B-308 Rayburn House Office Building
Chairman Carter, Ranking Member Roybal-Allard, Members of the Subcommittee, it is an honor to appear before you today, just over a year from when I was confirmed as the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP protects the American public from acts of terrorism by constant vigilance at and between our Nation’s ports of entry (POE). CBP also ensures travelers and goods move safely and efficiently across our borders; immigrants and visitors are properly documented; and customs, immigration, and trade laws, regulations, and agreements are enforced.
The border environment in which CBP works is dynamic and requires continual adaptation to respond to emerging threats and conditions. This past year was no different, and I am proud of CBP’s dedicated men and women, who rose to meet these challenges with integrity and commitment.
Last spring and summer, CBP addressed the surge in border crossings of thousands of unaccompanied children (UC). CBP worked hand-in-hand with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to safely detain and transfer the children out of our custody consistent with mandates in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (P.L. 110-457). We also worked with the Department of State to create and disseminate the Dangers of the Journey to Cross the Border – an international unbranded public awareness campaign with the goal of dissuading potential undocumented migrants — particularly 12- to 17-year-olds from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — from embarking on the dangerous trek north to attempt to enter the U.S. illegally via Mexico.
Simultaneously, CBP responded to the 2014 Ebola epidemic that affected, and continues to affect, several West African countries. We quickly adapted our international travel security procedures to ensure the safety of the traveling public as well as our CBP officers. CBP worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement enhanced screening processes, and redirected flights with connections from affected countries to five designated airports within the United States.
In dealing with these crises, and keeping pace with all of CBP’s daily activities, the American people place enormous trust and confidence in CBP to keep them safe. To ensure this trust, the highest levels of transparency and accountability are required to uphold integrity of the workforce and the highest professional standards.
As part of our commitment to transparency, in May 2014, CBP publicly released the revised Use of Force Policy handbook and implemented a unified, formal review process for use of force incidents. CBP transitioned our own Internal Affairs Special Agents (formerly, GS-1801) into the Criminal Investigator series, GS-1811, in September 2014, providing CBP the authority to investigate its employees for alleged criminal misconduct. Additionally, CBP implemented a multi-phased proof of concept of body worn cameras, a potential tool in our efforts towards increased transparency and accountability, for use in each of CBP’s operational environments along the U.S. border, at and between ports of entry, in the air and at sea.
Just as important, we made critical steps towards addressing employee morale across the agency in the past year. I filled key and overdue vacancies by selecting senior officials throughout CBP including the selections of the Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners for the Office of Field Operations, Office of International Trade, Office of Intelligence, and Office of Public Affairs. Additionally, we worked with Congress on compensation reform for our Border Patrol agents – a critical legislative change enabling CBP to guarantee agents equal pay for equal work. This reform not only allows for better budgetary and operational planning, but provides the men and women of the Border Patrol with greater certainty in their paychecks. I will continue to provide CBP’s entire workforce with the leadership, tools, training, and support it needs to remain America’s unified border security agency.
Today, I will discuss how CBP is using the resources provided by Congress efficiently and effectively, and demonstrate how the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Budget Request supports CBP’s continued commitment to keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the United States, securing the border, and facilitating lawful international trade and travel. The FY 2016 Budget Request focuses resources on key capabilities in each of our mission areas. These include:
- Advancing Comprehensive Border Security and Management;
- Enhancing Capabilities to Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime; and
- Enabling Lawful Trade and Travel.
CBP’s frontline personnel work tirelessly to deter illicit trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, and money, while facilitating legitimate travel and trade. CBP achieves its complex mission using a combination of personnel, advanced information, risk assessment, technology, and partnerships with Federal, state, local, tribal, territorial and international law enforcement agencies, as well as the private industry.
Advancing Comprehensive Border Security
Along the over 5,000 miles of border with Canada, 1,900 miles of border with Mexico and approximately 95,000 miles of shoreline, CBP is responsible for preventing the illegal movement of people and contraband. CBP’s Border Patrol and Air and Marine agents patrol our Nation’s borders and associated airspace and maritime approaches to prevent illegal entry of people and goods into the United States. CBP officers (CBPOs) and agriculture specialists are multi-disciplined and perform the full range of inspection, intelligence analysis, examination, and law enforcement activities relating to the arrival and departure of persons, conveyances, and merchandise at air, land, and sea POEs.
