Posted by A/S Raul Perales and CPO Soraya Correa
Two weeks ago, we were honored to join more than 450 industry partners and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leaders in a strategic industry conversation. Our industry partners are well positioned to assist the Department in solving problems, improving processes, and supporting diverse mission areas. The Strategic Industry Conversation provided a venue to discuss program-specific topics that span multiple DHS components and support the Secretary’s Unity of Effort initiative, which involves sharing challenges and best practices with our industry partners.
Secretary Jeh Johnson delivered keynote remarks, where he emphasized how working closely with industry leads to improved mission outcomes. Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spoke about how industry input should inform the Department’s strategic planning and how he sees a “new day” in how we engage our private sector partners.
Breakout sessions, led by industry leaders and Department employees, encouraged participants to discuss various topics across the homeland security enterprise, from policy and programmatic advocacy to procurement and R&D. Vendors interested in specific mission areas (e.g. biometrics) were able to hear from, and speak with, DHS and industry leaders who are actively engaged in those mission areas. These discussions could lead to new business relationships.
Over the course of the day, DHS received constructive feedback from industry about how to better communicate during all phases of the acquisition lifecycle. Industry partners gained greater perspective into the Department, its priorities, and how it approaches acquisition.
As the Department’s Chief Procurement Officer and Assistant Secretary for the Private Sector, we were proud to engage with our industry partners for a day of honest, frank discussions, which is a crucial first step in strengthening our engagements.
We are committed to working with our industry partners in order to reach new heights in industry‑government communication. Please join us as we work to make DHS the best partner in government.
For more information on doing business with the Department please visit: http://www.dhs.gov/do-business-dhs.
By Acting Administrator Melvin J. Carraway
If by the end of the week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not receive funding, the Department shuts down. A shutdown for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) means that most of our employees would still continue to come to work, without receiving a paycheck for that work until the shutdown ends.
As a counterterrorism organization, our dedicated and professional workforce will - in the event of a shutdown - continue to secure our nation’s transportation systems, without pay, just as they did during the government shutdown of 2013. Over ninety percent of our workforce – that’s about 50,000 employees – would continue to report to duty.
Yes, critical operations would continue, but the support for those operations would cease. Approximately 6 percent of the TSA workforce would be furloughed. Hiring would cease. Required training would cease. Travel associated with routine planned security inspections would cease. Deployment of security technology equipment would potentially be delayed.
Although TSA is most recognized and known for our work in nearly 450 airports throughout the United States, our national security mission includes mass transit and passenger rail, as well as pipeline and container traffic. These transportation systems play a vital role in driving the engine of our economy.
TSA officers rely on the development of new technologies, the sharing of reliable intelligence, and screening procedures that can be adapted to address the ever evolving threat. These vital functions depend on a secure budget.
As a civilian government workforce, the men and women of TSA have sworn an oath to protect the traveling public. As fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, partners, sisters and brothers – this responsibility is not without sacrifice.
The vast majority of TSA personnel – including frontline operational and support personnel– rely on biweekly paychecks to support themselves and their families. If DHS does not receive funding, these employees would not receive biweekly paychecks for their work during the shutdown until Congress acts. They deserve better than the proposition of coming to work every day on an IOU.
We hope that Congress will pass a clean budget for DHS. In the meantime, TSA remains dedicated to our mission to protect the nation's transportation systems and ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.
Yesterday, Secretary Johnson was joined by leadership and employees from across the Department of Homeland Security to discuss the consequences of a permitting a DHS shutdown.
“I am also honored to stand here today with the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, many of whom you see behind me. These are men and women who reflect a much larger workforce that is responsible for keeping our homeland safe,” Secretary Johnson said.
“The people you see behind me reflect a workforce responsible for border security, aviation security, port security, maritime security, cyber security, protection of critical infrastructure in this country, protection of our national leaders, and response to disasters.”
