DHS: Progress and priorities, I

fingerprints from arriving foreign visitors. This transition from two-fingerprint collection enables DHS to check visitors’ full set of fingerprints against latent fingerprints collected from terrorist training camps, safe houses and battlefields around the world, without slowing process times — due to the department’s work with industry to improve the quality and speed of fingerprint capture devices. Additionally, US-VISIT and the U.S. Coast Guard have partnered to use mobile biometric collection to identify migrants and smugglers attempting to illegally enter the United States through waters near Puerto Rico and the Florida Straits. The program has resulted in a total of 3,143 people interdicted at sea, 172 brought ashore for prosecution - with 143 convicted so far - and a 40 percent reduction in the flow illegal migration.

  • Secure documentation standards: Compliance with Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requirements for air travel implemented in January 2007 exceeds 99 percent and DHS will implement requirements for land and sea travel in June 2009. New procedures at land and sea ports of entry implemented in January 2008 ended acceptance of oral declarations alone and limited the types of acceptable documents to further secure our borders. DHS also issued the REAL ID final rule, establishing minimum standards that enhance the integrity and reliability of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards.
  • Enhanced aviation security: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has over 2,000 Behavior Detection Officers working at more than 150 of the nation’s largest airports to identify potentially high-risk passengers in airports. Further, TSA now requires that holders of airport-issued identification credentials be perpetually vetted against the Terrorist Screening Database and has expanded its Travel Document Checking program at passenger security checkpoints. TSA also recently achieved DHS certification for the Secure Flight program — through which TSA will assume responsibility from airlines for watch list checking — and anticipates initial implementation in 2008. In October 2005, TSA reclassified the agency’s 43,000 screeners as Transportation Security Officers, to acknowledge the judgment and skills required to ensure the safe travels of two million people every day.
  • New checkpoint experience: TSA revamped its airport screening operations, introducing Checkpoint Evolution, at Baltimore in April 2008, which adds a human element to security, and significant technology and process improvements. This continues the agency’s shift from object-based security to people-based initiatives, including: whole body imaging; fostering a calm atmosphere in order to better identify suspicious individuals; and advanced technology x-ray to more quickly and efficiently screen