At Ports of Entry – Investments in Technology
At POEs in FY 2014, CBPOs arrested 8,013 individuals wanted for serious crimes. CBPOs also stopped 223,712 inadmissible aliens from entering the United States through POEs, an increase of more than nine percent from FY 2013. Grounds for inadmissibility range from immigration violations, criminal violations, to national security concerns. Also protecting the economy and America’s food and agricultural production and industry, CBP’s agriculture specialists seized 1.6 million prohibited plant materials, meat, and animal byproducts, and intercepted thousands of dangerous pests such as the khapra beetle, one of the world’s most destructive pests of grain products and seeds.
Non-intrusive inspection (NII) technology, which includes large- and small-scale x-ray and gamma ray detection equipment, is a critical part of our multi-layered approach and enables CBPOs to screen or examine a larger portion of commercial traffic without disrupting the flow of legitimate trade, cargo and travelers by forgoing manual inspections. Since September 11, 2001, NII technology has been the cornerstone of the CBP multi-layered enforcement strategy. CBP is requesting an increase of $85.3 million for its NII program to fund recapitalization of aging systems, which currently include 314 large-scale and 4,930 small-scale systems. Without this funding increase, maintenance costs will rise, systems will become obsolete, system downtime will rise, all impacting the effectiveness and cost of inspections due to the need for manual inspection, ultimately delaying the movement of legitimate trade and travel.
The Budget Request provides an increase of $11.1 million for the Border Security Deployment Program (BSDP). BSDP increases situational awareness at land POEs (LPOEs) by providing CBP with a comprehensive and expanded secure operational environment through the deployment of an integrated surveillance and intrusion detection system at LPOEs on a 24x7 basis. BSDP improves the safety and security of CBP officers and the traveling public, and promotes officer integrity through court admissible video and audio recordings. BSDP serves as a force multiplier by allowing CBP officers and agents to focus their attention on the efficient flow of people and goods at the border.
Response to Unaccompanied Children
Unaccompanied Children (“UCs”) began crossing the Southwestern border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector in unprecedented numbers in early 2014. The flow continued through the spring and into the summer of 2014. On May 14, 2014, the Secretary of Homeland Security declared a Level 4 emergency. The surge peaked in June, with over 10,000 UCs encountered by the Border Patrol. By the end of FY 2014, the Border Patrol had encountered 68,631 UCs and 68,684 family units; a dramatic increase compared to FY 2013 when the Border Patrol encountered a total of 38,833 unaccompanied children and 15,056 family units nationwide. This increase translated into longer stays in CBP custody while UCs awaited transfer by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facilities. The delays in transportation and placement required CBP to take additional measures to provide adequate care for the UCs. The Department of Defense (DOD) provided temporary holding facilities at Lackland Air Base (Texas); Fort Sill (Oklahoma), and Ventura, (California). CBP also re-opened the Nogales Processing Center (Nogales, Arizona) to provide space for the extended care of children. During the surge, UCs were relocated from the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) to Nogales via U.S. Coast Guard and contract charter flights.
The Budget Request provides baseline funding for the care and custody of 58,000 UCs and takes steps to better prepare the Department for a future influx of UCs through a contingency fund which will provide up to $134.5 million1 to provide the necessary support activities required to apprehend and maintain the health and safety for up to 104,000 UCs once specific threshold levels are met. Without this increase in funding, CBP will not have the flexibility to adequately respond to a significant surge of UCs in FY 2016.