Read Secretary Johnson’s remarks:
Good afternoon. I am pleased to be joined this afternoon by the Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the Commissioner of CBP Gil Kerlikowske, the Under Secretary for NPPD Suzanne Spaulding, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, the Assistant Secretary for Immigration Customs Enforcement Sarah Saldana, the Director of the Secret Service Joe Clancy, Director of USCIS Leon Rodriguez, the Acting Administrator of TSA Mel Carraway and our CFO Chip Fulghum.
I am also honored to stand here today with the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, many of whom you see behind me. These are men and women who reflect a much larger workforce that is responsible for keeping our homeland safe.
The people you see behind me reflect a workforce responsible for border security, aviation security, port security, maritime security, cyber security, protection of critical infrastructure in this country, protection of our national leaders, and response to disasters.
None of this is free. We need a partnership with Congress to support our efforts. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security is being funded by a continuing resolution. That continuing resolution expires in just 4 1/2 days. The clock is ticking, and as I stand here, there's nothing from Congress to fund us beyond that point.
The American public needs to understand the consequences of permitting a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security. Here are just a few.
First, we will be forced to require some 75% to 80% of our men and women to come to work without pay. There are serious consequences for the working men and women of our Department standing behind me if they are required to come to work and try to make ends meet without a paycheck, for themselves and their families. This includes the men and women of the United States Coast Guard.
Second, we must, in the event of a shutdown, furlough approximately 30,000 of our employees, including our headquarters’ staffs. What does that mean? What are the consequence in that? An example. Every day I press the staff at my headquarters to stay one step up ahead of groups such as ISIL, to stay one step ahead of threats to our aviation security, to closely monitor and to stay one step ahead of illegal migration on the southern border, and to stay one step ahead of our weather conditions, to closely monitor our weather conditions in a very harsh winter. If we shut down, that staff is cut back to a skeleton.
Third, approximately 80% of FEMA's permanent appropriated workforce, 80% furloughed.
Fourth, our ability to grant money to state and local law enforcement, which they rely upon for their own homeland security missions, grinds to a halt, either because there is no money or the ability to process payment has been furloughed.
Fifth, service providers and suppliers of this Department do not get paid during the period of the shutdown. Again, because there's no money or because our ability to process payments have been furloughed. I could go on and on.
Overall, a shutdown of Homeland Security would have serious consequences and amount to a serious disruption in our ability to protect the homeland.
To those in Congress who may be contemplating punting or kicking the can a few weeks down the road, I must remind you that the consequences to this Department, if we remain on a continuing resolution, are also severe. We are restricted to last year's funding levels if we are on a continuing resolution and must operate in a state of uncertainty about when the next infusion of funds will be.
As I have said many times now, it is like trying to drive across country with no more than five gallons of gas in your tank, and you do not know when the next gas station will appear. We cannot pay for the enhancements to border security on the Southern border that we have put there. We cannot fund new non-disaster assistant grants to state and local law enforcement. Every governor, mayor, police chief, sheriff, and police commissioner should be concerned about this. We cannot pay for the things we need for the United States Secret Service in the coming presidential election cycle. This is no way to run a government.
On behalf of the men and women up here on this stage and for homeland security and public safety, we need a fully funded Department of Homeland Security. We need the Congress to pass a Fiscal Year 2015 appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security, free of amendments that attempt to defund our executive actions to fix the immigration system. The president has said he will veto a bill that comes to him with such language.
As the president and I have said many times, we welcome a debate in Congress about immigration and immigration reform. We know that there are strong views on the subject, but do not tie that debate or an effort to defund our executive actions to the ability of our Department of Homeland Security to function in its entirety. Do not tie debate about immigration to the funding of homeland security for this nation.
Now, at this point I would like you to hear from just two of our component heads. I will call upon the Commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol Gil Kerlikowske.
