrant status or adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence by individuals in this population, by January 10, 2017, the number of Suspected In-Country Overstays for FY16 decreased to 544,676, rendering the Suspected In-Country Overstay rate as 1.07 percent. In other words, as of January 10, 2017, DHS has been able to confirm departures, changes to, or adjustment of status of more than 98.90 percent of nonimmigrant visitors scheduled to depart in FY16 via air and sea POEs, and that number continues to grow.

This report separates VWP country overstay numbers from non-VWP country numbers. For VWP countries, the FY16 Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 0.60 percent of the 21,616,034 expected departures. For non-VWP countries, the FY16 Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 1.90 percent of the 13,848,480 expected departures.

As mentioned previously, part of the nonimmigrant population in this year’s report now includes visitors who entered on a student or exchange visitor visa, F, M, or J visa, respectively. DHS has determined there were 1,457,556 students and exchange visitors scheduled to complete their program in the United States. However, 5.48 percent stayed beyond their authorized window for departure at the end of their program.

For Canada, the FY16 Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 1.33 percent of 9,008,496 expected departures. For Mexico, the FY16 Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 1.52 percent of 3,079,524 expected departures. Consistent with the methodology for other countries, this represents only travel through air and sea POEs and does not include data on land border crossings. Currently, it is unclear if these numbers are inflated as Canadian and Mexican nationals can depart across the land border. CBP is pursuing a variety of methods to obtain this land border departure data, which will be discussed in greater detail below.

Identifying overstays is important for national security, public safety, immigration enforcement, and processing applications for immigration benefits and is one of the many drivers for DHS as it continues to develop and test the entry and exit system during FY17, both biometric and biographic, which will improve the ability of CBP to report this data accurately.

5 LeadTrac is an ICE system designed to receive overstay leads to compare against other DHS systems and classified datasets to uncover potential national security or public safety concerns for referral to ICE field offices for investigation. The system employs a case management tracking mechanism to assist with analysis, quality control reviews, lead status and field tracking.
6 “Hot lists” are lists of individuals that are prioritized based on their level of risk.
7 OBIM supports DHS Components by providing biometric storage and matching services using its IDENT system to identify known or suspected terrorists, national security threats, criminals, and those who have previously violated U.S. immigration laws.

 

Overstay Enforcement in the United States

With regard to overstay enforcement, ICE focuses its efforts on identifying and prioritizing, for enforcement action, foreign nationals who overstayed their period of admission or otherwise violated the terms or conditions of their admission to the United States. ICE receives nonimmigrant compliance information from various investigative databases and DHS entry/exit registration systems. The information identifies nonimmigrants who have entered the United States through an established immigration entry process and may have failed to comply with immigration regulations. As part of a tiered review, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) prioritizes nonimmigrant overstay cases through risk-based analysis. HSI’s Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU) oversees the national program dedicated to the investigation of nonimmigrant visa violators who may pose a national security or public safety risk.

Using a comprehensive prioritization scheme, ICE identifies nonimmigrant overstays, conducts in-depth analysis, locates targets, and initiates field investigations by referring high priority information to ICE HSI field offices nationwide. In order to ensure that those who may pose the greatest threats to national security and public safety are given top priority, ICE uses intelligence-based criteria developed in close consultation with the intelligence and law enforcement communities. ICE chairs the Compliance Enforcement Advisory Panel (CEAP), comprised of subject matter experts from other law enforcement agencies and members of the Intelligence Community, who assist in maintaining targeting methods in line with the most current threat information. This practice, which is designed to detect and identify individuals exhibiting specific risk factors based on intelligence reporting, travel patterns, and in-depth criminal research and analysis, has contributed to DHS’s counterterrorism mission by initiating and supporting high-priority national security initiatives based on specific intelligence.

Each year, ICE HSI CTCEU analyzes records of hundreds of thousands of potential status violators after preliminary analysis of data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and CBP’s ADIS, along with other information. Once the leads are received, ICE conducts both batch and manual vetting against government databases, social media, and public indices. This vetting establishes compliance or departure from the United States and/or determines potential violations that warrant field investigations. Overstays who do not meet ICE HSI CTCEU’s national security and public safety threat criteria are referred to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) for action.

As part of its vetting process, ICE HSI CTCEU also instituted the Visa Waiver Enforcement Program (VWEP). ICE HSI CTCEU scrutinizes individuals identified as potential VWP violators, to identify those subjects who attempt to circumvent the U.S. immigration system by seeking to exploit VWP travel. Other significant projects and initiatives include: the Recurrent Student Vetting Program; DHS’s Overstay Projects; Absent Without Leave (AWOL) Program; INTERPOL Leads; and individuals who have been watchlisted.

In FY16, ICE HSI CTCEU reviewed 1,282,018 compliance leads. Numerous leads that were referred to ICE HSI CTCEU were closed through an automated vetting process. The most common reasons for closure were subsequent departure from the United States or pending immigration benefits. A total of 4,116 leads were sent to HSI field offices for investigation. From the 4,116 leads sent to the field, 1,884 are currently under investigation, 1,126 were closed as being in compliance (pending immigration benefit, granted asylum, approved adjustment of status application, or departed the United States) and the remaining leads were returned to ICE HSI CTCEU for continuous monitoring and further investigation. HSI Special Agents made 1,261 arrests, secured 97 indictments, and 55 convictions in FY16.

Improvements in Information Sharing, Data Integrity, and Use of Biometrics

ICE executes risk-based overstay enforcement activities as part of an integrated strategy to combat transnational crime in coordination with our domestic and foreign partnering agencies, targeting the illegal movement of people, merchandise and monetary instruments into, within, and out of the United States. In addition to developing viable leads for field investigation, ICE’s in-depth vetting efforts serve to continually improve DHS’s overall data holdings, and the information it can bring to protecting the Homeland. That validated information is used to update the various DHS systems, including ADIS.

ICE has been an integral partner supporting the creation of a DHS Unified Overstay Case Management process that established a data exchange interface between ADIS, ATS-P, and ICE’s LeadTrac systems. That effort has helped reduce the timeline required for vetting national security-related and public safety overstay leads.

Improvements in Overstay Enforcement and OIG Recommendations

ICE is committed to improving and evolving our overstay enforcement efforts, including through advancing our information technology capabilities. In 2014, ICE HSI CTCEU established the Open Source Team (OST) to conduct social media analysis to help resolve unable-to-locate cases. OST applies in-depth knowledge of a broad range of publicly available information to locate specific targeted individuals, identify trends and patterns, and identify subtle relationships. This initiative enhances investigative leads that are currently being sent to HSI field offices for investigation. In August 2016, ICE HSI CTCEU’s Overstay Lifecycle and Domestic Mantis Pilot Programs were launched. These pilot programs will help to better capture information on visa violators as part of an overarching visa lifecycle and identify foreign students who have access to sensitive technology. The Overstay Lifecycle pilot program tracks nonimmigrant visitors from the time they file a visa application to the time they depart from the United States, or until such time as they become an overstay or otherwise fail to comply with their terms of admission. The Domestic Mantis pilot program identifies nonimmigrant students who enter the United States to study in a non-sensitive academic field and subsequently transfer to a sensitive academic field, or attempt to work in areas posing a national security or public safety threat. It is anticipated that these pilot programs will provide another layer of security and tool for overstay enforcement in the United States.

Finally, we are working with DHS to address the recommendation in the recent report released by the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG). The report included two recommendations for ICE and ICE is working to identify training gaps for visa-related IT systems used by ICE personnel and to notify the ICE user community of available training options. ICE is also working towards compiling a comprehensive list of all visa-related systems across the Department, to include system owners and training points of contacts. By addressing these two concerns and ensuring that ICE users have the opportunity to receive official, hands-on training in visa IT systems and documented guidance on potential uses of each system, the efficiency and adeptness of the visa overstay tracking system will be enhanced. In the immediate term, ICE HSI has sent guidance to all HSI field offices providing further instruction on how to conduct HSI CTCEU investigations.

The DHS Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is currently building an enterprise information-sharing platform that, in the future, can provide a solution to mitigate the issues raised and gaps identified in the OIG report. The vision of the Data Framework is to deliver an information-sharing platform in which intelligence analysts and mission operators have controlled, near real-time access to consolidated homeland security data in classified and unclassified environments in a manner consistent with applicable law and policy and while protecting individuals’ privacy, civil rights, and liberties.

OCIO has been building the platform for the classified environment. In FY17, the OCIO is beginning to focus on the unclassified environment portion of the Data Framework. This would afford the components the ability to timely access within articulated constraints, the relevant and necessary homeland security information they need to successfully perform their duties, identifying overstays and reporting on overstay numbers, being two such duties. The goal of the Data Framework is to provide a mission user with the ability to access, search, manipulate and analyze, as appropriate, different data sets extracted from multiple DHS systems for a specific purpose; retrieve accurate and timely information; and view the information in a clear and accessible format.

CBP Comprehensive Biometric Entry/Exit System

Since FY13, CBP has led the entry/exit mission, including research and development of biometric exit programs. A comprehensive entry/exit system that leverages both biographic and biometric data is key to supporting DHS’s mission. CBP developed and implemented a series of biometric exit pilot programs in the air and land environments between 2014 and 2016, and we testified regarding those efforts in June 2016.

Biometric Exit in the Air Environment

The earlier trials allowed CBP to develop a realistic and achievable biometric exit plan. CBP's vision for implementing biometric exit is to “pre-stage” biometric data throughout the travel process and allow that data to be used by each traveler as they follow the typical process for boarding an aircraft departing the United States. CBP will perform the matching function and use biometrics to streamline the passenger process throughout the air travel process, not just at departure. CBP’s process for matching “pre-stage” biometric data to biometric data captured at departure is described in greater detail below.

Adding biometrics provides greater assurance of the information already collected by CBP and will allow for future facilitated processing upon both entry and exit. CBP will use a traveler’s face as the primary way of identifying the traveler to facilitate entry and exit from the United States, while simultaneously leveraging fingerprints for watchlist checks. This innovative structure will make it possible to confirm the identity of travelers at any point in their travel, while at the same time establishing a comprehensive biometric air exit system.

CBP is dedicated to protecting the privacy of all travelers, and will ensure that all legal and privacy requirements are met as we continue to implement biometric exit.

CBP's plan is to complete the technical matching service by 2018, but this summer CBP will roll out biometric air exit technical demonstrations at a number of airports to continue biometric exit implementation. These demonstrations will occur at select flights in each of the airports.

CBP Traveler Verification Service (TVS)

The technical demonstrations are based on a concept that CBP has been testing since June 2016 at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. The Atlanta airport demonstration tested a solution under five guiding principles: 1) avoid adding any new process to minimize time and impact; 2) utilize existing infrastructure to avoid large capital costs and enable a near-term deployment; 3) leverage existing stakeholder systems, processes, and business models to reduce costs and avoid large changes for all stakeholders; 4) leverage passenger behaviors and expectations to promote ease of use for travelers; and 5) use existing traveler data and existing government IT infrastructure to reduce costs and avoid stove-piped systems.

The Atlanta test was designed using existing CBP systems, leveraging data already provided to the U.S. Government by the traveler and airlines. CBP created a pre-positioned “gallery” of face images from DHS holdings based on a flight departure manifest provided by the airline. These photographs can come from passport applications, visa applications, or interactions with CBP at a prior border encounter where a photograph is typically taken. Essentially, CBP creates a gallery of all the passengers it expects to see boarding an aircraft, based on the manifest provided by the airline.

CBP then compares a live photograph of the traveler captured at the departure gate to the flight’s gallery of face images to confirm the traveler’s departure, providing a biometric record of departure for passengers on that flight. This process allows CBP to increase security by using a facial biometric to match the traveler to their advanced passenger information and biographic vetting results while simultaneously checking the fingerprints on file against the watch list.

U.S. Citizens are not exempted from this process for two reasons: first, it is not feasible to require airlines to have two separate boarding processes for U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, and second, to ensure U.S. citizen travelers are the true bearer of the passport they are presenting for travel.

If the photograph captured at boarding is matched to a U.S. citizen passport, the photograph is discarded after a short period of time.

In essence, for U.S. citizens the document check has been transformed from a manual process by airline personnel or CBP officers into an automated process using a machine. . It is important to note that CBP is committed to privacy and has engaged our privacy office at every step in the process to add biometrics to the departure process from the United States.

CBP has processed approximately 28,000 travelers through the Atlanta demonstration. For travelers who have an existing photograph in DHS systems- about 96 percent of travelers- the system matched at a 90 percent rate or higher.8 Today, CBP continues to process biometric exit records for a limited number of daily international flights in Atlanta.