Technology Investments between Ports of Entry
The FY 2016 Budget Request will enable the continued deployment of proven, effective technology to strengthen border security operations between the ports – in the land, air, and maritime environments. With the deployment of fixed and mobile surveillance capabilities, CBP can gain situational awareness remotely, direct a response team to the best interdiction location, and warn them of any additional danger otherwise unknown along the way. As a result, these investments increase CBP’s visibility on the border, operational capabilities, and the safety of frontline law enforcement personnel. Technology investments are critical to CBP’s risk-based operational strategy. By gaining greater situational awareness, CBP can determine activity levels in all border regions, monitor evolving threat patterns, and strategically deploy assets.
CBP formed a partnership with the DOD to identify and reuse “excess” DOD technology. To date, CBP has acquired several types of technology, including thermal imaging equipment, night vision equipment, and aerostat systems. Until now, we have funded these initiatives using savings we’ve harvested by maximizing efficiencies in our acquisition strategies. The FY 2016 Budget Request begins to baseline these budget requirements by providing an increase to allow CBP to continue the acquisition and operation of DOD-provided systems like aerostats and re-locatable towers from DOD. The re-use technology from DOD increases CBP’s situational awareness and operational flexibility in responding to border threats. Funding will also allow CBP to conduct technical evaluations and deploy additional DOD re-use technologies, such as foliage penetrating sensors and wireless sensor data link systems, to the field.
The Budget Request also supports tactical infrastructure investments in Arizona, by providing funding for CBP to complete the Naco Primary Fence Replacement Project. The project is a high priority fence project for the Border Patrol and involves removing and replacing an estimated 7.5 miles of existing primary pedestrian fence that has been successfully exploited by Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO) due to ease of concealment and inadequate design. The funding will address these vulnerabilities.
The FY 2016 Budget Request recognizes that the border environment between the ports of entry is dynamic and requires flexibility and mobility to address emerging threats. The budget provides funding to procure a minimum of 10 Mobile Surveillance Capability (MSC) systems for deployment to Texas’ El Paso, Big Bend, and Del Rio Sectors. MSC units provide long-range mobile surveillance and consist of cameras and sensors mounted on Border Patrol vehicles. Additionally, Mobile Video Surveillance Systems (MVSS) have proven to provide valuable short and medium-range mobile surveillance and are also mounted on Border Patrol vehicles. The MVSS program plans to deploy four units to the RGV Sector that were originally planned for Arizona.2 In FY 2016, the budget requests $25 million for the acquisition of 55 units for the South Texas Corridor (Laredo and Del Rio Sectors) and 18 units in the West Texas Corridor (Big Bend Sector) to meet Border Patrol operational needs. Through the deployment of these technologies, the Border Patrol will gain more persistent surveillance coverage, greater situational awareness and will have the ability to effectively detect, identify, track, and interdict potential threats along the Southwest border.
Investments in Air and Marine Capabilities
CBP’s comprehensive border security operations include the use of coordinated and integrated air and marine capabilities to detect, interdict, and prevent acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs, and other contraband toward or across the borders of the United States. During FY 2014, CBP’s Office of Air and Marine (OAM) contributed to 4,725 arrests and the apprehension of 79,672 individuals.
CBP’s layered approach to border security relies on a variety of resources in the air and maritime domains, including fixed wing, rotary, and unmanned aircraft systems, and patrol and interdiction vessels. These assets provide critical aerial and maritime surveillance, interdiction, and operational assistance to our ground personnel and multi-domain awareness for the Department of Homeland Security.
CBP’s FY 2016 Budget Request includes $44.4 million to enhance OAM’s operations and capabilities through the procurement of two King Air (KA)-350CER Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA). The MEA has more flight endurance, a multi-mode radar for use over water and land, an electro-optical infrared camera system, and a satellite communications system. The MEA is truly a multi-role aircraft that replaces several, older, single-mission assets. With its sophisticated technology systems, the MEA is the most capable, twin-engine aircraft that CBP has purchased and is a critical investment to support Border Patrol tactical ground movements and improve air-to-ground surveillance capabilities.