Commissioner Kerlikowske: Thank you all very much for being here. As the Secretary said, there's a human face to this. We have 60,000 employees. We’re going to be asking them, Border Patrol agents, Customs people at inspections to go to work without a paycheck. When you are young, and I remember as a young police officer, I do not think the mortgage holder would have been too sympathetic if I was working and was not getting paid. I don’t think the hospital would have been sympathetic to my plight either. That is significant. Let me give you another concrete example of the human face to this problem.
The human face is that we have been actively hiring Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents, literally almost 500 that are in our training academy right now. We will give them a plane ticket home and send back home from those academies in Georgia and Artesia, New Mexico, and we will not be paying for them.
When this happened before, some did not return. We spent a lot of money in training and hiring and making sure that they were properly screened, and when they went back home, people said you are pretty attractive person for a job there. We cannot continue on this path.
It is my pleasure to introduce the administrator of FEMA, Craig Fugate.
Administrator Fugate: Good afternoon. As the Secretary said, a continuing resolution is not the way to run the Department. If some of the impacts that are occurring right now at state and local governments that we not initiating the grant programs. These are reoccurring programs that are considered new activities. One in particular is a 50-50 match program that is used to fund in your local government, local emergency managers, and then state capitol state emergency managers, their salaries. Those funds will be necessary to pay those salaries, and without the grants, there will be impacts at both the local community level and the state level for impacts at the local community personnel, not equipment, not stuff, not training, but people that are currently serving at the local level whose grant dollars are dependent upon for their salaries.
If we end up in a shutdown, I have heard this said, and I like to be factual that the impact will not be that great because most of the people at DHS will still be at work. And I have heard that said about FEMA. So I want to be upfront and tell you what this means. In 2013, the last time we shut down the federal government, FEMA had to furlough 3,360 full-time people. Now, most people say FEMA has more people than that, that are not a big deal. Until you recognize the fact that without that staff we cannot continue to make any payments on outstanding disaster recoveries from any open disaster. Those funds that are for those disasters will still be there, but the people required to actually make those payments to oversee that will not leave there.
We will not be able to respond to governors' requests for disaster assistance unless it involves life-saving and property, and only under an emergency declaration.
And, we will have to recall staff if an emergency occurs, which happened in 2013 with Tropical Storm Faye we had to recall back permanent staff to staff up the operation centers and headquarters in the regions. Not only are they not getting paid, they're not there when the country needs them, and they have to be called back.
So there are real consequences not only to the people that are not part of the 1% not getting paychecks, there are real impacts our ability to support the recovery from Sandy, Katrina, the Colorado floods, you name it, because our ability to continue to pay and the rebuilding of those disasters will be delayed or postponed, and it will not be made up.
Last thing, there's a lot of our emergency responders that are supposed to be traveling this weekend to our training centers. They are not going to be able to go without a budget, and we will not be able to make up that training. Now some of that training is so rare we are the only facility outside the military that does live agent training for first responders and hazmat teams. That will be hard to reschedule. It will not be easy to what is of loss; most of those people will not be able to take it this year. It will delay them this year. There is a consequence of a CR and shutdown on our ability too. Thank you.
Five years ago, President Obama signed into law an important piece of homeland security legislation designed to help protect our Nation against the threat of nuclear terrorism. The Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act (NFAA) assigned to the Department of Homeland Security key nuclear forensics responsibilities and authorized the National Technical Nuclear Forensics Center within DHS’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO).
The law states, “The threat of a nuclear terrorist attack on American interests…is one of the most serious threats to… national security.” Confronted with this possibility, U. S. policy is to hold fully accountable any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor that supports or enables terrorist efforts to obtain or use nuclear weapons.
In the face of potential nuclear threats, we need to have the capability to determine who is responsible for such acts. Nuclear forensics enables us to trace nuclear materials and devices back to their place of origin. In smuggling cases, nuclear forensics can aid in the prosecution of perpetrators, help close down smuggling networks, and identify potential nuclear security deficiencies that need to be addressed. In the case of attempted or actual acts of nuclear terrorism, scientific evidence supports the determination of those responsible which would guide U.S. actions in response.