Summer 2017 Technical Demonstrations

Based on the success of the Atlanta demonstration, CBP will demonstrate the initial implementation of the TVS through the expansion of air exit capabilities to eight airports during the summer of 2017. The capability will utilize the TVS to biometrically identify departing travelers, and demonstrate to airlines and airports how biometrics can be integrated into current boarding processes.

Stakeholder Outreach

In addition to CBP demonstrations, CBP is executing a proactive engagement strategy with partners within the travel industry to execute public/private partnerships. The goal of these engagements is to demonstrate an integrated, comprehensive approach to identity verification that provides a seamless travel experience.

To this end, CBP has introduced the Biometric Entry/Exit vision to the air travel industry including international airports, U.S. airline carriers, and travel organizations.9 By involving all of the stakeholders, CBP is able to discuss and refine the solution and verify potential benefits for all stakeholders.

CBP is now collaborating with U.S. carriers and planning demonstration pilots. For these pilots, airlines will procure the biometric facial cameras and integrate with CBP’s provided TVS. CBP has also begun discussions with numerous international carriers on the biometric exit vision. Under this approach, CBP will learn best practices for operations and integration into existing airline boarding processes as these processes vary among airlines and airports.

CBP is working closely with stakeholders to ensure successful implementation of biometric exit and transform the entry process. Biometric technology has the potential to transform how travelers interact with airports, airlines and CBP, which has the potential to create a seamless travel process, improving both convenience and security.

Biometric Exit in the Land Environment

In pursuing a biometric exit system, DHS is cognizant of limitations posed by existing infrastructure. In the land environment, there are often geographical features that prevent expansion of exit lanes to accommodate adding lanes or CBP-manned booths. CBP has developed a biometric exit land strategy that focuses on implementing an interim exit capability while simultaneously investigating innovative technologies needed to reach our long-term vision of a comprehensive biometric exit land solution. Recording exits and biometrically verifying travelers who depart at the land border will close a gap of information necessary to complete a nonimmigrant traveler’s record in ADIS, and will allow CBP an additional means to determine when travelers who depart the United States via land have overstayed their admission period.

Land Phased Approach

Given the limitations outlined above and DHS’s desire to implement this program without negatively impacting cross-border commerce, a phased approached to land implementation will be undertaken. The initial implementation of the land exit strategy will require certain third country nationals to self-report their departure from the United States. Third country nationals are defined as those who are neither American, Mexican, nor Canadian, and for this initial phase, will be limited to nonimmigrant visa holders, types B-1 or B-2 or VWP travelers.

In addition, facial recognition technology, similar to what will be used in the air environment will be deployed at two ports on the Southwest border in both pedestrian entry and exit locations. Facial recognition technology will be implemented for frequent travelers and cameras will be located within the vicinity of primary processing booths. At pedestrian departure, cameras will also record facial images upon departure and once the camera system identifies a “match” (confirms the identity of the traveler), the system will record a biometrically confirmed exit for the traveler.

Biographic Exit Exchange Partnerships with Canada and Mexico

At the Northern land border, as part of the Beyond the Border Action Plan with Canada, the United States and Canada are implementing a biographic exchange of traveler records that constitutes a biographic exit system on the shared border. Today, traveler records for all lawful permanent residents and non-citizens of the United States and Canada who enter either country through land POEs on the Northern border are exchanged in such a manner that land entries into one country serve as exit records from the other. The current match rate of Canadian records for travelers leaving the United States for Canada against U.S. entry records for nonimmigrants is over 98 percent. In April 2016, Canada reaffirmed its commitment to the United States to complete the program to include all travelers who cross the Northern border. Canada will need to complete passage of additional legislation to facilitate this final phase.

Engagement with Mexico on establishing a similar collection and exchange of entry/exit information is underway, and both countries plan to implement a biographic data exchange at the San Ysidro port of entry early in FY18, using reading of radio-frequency ID documents (RFID) which are very common among southern border crossers.

Biometric Vehicle Capture “At Speed”

In 2016, CBP conducted a field of “at speed” facial biometric capture technology on vehicle outbound travelers. The results from the feasibility analysis of the field test will be used to conduct market research to identify and evaluate production ready solutions available in the market. Technical specifications established by the field test will be used to conduct a controlled test facilities to determine equipment placement and number of cameras necessary to capture photographs beyond the driver, and to establish the performance metrics baseline. In addition, comparative analysis will be performed on facial recognition matching algorithms being developed by academia and industry on images captured during the field test. These two tests will culminate in an operational experiment of cameras, camera placement, algorithm matching accuracy, and performance results at an outbound port with optimal conditions.

8 Two of the most common reasons for not having a photo within DHS systems is flying as a U.S. citizen under military orders or as an alien who entered the United States without inspection.
9 Including the A4A, ACI-NA, AAAE, and IATA.

 

Fee Collections for Exit Activities

In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Pub. L. No. 114-113), Congress provided CBP with a fee-funded account for biometric entry/exit activities, which may collect up to $1 billion by FY25.

CBP has completed a spend plan and acquisition plan to account for the execution of these funds and these are currently being evaluated as part of the DHS Acquisition Review Board. As mentioned, CBP plans to partner with private industry in order to achieve our goal of development of a biometric exit system. Of note, while the funds provided through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 will enable CBP to take the next major steps in development of a biometric entry/exit system at the highest volume airports, full nationwide deployment of a comprehensive entry-exit system at all ports of entry will require additional resources not available from the authorized surcharges.

Conclusion

While implementation of a robust and efficient biometric exit solution will take time, and significant challenges remain, DHS is aggressively moving forward in development of a comprehensive biometric exit system, in the land, air and sea environments. We are proud of our progress. We look forward to the technical demonstrations in major airports coming this summer, and will continue to share our ongoing findings with this Subcommittee. Through these and related efforts, we will continue to build on the progress we have made in our ability to identify, report, and take appropriate action against those who overstay or violate the terms of their admission to the United States.

Chairwoman McSally, Ranking Member Vela, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to testify today on this important issue. We look forward to answering your questions.

Topics:  Border Security, Immigration and Citizenship Services, Immigration Enforcement, Information Sharing, Verifying Identity Keywords:  Overstays, Visa Overstays, Biometric Exit System, ESTA, Electronic System for Travel Authorization, APIS, ADIS, LeadTrac

DHS Statement On Incident At Manchester Arena

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 22:02
Release Date: May 22, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

The Department of Homeland Security is closely monitoring the situation at Manchester Arena in the United Kingdom.  We are working with our foreign counterparts to obtain additional information about the cause of the reported explosion as well as the extent of injuries and fatalities.

U.S. citizens in the area should heed direction from local authorities and maintain security awareness.  We encourage any affected U.S. citizens who need assistance to contact the U.S. Embassy in London and follow Department of State guidance.

At this time, we have no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States. However, the public may experience increased security in and around public places and events as officials take additional precautions.

We stand ready to assist our friends and allies in the U.K. in all ways necessary as they investigate and recover from this incident.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this incident.

Topics:  International Keywords:  international

Secretary Kelly's Statement on the Limited Extension of Haiti's Designation for Temporary Protected Status

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 13:47
Release Date: May 22, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly today announced his decision to extend—for an additional six months—the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti.  This extension is effective July 23, 2017 through January 22, 2018.

“After careful review of the current conditions in Haiti and conversations with the Haitian government, I have decided to extend the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status for a limited period of six-months,” said Secretary Kelly. “Haiti has made progress across several fronts since the devastating earthquake in 2010, and I’m proud of the role the United States has played during this time in helping our Haitian friends. The Haitian economy continues to recover and grow, and 96 percent of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps. Even more encouraging is that over 98 percent of these camps have closed. Also indicative of Haiti’s success in recovering from the earthquake seven years ago is the Haitian government’s stated plans to rebuild the Haitian President’s residence at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, and the withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.”

Secretary Kelly was particularly encouraged by representations made to him directly by the Haitian government regarding their desire to welcome the safe repatriation of Haitian TPS recipients in the near future. “This six-month extension should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients. We plan to continue to work closely with the Haitian government, including assisting the government in proactively providing travel documents for its citizens.”

Prior to the expiration of this limited six-month period, Secretary Kelly will re-evaluate the designation for Haiti and decide anew whether extension, re-designation, or termination is warranted. The Department of Homeland Security urges Haitian TPS recipients who do not have another immigration status to use the time before Jan. 22, 2018 to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States—including proactively seeking travel documentation—or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible. “I believe there are indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continues at pace - may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018. TPS as enacted in law is inherently temporary in nature, and beneficiaries should plan accordingly that this status may finally end after the extension announced today.”

Further details about this extension of TPS for Haiti, including the application requirements and procedures, will appear in a Federal Register notice later this week.

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Keywords:  Haiti, Secretary Kelly

DHS Releases Fiscal Year 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 11:37
Release Date: May 22, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON—U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released today the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report. The report provides data on departures and overstays, by country, for foreign visitors to the United States who entered as nonimmigrant visitors through an air or sea Port of Entry (POE) and were expected to depart in FY16.

The in-scope population for this report includes temporary workers and families (temporary workers and trainees, intracompany transferees, treaty traders and investors, representatives of foreign information media), students, exchange visitors, temporary visitors for pleasure, temporary visitors for business, and other nonimmigrant classes of admission. This population accounts for 96.02 percent of all nonimmigrant admissions at U.S. air and sea POEs in FY16.

Importantly, the report does not cover all foreign visitors to the United States—such as those who enter the United States through a vehicular or land POE. Nor does the report provide the total estimated in-country overstay population currently in the United States. Rather, it provides data on overstays in a snapshot of time—those foreign visitors who were expected to depart in FY16, and those who did not do so.

The report specifies that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processed 50,437,278 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions at U.S. air and sea POEs who were expected to depart in FY16—of which 739,478 overstayed their admission, resulting in a total overstay rate of 1.47 percent. Of the more than 739,000 overstays, DHS determined 628,799 were suspected “in-country” overstays, resulting in a suspected in-country overstay rate of 1.25 percent. An individual who is a suspected in-country overstay has no recorded departure, while an out-of-country overstay has a recorded departure that occurred after their lawful admission period expired.

To protect the American people from those who seek to do us harm, and to ensure the integrity of the immigration system, ICE has recently increased overstay enforcement operations. Each year, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations special agents systematically review approximately one million records of individuals who violate the terms of their visas or the visa waiver program, prioritizing leads that pose national security or public safety threats.

Out of the total population, of the more than 21.6 million Visa Waiver Program (VWP) visitors expected to depart the United States in FY16, 147,282 overstayed the terms of their admission, with 128,806 suspected in-country overstays (a .60 percent suspected in-country overstay rate for VWP travelers). Of the more than 13.8 million non-VWP visitors—excluding Canada and Mexico—expected to depart the United States in FY16, 287,107 overstayed the terms of their admission, with 263,470 suspected in-country overstays. This resulted in a 1.90 percent suspected in-country overstay rate.

For Mexico, the FY16 suspected in-country overstay rate is 1.52 percent of 3,079,524 expected departures. Consistent with the methodology for other countries, this represents only travel through air and sea POEs and does not include data on land border crossings. For Canada, the FY16 suspected in-country overstay rate is 1.33 percent of 9,008,496 expected departures.

This year’s report also includes visitors who entered on a student or exchange visitor visa (F, M, or J visa). Of the 1,457,556 students and exchange visitors scheduled to complete their program in the United States in FY16, 79,818 stayed beyond their authorized window for departure, resulting in a 5.48 percent overstay rate. Of the 79,818, 40,949 are suspected in-country overstays (2.81 percent).

DHS conducts the overstay identification process by examining arrival, departure and immigration status information, which is consolidated to generate a complete picture of an individual’s travel to the United States. Due to continuing departures and adjustments in status, by January 10, 2017, the number of suspected in-country overstays for FY16 decreased to 544,676, resulting in a suspected in-country overstay rate of 1.07 percent.

DHS anticipates that these numbers will shift over time as additional information is reported. Specifically, the overall suspected in-country overstay rate will continue to decline as the number of individuals who have departed or transitioned to another immigration status after their initial period of authorized admission ended grows.

DHS continues to improve its data collection, both biographic and biometric, on travelers departing the United States. CBP has identified a feasible biometric exit solution based upon the successful pilot deployed in June 2016, at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. As part of the pilot, CBP partnered with an airline to biometrically confirm the identity of departing travelers using facial recognition. To continue biometric exit implementation, CBP will expand the deployment of this technology to seven additional airports in the coming months. DHS is committed to the development and deployment of a comprehensive biometric exit system—as directed by President Trump in Executive Order 13780, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry in the United States, and as required by law.

Read the full FY16 Entry/Exit Overstay Report here.