Additionally, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are increasingly instrumental in CBP’s layered and integrated approach to border security. The UAS consists of an unmanned aircraft (MQ-9 Predator B), sensor communication package, pilots, and ground control operators. UAS are used to meet mission requirements along the Southwest border, Northern border and in the Southeast coastal area. Equipped with the VADER system, CBP’s UAS provide broad area ground domain awareness at a level never before achieved, and when equipped with other sensors provides timely change detection and direct support for ground interdiction operations. The FY 2016 Budget Request provides for an additional 15 UAS crew, which will enable increased CBP aerial surveillance, enforcement, and security to prevent potential threats from illegally entering the United States.
The Budget also requests $32.5 million to increase CBP flight hours to conduct border operations along the Southwest border and operations within the source, transit, and arrival zones. The funds will be used primarily for fuel for a variety of aircraft to support southwest border operations and operations within the source, transit, and arrival zones, including the P-3 and DHC-8 aircraft.
Commencing in FY 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will mandate certain aircraft be equipped with and use Automatic Dependent Surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), a satellite-derived aircraft location system. The Budget Request includes $1.6 million to start the phased-in purchase and installation of ADS-B transponders and cockpit displays in all CBP aircraft.3
As we continue to deploy border surveillance technology, particularly along the Southwest border, these investments allow CBP the flexibility to shift more officers and agents from detection duties to interdiction of illegal activities on our borders. The FY 2016 budget supports CBP’s border security mission by increasing and enhancing border security technology including mobile assets, air and marine capabilities, and initiatives to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
Integrated Operational Support
Canines are used to detect illegal aliens, illegal drugs, and illegal currency in field operations. CBP is requesting an increase of roughly $10 million for its Canine Enforcement Program (CEP). The CEP plays a crucial role in anti-terrorism and interdiction efforts. Through the CEP, CBP established and deployed a world-class detector dog program to augment existing technology. CBP canine teams are strategically assigned to POEs around the United States and to preclearance operations abroad. This increase will result in a total of 47 more canine teams, with a mix of Currency/Firearms and Human/Narcotics Detection, deployed to the POEs with the highest need. Of this requested increase, $360,000 will be used by Border Patrol to increase the number of canines to eventually meet its requirement for 1,115 canines by FY 2019.
The budget also provides $78.8 million for CBP’s real property portfolio maintenance and repair backlog. At the end of FY 2014, CBP documented a large backlog of unmet maintenance and repair requirements that present significant safety and security issues for CBP personnel and the general public, along with systems that are at high risk of failure, which could potentially cause interruptions to the successful execution of CBP’s mission and operations. The funding increase will remediate life safety and security requirements and repair facility deficiencies, improving operational capabilities and workplace quality. The funds will also support installation or upgrade of security systems and other requirements at leased facilities. CBP will prioritize funds for the most critical CBP facilities infrastructure requirements, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that CBP facilities are safe working environments that allow CBP to efficiently execute each one of its strategic mission areas.
1 Due to the low probability of such a high number of UCs attempting to enter the United States in FY 2016, the Budget scores the requested increase at $24.4 million. In addition to this contingency, the budget includes $4.7 million to implement a standardized care for mothers and children in CBP custody to include UCs at POEs and Border Patrol stations.
2 CBP awarded a small business set-aside contract in July 2014, but a stop work order is in place pending the resolution of protest activities.
3 The estimate to purchase and install ADS-B transponders and cockpit displays in all OAM non-compliant aircraft is $14.6 million, spread over the course of the next the next several years so that by FY 2018 all hardware would be purchased and installed before the FY 2020 FAA deadline.
Enhancing Capabilities to Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime
CBP plays an important role in the whole-of-government approach in protecting our homeland. In this role, CBP must be a national leader in developing a well-informed, agile, and seamless global counter network effort to strengthen our border security operations, without unduly affecting the legal movement of people and goods. CBP’s counter network operations will constantly enhance and evolve its capabilities to serve common interests in combating terrorism; supporting and promoting economic growth; disrupting transnational criminal organizations; and preventing the spread of agricultural pests and diseases. CBP is also part of a broader public-private collaboration that extends the “zone of security” to transcend our physical borders, ensuring that the U.S. physical border is the last line of defense, not the first.