Since the enactment of NFAA, DHS has worked with the FBI, the Departments of Defense, Energy, and State, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to advance the national capabilities. DNDO supports multiagency forensics exercises that include state and local partners and we also participate in exercises with the intelligence community to plan and synchronize intelligence, law enforcement, and technical forensics information into a robust attribution process.
The NFAA also highlights the importance of increased international collaboration in nuclear forensics to ensure the United States and its partners are prepared for a nuclear event overseas. Since the Nuclear Security Summit in 2010, where nuclear forensics and detection were highlighted as ongoing priorities, we have seen international collaborations expanded and enhanced.
DNDO continues to work to advance technical capabilities to perform nuclear forensics on smuggled materials as well. DNDO has led the development of technology that can replicate how foreign nations produce nuclear materials. This allows us to predict the forensic signatures without having samples of those materials and is a significant advancement in our ability to trace nuclear materials back to their origin.
Finally, DNDO is ensuring we have the scientific talent required for nuclear forensics. The NFAA-mandated National Nuclear Forensics Expertise Development Program is designed to cultivate and sustain the expertise required to execute our mission and has significantly revitalized the pipeline, through its support to students and academic institutions, which have become increasingly involved with the nuclear forensics field over the last five years.
The NFAA has been instrumental for DNDO, where we remain singularly focused on preventing nuclear terrorism. Along with our partners, we remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the Nation against this threat.
By Connie L. Patrick, Director, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
On any given day, there are roughly 7,000 personnel at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) facilities across the nation. Of that number, roughly 3,000 are law enforcement trainees from across the country. A DHS shutdown would have a real impact on our ability to provide training to law enforcement officers and agents across the country to ensure that they have the skills they need to do their jobs, and keep our communities safe and secure.
To be clear, this would not just affect Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel. FLETC serves as an interagency law enforcement training organization for 95 agencies across the Federal government, such as the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Capitol Police, Pentagon Force Protection, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Almost 90 percent of FLETC’s partner organizations are non-DHS agencies. In fact, our law enforcement trainees come from every branch of government.
Without funding, we cannot provide the necessary training for state, local, rural, tribal, territorial, and international law enforcement agencies. Many of these agencies are small departments with limited budgets and personnel. They have difficulty acquiring training to meet their local law enforcement accreditation standards. A funding hiatus would prevent the necessary training for their personnel.
Our training centers would all be affected including our headquarters at Glynco, near Brunswick, Georgia, and facilities in Artesia, NM, Charleston, SC and Cheltenham, MD.
For each week that the FLETC remains closed, a projected average of roughly 3,400 officers and agents per week would be affected. All of the students currently residing at FLETC facilities would be sent home or housed off of the FLETC campuses. There would also be lost wages for several thousand local support service contract employees, including food services, custodial and grounds maintenance. This would also be an unnecessary burden on our employees, as well as for these agencies who would have to wait for their officers and agents to get the training they need before beginning their duties.
A delay in training would have impacts on the security of the nation’s borders, aviation security, protecting our nation’s leaders and diplomats, safeguarding the United States Capitol and other federal buildings, and other federal law enforcement activities.
If a budget is not passed, FLETC would be forced to suspend scheduled law enforcement training programs until funding is secured. We would attempt to reschedule all suspended training; however, there may be a point at which the FLETC cannot accommodate all of the training suspended in addition to the training scheduled for Fiscal Year 2015.
FLETC remains hopeful that Congress will pass a budget on time, so that we can continue to train the men and women who risk their lives every day to keep us and our homeland safe and secure.
By Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft
Today, United States Coast Guard men and women are standing the watch around the world in service to our Nation. Our efforts and mission success depend on reliable and predictable funding.
The Coast Guard is currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires on Friday. Secretary Johnson has highlighted some of the key impacts this continuing resolution has on maritime security, emphasizing the need for a clean, full-year Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2015 to support the necessary operational, personnel, and acquisition funding for the Coast Guard.