 

# # #

Topics:  Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Customs and Border Protection, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Visa Waiver Program, nonimmigrants admissions, temporary visitors

Written testimony of CBP, TSA, and S&T for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency hearing titled “From the Border to Disasters and Beyond: Critical Canine Contributions to the DHS Mission”

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: May 18, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairman Perry, Ranking Member Correa, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify regarding the canine programs at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). Canine teams at TSA, CBP and S&T provide the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with reliable and mobile detection capabilities and a visible deterrent against criminal and terrorist threats. Detection canines are the best and most versatile mobile detection tool that we have protecting the homeland today. Canines have been used by law enforcement and first responder agencies for decades to protect the homeland.

At our Nation’s air, land, and sea ports of entry (POEs) and at preclearance locations abroad, CBP officers utilize specially trained canines for the interdiction of narcotics, firearms, and undeclared currency, as well as in support of specialized programs aimed at combating terrorism and countering human trafficking. In between the POEs, the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) uses canines to detect illegal aliens, intercept narcotics, and stop smugglers at checkpoints and along our borders. The CBP Canine Training Program maintains the largest and most diverse law enforcement canine training program in the country. It is primarily responsible for the initial training of 1,342 of the over 1,448 deployed CBP canine teams throughout the United States.1

TSA procures, trains, and deploys explosives detection canine teams to secure our Nation’s transportation systems through visible deterrence and timely, mobile operations that support airports, mass transit, and other transportation facilities across the country.

The mission of the Detection Canine Program within the Explosives Division of S&T’s Homeland Security Advance Research Projects Agency is to provide the Homeland Security Enterprise with the tools, techniques, and knowledge to better understand, train, and utilize the domestic detection canine. S&T works with DHS partners, including the TSA, CBP, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other federal agencies, state and local law enforcement and international partners, to provide a focal point for the Homeland Security Enterprise on canine research, development, testing, and evaluation. S&T’s primary objectives are to promote intra-Department and interagency coordination, to drive the development of broadly-applicable technologies, and to increase the operational proficiency of domestic detection canine teams. The events of the Boston Marathon bombing and recent attacks in Brussels, Paris, and Russia have spurred a specific focus within S&T’s program on Person-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (PBIED) detection canines.

1 Of the current 1,448 canines deployed today in CBP, the CBP Canine Training Program trained 1,342; the remaining 106 are agriculture canines trained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Newnan, Georgia.

 

CBP Canine Training Program History

During the latter part of 1969, the former U.S. Customs Service carried out a study to determine the feasibility of using detection canines in the fight against drug smuggling. As a result of that study, canine trainers from various branches of the U.S. military were recruited, and on April 1, 1970, the U.S. Customs narcotic detector dog training program was established in San Antonio, Texas. Initially, efforts were concentrated on training dogs to detect the odors of marijuana and hashish, but the ever increasing smuggling of narcotics would make the detection of heroin and cocaine equally critical to stop the threat these drugs pose to our citizens.

In July 1974, the U.S. Customs Service detector dog training operation was relocated from San Antonio to its current location 70 miles west of Washington, D.C., in the town of Front Royal, Virginia. In 1991, Congress approved additional funding for the facility in Front Royal, which led to the construction of a new 100-run kennel, academic building, small arms firing range, and vehicle training areas. These new additions brought the detection training program facility up to date as it continued to produce canines trained in disciplines such as searching pedestrians and detecting the odors of narcotics, currency, and firearms.

In 1986, in response to an alarming increase in illegal alien apprehensions and narcotics seizures, the USBP created a pilot training program of canine teams trained to detect concealed humans, and the odors of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana along our Nation’s border. During the first five months of service, those initial canine teams accounted for numerous apprehensions of concealed people and over $150,000,000 in seized narcotics. The operational impact of a trained detection canine team was clear.

In order to establish consistency in training and certification standards, in 1993, the USBP established its own canine training facility in El Paso, Texas. The USBP National Canine Facility adopted ideologies and disciplines from European working dog standards and received numerous accolades and recognition from local, state, federal, and various international law enforcement agencies.

In the aftermath of the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, as a component of the newly formed CBP, USBP and Office of Field Operations’ (OFO) canine training programs were consolidated under CBP's Office of Training and Development (OTD) and renamed Canine Center El Paso (CCEP) and Canine Center Front Royal (CCFR). On October 1, 2009, the CCEP and CCFR were merged to create the CBP Canine Training Program. An integrated core curriculum was adopted combining the best practices of the legacy OFO and USBP training programs, each rich with history, tradition, and success. Training has been customized to ensure that the unique requirements of OFO and USBP are met.

The primary mission of the CBP Canine Training Program is to provide the initial basic training and certification to CBP officer/agent canine handler teams and instructors in the detection and apprehension of illegal aliens, and the detection and seizure of controlled substances and other contraband utilized to finance terrorism or transnational criminal organizations. Under the direction of OTD, the CBP Canine Training Program also offers formal training to various federal, state, and local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.

Additionally, the CBP Canine Training Program supports canine training initiatives under the direction of the Office of International Affairs, in coordination with the Departments of Defense and State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), by providing foreign partners capacity building and technical assistance. As a resource center, the CBP Canine Training Program provides guidance on canine training issues, legal requirements, and certification standards to the operational components - OFO and USBP. While OTD develops and establishes the initial training requirements of CBP’s canines, based on the components’ needs and input, the utilization, maintenance, and deployment of canine teams is managed by CBP’s operational components.

CBP Canine Training Disciplines

CBP’s training cadre is comprised of experienced law enforcement officers and agents, also known as Course Developer Instructors, who come from existing field canine units and serve a three to five year instructor assignment. The CBP Canine Training Program possesses a unified training cadre consisting of OFO and USBP personnel who deliver training to integrated classes made up of CBP officers and USBP agents. This commonality brings with it the opportunity to seamlessly interchange staff to further integrate the CBP Canine Training Program. New canine teams and instructors continue to be trained in disciplines such as concealed human detection, pedestrian processing, detecting the odors of narcotics, currency and firearms, tracking and trailing, patrol, search and rescue, and human remains detection.

Concealed Human and Narcotic Detection

The Concealed Human Narcotic Detection Handler course includes in-depth training and certification in all aspects of canine behavior, along with handling, training and employing a passive indication detection canine, as well as canine policy, case law, and canine first-aid. Both the officer/agent and the canine are taught proper search sequences when searching private and commercial conveyances, freight, luggage, mail, open areas of land and structures. Concealed Human and Narcotic Detection Canines are taught to detect concealed humans and the odors of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, hashish, and ecstasy. This discipline makes up the largest portion of canines deployed within CBP totaling approximately 1,227 teams.

OFO deploys specialized detection canine teams throughout the Nation, trained to detect drugs and concealed humans. The majority of the canine teams are concentrated in four field offices along the Southwest border. In addition to the canine teams OFO deploys to the POEs, the USBP Canine Program deploys over 800 specialized detection canine teams — trained to detect concealed humans and narcotics — throughout the Nation. The majority of the canine teams are concentrated in the nine Sectors along the Southwest border. During FY 20162016, USBP canine teams were responsible for 41,807 human apprehensions and the seizure of 419,175 pounds of narcotics and $5,918,862 in currency.

The use of canines in the detection of narcotics is a team effort. CBP’s Laboratories and Scientific Services Directorate (LSSD) produces canine training aids and provides analytical support to the CBP Canine Training Program, including controlled substance purity determinations, pseudo training aid quality analyses, and research on delivery mechanisms that maximize safe vapor delivery during training exercises. From FY 20162016 to midyear FY 20172017, LSSD produced and delivered over 3,200 training aids to the Canine Program for training and certifications, representing a 72 percent production increase.

In addition to traditional scientific support, LSSD has been conducting special research aimed to determine the detection and identification of signature odor profiles for fentanyl compounds. OTD, OFO, USBP, CBP’s LSSD, Office of Chief Counsel, and Labor Employee Relations are working together to conduct a pilot course to assess the feasibility of safely and effectively adding fentanyl as a trained odor to OFO’s deployed narcotic detection canine teams. The project will continue through the remainder of FY 20172017, with evaluations conducted at scheduled benchmarks.

Search and Rescue

The Search and Rescue Handler course includes in-depth training and certification in all aspects of canine behavior, along with handling, training, and employing a dual-trained search and rescue trailing canine, as well as canine policy, case law and canine first-aid. Both the agent and canine are taught obedience, tracking/trailing, and large area search. The canine teams receive training in rappelling for helicopter operations, backtracking, and deployments in various environments (snow, desert, forest, and mountains). During FY 20162016, USBP search and rescue canines rescued 15 individuals.

During one notable rescue, occurring on May 14, 2016, El Centro Sector received a request from the Imperial County (California) Sheriff’s Office to respond to a 911 call. An El Centro Sector canine handler responded, and deployed his canine in an attempt to locate these subjects in the El Centro Station area of operations. While hiking into the area, the canine alerted to and located the four subjects in distress. All four subjects were provided medical treatment by the El Centro Sector Operators, and then turned over to Agents of the ELS Station for further processing.

A regimen added to the Search and Rescue capability, some canine teams are also trained in human remains and cadaver detection. This ability enables the team to assist in a myriad of situations ranging from locating the remains of persons who have expired in remote areas to assisting local law enforcement with suspicious death investigations and responding in recovery operations during natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

In FY 20162016, USBP human remains detection (HRD) canines assisted with a total of 11 human remains recoveries. On January 13, 2017, San Diego Sector USBP received a request from the Chula Vista Police department for HRD canine assistance near Otay River National Park. The search request was in regards to a Chula Vista Police Department missing person/homicide investigation that has been ongoing for approximately 12 years. USBP HRD canine handlers responded, and successfully recovered human remains.

Tracking/Trailing

The Tracking/Trailing Handler course is an added capability to teams previously trained in detection or patrol. This course includes in-depth training involving conditioning a canine to follow the route of a person or persons traversing various types of terrain. Groups of aliens and smuggling organizations routinely travel cross-country. In areas where the ground surface is rough, such as mountainous environments, canine teams are able to track and trail where tracking is otherwise difficult or impossible.

Track/trail canine teams are also used in the search for specific individuals. For example, USBP track/trail canine teams assisted in the manhunt for suspected cop killer Matthew Eric Frein in September 2014 in Pennsylvania, in what became a seven week deployment cycle. The USBP Special Operations Group (SOG) and Special Operations Detachments responded to the support request from the Pennsylvania State Police. Over the course of seven weeks, over 100 Border Patrol Tactical Unit, Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue and SOG-Intelligence Unit (SOG-IU) personnel, mission essential gear and equipment were deployed to Pennsylvania in search of the fugitive who ambushed two troopers, killing one. Frein was successfully apprehended on October 30, 2014.

Patrol

The Patrol Canine Handler course includes in-depth training and certification in all aspects of canine behavior, along with handling, training and employing a patrol canine to search, detain and when necessary physically subdue violent combative subjects. This course also includes training in canine policy, case law, and canine first-aid.

In FY 20162016, USBP Patrol canines assisted in a total of 167 apprehensions, including in the execution of 14 arrest warrants and 18 physical apprehensions. A notable canine deployment occurred on February 2 and 3, 2015 in the USBP Buffalo Sector in Erie, Pennsylvania. Named Operation Northern Stop, this operation involved the Drug Enforcement Administration; Homeland Security Investigations; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; United States Attorney’s Office; United States Postal Inspection Service; United States Marshal’s Service; Pennsylvania State Police, and Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. The target of this operation was a large drug trafficking organization linked to the Knights Templar Cartel, based in Mexico. This organization was active coast-to-coast in multiple states, and was responsible for the importation and distribution of large quantities of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine into and throughout the United States. Lauded a major success, and a significant blow to drug trafficking and distribution throughout the area, the operation resulted the arrest and prosecution of 30 subjects; the searching of 17 locations in northwestern Pennsylvania; the seizure of $1,285,006 in United States currency; the seizure of $432,252 in jewelry; and the seizure of 23 vehicles.

Canine Currency/Firearms Detection

The Currency/Firearms Detection Handler course includes in-depth training and certification in all aspects of canine behavior, along with handling, training and employing a passive indication detection canine, as well as canine policy, case law and canine first-aid. Both the officer and the canine are taught proper search sequences when searching pedestrians, private and commercial conveyances, freight, luggage, mail, open areas of land and structures. Only a few days ago, on May 2, 2017, a canine team in the El Centro Sector aided in the detection and seizure of $18,000 in currency, as well as narcotics valued at more than $1.3 million, including 20.6 pounds of heroin, and 20.1 lbs. of methamphetamine in a single event.2

Canine Instructor

The CBP Canine Training Program trains experienced agents/officers to function as canine instructors in each of the varied disciplines for their respective components. This consists of extensive academic and practical training on canine methodology and the theory of problem solving. The instructor develops the canines and handlers to function as a team from the initial point of training through to certification and graduation. Upon completion of training, instructors return to their respective stations/ports to provide policy mandated maintenance training, as well as exercises designed to enhance skill and performance levels for all certified teams. In addition, the instructor cadre provides insight and guidance to administrative staff and serves as subject matter experts on canine training, canine handling, canine deployment, and canine program related courtroom testimony.