Southern Border Approaches Campaign
CBP is a critical part of the DHS Secretary’s Southern Border and Approaches Campaign, which is a unified approach to addressing security on the southern border as well as in the “approaches” - transit and source zones and at points of departure to the United States. The Campaign identifies and interdicts threats at the earliest possible point. The Campaign coordinates DHS assets and personnel, and promotes effective enforcement and interdiction across land, sea, and air to degrade TCOs while still facilitating the flow of lawful trade, travel, and commerce across our borders.
In support of this new strategy, on December 15, 2014, Secretary Johnson announced the establishment of three temporary pilot multi-component joint task forces, each administratively headed by a director and supported by staff detailed to each task force on a temporary basis. CBP will lead Joint Task Force-West and will be responsible for the southwest land border from Texas to California. CBP will also support the U.S. Coast Guard led Joint Task Force-East, which will be responsible for the maritime approaches to the United States across the southeast, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean. CBP will further support the work of the Joint Task Force for Investigations led by ICE.
Counter Network Operations
Transnational terrorism and crime is increasingly coordinated through sophisticated networks of individuals and organizations. CBP’s unparalleled data collection and analytics, our global presence, and our investigative neutrality ideally position us to contribute to the global counter network effort. Undetected criminal and terrorist travel, contraband movement, and irregular commercial and financial activity necessitates continued improvement in our ability to uncover the patterns that exist within disparate sources of information. The FY 2016 Budget Request assists CBP in building a counter network capability, includes the establishment of a dedicated Counter Network Division at the National Targeting Center (NTC) and the enhancement of data analysis and visualization tools within the Automated Targeting System (ATS). The NTC will promote the implementation and optimization of CBP’s agency-wide counter network efforts and strategy as a collaborative analytic environment to conduct advanced counter network analysis of the nation’s key transnational organized crime and terrorist targets.
As part of CBP’s efforts to develop an informed global counter network to combat illegal cross-border activities, CBP significantly enhanced its intelligence and targeting capabilities to segment and target shipments and individuals according to the level of risk they pose. Beyond managing the influx of people and cargo arriving in the United States, CBP is also working with other DHS agencies to develop a capability to better identify foreign nationals who have violated immigration law, as well as track suspect persons and cargo exiting the United States
Providing accurate and timely information about encounters with those known or suspected of being involved in terrorist activity to systems such as the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) that are shared by law enforcement and intelligence community is an essential function of U.S. counterterrorism activities. Currently, DHS components must report encounters to the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) manually via email or phone call, resulting in the potential for timeliness and accuracy issues. FY 2016 funding will support the development of the DHS Watchlist Service (WLS), an automated system that will enable sharing encounter information with the TSC in an automated, near-real time mechanism, contributing to a timely and accurate watchlisting and screening process.
National Geospatial Border Strategy
CBP recognizes that intelligence is a force multiplier and technology must be leveraged to identify and validate low-risk or low-activity areas on the U.S. border in order to allow a focused and measured use of CBP capabilities against prioritized threats. Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) provides enhanced situational awareness through overhead intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance so emerging threats can be identified and intelligence can be operationalized as they occur, ensuring continued risk adaptation. GEOINT is an operational capability that includes internal analytical resources and tool suites used in cooperation with our Intelligence Community partners to provide persistent surveillance, systematic analysis, and increased situational awareness along all our borders. The budget requests an $8.4 million increase to support the expansion of GEOINT to the Northern border, equipment refresh for the Law Enforcement Technical Collections (LETC) program in the Caribbean, and to augment existing Intelligence Support Team (IST) locations participating in joint task forces such as the DHS’ Southwest Border and Approaches Campaign.
These new initiatives represent our commitment to a larger DHS unity of effort – one that works toward maturing and strengthening the security of our borders by enhancing shared awareness of risks and threats, building a capable and agile workforce, and fostering innovative approaches and solutions through advanced technology.
