attacks of 9/11 reinforced the notion that homeland security does
not start and stop at a nation's borders. As Secretary Tom Ridge of
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stated, "Homeland
security can't stop at a nation's border. The same threats are
present for all of us and we must work together to meet them." We
understand that we have to take actions far away from our shores
and borders in order to ensure that the systems that connect us
with the rest of the globe cannot be used by terrorists to travel
to the United States or to transport the instruments of terrorism.
The interconnectedness of the world today spans many
sectors--political, military, economic, educational, and even
homeland security. No one country can be truly safe without the
cooperation and like-minded commitment of others.
appreciate the opportunity to review a topic that is not well
understood by many--the international roles of DHS. In fact, I've
heard some say that "international" and "homeland" make as little
sense when combined as does the term "military intelligence."
we are very active internationally. We have personnel assigned or
active on a temporary basis in 77 different countries. In my
remarks today, I will give you an overview of their activities and
of the importance of our international activities to the
accomplishment of DHS missions. I will do so by referring you to
the chapter on "International Cooperation" in the National Strategy
on Homeland Security. It contains a succinct vision statement that
orients our international homeland security activities:
The United States will work with
traditional allies and new friends to win the war on terrorism....
We will sustain a high level of international commitment to
fighting terrorism through global and regional organizations (UN,
OAS [Organization of American States]).... major international fora
(such as the G-8).... specialized organizations (WHO [World Health
Organization], ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization],
IMO [International Maritime Organization]).... multilateral and
bilateral initiatives, and where needed, new coordination
We will work with our neighbors and key
trading partners to create systems that allow us to verify the
legitimacy of people and goods entering our country.
We will increase information
We will increase international cooperation
on scientific and technological research....
We will work with our partners to prepare
to support one another in the wake of an attack....
strategy also identifies the following "major initiatives":
- Create smart borders.
- Combat fraudulent travel documents.
- Increase the security of international
- Intensify international law enforcement
- Help foreign nations fight terrorism.
- Expand protection of transnational
- Amplify international cooperation on
homeland security science and technology.
- Improve cooperation in response to
- Review obligations to international
treaties and law.
Department of Homeland Security is working to attain this vision
and is making progress across the board on these and other
international initiatives. Allow me to describe how we are
organizing our international activities before going into some
detail about the overseas operational activities of our
directorates and agencies.
The Office of International Affairs
Section 879 of the Homeland Security Act
of 2002 established within the Office of the Secretary an Office of
International Affairs. This is the office that I head. Our
statutory missions are:
- To promote information and education
exchange with nations friendly to the United States in order to
promote sharing of best practices and technologies relating to
homeland security. Such exchange shall include the following:
- Exchange of information on research and
development on homeland security technologies.
- Joint training exercises of first
- Exchange of expertise on terrorism
prevention, response, and crisis management.
- To identify areas for homeland security
information and training exchange where the United States has a
demonstrated weakness and another friendly nation or nations have a
- To plan and undertake international
conferences, exchange programs, and training activities.
- To manage international activities within
the Department in coordination with other federal officials with
responsibility for counter-terrorism matters.
office of ten individuals is organized regionally as follows: a)
Mexico and Latin America, b) Canada and the Caribbean, c) the
Mid-East, d) Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, and e) Asia. We are
staffed by a combination of detailees from within the Department of
Homeland Security and the State Department: This gives us
functional expertise (e.g. customs, immigration, Coast Guard).
work closely and on a daily basis with our regional and functional
counterparts at the Homeland Security Council, the National
Security Council (NSC), and the State Department (e.g., geographic
and functional bureaus).
support the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, and the Department's
leadership in all their interactions with foreign counterparts and
their international travel. We also ensure that the subordinate
components of the Department of Homeland Security have situational
awareness of the entire Department's international activities so
that they have a contextual understanding of their respective
Within the Department headquarters, we
have also established an International Coordinating Council. This
council is chaired by the Deputy Secretary and has representation
from all agencies within the Department that have an international
portfolio and from the key staff advisors to the Secretary. It
meets on a regular basis and is the formal mechanism for "checking
signals" on issues of importance to the Department.
There are numerous international offices
distributed across the Department of Homeland Security. Some are
so-called legacy organizations--like the high performing Coast
Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Transportation
Security Administration (TSA), and Secret Service offices. Many are
new--including international coordinating elements that support our
under secretaries of Border and Transportation Security,
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, and Science and
Technology, and the new agencies formed by the Homeland Security
Act of 2002: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Citizenship and Immigration Services
(CIS). One of our ongoing challenges is completing the process of
reorganization of the former Customs and Immigrations and
Naturalization Service (INS) overseas.
Finally, at our overseas diplomatic
missions (where there are some 1,200 DHS employees), we are in the
process of designating DHS Attachés . These attachés
will help `brand' the new Department and also provide members of
our country teams identified points of contact to address issues to
me give you a snapshot of our activities overseas. Major categories
of duties/missions include:
- Pre-clearance inspectors.
- Container Security Initiative (CSI): Five
positions are funded in each of the 47 ports identified for
inclusion in CSI. The positions will be manned as additional ports
are incorporated in the initiative.
- Attachés at embassies (Immigration,
Customs, and Coast Guard).
- Trainers, advisors, instructors.
- The Coast Guard provides training to
foreign maritime forces under authority of the Security Assistance
program. The State Department funds these missions.