Operational canine instructors are tasked with the team’s development throughout their tour within the canine unit. USBP currently has 304 canine instructors who train, enhance, and certify its 856 operational canine teams, providing a 1:3 ratio of instructors to handlers. USBP has determined that this instructor/handler ratio helps canine instructors better address complex subjects such as the operant3 conditioning principles and various problem solving issues that the most advanced level canine training entails.

2 Cash - $18,000; Heroin (20.6 lbs) - $659,200; Meth (20.1 lbs) - $643,200; Total Narcotics value $1,320,400
3 Operant conditioning is a type of learning where behavior is controlled by consequences, such as rewarding good behavior (positive reinforcement).

 

CBP Agriculture Canines

In 2003, when USDA transferred Plant Protection and Quarantine Officers to CBP, approximately 74 canine teams were included. Today, about 106 CBP agriculture canine teams provide screening at the border crossings, preclearance locations, air passenger terminals, cruise terminals, cargo warehouses, and mail facilities that process international passengers and commodities. All CBP agriculture specialist canine handlers and their canine partners complete the initial 10-13 week CBP Agriculture Specialist Canine Training at the USDA National Detector Dog Training Center (NDDTC). All the detector dogs at the NDDTC are adopted from rescue shelters in the United States or come to the program from private donations.

During a single week this month Murray, an agricultural canine and new addition to CBP, alerted to and helped intercepted more than 46 pounds of exotic fruit, peppers and beef found in checked bags at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The seized food products- including potatoes, chili peppers, tomatoes, banana passion fruits, yellow Dragon fruits and beef- were destroyed and the travelers were not penalized as they declared the agriculture products to CBP. Prohibited food items, invasive weed seeds and insects, and plant and animal diseases pose a significant threat to U.S. agricultural industries and our nation’s economy. On a typical day in FY 2016, CBP agriculture specialists discovered 404 pests at U.S. POEs and 4,638 materials for quarantine, helping keep our Nation and our economy safe.

CBP Canine Program Partnerships

CBP’s Office of International Affairs (INA) Technical Assistance Division (INA/ITAD) conducts International Border Interdiction training, funded by Department of State, for various countries worldwide. These courses provide instruction on multiple aspects of border security, including targeting and risk management, interdiction, smuggling, search methodologies, analysis, canine enforcement, and narcotics detection identification. INA/ITAD has conducted anti-smuggling training in heroin and opiate source countries such as Panama, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Afghanistan, Kenya, Cambodia, and the Philippines.

In 2015, at the request of the Government of Tanzania, the previous CBP Commissioner, and U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, the CBP Canine Training Program conducted an initial assessment of the Government of Tanzania’s capabilities with detection canines and canine training. The need and suitability of a start-up ivory and narcotic canine detection program to counter illegal wildlife and narcotics trafficking was identified. Immediately following the assessment, the CBP Canine Training Program developed a customized curriculum, with ivory as a newly trained odor, and were able to train four Tanzanian police officers who are posted at the Dar es Salaam Seaport and Airport. This entire effort was accomplished in approximately five months and led to one ivory trafficking arrest and narcotics seizure.

OTD is also active in sharing expertise in the United States. In 2016 the CBP Canine Training Program provided canine handler and instructor training for the Warren County Sheriff’s Department; El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; the National Park Service; Shelby County Sheriff’s Office; Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo Tribal Police Department; Washington State Police; New Mexico State Police; and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

TSA’s National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program

TSA procures, trains, and deploys explosives detection canine teams to secure our Nation’s transportation systems through visible deterrence and timely, mobile operations that support airports, mass transit, and other transportation facilities across the country. TSA’s National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program (NEDCTP) began as the Federal Aviation Administration’s Explosives Detection Canine Program in 1972 and transferred to TSA in 2002. Congress has recognized the value of TSA’s NEDCTP through its continued support and funding, including through increased funding in Fiscal Year FY 2017 appropriations. TSA’s NEDCTP is currently the largest explosives detection canine program in DHS, and the second largest in the federal government, with 1,047 funded National Explosives Detection Canine teams currently stationed at more than 100 of the Nation’s transportation venues. The success of TSA’s NEDCTP is a prime example of federal, state, and local governmental entities working together with a common goal—to protect the American people and secure transportation.

Given the security effectiveness of high quality explosive detection canines, TSA partners with the Department of Defense (DOD) as well as private industry to ensure a reliable and adequate supply of canines. TSA partners with DOD’s Military Working Dog Program to procure up to 280 canines per year. In addition to our work with DOD, TSA has contracts with several domestic vendors for suitable trained and untrained passenger screening canines. To support ongoing expansion of TSA’s canine program, TSA has made significant investments in infrastructure at the Canine Training Center (CTC). These investments have enabled TSA to increase throughput by 20 percent from Fiscal Year (FY) FY 2016 to FY 2017, including new teams for growth and attrition replacement.

Once TSA procures a canine, TSA pairs it with a federal, state, or local handler to be trained to operate in the aviation, maritime, mass transit, or cargo environments. The majority of canine teams working in the aviation environment today are comprised of a canine and a state or local law enforcement officer. For these teams, TSA provides and trains the dog, trains the handler, provides training aids and explosive storage magazines, and conducts on-site canine team training and re-certifications. TSA partially reimburses each participating agency for operational costs associated with maintaining the teams, including veterinarians’ fees, handlers’ salaries, dog food, and equipment. In return, the law enforcement agencies agree to use the canines in their assigned transportation environment for at least 80 percent of the handler’s duty time. State and local law enforcement participation in the program is voluntary, and these organizations play a critical role in TSA’s mission to ensure the safe movement of commerce and people throughout the Nation’s transportation security environment.

In addition to state and local law enforcement-led teams, TSA handlers lead 372 funded canine teams, including Passenger Screening Canine (PSC) teams, which are specifically trained to detect explosives’ odor on passengers and property as they traverse the terminal, in addition to their conventional explosives detection role. This number includes fifty new teams that were funded by Congress in FY 2017 appropriations.

TSA and state and local law enforcement handlers travel from across the country to TSA’s CTC, located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, to be paired with a canine and complete a 10-12 week training course. The canine teams learn explosives detection in an intense training environment, using 17 venues located on the CTC premises that mimic a variety of transportation sites such as a cargo facility, airport gate, passenger screening checkpoint, baggage claim area, aircraft interior, vehicle parking lot, light rail station, light rail car, and air cargo facility, among others. Teams are trained to detect a variety of explosives based on intelligence data and emerging threats.

Once a team graduates from the training program, they return to their duty station to acclimate and familiarize the canine to their assigned operational environment. Approximately 30 days after graduation, an Operational Transition Assessment (OTA) is conducted to ensure each team demonstrates operational proficiency in their environment. OTAs include four key elements: the canine’s ability to recognize explosives’ odors, the handler’s ability to interpret the canine’s change of behavior, the handler’s ability to conduct logical and systematic searches, and the team’s ability to locate the explosives’ odor source. Upon successful completion of the OTA, NEDCTP canine teams are then evaluated on an annual basis under the most stringent of applicable certification standards.

TSA allocates canine teams to specific cities and airports utilizing risk-based criteria that take into account multiple factors, including threat, passenger volume and throughput, and number of insiders with access to secure areas of the airport. PSC teams are critical to TSA’s risk-based security efforts and are deployed to operate during peak travel times at 42 of the Nation’s largest airports, where they have the opportunity to screen tens of thousands of passengers every day. PSC teams are trained to conduct traditional screening of objects such as luggage, cargo, and vehicles, and are an especially flexible security option. The additional teams recently funded by Congress will expand our ability to respond to transportation plots whether they target public areas, passenger screening checkpoints, or leverage an insider with access to the secure area.

In addition to deployments at passenger screening checkpoints, TSA and law enforcement-led teams conduct a variety of search and high visibility activities that address potential threats throughout the transportation domain. For example, canine teams provide visible deterrence and conduct explosives detection operations in transportation system public areas, and also conduct operations that mitigate insider threats in secured areas.

Canine teams have been proven to be one of the most effective means of detecting explosive substances. They are critical to TSA’s focus on security.

S&T’s Detection Canine Program

S&T’s Detection Canine Program has historically focused on specific explosives threats facing the homeland and how we can better understand the strengths and limitations of the specially-trained explosive detection canine. As a result, we can then inform our partners on how to best utilize this extremely capable detector in a comprehensive concept of operations. S&T maintains open lines of interaction with CBP and FEMA to address challenges with narcotics detection, human tracking, and urban search and rescue. In 2017, the scope of the detection canine program at S&T officially expanded to an all-threats focus.

The S&T canine program has three specific focus areas:

  • Development and testing of canine training aids: Primary focus has been on (1) low-cost, non-hazardous training aids that can be used to improve and test canine ability to detect new threats and (2) a laboratory instrumentation method to measure the training aid at or below the level of the detection of the canine.
  • Canine operational testing and evaluation: Provide an expert independent operational test and evaluation capability for detection canines, discover canine strengths and weaknesses by performing in-field assessments, and use a scientifically-rigorous approach with statistically-significant results to enhance and validate testing methods.
  • Canine research and development structure and function: Focus on more basic understanding of canine behavior, genetics, olfaction, and cognition of this detector to improve operational efficiencies and training methods.

S&T’s PBIED canine initiative was started in 2012 to understand the strengths and limits of canines specially trained to detect PBIEDs being carried by people, either on their person or in bags, in mass transit and large crowd event operational environments. S&T is the first to conduct this type of parametric study and testing, which is critical to scientifically determine the limits of performance.

In 2017, the Detection Canine Program transitioned a patented non-hazardous peroxide-based training aid for operational use by the TSA canine program. This training aid addresses the threat used in Brussels and Paris and allows for use in operational scenarios including vehicle, baggage, and person-based threats. This aid is in use by all TSA canine teams at over 100 airports nationwide. The aid is also licensed for commercial production and sale to over 4,000 domestic explosive detection canine teams in the law enforcement community.

S&T has established critical enduring capabilities to facilitate rapid response to emerging threats. Coupling partnerships with National Capital Region detection canine teams and world-renowned laboratory analysis capabilities has allowed an integrated approach to our test and evaluation focus. S&T’s contributions to the Homeland Security Enterprise include understanding of both the inherent capacity for the canine to detect a new threat and how to establish proficiency where needed. S&T, supporting DHS and interagency partners, has contributed rapid determinations of the canine detection capability on many threats.

S&T has established strong international partnerships for explosives detection canine use that have significantly impacted our international air cargo policy. In 2015, at the request of TSA, S&T conducted extensive assessments of the use of Remote Explosive Scent Tracing (REST) methodologies - which involves detection canines inspecting vapor samples on special filters - in the United Kingdom (UK), France and the Netherlands to determine if the screening method met or exceeded TSA standards for explosives screening. Following S&T’s work, the TSA Administrator authorized incoming air cargo from Dutch and French airports that use REST. Additionally, S&T identified improvements that could be made to the UK’s methodology. This input informed the UK to re-evaluate their certification methods and improve their screening methodology for detection of explosive materials in air cargo.

This year, S&T’s detection canine program launched the Regional Explosives Detection Dog Initiative (REDDI) in support of the state and local law enforcement canine community. This extends outreach for our program to the state and local community to create better partnerships and validate capability gaps. REDDI events aim at advancing the knowledge and capability of our Nation’s explosive detection canine teams. S&T will provide a series of regionally-based events for detection canine teams in the law enforcement community, including odor recognition trials, reality-based operational search scenarios, odor exercises and demonstrations, shared knowledge on IEDs emphasizing homemade explosives, and an overview on explosive odor chemistry. The first REDDI event was held in southwest Florida in March 2017, with a second event in Connecticut in April 2017. Several events are planned throughout the country in the coming months. Alongside canine teams gaining valuable experience and an independent evaluation of their operational readiness, S&T gathers valuable data to validate current program priorities, guide future investments, and increase the knowledge base to share with the whole detection canine community.

S&T has already begun to expand into other mission areas with potential to benefit from canine detection:

  • S&T has a Memorandum of Agreement with FEMA to address some of the challenges of urban search and rescue teams. S&T is in the second phase of development of a canine-wearable vest that will provide fully-stabilized video, high-fidelity location in GPS-denied situations, and communications from canine to handler to command center. This effort is executing through S&T’s Small Business Innovative Research Program.
  • The canine program is also one of the first participants in S&T’s Silicon Valley Initiative Program, through which the Department reaches out to non-traditional performers and those who have not previously contracted with the government to address DHS research and development needs.
  • S&T has an active effort with CBP to identify canine-wearable technologies that monitor health of the canine while being ruggedized to survive the environments where they train and deploy.