Enabling Lawful Trade and Travel
CBP has the responsibility to enhance the economic competitiveness and security of the United States by enabling lawful trade and travel at the Nation’s 328 POEs. CBP accomplishes this by efficiently and effectively processing goods and people across U.S. borders. This is crucial to promoting job growth, and helping the private sector remain globally competitive today and in the future. Through the deployment of critical frontline resources; enhanced business processes, such as the modernization of revenue collection and automation of trade processes; and advanced technologies, such as automated and mobile passport control capabilities, CBP is streamlining the processing of lawful trade and travel, and promoting the growth of the U.S. economy.
CBP supports the President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy to expand the Nation’s ability to attract and welcome international visitors while maintaining the highest standards of security. CBP officers welcomed more than 374 million travelers at air, land, and sea ports of entry in FY 2014. More than 107 million international travelers arrived at U.S. airports, an increase of 4.7 percent from the previous fiscal year. Despite the increase in air travel, average wait times were down 13 percent at the top 10 airports.
Cross-border trade also increased in FY 2014, with CBP processing more than $2.4 trillion in trade and collecting more than $43.5 billion in revenue. In FY 2014, CBP processed more than $1.6 trillion worth of U.S. exported goods, an increase of four percent from the previous fiscal year, and 25.7 million cargo containers. In FY 2014, CBP conducted more than 23,000 seizures of goods that violated intellectual property rights, with a total retail value of $1.2 billion – thereby protecting American innovation.
CBPO Hiring Initiative
CBPOs are critical in ensuring border security, preventing terrorism, strengthening international cooperation, and securing and facilitating the trade and travel that is vital to the Nation’s economy. According to a 2013 National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) study4 on the effect of wait times on the local and national economy, adding CBPOs to POEs has a direct impact on wait times and, therefore, the U.S. economy. More specifically, adding a single CBPO at each of the 33 studied border crossings equates to annual benefits of a $2 million increase in Gross Domestic Product, $640,000 saved in opportunity costs, and 33 jobs added to the economy per officer added.
Thanks to Congress’ support, funding for 2,000 new CBPOs was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 20145 (henceforth referred to as the “FY 2014 Omnibus”). These additional officers will have a positive impact on operations, helping to both reduce wait times as travel volume increases as well as enhance our screening of cargo. CBP is pursuing every opportunity to fulfill the remaining CBPO hiring requirement. Although challenges remain, we are making progress. We have opened three separate vacancy announcements – two in 2014, one last month, and will open three additional announcements in 2015. CBP continues to maintain a robust hiring pipeline with significant applicant interest in CBP’s frontline law enforcement occupations.
Resource Optimization Initiatives
CBP is taking action to implement other resource optimizing initiatives, such as public-private partnerships, and business transformation initiatives such as automating forms – like the I-94 form – and standard processes with Automated Passport Control (APC) and mobile technology. We are also seeking Congressional approval to increase current user fees, some of which have not been increased in over 10 years.6
CBP will continue to implement and work with airports and other stakeholders to implement business transformation initiatives at POEs across the United States. In FY 2014, CBP installed APC kiosks in 22 locations to streamline the traveler inspection process, reduce wait times, and enhance security. CBP also launched Mobile Passport Control (MPC) - the first authorized smartphone app to facilitate the entry process- and enrolled an additional 1.25 million people in Trusted Travelers Programs, which provide expedited travel for pre-approved, low-risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks. Amongst the many benefits to the travelers, these initiatives also allow CBPOs to focus less on administrative tasks and more on critical law enforcement functions. All of these initiatives, as part of the Resource Optimization Strategy, increase security and efficiency, and enhance the passenger experience.
Thanks to this Committee, CBP was granted authority in the FY 2014 Omnibus to conduct a pilot program under which CBP may enter into agreements with private sector and government entities for certain reimbursable services.7 This pilot program expanded the authority provided under Section 560 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (Pub. L. No. 113-6) and allowed for five agreements for CBP customs and immigration-related inspection services (restricting airports to overtime use only).8 A decrease in the average wait times at these locations is directly attributable to these partnerships as evidenced by wait times decreasing 15 percent at Miami International Airport, 24 percent at Houston George Bush International Airport, 40 percent at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and 10 percent at El Paso vehicle lanes during requested program hours.
