Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced the launch of
the new U.S. VISIT system as he discussed the Department's first
100 days. In a speech in Washington, the Secretary outlined the
Department's plan to create a new entry-exit system backed by
21st century technology. The U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status
Indication Technology system (U.S. VISIT) is designed to make
entering the U.S. easier for legitimate tourists, students and
business travelers, while making it more difficult to enter the
U.S. illegally through the implementation of biometrically authenticated
Drawing heavily on developing technologies and scientific capabilities,
the system will utilize a minimum of two biometric identifiers,
such as photographs, fingerprints or iris scans, to build an electronic
check in/check out system for people coming to the U.S. to work,
study or visit. The U.S. VISIT system will replace the currently
existing NSEERS program, integrate the SEVIS program, and encompass
the Congressional requirements of the automated entry exit system.
The U.S. VISIT System is a critical new border security and
enforcement tool that will capture point of entry and exit information
on visitors. The system will be in its first phase of operation
at international air and sea ports of entry by the end of 2003.
Since its inception on January 24, 2003, the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security has:
Other accomplishments to strengthen security and improve services:
Border, Transportation and Port Security
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inaugurated
the Federal Flight Deck Officer Training Program. The first
class concluded on April 19th, with 44 pilots certified to
carry firearms in the cockpit as Federal Flight Deck Officers.
The training was conducted at the Department of Homeland Security's
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.
All front-line Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
inspectors across the country have received radiation pagers
that alert them to the presence of radioactive material.
CBP acquired and deployed additional "A-STAR" and "HUEY"
helicopters to bolster enforcement efforts along the U.S.
The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
launched a special operation to identify and remove persons
with unknown or questionable identities with access to restricted
areas of military installations. The effort called Operation
Joint Venture, resulted in 37 arrests, of which 28 were removed
from the United States.
Operation "Green Quest," a multi-agency task force led by
ICE, continued its efforts to dismantle the financial infrastructure
of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Another ICE
initiative, Project Shield America, also continued. This effort
prevents sensitive U.S. technology and munitions from falling
into the hands of terrorists and other U.S. adversaries. Under
this initiative, ICE agents partner with U.S. manufacturers
and exporters to guard against illegal arms exports.
The ICE Office of Air and Marine Interdiction (OAMI) provided
24-7 airspace security coverage over Washington, D.C. During
Operation Liberty Shield, OAMI expanded this mission to include
airspace security coverage over New York City as well.
TSA screeners at Denver International Airport developed
a pilot program, "Tots Friendly," designed to put children
at ease as they go through security. The program is being
evaluated for possible nationwide expansion.
Working with other federal agencies and private industry,
TSA took steps to improve customer service by coordinating
screening across different forms of transportation. For example,
passengers who are disembarking from cruise ships in Miami
can now have their baggage screened for their flight home
right at the dock as they depart from their cruise.
Secretary Ridge held bilateral meetings with UK Home Secretary
David Blunkett, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister, John Manley,
and Mexico's Secretary of Interior, Santiago Creel, to continue
progress on security initiatives of mutual interest.
Coast Guard forces served on the leading edge of maritime
security for Operation Liberty Shield by providing maritime
security off our shores and in our harbors. During this effort,
Coast Guard units escorted 1,809 ferry boats and passenger
ships, and conducted 1,597 air and 12,049 surface patrols,
respectively. Coast Guard sea marshals and security teams
boarded 1,059 merchant ships to assure their safe transit
into and out of U.S. ports.
In April, the Coast Guard awarded a $140 million shore-based
response boat contract, which will dramatically improve Coast
Guard capabilities. This contract calls for the delivery of
up to 700 new vessels that will be capable of speeds in excess
of 40 knots (46 miles per hour), have an enclosed cabin for
crew protection allowing for all-weather operations, weapons
mounting capability for light machine guns and less than lethal
technology, state of the art navigation systems and a communications
system enabling Coast Guard personnel to communicate with
other homeland security partners.