The Detection Canine Program is a prime example of how S&T helps operators and end users in the Homeland Security Enterprise harness science and technology to more effectively and efficiently achieve their missions. The program has been enormously successful building a detection canine community and using that community to develop and transition powerful new capabilities to operators.

Conclusion

DHS’s canine teams offer unique capabilities across various disciplines and can be deployed throughout diverse operating environments, and will continue to consistently adapt to meet the DHS mission while providing a more mobile and rapid response in order to lead the way into the future. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this important program with you today.

Topics:  Explosives, Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  Canines, detection canines, National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program, explosive detection canine, Passenger Screening Canine

Written testimony of USCG Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft for a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing titled “Requirements, Priorities, and Future Acquisition Plans”

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: May 18, 2017

2007 Rayburn House Office Building

Good morning Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to testify today and thank you for your enduring support of the United States Coast Guard.

As the world’s premier, multi-mission, maritime service, the Coast Guard offers a unique and enduring value to the Nation. The only branch of the U.S. Armed Forces within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a federal law enforcement agency, a regulatory body, a first responder, and a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community – the Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to help secure the border, combat transnational criminal organizations (TCO), and safeguard America’s economic prosperity.

Indeed, the Coast Guard’s combination of broad authorities and complementary capabilities squarely align with the Administration’s priorities, and I am proud of the return on investment your Coast Guard delivers on an annual basis.

I appreciate the unwavering support of this Subcommittee to address our most pressing needs. I will continue working with Secretary Kelly, the Administration, and this Congress to preserve momentum for our existing acquisition programs and employ risk-based decisions to balance readiness, modernization, and force structure with the evolving demands of the 21st century.

Appropriately positioned in DHS, the Coast Guard is a military Service and a branch of the Armed Forces of the United States at all times.1 We are also an important part of the modern Joint Force,2 and a force multiplier for the Department of Defense (DoD). I am proud of our enduring defense contributions to Combatant Commanders around the globe.

In addition to the six cutters operating as part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) since 2003, other defense operations include:

  • Port Security Units (PSUs) support Combatant Commanders with 24-hour protection of vessels, waterways, and port facilities. These specialized teams have deployed almost continuously to strategic ports in Kuwait and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002.
  • Deployable Specialized Forces Advanced Interdiction Teams support U. S. Central Command (CENTCOM) vessel board, search, and seizure operations.
  • Aircrews perform rotary-wing air intercept operations in support of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Specially trained aviators intercept aircraft that enter restricted airspace in the National Capital Region and during National Security Special Events around the country.
  • Assets and personnel deploy worldwide in support of defense operations and fully participate in major international exercises. As the Coast Guard is similar in size, composition, and missions to most of the world’s navies, we are a frequent engagement partner of choice to support Combatant Commander goals.

Like the other military Services, the Coast Guard supports all efforts to rebuild the Armed Forces.

Secretary Kelly leads the Department’s efforts to secure our borders, and the Administration’s strategy “to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation’s southern border…”3 relies on the Coast Guard supporting a comprehensive security strategy. The Coast Guard protects the maritime border – not just here at home, but also off the coast of South and Central America. As Secretary Kelly has stated, “…the defense of the southwest border really starts about 1,500 miles south…”4

We continue to face a significant threat from TCOs, and the Coast Guard is positioned to attack these criminal networks where they are most vulnerable, at sea. We leverage over 40 international maritime law enforcement bilateral agreements to enable partner nation interdictions and prosecutions, and employ a robust interdiction package to seize multi-ton loads of drugs at sea before they can be broken down into small quantities ashore.

In close collaboration with partner Nations and agencies, the Coast Guard works to engage threats as far from U.S. shores as possible. In 2016, Coast Guard and partner agencies interdicted more cocaine at sea than was removed at the land border and across the entire nation by all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies – combined. A service record 201.3 metric tons of cocaine (7.1% of estimated flow)5 was removed from the western transit zone, 585 smugglers were detained, and 156 cases were referred for prosecution.

Coast Guard readiness relies on the ability to simultaneously execute our full suite of missions and sustain support to Combatant Commanders, while also being ready to respond to contingencies. Your Coast Guard prides itself on being Semper Paratus – Always Ready, and predictable and sufficient funding is necessary to maintain this readiness in the future. Prudence also demands we continue investing in a modernized Coast Guard. Indeed, recapitalization remains my highest priority, and today’s activities will shape our Coast Guard and impact national security for decades. Your support has helped us make tremendous progress, and it is critical we build upon our successes to field assets that meet cost, performance, and schedule milestones. I am encouraged by our progress to date.

In 2016, we awarded a contract to complete build out of our fleet of 58 Fast Response Cutters – at an affordable price – and the last four ships (numbers 19 through 22) were delivered by Bollinger Shipyards with zero discrepancies. In September, we achieved a monumental goal with the award of a contract for Detail Design and Construction of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). These cutters will eventually comprise 70 percent of Coast Guard surface presence in the offshore zone. OPCs will provide the tools to more effectively enforce federal laws, secure our maritime borders by interdicting threats before they arrive on our shores, disrupt TCOs, and respond to 21st century threats. With the continued support of the Administration and Congress, we anticipate ordering long lead time material for the first OPC later this year, and plan for its delivery in 2021.

We also generated momentum to build new polar icebreakers. In July of last year I made a commitment to partner with the Navy to establish an Integrated Program Office to acquire new heavy icebreakers. This approach leverages the expertise of both organizations and is delivering results. The recent award of multiple Industry Studies contracts – a concept the Navy has utilized in previous shipbuilding acquisitions to drive affordability and reduce schedule and technical risk – is an example of the positive results of this partnership. We will continue refining the system specification and prepare to release a request for proposal for Detail Design and Construction in FY 2018.

We are also making progress with unmanned aerial systems. A recent small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) proof of concept aboard a National Security Cutter (NSC) validated this capability and will enhance the effectiveness of these cutters. In its inaugural month underway, STRATTON's sUAS flew 191 flight hours, providing real-time surveillance and detection imagery for the cutter, and assisting the embarked helicopter and law enforcement teams with the interdiction or disruption of four go-fast vessels carrying more than 5,000 pounds of contraband. In addition, we are exploring options to build a land-based UAS program that will improve domain awareness and increase the cued intelligence our surface assets rely upon to close illicit pathways in the maritime transit zone. While long-term requirements are being finalized, I can fully employ a squadron of six platforms outfitted with marine-capable sensors now and am moving out to field this much-needed capability.

In addition to the focus on recapitalizing our surface and aviation fleets, we are also mindful of the condition of our shore infrastructure. Investments in shore infrastructure are also critical to modernizing the Coast Guard and equipping our workforce with the facilities they require to meet mission.

America’s economic prosperity is reliant on the safe, secure, and efficient flow of cargo through the Maritime Transportation System (MTS), which sees $4.5 trillion of economic activity annually. The Nation’s maritime industry and the MTS face many challenges, including growing demands, a global industry-driven need to reduce shipping’s environmental footprint, and the ever-increasing complexity of systems and technology.

Coast Guard marine safety programs employ our unique capabilities to ensure a safe, secure, and environmentally sound MTS. We do this by developing risk-based standards, training and employing a specialized workforce, and conducting investigations into accidents and violations of laws so standards can be improved. We are mindful of the need to facilitate commerce, not impede it, and remain committed to our prevention missions.

While readiness and modernization investments will improve current mission performance, the right force is central to success. I am incredibly proud of our 88,000 active duty, reserve, civil service, and auxiliary members. I am working aggressively to validate a transparent and repeatable model to identify the appropriate force structure required for the Coast Guard to simultaneously respond to global, national, and regional events.

Funding 21st century Coast Guard platforms and people is a smart investment, even in this challenging fiscal environment. Modern assets bring exceptional capability, but our greatest strength will always be our people. Coast Guard operations require a capable, proficient, and resilient workforce that draws upon the broad range of skills, talents, and experiences found in the American population. Together, modern platforms and a strong, resilient workforce will maximize the Coast Guard’s capacity to meet future challenges.

History has proven that a responsive, capable, and agile Coast Guard is an indispensable instrument of national security. With the continued support of the Administration and Congress, the Coast Guard will continue to live up to our motto. We will be Semper Paratus – Always Ready. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today and for all you do for the men and women of the Coast Guard. I look forward to your questions.

1 14 USC § 1.
2 In addition to the Coast Guard’s status as an Armed Force (10 U.S.C. § 101), see also Memorandum of Agreement Between the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security on the Use of Coast Guard Capabilities and Resources in Support of the National Military Strategy, 02 May 2008, as amended 18 May 2010.
3 Executive Order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, 25 January 2017.
4 Secretary Kelly Hearing Testimony, “Ending the Crisis: America’s Borders and the Path to Security” before the House Homeland Security Full Committee and Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security Joint Hearing on America’s Borders, Panel 1, 07 February 2017.
5 [US Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Review of U.S. Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2016 Drug Control Performance Summary, OIG Report, OIG-17-33, February 1, 2017. ]

 

Topics:  Air, Border Security, Maritime Keywords:  acquisitions

Joint Statement by the European Commission and DHS on Aviation Security Cooperation

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 14:31
Release Date: May 17, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

BRUSSELS – Today, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, hosted a delegation from the United States in Brussels, led by Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, to discuss issues related to aviation security and safety.

At the meeting, both sides exchanged information on the serious evolving threats to aviation security and approaches to confronting such threats. Participants provided insight into existing aviation security standards and detection capabilities as well as recent security enhancements on both sides of the Atlantic related to large electronic devices placed in checked baggage.

The United States and the European Union reaffirmed their commitment to continue working closely together on aviation security generally, including meeting next week in Washington D.C. to further assess shared risks and solutions for protecting airline passengers, whilst ensuring the smooth functioning of global air travel. 

 

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Topics:  Air Keywords:  deputy secretary, aviation security, europe

Statement By Secretary Kelly On The Reissuance Of The NTAS Bulletin

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 08:18
Release Date: May 16, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly announced the issuance of an updated National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin pertaining to the homegrown terror threat.

“After careful consideration of the current threat environment and input from intelligence and law enforcement partners, I have made the decision to update and extend for six months the NTAS Bulletin based on the persistent threat from homegrown terrorists,” said Secretary Kelly. “We are in a generational fight against terrorist groups and those they inspire, and for us to protect our homeland we will need constant vigilance and clear focus on staying a step ahead of the enemy.”

This marks the fourth iteration of the Bulletin on the homegrown threat, which has been reissued twice previously since the initial Bulletin was released in December 2015.

To read the new NTAS Bulletin, click https://www.dhs.gov/national-terrorism-advisory-system.

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Topics:  DHS Enterprise, Homeland Security Enterprise, National Terrorism Advisory System Keywords:  NTAS, Bulletin, National Terrorism Advisory System

Fact Sheet: The Fiscal Year 2017 Budget

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 07:57
Release Date: May 15, 2017

On May 5, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, which provides the Department of Homeland Security with $42.4 billion in net discretionary funding to carry out its five primary missions: prevent terrorism and enhance security; secure and manage our borders; enforce and administer our immigration laws; safeguard and secure cyberspace; and strengthen national preparedness and resilience. This is $1.8 billion more than the original FY 2017 Budget Request and $1.5 billion more than the FY 2016 enacted level.

The budget sustains current DHS operations while offering enhancements to border security and immigration operations in support of the President’s Executive Orders on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements. It also includes funding for 40 miles of replacement border fencing, and funds FEMA state and local grants to prepare states, local governments, tribes, and territories at $2.7 billion, sustaining FY 2016 enacted levels, including $1.3 billion for state, local and tribal grants, $690 million for firefighter assistance grants, and $350 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants.

Additionally, it funds U.S. Coast Guard operations at $344 million above the FY 2017 budget request, allowing the Coast Guard to continue procurement of advanced ships, aircraft and unmanned systems, as well as to address backlogs and repairs to facilities damaged by Hurricane Matthew.

Additional highlights of the 2017 budget include:

  • $2.7 billion in grants for state and local communities; $501 million above the FY 2017 budget request.
  • $7.3 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), of which $6.7 billion supports emergency funding for major disasters.
  • $10.5 billion for the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • $292 million for 40 miles of replacement fence along the Southwest border.
  • $79 million for border technology, $16 million for an additional multi-role enforcement aircraft, $32 million for six additional light enforcement helicopters, $44 million for continued deployment of Integrated Fixed Towers, and $19 million for the small unmanned aerial system program.
  • $3.2 billion to support ICE’s enforcement and removal operations supporting custody, transportation, and the Alternatives to Detention program.
  • $50 million for White House fence replacement.
  • Provides the National Protection and Programs Directorate with $225 million for Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigations which protects agencies against exploitation by unauthorized and unmanaged hardware and software.
  • Provides the National Protection and Programs Directorate with $468 million for the National Cybersecurity Protection System which provides a wide range of cybersecurity capabilities for the .gov domain including intrusion detection, intrusion prevention, advanced cyber analytics, information sharing, and core infrastructure using classified and unclassified information.