Unreliable funding jeopardizes aircraft, cutter and boat maintenance and operations. It unnecessarily places an increased burden on our extraordinary people – 88,000 active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary members – who go into harm’s way every day, and they deserve safe and effective operational platforms.
Although Coast Guard men and women will continue to protect life and property at sea and preserve national security interest because of the oath they took, a lapse in funding will require the Coast Guard to curtail operations in several key mission areas, including routine law enforcement patrols and facility inspections; fisheries enforcement; mariner licensing and credentialing; certain vessel inspection and waterways management activities; and recreational boating safety.
If our appropriations lapse, Coast Guard men and women standing watch globally will not be paid. Further, over 6,000 valuable Coast Guard civilians – or nearly three quarters of our total civilian workforce – will be furloughed. Again with no guarantee of pay.
Also in the event of a lapse in appropriations, nearly $1 billion in acquisition and maintenance contracts will continue to be deferred or otherwise disrupted – reducing the long-term operational availability and effectiveness of the Coast Guard. These delays erode the security of our maritime borders.
Finally, a lapse in appropriations will adversely affect our retired personnel. These dedicated veterans, who often live on fixed incomes, will not receive their retired pay.
I echo Secretary Johnson’s support of America’s Coast Guard and his call to action in passing a clean, full-year appropriations bill.
This week marks the one year anniversary of the release of Executive Order 13659: Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America’s Businesses. This Executive Order set an ambitious deadline of December 2016 for the Department of Homeland Security to complete the International Trade Data System (ITDS) and other modernization activities to improve the security and facilitation of goods crossing our Nation’s borders. Once completed, the ITDS will allow businesses to fulfil government import and export requirements by electronically transmitting a streamlined set of data through the new “Single-Window.” This electronic system will significantly reduce the reliance on paper forms and manual processes, speed cross-border commerce, and enhance U.S. economic competitiveness.
Work to develop a the ITDS Single Window started years ago, but the concrete deadlines and specific requirements established under Executive Order 13659 inspired a renewed sense of urgency and commitment. Today, over half of ITDS Single Window technical capabilities have been successfully deployed, and DHS, in partnership with the dozens of other federal agencies with trade-related responsibilities, remains on track meet the December 31, 2016 deadline. We are working with the trade community to test capabilities as they are deployed, ensuring we develop a system that works for both the government and private sector users. In addition, DHS led efforts during 2014, to establish a new governance structure called the Border Interagency Executive Council. As Chair of this Council, I’ve worked with the leadership of other Departments to set common expectations about strategic goals, key milestones, performance measures, and core system capabilities. We have also challenged ourselves to re-think existing policies and processes impacting trade operations at the border and find ways to improve service outcomes for both businesses and government stakeholders. For example, the Council is working to implement unified messaging from the government to filers regarding the status of a shipment, enhanced coordination of risk-management activities across agencies, and streamlined data requirements that reduce the filing burden for the trade community. These improvements, which utilize ITDS capabilities, will result in faster, more predictable processing of lawful cargo at the border while supporting the government’s enforcement and compliance responsibilities.
Looking forward, we will need to continue efforts in 2015 to remain on schedule for an on-time delivery of a fully functional U.S. Government Single Window. However, engagement and expertise from the industry stakeholders who will ultimately rely on the system remain one of the most critical elements of success. We would like to thank the many companies that have already partnered with us and other agencies to test Single Window capabilities, as well as the trade advisory committees, Trade Support Network, and other industry partners whose valuable input has guided our work to-date. We are confident that this strong private-public sector collaboration will continue as we develop the necessary capabilities, conduct operational tests in real-work environments, and then work quickly to ratchet-up use of the system.