The Coast Guard's Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron
(HITRON) was tasked to develop airborne use-of-force tactics
to counter possible terrorist threats, and operating guidelines
for the employment of HITRON assets for homeland security
missions. HITRON was originally developed for counter-drug
operations and is comprised of fully armed MH-68 helicopters
capable of providing precision disabling fire, lethal fire,
as well as close in suppression fire.
Coast Guard cutters and over 1,100 personnel deployed to
the U. S. Central and European Commands continue to participate
in coalition efforts to bring freedom to Iraq.
Since March 1st, the Coast Guard has:
- Interdicted 172 Haitians, 196 Dominicans, 213 Cubans and
two Ecuadorians who were trying to illegally enter the U.S.;
- Seized 17,878 lbs of cocaine and 1,500 lbs pounds of marijuana
destined for the U.S. and;
- Documented five significant violations of domestic fishing
vessels and made three catch seizures (totaling 44,310 lbs
of Atlantic sea scallops and 1,200 lbs of summer flounder)
as a result of illegal fishing activity.
In the wake of the most challenging ice season in 25 years,
Coast Guard icebreaking cutters, in concert with their Canadian
counterparts, worked to keep critical Great Lakes sea lanes
open, permitting passage for 619 ore carriers and other vessels
carrying cargo worth an estimated $620 million in this economically
Since March 1st, EP&R processed, and the President declared,
six major disaster declaration requests and 12 emergency declaration
requests related to various events, including the President's
Following President Bush's emergency declarations for Texas
and Louisiana after the Space Shuttle Columbia incident, Secretary
Ridge directed FEMA to lead the federal effort to help protect
public health and safety, recover debris and reimburse the
affected localities. With the help of more than 6,000 people,
the effort produced 30,000 pieces of debris totaling almost
43,000 pounds to assist NASA with its investigation. FEMA
also reimbursed Texas and Louisiana for almost $3 million
in associated expenses.
FEMA accepted 19,949 applications requesting more than $2
billion from the Assistance to Firefighters Grants program
(AFG). Grant announcements are expected to be made in late
May after a peer review process. The AFG has approximately
$750 million to distribute to an estimated 8500 fire departments
over the next twelve months to help better train, equip and
prepare our nation's firefighters.
The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) expanded its training
partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
to include integrated emergency management for bioterrorism,
Incident Command System (ICS) training for federal, state
and local public health agencies and health care-specific,
exercise-based training for specific jurisdictions. A new
facility FEMA acquired during the Homeland Security transition,
the Noble Training Center in Anniston, Alabama, will host
some of this training.
FEMA trained a record number of leaders from volunteer fire
departments for its Volunteer Incentive Program. This reflects
a 42% rise in admissions for the program.
FEMA's National Fire Academy trained 27 FBI agents and investigators
at an Arson Training Course to help improve their investigatory
skills. The training included use of site burn buildings,
scenario simulation labs, classroom and NFA curriculum.
To improve on-site management of federal assets in the immediate
aftermath of an incident, the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) initiated plans for the rapid deployment of
DHS Incident Management Teams.
To significantly strengthen DHS emergency response capabilities,
FEMA began incorporating Domestic Emergency Support Teams,
Nuclear Incident Response Teams, the National Disaster Medical
System and the Strategic National Stockpile into its planning
and response capabilities.
In support of Operation Liberty Shield, EP&R enhanced operational
readiness of the National Interagency Emergency Operations
Center (NIEOC), Regional Operations Centers, National Disaster
Medical System, Domestic Emergency Support Teams and other
specialized support teams.
Citizen Corps signed a partnership with the U.S. Junior
Chamber (Jaycees) to raise public awareness about emergency
preparedness, first aid, disaster response training and volunteer
Citizen Corps initiated a partnership with the National
Volunteer Fire Council to work together to raise public awareness
about emergency preparedness, fire hazards, volunteer service
programs and the development of fire safety training.
Citizen Corps has added 13 additional states and territories
and 191 local governments to the Citizen Corps Council roster.