- Training and technical assistance is a
major part of Customs and Immigration work overseas. They provide
such support to foreign governments through bilateral agreements or
under programs funded by the State Department.
- Customs assists several foreign
governments in establishing customs services.
- Criminal investigators and law enforcement
liaisons to governments and international organizations.
- Customs and Immigration conducts law
enforcement collection, analysis, and information-sharing with
- The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration
Services (BCIS) is responsible for the adjudication of a
significant number of benefit applications overseas--including
refugee applications and applications for benefits submitted by
U.S. citizens living overseas.
is the case with most agencies, our overseas positions are staffed
in various ways. We have permanent positions, which are formally
approved by the State Department. These individuals have either
country-specific or regional responsibilities. We have people on
tours of duty (TDYs): In some cases, the regular rotation of
individuals on a TDY basis to perform the same mission has the
effect of creating quasi-permanent positions. Several agencies
(e.g., Customs and TSA) also have attachés with regional
responsibility (e.g., the Caribbean or Central America) assigned in
gateway cities (e.g., Dallas, Miami). Finally, we have hired
numerous Foreign Service Nationals who perform a variety of duties
dependent on mission needs.
I assumed my duties as the Director of International Affairs last
summer, I was struck by the following aspects of our international
- About one-third of our international
presence is in Canada. We have more than 400 pre-clearance
(Customs, Immigration, Agriculture) inspectors assigned in Canada
and none in Mexico. Pre-clearance inspectors abroad are essentially
performing a function normally performed at a port of entry.
- INS officers were assigned to only one
country (Pakistan) of the 21 National Security Entry-Exit
Registration System (NSEERS) countries.
- There was no single individual that
represents the Department of Homeland Security to our ambassadors
abroad at diplomatic missions with multiple DHS agency
representation. As I mentioned earlier, we are now designating DHS
almost one year later, our overseas footprint has not changed
dramatically, but I have a much keener appreciation of the breadth
of our activities. Let me highlight a couple of major
Travelers and Cargo
We are working with our trade partners and cargo shippers
to secure vulnerable links in the international supply chain. One
example of this work is the Container Security Initiative
administered by our customs agency. Nearly 20,000 containers of
cargo arrive in our ports every day. Today, we inspect just 1
percent or 2 percent of those containers upon arrival at our ports.
We are now stationing security inspectors at the world's major
ports to work alongside foreign port authorities to identify,
target, and search high-risk cargo. This side-by-side effort is
happening in the world's busiest foreign ports, such as Rotterdam,
Singapore, Hong Kong, Hamburg, and Le Havre. We also have foreign
inspectors in major U.S. ports, such as Los Angeles, Long Beach,
Newark, and Seattle.
are striving to increase security of all modes of
transportation--air, land, and sea. The purpose is to prevent
terrorists from traveling or transporting the instruments of
terrorism. Our basic philosophy is one of risk management. Rather
than look for the needle in the haystack, we want to remove that
haystack, and look for the needle in a much smaller space. That is
why we are instituting alternate inspection systems for "trusted"
travelers and importers. There is no need to dedicate scarce
inspection resources at movements that have been vetted and deemed
secure or low-risk. While spot-checking must always occur, it is
better to efficiently identify shipments that pose a potential risk
and then to scrutinize them.
Given that we have essentially undefended borders with our
two neighbors and enormous amounts of movement across them, the
United States government has entered into border accords with
Canada and Mexico. Our shared intent is to build "smart borders"
that facilitate commerce and the legal movement of people while
increasing security for the North American continent as a whole.
These two accords focus action in three areas: the secure flow of
people; the secure flow of goods; and securing cross-border
critical infrastructure. The importance of this last initiative was
underscored by the recent blackout that affected both Canadian and
U.S. power grids and by the single episode of "mad cow" disease
that disrupted our integrated cattle market.
are also making inroads into the challenge of increasing the
security of our immigration processes. For example, several hundred
thousand international students attend our colleges and
universities every year. The new Student and Exchange Visitor
Information System (SEVIS) is registering them in a user-friendly
on-line fashion. This past fall, more than 200,000 foreign students
arrived in the U.S. for the new academic year. Nearly all foreign
students were properly registered and admitted into the country
without incident. However, more than 140 people who arrived in the
U.S. claiming to be students were not. Through our partnerships
with colleges and universities, we were able to establish that
these people were not registered at any U.S. school and they were
denied admission into the United States.
year, we welcome nearly 600 million workers, tourists, students,
business travelers, and families at our air, land, and sea ports of
entry. DHS is implementing United States Visitor and Immigrant
Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT)--a continuum of security
measures that begins overseas at the Department of State's
visa-issuing posts and continues through arrival in and departure
from the United States. Using biometrics such as digital, inkless
fingerscans and digital photographs, the identity of visitors
requiring a U.S. visa is now verified upon entry in order to ensure
that the person crossing our border is the same person who received
the visa. Upon exit, a visitor will check out by scanning his or
her two index fingers--verifying his or her departure and enabling
us to know that he or she complied with the terms of admission. For
travelers, the process is fast and simple and the biometrics help
secure their identities in the event that their travel documents
are lost or stolen. US-VISIT entry procedures are currently in
place at 115 airports and 14 seaports. This year, US-VISIT will be
expanded to the 50 busiest land ports of entry. Since the program
began, 209 individuals (out of some 2.4 million entrants processed)
have been matched against the FBI's watch lists.
The Honorable Cresencio
Arcos is Director of International Affairs in the Department of