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Topics:  DHS Enterprise Keywords:  budget, 2017 budget request

DHS Statement on Ongoing Ransomware Attacks

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 19:49
Release Date: May 12, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security is aware of reports of ransomware known as WannaCry affecting multiple global entities.  Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users’ access to it until a ransom is paid to unlock it.  Microsoft released a patch in March that addresses this specific vulnerability, and installing this patch will help secure your systems from the threat. Individual users are often the first line of defense against this and other threats, and we encourage all Americans to update your operating systems and implement vigorous cybersecurity practices at home, work, and school.  These practices include:

  • Update your systems to include the latest patches and software updates.
  • Do not click on or download unfamiliar links or files in emails.
  • Back up your data to prevent possible loss, whether you are at a home, work, or school computer.

We are actively sharing information related to this event and stand ready to lend technical support and assistance as needed to our partners, both in the United States and internationally.  DHS has a cadre of cybersecurity professionals that can provide expertise and support to critical infrastructure entities.

DHS also leads the federal government’s efforts to protect civilian executive branch agency systems and networks. In partnership with each agency’s Chief Information Officer we are ensuring our own networks are protected against the threat.

For more information, DHS has previously released information on best practices to address ransomware. That information is available on our website at https://www.us-cert.gov/security-publications/Ransomware.

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Topics:  Cybersecurity Keywords:  cyber incident, Cybersecurity, cybersecurity activity

President’s Executive Order Will Strengthen Cybersecurity for Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 17:21
Release Date: May 11, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – The Executive Order signed by the president today, Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure, follows through on a key campaign promise made to the American people. It reaffirms the important role the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays in strengthening the security and resilience of federal networks and the nation’s critical infrastructure.

“Our nation’s economic and national security rely on a safe, secure, and reliable cyber space,” said Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly. “DHS has long been a leader in protecting our nation against cyber threats and this executive order reaffirms our central role in ongoing cybersecurity efforts. We have developed strong operational relationships with our government partners to protect federal civilian networks and have established trusted partnerships with the private sector to improve the cybersecurity of the nation’s critical infrastructure.”

The Executive Order, which builds on DHS’s legal authorities, directs the department to assess and report on a number of key actions in order to secure federal networks. While each department or agency is responsible for the cybersecurity of its networks, DHS leads these efforts and ensures a baseline level of security across the civilian executive branch. The Executive Order bolsters this work by:

  • Directing agency heads to immediately use the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework for risk management, and to provide within 90 days a risk management report to DHS and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the implementation of the framework and risk management strategies employed by the department or agency.
  • Directing DHS and OMB to assess federal agencies’ cybersecurity risk management strategies in order to determine the adequacy of cyber protections across federal networks and identify any unmet budgetary or policy needs.
  • Directing DHS and OMB to provide a plan to the president, within 60 days of receiving the agency reports, on how to protect the executive branch enterprise.
  • Directing DHS and other agencies to provide the president with a report within 90 days on the technical feasibility to transition all agencies to one or more consolidated network architectures and shared IT services.

The Executive Order also enhances the department’s ability to support the cybersecurity efforts of the nation’s critical infrastructure owners and operators. This includes:

  • Directing DHS to lead the coordination with other departments and agencies to identify federal resources and capabilities best suited to protect critical infrastructure where a cyber incident could have catastrophic effects.
  • Directing DHS and the Department of Commerce to provide a report within 90 days to the president on how best to promote market transparency of cyber risk management practices by critical infrastructure entities.
  • Directing DHS and the Department of Commerce to lead efforts to improve the resilience of the nation’s core communications infrastructure; providing a preliminary report within 240 days and a final report within one year.
  • Enhancing DHS’ partnership with the Department of Energy to assess the resilience of the electric grid and provide an assessment within 90 days of any gaps in the security of the nation’s electric subsector.
  • Directing DHS, the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide a report within 90 days to the president assessing the cybersecurity of the defense industrial base.

The Internet is part of the underpinning of the American economy, and the Executive Order affirms that it is the policy of the United States to promote an open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet. In furtherance of this policy, the Executive Order:

  • Directs an interagency team, including DHS, to submit a report within 90 days to the president on the nation’s strategic options for deterring adversaries and better protecting the American people from threats in cyberspace.
  • Directs an interagency team, including DHS, to submit a report within 45 days on international cybersecurity priorities; and within 90 days of the submission of the priorities report, develop an international cybersecurity engagement strategy.
  • Directs DHS and Department of Commerce to lead coordination with other agencies and submit a report within 120 days the findings and recommendations to support the growth and sustainment of the Nation’s cybersecurity workforce.

Strengthening the security and resilience of cyberspace is an important part of the homeland security mission. The president’s Executive Order builds upon existing capabilities and authorities while strengthening the department’s ability to carry out its mission of protecting federal networks, supporting critical infrastructure owners and operators, and ensuring an open and reliable Internet for all Americans.

# # #

Topics:  Critical Infrastructure Security, Cybersecurity Keywords:  Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community, Cybersecurity, cybersecurity activity, critical infrastructure

Readout of Secretary Kelly's trip to Jordan and Saudi Arabia

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 16:55
Release Date: May 9, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Secretary John F. Kelly visited Aqaba, Jordan and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from May 5 to May 8 to participate in high-level meetings with foreign partners and to advance cooperation on a range of security issues.

In Jordan, the Secretary met with His Majesty King Abdullah II and discussed current challenges in the region, including the dynamic threat from terrorist groups, as well as shared interests in aviation and border security.  He later participated in the Aqaba Process, a multi-national forum led by King Abdullah to examine the growing terror threat in South East Asia and how to better counter radicalization.

The Secretary also visited a Jordan-Israel border crossing to observe screening processes and discuss how information systems are used to detect and interdict illicit cargo, criminals, and extremists, while facilitating legitimate trade and travel.

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Secretary met with Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of the Interior Mohammed Bin Nayef Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud and other senior officials regarding bilateral cooperation, including counterterrorism, information sharing, border and maritime security, cyber threats, and aviation security.

Secretary Kelly visited the historic Al-Shafi Mosque located in the Old City of Jeddah.  He also toured the Beyt Nasseef Heritage House, located in Jeddah’s historic district.

The Secretary also visited the Mohammed Bin Nayef Center for Counseling and Care to observe the Kingdom’s unique rehabilitation efforts focused on preventing terrorist recidivism through training, reintegration, and teaching counter-extremist ideology.

Opportunities for further collaboration were explored across the broad DHS portfolio, to include cyber- crime capacity building, counter-illicit finance investigations, maritime and aviation security, and border screening technology.

The Secretary was joined in Saudi Arabia by the President’s Homeland Security Advisor, Thomas Bossert.

 

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Keywords:  Secretary Kelly, counterterrorism, Border Security, aviation security, Maritime

Written testimony of USCG for a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hearing titled “Maritime Transportation Regulatory Issues”

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: May 3, 2017

2167 Rayburn House Office Building

Good morning Chairman Hunter, Ranking Member Garamendi, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. It is my pleasure to be here today to discuss the Coast Guard’s regulatory program.

America’s economic prosperity is reliant on the safe, secure, and efficient flow of cargo through the Marine Transportation System (MTS). The Nation’s waterways support $4.5 trillion of economic activity each year, including over 250,000 American jobs.1 U.S. economic stability, production, and consumption, enabled by the intermodal transportation of goods through the midstream economy, are critical to American prosperity and national security. This trade-driven economic prosperity serves as a wellspring for our power and serves as a leading source of our influence in the world. The Coast Guard’s marine safety program and regulatory process advance American prosperity by leveraging our unique capabilities to ensure that the MTS operates safely, predictably, and securely. We are mindful of the need to facilitate commerce, not impede it, and our marine safety program does this by helping to level the playing field for industry through a federal framework of common-sense regulations, that are enforced in a predictable and consistent manner across America’s 360 ports. Coast Guard regulations and our regulatory compliance functions provide the means for investors and operators to evaluate and manage risk, promoting investment and innovation throughout the maritime sector. This federal framework levels the playing field, enabling U.S. shipping to compete internationally and U.S. ports to compete equally against each other, while protecting American interests from the risk of foreign-flagged sub-standard shipping in our ports and waters.

The maritime industry is a dynamic industry that includes many components. The maritime industry includes ships and mariners that sail our waters, the ports and facilities they call upon, the waterways upon which commerce moves, and water-bourne access to maritime natural resources. Our maritime industry provides vital transportation along marine highways, enables the harvesting of marine and offshore natural resources, supports recreation, and facilitates interstate and international trade. By providing access to transportation, trade, and natural resources, the maritime industry supports our Nation’s economic prosperity and is a key driver for our national economy.

As the lead federal regulator for the maritime industry, the Coast Guard must be attentive to the industry’s changing needs and dynamic challenges. Amidst emerging trends and needs within the MTS and the maritime industry, the Coast Guard’s underlying concept of operations and our approach to continuous improvement remains unchanged. The Coast Guard continues to conduct our work, using the same concept of operations that has guided us for decades: the Coast Guard develops standards for safe, secure, and environmentally soundoperations in the MTS; the Coast Guard assesses and enforces compliance with those standards; and when failures occur, the Coast Guard aggressively investigates them and drives the lessons learned back into our compliance and standards activities. These three phases of operations rely on our ability to leverage our marine safety workforce, engage other governmental, non-governmental, and industry partners, and manage risks and information. As shown in Figure 1, this operating concept applies across all of our prevention responsibilities including marine safety, maritime security, and environmental protection. Further, this concept of operations guides our interaction with each segment of the maritime industry including the vessels, facilities, mariners, and waterways. Lastly, this concept of operations is a reminder that the vessels and mariners operate within a broader MTS and that our responsibilities for marine safety extend beyond the vessels and mariners to include safe navigation and safe port operations.


Figure 1: Prevention Concept of Operations

 

Our concept of operations and service desire for continuous improvement are foundational strengths which will enable us to adapt to changing industry demands while meeting public expectations for effective oversight.

1 “Ports’ Value to the U.S. Economy: Exports, Jobs & Economic Growth.” American Association of Port Authorities, http://www.aapa-ports.org/advocating/content.aspx?ItemNumber=21150, Accessed April 17, 2017.

 

Challenges from a Dynamic Maritime Industry

Over the past decade, legislative and regulatory changes have led to increased oversight of fishing and towing vessels with the Coast Guard now examining or inspecting as many as 30,000 additional commercial fishing vessels and 5,000 additional commercial towing vessels. While the recent downturn in domestic oil production eroded much of the previous years' petroleum related growth, current shipment of other commodities, such as liquefied natural gas exports, set new highs. In addition to meeting the challenges of a dynamic industry, the Coast Guard regulatory and compliance programs must contend with the growing capacity of the MTS and address the increasing complexity in the maritime industry.

In the face of these challenges, our fundamental approach remains the same. The Coast Guard will continue to strive to reduce casualties, improve service, improve mission management, and continue to inform common-sense regulations that are consistently applied around the country. The Coast Guard must continue to adapt our standards and compliance processes, enhance our technical competency, and increase the productivity of our workforce to keep pace with advancements in the maritime industry.

Updates to the Coast Guard Regulatory Program and Status of Implementation of Regulations
Figure 2: Number of Active Rulemaking Projects

 

With progress made on older rulemakings, the average rule development time has been reduced from 6.2 years at the end of FY 2009 to 5.7 years in 2017. The Coast Guard anticipates further reductions by prioritizing completion of older rulemaking projects. Further, the Coast Guard is actively participating in a DHS-wide (and interagency) effort to identify, consolidate, eliminate, and revise regulations where possible. We recognize the necessity of soliciting public comments and working with Advisory Committees, standards organizations, and many industry partners in our rulemaking projects, and any potential regulation reductions or consolidations, to develop clear economic impact analyses. Our disciplined, detail-driven approach takes time, but results in rules and regulatory changes whose benefits outweigh the costs.

Noteworthy Publications

Table 1 shows the notable publications in FY 2016 and thus far in FY 2017.

