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DHS for a Day II: San Diego. Calif.

A visit to San Diego-based DHS components

February 17th, 2011

The second round of DHS for a Day highlighted U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG). To show the breadth of the homeland security enterprise and to highlight the field-level collaboration between San Diego-based DHS components, the day began with short presentations by senior DHS leadership. To cap off the morning, representatives from the Maritime Safety and Security Team, Tactical Law Enforcement Team, Airborne Use of Force Package, and Dive Team gave demonstrations showcasing their capabilities. The group also toured the harbor aboard the Sea Otter, an 87-foot Patrol Boat, and a CBP Marine ‘Mike Boat’, otherwise known as the ‘Midnight Express.’

San Ysidro Border Crosing After lunch in the USCG Mess, the DHS for a Day participants headed down to the San Ysidro Port of Entry (POE), the busiest land border crossing in the world. The group was greeted by the Port Director, who gave a brief on all port operations. One interesting statistic he presented: out of all people entering the U.S. daily at our 323 Ports of Entry, 1 out of every 8 of those people goes through the San Ysidro POE. Even 24 lanes of traffic are not enough to accommodate the 40,000 vehicles that, on average, come through San Ysidro each day. Continuing on the tour, the group observed CBP officers, in the course of their normal duties, scan a vehicle while highlighting the technology they employ. As the group watched, CBP officers discovered a hidden compartment that was, according to the driver, filled with ‘medication’. This was certainly a surprise for our participants, but it reflected the challenges CBP officers face every day at the busiest land border crossing in the world.

Border Infrastructure System After touring the POE, CBP Office of Border Patrol (OBP) personnel drove the group on a tour of the Border Infrastructure System (the primary and secondary fences at the border). Entering at the 'Robert Duran Gate,' we drove in between the two border fences and saw the environment in which DHS OBP staff work daily. The terrain quickly transitioned from the urban area around the POE to a much more rugged and rural topography. Despite these challenges, the border is becoming increasingly secure and DHS now has access to areas of the border that were previously considered unsafe.

Drug Tunnel The last event of the day proved to be an excellent finale. On November 25, 2010, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations discovered a drug tunnel that led to the confiscation of over 20 tons of marijuana. The tunnel stretched 2,200 feet from its entrance in Mexico to the U.S. entrance, reaching a maximum depth of 65 feet. The tunnel also boasted electric wiring and a light rail system used to carry out the dirt and carry in the drugs. This part of the tour not only included viewing the tunnel from above, but many participants – including Assistant Secretary Smith and Rear Admiral Michel – also went down into the tunnel, venturing around twists and turns to experience one of the ways that drugs are smuggled into this country.

The day was a great success, showcasing many DHS components at work. Secretary Napolitano continues to promote a ‘One DHS’ mindset and San Diego-based DHS components live up to that ideal on a day-to-day basis.

For more information on this or other DHS for a Day programs, please e-mail private.sector@dhs.gov.

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DHS for a Day I: U.S. Secret Service James J. Rowley Training Center

October 27th, 2010

The DHS for a Day program kicked off at the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) James J. Rowley Training Center with a briefing of USSS history and mission areas. Although many people recognize the USSS for their protective security mission, the Secret Service works in many other areas as well. The USSS was created following the Civil War to control rampant inflation and counterfeiting, and that mission continues today. In addition to their financial investigative work, the USSS also works in cyber security, operating over 20 Electronic Crimes Task Forces throughout the country.

Following the briefing, the DHS for a Day group observed protective security and bomb detection canine demonstrations.

The group also visited the firing range and the driving course, learning about some of the techniques the USSS uses to protect our country’s leaders. During the driving presentation, one experienced agent recounted a time when he put his driving skills to the test: President Reagan was golfing in Augusta, Ga., when a gunman stormed into the clubhouse and took several hostages. The Secret Service immediately went into action, even taking the presidential limousine directly onto the golf course to retrieve the President. 

Overall, the event provided excellent insight into one of DHS’s oldest components, and the entire group came away impressed by the level of training that all USSS agents (including the canine contingent) exhibit. This experience provided a great start to the DHS for a Day program. 

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Last Published Date: March 28, 2014
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