More information about ITDS, including technical documentation, a list of upcoming outreach events, and guidance on how to participate in an ITDS pilot are available at http://www.cbp.gov/trade/automated. Again, I thank all stakeholders, both private and public, for their commitment to this significant effort and look forward to the continued work ahead.
Over the last five years, more than 333 million international visitors have traveled to the United States. Growth in spending from these visitors during this period has supported roughly 280,000 new American jobs. Preliminary estimates show the U.S. welcomed a record 74 million international visitors in 2014 alone, and these travelers spent a record $222 billion on expenses including food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, and local transportation, supporting 1.1 million jobs.
The United States is not alone in our efforts to attract international visitors and the jobs they support.We are competing with countless global destinations; therefore, the Obama Administration is focused on efforts to improve how we welcome travelers into the United States. For example, we have reduced visa wait times for international travelers and reached a new agreement with China that extends the validity of tourist and business visas to 10 years and student visas to five years. In the three months since this smart reform was enacted, Chinese demand for U.S. visas has grown by more than 50 percent compared to the same period in 2014 .
We are taking these actions and others to ensure the travel experience is safe, efficient, and welcoming, while also protecting the security of this country. We want to travelers to return to the U.S. often and encourage their friends and families to visit, as well.
Today, the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security released a report to President Obama, titled “Supporting Travel and Tourism to Grow Our Economy and Create More Jobs: a National Goal on the International Arrivals Process and Airport-Specific Action Plans.” The report establishes a national goal: “The United States will provide a best-in-class arrival experience, as compared to our global competitors, to an ever-increasing number of international visitors while maintaining the highest standards of national security.” This goal was developed through extensive consultation with leaders from the airline, hospitality and travel industries, airport authorities, and state and local governments.
The report contains more than just a goal. To ensure success, the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security are establishing a new interagency task force, co-chaired by the Deputy Secretaries of Commerce and Homeland Security, which will engage with a broad array of industry stakeholders to identify the factors that drive a traveler’s perception of the international arrivals experience and decision to visit the United States. We will assess the arrivals process from planedisembarkment to primary passport inspection and baggage collection to exiting the airport through final baggage inspection, and the task force will use the results of the assessments to inform ongoing improvement of the arrivals process.
In addition, today’s report outlines 17 Airport-Specific Action Plans, developed in partnership with industry, to simplify and streamline the entry process at the nation’s top airports while also increasing security. For example, these airports are leveraging technology to offer a 21st century arrivals experience, and improving airport signage to make travelers’ entry into the United States easier to navigate. Thirteen different U.S. airports are installing 340 additional Automated Passport Control Kiosks through more than $20 million in public-private partnerships. These kiosks expedite air passenger inspection for U.S. and Canadian citizens, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, and certain other travelers at participating airports and reduce officer interaction time by 45 percent to approximately 30 seconds. By shortening the line to see a CBP officer, the overall waiting time of all arriving travelers is reduced. At the same time, these measures increase security by allowing officers to focus on the passenger instead of administrative tasks.
The Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security will continue our work with the private sector to reach the goal President Obama set in our National Travel and Tourism Strategy: to welcome 100 million international visitors by 2021. We will strive to make our arrivals experience the most welcoming in the world, so that international visitors continue to select the United States as their destination of choice.
By Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske
The clock is ticking, and time is running out. On February 27, the continuing resolution currently funding the Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies – including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – expires.
Four things can happen.
Congress can let the continuing resolution expire, and CBP may have to furlough employees, which complicates our mission as the nation’s largest law enforcement agency. Or Congress can pass another short-term continuing resolution; this approach simply prolongs the kind of budget uncertainty that makes it difficult for CBP to plan and implement mission-critical border security programs and technologies. Or Congress can pass a full-year continuing resolution, potentially compromising CBP’s ability to make critical investments in aging and obsolete technology and facilities. Or Congress can pass a full-year appropriations bill.
That fourth option is the best way to go. But, the President has been very clear that he will veto any appropriations bill that contains amendments that attempt to defund our executive actions on immigration reform.