Table 1: Notable Publications Fiscal Year Rule (Date Published) Phase 2016 Cargo Securing Manuals (May 9, 2016)
International agreement provision
Implements requirements for a cargo securing manual on certain vessels operating on international voyages. Final Rule Inspection of Towing Vessels (June 20, 2016)
Statutory mandate
Adds towing vessels to the list of vessels requiring Coast Guard inspection. Final Rule Commercial Fishing Vessels – Implementation of 2010 and 2012 Legislation (June 21, 2016)
Statutory mandate
Aligns regulations with legislation for training, equipment, vessel examinations, and voyage termination for unsafe operations. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Tanker Automatic Pilot Systems July 11, 2016)
Harmonizes with international standards for automatic pilot systems on tankers operating in safety fairways and traffic separation schemes. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Reader Requirements (August 23, 2016)
Statutory mandate
Establishes standards for devices used to read TWIC cards. Final Rule 2017 International Maritime Organization Polar Code Certificate (November 22, 2016)
International agreement provision
Adds the Polar Code Certificate to the list of certificates the Coast Guard or a Recognized Organization can issue. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Marine Casualty Property Damage Threshold (January 23, 2017)
Raises the threshold for required accident reporting. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Great Lakes Pilotage – 2017 Annual Review and Adjustment (April 5, 2017)
Statutory mandate
Proposes updated rates for pilotage of vessels on the Great Lakes Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Recreational Boat Flotation Standards--Update of Outboard Engine Weight Test Requirements (April 5, 2017)
Statutory mandate
update the table of outboard engine weights used in calculating safe loading capacities and required amounts of flotation material Interim Rule

 

The rules noted in Table 1 are priority rulemaking actions including Congressional mandates, rules required to implement international agreement provisions, and discretionary rulemakings to improve vessel and mariner safety or update equipment standards.

A current list of active regulatory projects, for which information is publicly available, is maintained at www.reginfo.gov, and at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg523/projects.asp. These lists also contain links to the Unified Agenda, dockets, and other information sources.

Progress on Statutory Mandates

Of the 59 rules in the regulatory development portfolio, 21 are statutory mandates. Table 2 lists 9 rules published in the 2016 Fall Regulatory Agenda that originate from a statutory mandate.

Table 2: Rules with Statutory Mandate listed in the Fall 2016 Regulatory Agenda Title RIN Stage Numbering Undocumented Barges 1625-AA14 Proposed Rule Outer Continental Shelf Activities 1625-AA18 Proposed Rule Offshore Supply Vessels of at Least 6000 GT ITC 1625-AB62 Final Rule Higher Volume Port Area – State of Washington 1625-AB75 Final Rule Revision to Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Requirements 1625-AB80 Proposed Rule Revision to Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Requirements for Mariners 1625-AB80 Final Rule Stage Commercial Fishing Vessels--Implementation of 2010 and 2012 Legislation 1625-AB85 Proposed Rule Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 1625-AB91 Final Rule Seafarer’s Access to Maritime Facilities 1625-AC15 Final Rule Great Lakes Pilotage Rates – 2017 Annual Review and Adjustment 1625-AC34 Final Rule

 

Updates to Implementation of the revised International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW)

The 2010 amendments to STCW entered into force on January 1, 2017. The Coast Guard issued a final rule on December 24, 2013, to incorporate these updates to U.S. regulations. Since that time, the Coast Guard has issued over 30 additional policy and guidance documents to assist U.S. mariners and the maritime and training industries in compliance with the new requirements.2 As noted by the Government Accountability Office in a report to this committee in January 2017, the vast majority of the industry was prepared to implement STCW amendments and was pleased with the Coast Guard’s implementation of the new requirements. This initiative serves as a prime example of the Coast Guard’s ability to partner with industry in the implementation of a new regulatory regime, enabling American mariners to remain competitive worldwide while providing ship operators assurance of the competence and skill of their crews.

2 U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Most Training Providers Expect to Implement Revised International Maritime Standards by the Deadline Despite Challenges,” GAO-17-40, January 2017.

 

Update on Implementation of Fishing Vessel Examinations

The requirement for mandatory dockside safety examinations of commercial fishing vessels at least once every five years was implemented in October 2015. The Coast Guard conducted extensive stakeholder outreach prior to the implementation, including dockside courtesy visits by Coast Guard personnel, presentations by Coast Guard personnel to various regional fisheries management councils and safety advisory committees, and a letter to industry distributed in August 2015 followed by a Marine Safety Information Bulletin issued in October 2015. In general, the commercial fishing vessel industry has been receptive to these requirements and compliance rates have been high.

Update on Implementation of Towing Vessel Inspections

The Final Rule implementing mandatory inspection of towing vessels was published on June 20, 2016, and became effective on July 20, 2016. This rule applies to approximately 5,500 U.S.-flag towing vessels, increasing the U.S. certificated fleet by approximately 50 percent. The rule, published in 33 CFR Subchapter M, provides two distinct compliance options:

  • The Towing Safety Management System, or “TSMS Option,” using a Coast Guard authorized SMS along with an associated scheme of audits and surveys by a Third Party Organization (TPO) to verify compliance; or,
  • The traditional Coast Guard annual inspection or the “CG Inspection Option.”

We developed and are executing a multi-pronged implementation strategy, including preparation of additional guidance documents, training of Coast Guard personnel on the new requirements, and engagement of stakeholders on a recurring basis and in a variety of venues. We will begin issuing Certificates of Inspection to existing towing vessels on July 20, 2018, but are already well along in our outreach and TPO approval process. This two-year delay permits Coast Guard review of TPOs, and allows existing vessels to implement SMS and procure any equipment needed to comply with these new requirements.

Conclusion

The Coast Guard continues to sustain and improve its regulatory development and compliance program to ensure safety, security and environmental compliance within the MTS. Through streamlining internal processes, balancing input from maritime stakeholders, careful analysis of alternatives, and thorough evaluation of the cost and benefit of each rule, we are focused on ensuring every Coast Guard action sustains the smooth operation of the MTS, without imposing unnecessary costs on U.S. entities competing in a global industry.

Thank you for your continued support and the opportunity to testify before you today. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Topics:  Maritime Keywords:  Maritime Transportation Regulations

Written testimony of CBP, ICE, PLCY for a House Committee on Homeland Security, Task Force on Denying Terrorist Entry into the United States hearing titled “Preventing Terrorists from Acquiring U.S. Visas”

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: May 3, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairman Gallagher, Ranking Member Watson Coleman, and distinguished Committee Members.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent terrorists and other criminal actors from entering the United States, either by acquiring U.S. visas or traveling through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This work involves close interagency collaboration and partnership with foreign governments. Ultimately, traveler screening and vetting is an integral component of our responsibility to protect the homeland, and DHS employs a multi-layered strategy to do so.

Furthermore, as called for in Section 5 of the President’s Executive Order (EO) 13780, Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States, DHS is diligently working with the Departments of State (DOS) and Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to implement a uniform baseline for screening and vetting standards and procedures. These standards seek “to identify individuals who seek to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis, who support terrorism, violent extremism, acts of violence toward any group or class of people within the United States, or who present a risk of causing harm subsequent to their entry.”

DHS Secretary John F. Kelly has made clear that blocking terrorists and criminals from accessing the United States is one of his highest priorities, and the Administration is undertaking serious and sustained efforts to ensure that we keep bad actors from reaching our shores and endangering our people. As part of this effort, we are modernizing screening, expanding information sharing within our government and with foreign partners, and exploring innovative approaches for detecting threat actors. By focusing on better obstructing terrorists and criminals, we can more effectively facilitate legitimate trade and travel.

Pushing Out the Zone of Security

Secretary Kelly noted in his remarks at George Washington University on April 18, 2017, that “[t]he more we push our borders out, the safer our homeland will be.” The Secretary went on to highlight in those remarks the importance of knowing who is coming into the country and what their intent for coming is prior to their arrival “at our doorstep.” There are a multitude of activities, efforts, and programs that DHS and its Component Agencies undertake to do just that.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspected over 390 million travelers at 328 ports of entry (POE), of which over 119 million flew into air POEs. CBP’s pre-departure strategy is one of the ways by which DHS assists our interagency, foreign government, and private sector partners to deny international travel to potential terrorists and criminals. A major component of this strategy is the recommendation of denial of visas, as well as denial and/or revocation of visa waiver approvals to individuals who may present a risk to national security or public safety. It is a risk-based, intelligence-driven strategy that extends our border security efforts outward to detect, assess, and mitigate, at the earliest possible point in the travel continuum, any risk posed by travelers before they reach the United States. As threats evolve, CBP works in close partnership with our foreign counterparts – including those in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East – to develop greater situational awareness of emerging threats, leverage partner capabilities to affect threat networks, and coordinate enforcement actions. These concerns are not limited to the United States and there is a growing international commitment to combating these shared threats to our security.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also actively works to push our defenses outward. To achieve this goal, ICE forward deploys personnel to 66 offices in 49 countries. ICE’s international staff works in conjunction with overseas law enforcement counterparts to detect, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal groups and individuals who seek to harm our country and people. Furthermore, ICE special agents investigate transnational crime by conducting a wide range of criminal investigations in coordination with our foreign and domestic partner agencies, targeting the illegal movement of people, merchandise and monetary instruments into, within, and out of the United States.

Visa and Travel Authorization Security

As President Trump has stated, “Homeland Security is in the business of saving lives, and that mandate will guide our actions.” Since taking office this Administration has worked tirelessly to enhance border security, promote public safety, and minimize the threat of terrorist attacks by foreign nationals in the United States. Part of this process is ensuring the security of international travel by preventing dangerous persons from obtaining visas, travel authorizations, and boarding passes. Before boarding a flight or vessel destined for the United States, most foreign nationals must obtain a non-immigrant visa from the DOS — issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The visa process involves multiple security checks, including screening of applicants against a wide array of criminal and terrorist databases to verify the individual’s identity and to detect derogatory information that might lead to an inadmissibility determination, as well as an in-person interview with the applicant.

CBP also conducts vetting of all valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Although the visa application and adjudication processes rest with the DOS, CBP’s National Targeting Center (NTC) conducts continuous vetting of U.S. immigrant and nonimmigrant visas that have been recently issued or revoked. Recurrent vetting ensures that changes in a traveler’s admissibility and eligibility for travel are identified in near real-time, allowing CBP to immediately determine if it is necessary to take action prior to subject’s arrival to the United States, such as a “no board” recommendation to a carrier, and/or a recommendation to the DOS to revoke the visa.

In an effort to augment and expand visa security operations, ICE manages the Visa Security Program (VSP) for DHS. VSP’s primary purpose is to identify terrorists, criminals, and other individuals who pose a threat or are otherwise ineligible for visas prior to visa adjudication or application for admission to the United States. VSP operations are currently conducted at 30 visa-issuing posts in 25 countries.

Through the VSP, ICE deploys special agents to visa issuing posts worldwide to utilize available investigative resources, in-person interviews, and collaboration between U.S. agencies and our foreign counterparts, in order to investigate and disrupt the travel of suspect individuals during the visa application process. Experience has shown the Department that there is no technological substitute for having experienced ICE special agents deployed overseas to apply law enforcement capabilities to the visa process through investigative measures, informed interviews with suspect applicants, and leveraging local contacts for information.

Special Agents assigned to international VSP posts are supported through domestic-based screening and vetting of visa applicants the Pre-Adjudicated Threat Recognition and Intelligence Operations Team (PATRIOT). PATRIOT is an interagency endeavor between ICW and CBP’s NTC. Through PATRIOT, VSP conducts automated screening of visa application information against DHS holdings, as well as holdings of other U.S. agencies, prior to the visa applicant’s interview and visa adjudication. Derogatory information discovered during automated screening is manually vetted and analyzed by domestic PATRIOT personnel using law enforcement, open source, and classified information. PATRIOT analysts then provide deployed VSP personnel with relevant information prior to interviews and other investigative activities. Following an analysis of all known derogatory information, deployed ICE special agents provide a unified DHS recommendation on visa eligibility to DOS consular officers.

In FY 2016, VSP deployed special agents and PATRIOT personnel facilitated the screening and vetting of more than 2.2 million visa applicants, recommended the refusal of more than 8,500 visas, and submitted 1,669 Terrorist Screening Center Database nominations. The VSP will expand to two additional posts in FY 2017 and is tentatively scheduled to add an additional two posts in FY 2018.

If travelers are eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), they must apply for and be approved for a travel authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Through ESTA, CBP conducts enhanced vetting of potential VWP travelers to assess whether they are eligible to travel under the VWP or could pose a risk to the United States or the public at large. All ESTA applications are screened against security and law enforcement databases, and CBP automatically refuses authorization to individuals who are found to be ineligible to travel to the United States under the VWP. Similarly, current and valid ESTAs may be revoked if concerns arise through recurrent vetting.1

In November 2016, CBP launched the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS). Similar to ESTA, EVUS is an online system used by visa holders to periodically update their biographic information to facilitate their travel to the United States.2 To maintain a valid visa for purposes of seeking admission to the United States, travelers with designated nonimmigrant visas from identified countries are required to maintain a valid EVUS enrollment before travelling to the United States. Enrollments generally last for two years or when the traveler’s visa or passport expires, whichever comes first. Data collected through EVUS helps us determine whether such travel poses a law enforcement or security risk by checking against select law enforcement databases and queries law enforcement databases that include terrorist screening, lost/stolen passports, INTERPOL wants/warrants, and immigration violations.