This brings the total of Citizen Corps Councils to 41 and
For the first time in more than eight years, the National
Flood Insurance Program is operating in the black and currently
has surplus funds, which it has begun investing through the
FEMA delivered the first set of digital flood map products
to the Map Service Center. These new tools are integral to
the emergency planning of local communities.
Intelligence and Infrastructure
DHS' Intelligence Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
division (IA&IP) and its industry and government partners
eliminated the SendMail vulnerability that was threatening
IA&IP implemented a plan to conduct standardized vulnerability
assessments for all critical infrastructure sectors. Vulnerability
assessments will build to a rate of eight per week, spanning
all critical infrastructure industries.
IA&IP began a major organizational initiative to implement
the requirements of the Homeland Security Act and the National
Strategies to Secure Physical Assets and Cyber Space by creating
an office dedicated to cyber security.
Collaborated on legislative initiatives to establish DHS
as the lead for Chemical Site and Nuclear Site Security and
developed and submitted to the Federal Register for review
the proposed Critical Infrastructure Information (CII) to
guide DHS' handling of private sector information.
Integrated the legacy operations of the NIPC, CIAO, NCS
and Energy Assurance Office, and developed the functional
organizational components of the IA and IP directorates.
Science and Technology
DHS' Science & Technology division (S&T) established the
Biowatch program in several metropolitan areas across the
country. The Biowatch program employs devices to detect terrorist
agents like anthrax in time to distribute life-saving pharmaceuticals
to affected citizens.
S&T released the first Homeland Security Broad Agency Announcement
through the Technical Support Working Group for rapid prototyping
of off-the-shelf or nearly off-the-shelf technologies for
use by DHS agents in the field.
Guidelines for technical performance and testing of radiation
detection equipment were also developed by S&T.
Pilot programs to test radiation detection equipment were
launched at various sites in cooperation with the Port Authority
of New York and New Jersey.
Initiated the Homeland Security Fellowship Program, which
provides scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students
pursuing degrees in the physical, biological, and social and
behavioral sciences and interested in careers aligned with
the mission and objectives of the Department. For more information,
please visit www.orau.gov/dhsed.
S&T created the Homeland Security National Laboratory composed
of all the incoming DHS labs across the country.
Citizenship and Immigration
The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS)
has now developed the technology to accept electronic filing
as an option for two of the most commonly submitted immigration
forms - the application for replacement "green card" (Form
I-90) and the application for Employment Authorization (Form
I-765). These forms were selected in part because filings
of these applications represent over 30 percent of the total
number of applications filed with BCIS annually. The system
will go online shortly.
Approximately 165,000 new citizens have been processed in
the months of January, February, March and April. In May alone,
BCIS plans to conduct over 290 ceremonies and the naturalization
of approximately 50,000 citizens.
BCIS also processed approximately 6,500 requests for expedited
citizenship for military applicants since July 2002. In the
last 30 days, eight requests have been processed for posthumous
citizenship, which is granted to non-citizens whose death
resulted from injury or disease incurred while on active duty
with U.S. Armed Forces during specified periods of military
BCIS launched a pilot project to standardize the English,
government, and United States history tests administered to
citizenship applicants. The first phase of the two-stage pilot
focused on the English language test. Five cities participated
in this first phase of the naturalization pilot: Newark, Los
Angeles, Sacramento, San Antonio and Atlanta.
Reorganization and Administration
CBP consolidated incoming agencies into a single face of
government at ports of entry by establishing a new organizational
framework involving Interim Port Directors to integrate all
of the incoming border agencies into one chain of command.
ICE combined all the investigative functions of Customs,
Immigration and the Federal Protective Service into one bureau.
ICE has taken steps to provide a single point of contact within
DHS for U.S. Attorneys and other law enforcement agencies.
National Communications System (NCS), National Infrastructure
Protection Center (NIPC) and the Federal Computer Incident
Response Center (FedCIRC) combined their watch and warning
functions into a single, more effective "virtual" watch.
DHS launched the effort to create a new human resources
management system that merges the personnel and pay systems
of all DHS component agencies into a single system. The new
system will be completed by the end of the year.