CBP has made great strides in making it easier and safer for lawful travelers and cargo to cross our borders. We’ve invested in paperless technologies and partnered with private industry to roll out improvements like automated passport control, and we’ve implemented trusted traveler programs to help ease wait times at our ports of entry. We’ve given our Border Patrol agents and our Air and Marine personnel better equipment and resources to ensure that our borders are secure.
We have committed to do more. But we can’t because of the uncertain budget climate. For example:
- Improving our increasingly obsolete nonintrusive inspection and detection technology is on hold. This technology detects illegal goods and materials and reduces the time it takes to conduct to these inspections, moving trade and travel faster. This is vital to the U.S. economy.
- Upgrading and replacing remote and mobile video surveillance systems in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas is on hold. These technologies are vital to improving CBP’s situational awareness, officer and agent safety, and detection capabilities.
- Improving the operational systems and analytic tools that support our National Targeting Center is on hold. The NTC supports DHS efforts to identify and deter transnational criminal organizations and these operational systems help identify terrorists and criminals attempting to cross our borders.
- Enhancing CBP’s ability to analyze geospatial intelligence is on hold. This capability is essential for identifying traffic patterns along the border as well as for prioritizing Border Patrol and Air and Marine deployments.
- Beginning the procurement process to fix outdated and inefficient Border Patrol facilities is on hold. This would allow CBP to address a portion of its deferred maintenance backlog, ensuring the safety and well-being of CBP staff and supporting operations in the field.
I have 40 years of experience in career law enforcement. A shutdown would be a needless hardship for our nearly 60,000 dedicated and professional CBP employees, their families, and for the nation. Nearly all of them – more than 53,000 – would come to work but would not take home a paycheck. CBP, meanwhile, would have to shut down or scale back many of its most important training functions and processing the paperwork to move trade, a risk to the national economy.
Time is running out. Congress should pass a clean, full-year appropriations bill.
The stakes are simply too high when it comes to ensuring secure and efficient border operations.
By Commissioner Kerlikowske
Yesterday, I traveled to Miami where U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s highly trained agriculture specialists are inspecting millions of roses, daisies, tulips and other flowers. On any given day, the agriculture specialists process about 16.4 million cut flower stems; but in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, our specialists are looking at a massive 378.2 million stems.
It’s critically important not only to consumers, but to the vitality of the U.S. economy that cut flower imports are carefully inspected. Some of these flowers may carry hitchhiking pests and diseases that could cause millions of dollars in damage to the U.S. flower industry and beyond.
While the vast majority of flowers entering the country are safe, even one hitchhiking pest or plant disease can cause significant damage to American agriculture. Close collaboration with floral industry stakeholders has resulted in an unwavering commitment to facilitating the importation of these flowers while ensuring the interception of any hitchhiking pests to protect American agriculture.
Valentine’s Day at Miami International Airport is one of the most demanding times of the year for CBP agriculture specialists who ensure that flower bouquets are free from pests.
Visit our website for more information and statistics about CBP’s cut flower inspections.
During the 2014 Valentine’s season:
- CBP agriculture specialists in Miami processed approximately 87 percent of the total imported cut flowers nationally; Los Angeles ranked second.
- The top cut flower imports processed in Miami consist of roses, mixed bouquets, and Dianthus.
- The imported cut flowers inspection process resulted in 2,737 pest interceptions nationally. Miami intercepted 1,422 pests, followed by Los Angeles with 383 pests.
- The most common type of insects intercepted in these cut flower imports are Tetranychus sp. (mites), Aphididae (Aphids), Agromyzidae (Miner Flies) and Noctuidae (moths).
- Most of the cut flower shipments are imported from South America, primarily Colombia, followed by Ecuador.
- CBP processed approximately 801.1 million cut flower stems nationally during the 2014 Valentine’s season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, compared to 867.2 million stems processed during the 2013 season -- a decrease of 7.6 percent.