Finally, thanks to the support of Congress, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 20153 provided the necessary funds for CBP to initiate counter-network operations within the NTC. The newly-established Counter Network Division’s (CND) mission supports CBP, other DHS Components, and interagency law enforcement and intelligence community partners to develop an interoperable counter-network process that provides a comprehensive understanding of emerging threats, including those emanating from terrorism, special interest aliens, transnational organized crime and illicit trade networks. Informed through identification of the tactics, techniques, and procedures of adversarial networks – including their efforts to exploit legitimate travel pathways and processes such as the visa process and the VWP – the CND quickly develops analytic solutions and makes those available across DHS components to mitigate further risk.

Visa Waiver Program

An important way in which DHS is pushing out the zone of security is to work with our international partners, including those countries who are members of the VWP. DHS’s focus and priority for the VWP is to make it a comprehensive security partnership with America’s closest allies. The VWP must be a security program first and foremost—merging together best practices in national security, law enforcement security, and immigration security; and providing the United States with an effective tool for fostering and deepening our national security relationships with key partner countries. As Secretary Kelly recently indicated, we have to continue to look at ways to strengthen the security of the VWP given the threat of foreign fighters returning from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. DHS is committed to fully ensuring that VWP is serving the security interests of the United States.

Currently, 38 countries4,5 participate in the VWP, which allows their nationals to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days (with certain exceptions) after applying and being approved through the ESTA.6 In return, these countries must prove that measurable and consistently high requirements are met, including: that information sharing practices enable the rapid relay of information concerning known and suspected terrorists and serious criminals; that lost and stolen passport information is consistently and timely reported; that robust border and travel document security practices are in place; and that effective traveler and migrant screening practices are standard operations. VWP countries also undergo regular, in-depth security assessments conducted by DHS in consultation with DOS to ensure compliance with these requirements.

The assessments of a VWP country’s security standards and operations are among the broadest and most consequential reviews conducted under any U.S. Government program. Rigorous national-level assessments are used to ensure that countries meet the security standards required for continued participation in the Program. DHS, in coordination with the DOS and the Intelligence Community, conducts statutorily-required reviews of each VWP country at least once every two years. The VWP assessment evaluates the country’s counterterrorism and law enforcement capabilities, immigration enforcement policies and procedures, passport production and issuance processes, and border security traveler screening capabilities. As needed, the review may also include a site visit where an integrated U.S. Government team conducts thorough inspections of airports, seaports, land borders, and passport production and issuance facilities in the VWP country and holds discussions with the host government counterterrorism, intelligence, law enforcement, border security, and immigration officials. DHS submits a Report to Congress upon the completion of the assessment. Notably, both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have reviewed and written favorably of the methodology DHS uses in conducting these assessments.7

Separately, DHS also conducts an annual assessment of all 38 VWP countries against the risk criteria defined in the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (VWP Improvement Act), passed under this Committee’s leadership, and engages in ongoing monitoring of member countries to rapidly identify emerging threats and vulnerabilities.

The bottom line is that in order to join or continue in the VWP, a country cannot represent a threat to the United States and must be working as a partner to prevent terrorist travel. In all instances, the Secretary of Homeland Security retains the statutory authority to suspend or terminate a country’s participation in the VWP if there is a credible threat originating from that country that poses an imminent danger to the United States or its citizens.

Under the VWP Improvement Act of 2015, VWP countries are now required to issue high-security electronic passports (e-passports); implement information sharing arrangements to exchange criminal and terrorist identity information; establish mechanisms to validate e-passports at each key POE; report all lost and stolen passports to INTERPOL or directly to the United States no later than 24 hours after the country becomes aware of the loss or theft; conclude a U.S. Federal Air Marshals agreement; collect and analyze Advance Passenger Information (API)/Passenger Name Record (PNR) information to identify high-risk travelers; screen international travelers against the INTERPOL Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database and notices; report foreign fighters to multilateral security organizations, such as INTERPOL or EUROPOL; and cooperate with the United States in the screening of refugees and asylum seekers.

Since passage of the Act, DHS has confirmed the following changes among VWP countries:

  • An increase in the sharing of terrorist and criminal identity information;
  • Several countries8 have increased the frequency of their reporting of lost and stolen passports — VWP countries account for over 70 percent of the almost 73 million lost and stolen travel documents reported to INTERPOL;
  • Several countries have agreed to adopt new technologies to work with DHS to jointly vet asylum, refugee, and other immigration applications against each other’s data, establishing a formidable force multiplier for detecting criminals, terrorists and unqualified applicants; and
  • All VWP countries are now issuing and using for travel to the United States fraud-resistant e-passports that meet or exceed the International Civil Aviation Organization standards.

In addition, following the enactment of the VWP Improvement Act, DHS has taken several steps to apply enhanced restrictions on visa-free travel under the VWP for individuals who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen or individuals who are dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria. Beginning January 13, 2016, CBP initiated a protocol to identify ESTA holders who had travelled to Iraq, Syria, Iran, or Sudan since March 1, 2011 who may be ineligible for future travel if they do not meet the criteria for a waiver allowed for under the Act. On February 18, 2016, DHS announced that individuals who had travelled to Libya, Somalia, and Yemen also may be ineligible for future travel if they do not meet the criteria for a waiver.9 Additionally, on January 21, 2016, CBP began denying new ESTA applications and revoking existing ESTAs for individuals who indicated dual nationality with Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

In November 2014, in response to increasing concerns regarding foreign terrorist fighters, DHS strengthened the security of the VWP through the addition of new data elements to the ESTA application. These enhancements included a series of additional questions a VWP traveler must answer on the ESTA application, to include other names/aliases, citizenships, contact information, and city of birth.

1 Recurrent vetting is ongoing throughout the period of validity of the ESTA. ESTA applicants who are denied may apply for a NIV.
2 At this time, EVUS is only a requirement for individuals travelling on passports issued by the People’s Republic of China who have been issued unrestricted, maximum validity B-1 (visitor for business) or B-2 (visitor for pleasure) visas, generally valid for 10 years, Chinese nationals. The requirement is new, and the U.S. Government expects that it may be applied to additional countries or nonimmigrant categories may be designated in the future.
3 Pub.L. No. 114-4.
4 VWP-eligible countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic , Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino , Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom.
5 Per the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, all references to “country” or “countries” in this document also apply with respect to Taiwan.
6 Exceptions include citizens of countries under other visa exempt authority, such as Canada. Citizens of countries under visa exempt authority traveling to entering the U.S. via air are subjected to CBP’s vetting and inspection processes prior to their departure for the United States. In the land environment, they are subject to CBP processing upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry.
7 DHS report OIG-13-07 “The Visa Waiver Program,” November 2012. GAO report GAO-16-498 “Visa Waiver Program,” May 2016.
8 Including Brunei, Greece, Hungary, and Portugal.
9 In FY 2016, since implementing the new travel and dual nationality restrictions to the Visa Waiver Program, CBP denied, canceled, or revoked 39,303 ESTA applications. These individuals would not be eligible to travel under the VWP.

 

Arrival Processing

CBP’s use of advance information, its pre-departure targeting operations, and its overseas footprint all comprise critical parts of CBP’s multi-layered security strategy to address concerns long before they reach the physical border of the United States. U.S. law requires all private and commercial air and sea carriers operating routes to, from, or through the United States to provide API and PNR data to CBP. These data, which include travelers’ biographic and travel reservation information, are screened against U.S. and international law enforcement and counterterrorism databases to identify high-risk individuals before they fly to the United States. Even if issued a visa or other travel authorization, however, it is important to note that upon arrival in the United States, all persons are subject to inspection by CBP Officers. CBP Officers review entry documents, query CBP and other law enforcement databases, collect biometrics (including from VWP travelers),10 and interview all travelers to determine the purpose and intent of their travel, and whether any further inspection is necessary based on, among other things, national security, admissibility, customs, or agriculture concerns.

Of note, CBP’s Tactical Terrorism Response Teams (TTRT) are deployed at U.S. POEs and consist of CBP Officers who are specially trained in counterterrorism response. TTRT Officers utilize information derived from targeting and inspection to mitigate possible threats. TTRT officers are immersed in the current and developing threat picture through the continuous review of information, and are responsible for the examination of travelers identified within the Terrorist Screening Database, and other travelers suspected of having a nexus to terrorism who arrive to a POE. For FY 2017 to date11, as a result of the dedicated efforts of the men and women serving on CBP’s TTRT, and the information discovered during secondary inspection, nearly 600 people who had been granted visas or other travel documents, or had an approved ESTA, have been refused admission to the United States. CBP Officers and Agents remain our last line of defense against those who would seek to enter the country to do us harm

In addition, CBP Officers remove from circulation counterfeit, fraudulent, and altered travel documents, as well as lost or stolen travel documents presented for use by an individual other than the rightful holder, such as those presented by impostors. CBP currently uses 1:1 facial comparison technology at select primary lanes at John F. Kennedy International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport on U.S. and non-U.S. travelers arriving in the United States. This technology enables CBP Officers to use facial recognition technology as a tool to assist in determining whether an individual presenting a valid e-passport is the same individual whose photograph is contained in that passport. In those cases where the CBP Officer is unsure of the traveler’s true identity, the traveler is referred for additional checks to confirm identity or to document fraudulent use of a passport. Since this technology was deployed in early 2016, over 400,000 travelers have had their identities confirmed with the use of 1:1 facial comparison technology.

Finally, CBP’s Fraudulent Document Analysis Unit (FDAU) serves as the central repository and point of analysis for all fraudulent travel documents interdicted or recovered by CBP personnel. FDAU analysis of fraudulent documents provides intelligence, alerts and training back to the field, as well as serves as a mechanism to remove fraudulent documents from circulation to prevent their further use – a lesson learned from the 9/11 Commission Report. This cyclical process adds a layer of security to the homeland by removing an additional opportunity for misuse.

 

Identifying and Apprehending Threats to National Security and Public Safety within the United States

An important mission of DHS is to actively identify and initiate enforcement action on persons who have overstayed their terms of admission in the United States and who pose a threat to national security, border security, or public safety. ICE undertakes this very important activity for DHS . Within ICE, there are dedicated units, special agents, analysts, and systems in place to address nonimmigrant overstays. Through investigative efforts, ICE analyzes and determines which overstay leads may be suitable for further national security investigation. Once leads are received, ICE conducts both batch and manual vetting against government databases, public indices, and social media (when appropriate). This vetting helps determine if an individual who overstayed has departed the United States, adjusted to a lawful status, has a pending immigration benefit application, or would be appropriate for an enforcement action.

As part of this tiered review, ICE prioritizes nonimmigrant overstay cases through risk-based analysis. ICE Homeland Security Investigation’s (HSI) Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU) oversees the national program dedicated to the investigation of nonimmigrant visa violators who may pose a national security risk and/or public safety concern. Each year, CTCEU analyzes records of hundreds of thousands of potential status violators after preliminary analysis of data from various government systems, including the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and CBP’s Arrival and Departure Information System (ADIS), along with other information. After this analysis, CTCEU establishes compliance or departure dates from the United States and/or determines potential violations that warrant field investigations.

CTCEU proactively develops cases for investigation in furtherance of the overstay mission, monitors the latest threat reports, and addresses emergent issues. This practice, which is designed to detect and identify individuals exhibiting specific risk factors based on intelligence reporting, travel patterns, and in-depth criminal research and analysis, has contributed to DHS’s counterterrorism mission by initiating and supporting high-priority national security initiatives based on specific intelligence.

In FY 2015, CTCEU reviewed 971,305 leads regarding potential overstays. Numerous leads were closed through an automated screening and vetting process. The most common reason for closure was subsequent departure from the United States. A total of 9,968 leads were sent to HSI field offices for investigation. As a result in FY 2015 alone, HSI made 1,910 arrests, secured 86 indictments, and obtained 80 convictions.

CTCEU refers leads that do not meet ICE HSI criteria for further investigation to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations’ National Criminal Analysis and Targeting Center.

10 Biometrics are collected for most foreign nationals arriving at U.S. airports.
11 As of April 19, 2017

 

Conclusion

The men and women of DHS and its Component Agencies do a tremendous job every day to protect our country. As terrorists and criminals change their methods and tactics and technologies continue to evolve, DHS will work with its interagency and foreign partners— as well as private sector partners — to adapt and respond swiftly and effectively to prevent their entry into the United States.

Thank you again for the opportunity to testify today. We look forward to answering your questions.

Topics:  Immigration Enforcement, Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  VWP, Visa Waiver Program, ESTA, Electronic System for Travel Authorization, International partnerships

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