In FY 2014, CBP announced additional partnerships to promote trade, travel and infrastructure enhancements. In July, CBP announced initial selections for 16 new reimbursable services agreements. The next Reimbursable Services Program application period was announced this month and is open for 30 days. In October, CBP also announced the Donations Acceptance Program and received seven infrastructure-related proposals, which are currently under evaluation by both CBP and General Services Administration.
Extended Border Initiatives
In the international travel environment, preclearance operations support CBP’s extended border strategy by providing for the inspection of international travelers before they embark. More specifically, preclearance allows CBP to staff officers at host airports and complete the necessary inspections at that location.
In FY 2014, more than 16 million travelers went through one of CBP’s 16 preclearance locations9 accounting for 15 percent of total international air travel that year. In September 22, 2014, CBP announced a process to prioritize potential new preclearance locations. The expansion of preclearance in strategic locations will further strengthen our ability to identify those who may pose a national security threat prior to encountering them on U.S. soil, while enhancing passenger facilitation.
Another initiative to increase both travel security and facilitation is the Electronic Visa Information System (EVIUS). The FY 2016 Budget Request includes an increase of $29.4 million for EVIUS, a new program that will allow non-immigrant visa (NIV) holders, who are not eligible to use the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), to provide updated biographic and travel-related information through a CBP-operated public website. The system will enable CBP to facilitate pre-departure risk determinations post-visa issuance before passengers initiate travel to the United States. This new system will complement the existing visa application process and enhance CBP’s ability to make pre-travel risk determinations.
The FY 2016 Budget Request recognizes that revenue collection is another CBP function critical to the growth of the U.S. economy. Although CBP collects the majority of revenue electronically, over $2.4 billion is collected through checks and cash, of which approximately 60 percent is collected at POEs. The request provides $12.6 million additional funds for Revenue Modernization, which will enable CBP to transition select revenue collection activities from the POEs, reengineer complex collections business processes, and enhance payment processing and financial reporting functionality through automation. The Revenue Modernization effort will create operational efficiencies at the POEs by allowing CBP officers to focus more on critical security and compliance issues, and will benefit the trade and travel industries by transitioning from an outdated process of printing and mailing bills and depositing paper checks to a modernized electronic billing and payment system. Direct electronic payments will increase CBP’s speed, accuracy and control over collections, increasing our ability to safeguard the billions of dollars of revenue used throughout the Federal Government to support critical programs and promote U.S. trade and travel.
4 “The Impact on the U.S. Economy of Changes in Wait Times at Ports of Entry.” National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), University of Southern California, released April 4, 2013.
5 Pub. L. No. 113-76
6 The full set of Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) fees were last increased in 2007. See 72 Fed. Reg. 3730 (Jan. 26, 2007)(using to the maximum extent the fee-increase authority provided in 19 U.S.C. § 58c(j)(3)(B)(ii)). The Immigration Inspection User Fee (IUF) fee was last increased in 2001 by statute. See Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-77, 115 Stat. 748.
7 Section 559 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, Pub. L. No. 113-76, authorizes CBP, in collaboration with the General Services Administration (GSA), to conduct a 5-year pilot program to enter into partnerships with private sector and government entities for certain reimbursable services and to accept certain donations.
8 CBP entered into reimbursable services agreements with the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board, the City of El Paso, Miami-Dade County, the City of Houston / Houston Airport System, and the South Texas Assets Consortium
9 9 Canada (Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg), Ireland (Dublin, Shannon), The Bahamas (Freeport, Nassau), Aruba, Bermuda, and the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi).
The security of our Nation will continue to be tested by new and emerging threats. With the support of Congress, CBP continues to secure our Nation’s borders through a multi-layered approach using a variety of tools.
CBP will continue to work with DHS and our federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and international partners, to strengthen border security and facilitate lawful cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy. We must remain vigilant and focus on refining our approach and positioning CBP’s greatest capabilities to combat the greatest risks that exist today, to be prepared for emerging threats, and to overcome the challenges of securing a 21st century border.
I want to thank the Members of this Subcommittee for your continued strong support of CBP. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I look forward to your questions.