Adminstration's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request Advances DHS Operations
Release Date:May 23, 2017
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
DHS Statement On Incident At Manchester Arena
Release Date:May 22, 2017
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
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:Keywords:
Secretary Kelly's Statement on the Limited Extension of Haiti's Designation for Temporary Protected Status
Release Date:May 22, 2017
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
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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DHS Releases Fiscal Year 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report
Release Date:May 22, 2017
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
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.
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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”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Written testimony of USCG Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft for a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing titled “Requirements, Priorities, and Future Acquisition Plans”
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. ]Keywords:
Joint Statement by the European Commission and DHS on Aviation Security Cooperation
Release Date:May 17, 2017
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
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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Statement By Secretary Kelly On The Reissuance Of The NTAS Bulletin
Release Date:May 16, 2017
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
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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