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  4. Written testimony of CBP for a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittees on National Security, and Government Operations hearing titled “National Security: Threats at our Borders”

Written testimony of CBP U.S. Border Patrol Acting Chief Ronald Vitiello for a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security, and Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing titled “National Security: Threats at our Borders”

Release Date: March 23, 2016

2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Chairmen Meadows and DeSantis, Ranking Members Connolly and Lynch, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, it is a pleasure to appear before you today on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to discuss national security and threats at our border.

Along the more than 5,000 miles of land border with Canada and Mexico, and approximately 95,000 miles of shoreline, DHS works with our interagency, and state and local partners to secure our borders and the associated airspace and maritime approaches to protect the United States against terrorist threats and prevent illegal entry of people and goods into the United States while also facilitating lawful trade and travel.

The border environment is dynamic and requires adaptation to respond to emerging threats and changing conditions. We appreciate the partnership and support we have received from these Subcommittees, whose commitment to the security of the American people has enabled the continued deployment of resources and capabilities DHS needs to secure the border.

Operational Coordination

Secretary Johnson’s Unity of Effort initiative has put in place new and strengthened management processes at DHS Headquarters to enable more effective DHS component operations. In addition, DHS-wide border security activities are being strategically guided by the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign (SBAC). Aimed at leveraging the range of unique Department roles, responsibilities, and capabilities, the Campaign enhances our operational approach to working together in a more unified way to address comprehensive threat environments.

On November 20, 2014, the Secretary commissioned the creation of three Joint Task Forces (JTF) to support the SBAC: JTF-West, JTF-East, and JTF-Investigations. All three incorporate elements from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S Coast Guard (USCG), Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). JTF-West, led by CBP, bears responsibility for the southern land border and the West Coast. JTF-East, led by the USCG, is responsible for the Southern maritime and border approaches. JTF-Investigations, led by ICE, focuses on investigations in support of JTF-W and JTF-E.

This effort will direct DHS resources in a much more collaborative fashion to address the range of threats and challenges, including illegal migration, smuggling of illegal drugs, human and arms trafficking, the illicit financing of such operations, and threat of terrorist exploitation of border vulnerabilities. The creation of the JTFs, unified joint task forces along the Southwest border and in the approaches to the United States, increases information sharing with Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies; improves situational awareness; enhances border-wide criminal intelligence-led interdiction operations; and addresses transnational threats and associated violence.

As the lead agency for JTF-W, CBP – specifically the Office of Field Operations (OFO), U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), and Air and Marine Operations (AMO) – has primary responsibility for exercising CBP’s border security mission at and between the Nation’s ports of entry (POEs). These entities coordinate the use of integrated assets to detect, interdict, and prevent acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs, and contraband toward or across the borders of the United States. CBP implements intelligence-driven counter network strategies focused on areas of greatest risk, and deploys its capabilities to adapt to emerging threats along the border.

The illegal cross-border activities of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and other mala fide actors pose a growing threat to border security and public safety. TCOs control most cross-border trafficking of guns and illegal drugs, and there is evidence of their increased involvement with human smuggling. Using a risk-informed and intelligence-driven approach, CBP will continue to enhance our efforts to anticipate and respond to threats to our national security, ensure the safety of the U.S. public, and deter, prevent, and disrupt future illegal activities.

Responding to the continued flow of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and families crossing the Southwest border is also a priority. During FY 2014, the U.S. Government experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of UAC crossing the Southwest border, compared to previous years. The resulting humanitarian situation challenged the existing facilities, resources, and capabilities of CBP and other Federal agencies with responsibilities to process, transport, and care for UAC. During the following year, FY 2015, CBP apprehended nearly 40,000 UAC crossing the border — a decrease of 41 percent from the more than 68,000 encountered during 2014. However, as of January 31 this fiscal year, CBP has apprehended more than 20,000 UAC, compared to approximately 10,000 apprehended during the same period last year. As we enter the traditional season of higher migration, we are closely monitoring this situation and working with our partners to ensure that resources and capabilities are in place to accommodate an increased number of UAC, and to maintain safe, orderly processing of children that CBP encounters, without disrupting CBP’s vital border security mission.

The border environment is challenged by continuously evolving tactics of terrorists, smuggling and trafficking networks, and other criminals. Detecting changes in threat levels and criminal flows across the border environment requires the use of various tactics to gather information and intelligence in both low and high threat areas. To detect and respond to criminal activity crossing or approaching our borders, DHS deploys sophisticated surveillance and detection technology and collaborates with domestic and international law enforcement, intelligence, defense, and local community partners.

Advanced Technology and Capabilities

Thanks to the support of Congress, CBP has deployed capable resources to increase our situational awareness, identify changes in the border environment, and rapidly respond, as appropriate, to emerging threats and areas of increasing risk. The use of technology in the border environment is an invaluable force multiplier to increase situational awareness.

At and Beyond U.S. Ports of Entry

On a typical day, CBP welcomes nearly one million travelers at our air, land, and sea POEs. From 2012 to 2015 the volume of international air travelers increased by 14 percent and is projected to increase 4 to 5 percent each year for the next five years. CBP continues to address the security elements of its mission while meeting the challenge of increasing volumes of travel in air, land, and sea environments. We do this through programs that enable us to assess the risk of passengers from the earliest and furthest possible points, and at each point in the travel continuum.

At our POEs, CBP has aggressively deployed Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) and Radiation Portal Monitor (RPM) technology to help identify contraband and weapons of mass effect. Prior to September 11, 2001, only 64 large-scale NII systems, and not a single RPM, were deployed to our country’s borders. Today CBP has 311 NII systems and 1,282 RPMs deployed. The result of this investment in resources is the capacity for CBP to scan 99 percent of all containerized cargo at seaports and 100 percent of passenger and cargo vehicles at land borders for radiological and nuclear materials upon arrival in the United States.

The implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) involved a substantial technology investment in the land border environment that continues to provide both facilitation and security benefits. Today, as a result of WHTI, more than 19 million individuals obtained Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology-enabled secure travel documents. These documents are more secure as they can be verified electronically in real-time back to the issuing authority to establish identity and citizenship. They also reduce the average vehicle processing time by 20 percent.

A direct result of the increased use of RFID-enabled secure travel documents is CBP’s capability to increase the national law enforcement query rate, including against the terrorist watch list, to more than 98 percent. By comparison, in 2005 CBP performed law enforcement queries in the land border environment for only 5 percent of travelers. In terms of facilitation, CBP has also capitalized upon these notable improvements by establishing active lane management at land POEs; a process analogous to the management of toll booths on a highway. Through active lane management CBP can adjust lane designations as traffic conditions warrant to better accommodate trusted travelers and travelers with RFID-enabled documents.

Because we have advance travel information, CBP has the opportunity to assess passenger risk long before a traveler arrives at a POE. Before an individual travels to the United States, CBP has the opportunity to assess that person’s risk via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization for those traveling under the Visa Waiver Program, or as part of the inter-agency collaborative effort to adjudicate and continuously vet visas.1 CBP has additional opportunities to assess a traveler’s risk when he or she purchases a ticket and/or makes a reservation and when he or she checks-in.

Before an international flight departs for the United States from the foreign point of origin, commercial airlines transmit passenger and crew manifest information to CBP. CBP’s National Targeting Center then reviews traveler information to identify travelers who could be determined to be inadmissible upon arrival. Through its Regional Carrier Liaison Groups and Immigration Advisory and Joint Security Programs, CBP coordinates with the carriers to prevent these travelers from boarding flights bound for the United States. In FY 2015, using these pre-departure programs, CBP prevented 11,611 high-risk travelers from boarding flights. These efforts reduce or eliminate the need for resources, which would otherwise be dedicated to returning inadmissible travelers to their points of origin, and instead enables those resources to be utilized for facilitating legitimate travel.

Additionally, CBP’s work on business innovations and enhanced partnerships with private industry helped lead to the expansion of Trusted Traveler Programs like Global Entry. More than 1.7 million people, including more than 414,000 new members this fiscal year, have enrolled in Trusted Traveler Programs which allow expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk air travelers upon arrival in the United States. When comparing 2014 and 2015, CBP processed 1.6 million more passengers using Global Entry and there were 17 million more kiosk uses in 2015. Collaboration efforts between CBP and TSA have created increased security and additional efficiencies to better serve the traveling public. The TSA Pre✓® program automatically extends eligibility to current U.S. citizen members of CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs. This partnership enables TSA to extend expedited screening benefits for these qualifying trusted travelers, and allows TSA to focus security efforts on travelers with known and unknown risks, and contributes to the overall homeland security mission of securing and facilitating legitimate travel.

The United States is the world’s largest importer and exporter of goods and services. In FY 2015, CBP processed 26.3 million cargo containers through the Nation’s POEs, an increase of three percent from 2014, with a trade value of $2.4 trillion. To address increasing trade cargo volumes, CBP assesses the risk of cargo bound for the United States, whether by air, land, or sea, at the earliest point of transit.

Receiving advanced shipment information allows CBP to assess the risk of cargo before it reaches a POE. Since 2009, the Importer Security Filing (ISF) and the Additional Carrier Requirements regulation have required importers to supply CBP with an electronically-filed ISF consisting of advance data elements 24 hours prior to loading of cargo shipments that will be arriving into the United States by vessel. These regulations increase CBP’s ability to assess the scope and accuracy of information gathered on goods, conveyances, and entities involved in the shipment of cargo to the United States via vessel.

Since 2010, CBP has operated the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) pilot project, which enables CBP and TSA to receive advance security filing cargo data and help identify cargo shipments inbound to the United States by air transport that may be high risk and require additional physical screening. Identifying high-risk shipments as early as possible in the air cargo supply chain provides CBP and TSA an opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review of cargo data while facilitating the movement of legitimate trade into the United States. Benefits to ACAS pilot participants include: efficiencies by automating the identification of high risk cargo for enhanced screening before it is consolidated and loaded on aircraft and reduction in paper processes related to cargo screening requirements.

CBP also has a presence at foreign ports to add another layer of security to cargo bound for the United States. The Container Security Initiative (CSI) places CBP Officers (CBPOs) at foreign ports to perform pre-screening of containers before those containers are placed on a United States-bound vessel. The CSI program has matured since its inception in 2002 through increased partnership with host country counterparts and advances in targeting and technology. This allowed CBP to decrease the number of CBPOs on the ground at CSI ports, while maintaining security outcomes. More than 80 percent of maritime cargo destined for the United States originates in, or transits through, CSI locations. In cooperation with host country counterparts, high-risk cargo is examined prior to loading on a vessel destined to the United States. Additionally, CBP screens 100 percent of all cargo manifests prior to arrival in the United States either through CSI locations or at the domestic port of entry for cargo that does not pass through a CSI port.

On May 29, 2015, DHS Security Secretary Johnson announced DHS’s intent to enter into negotiations to expand air preclearance operations to ten new foreign airports, located in nine separate countries. These countries represent some of the busiest last points of departure to the United States — in 2014, nearly 20 million passengers traveled from these ten airports to the United States. Preclearance allows for the complete inspection process and security screening to occur on foreign soil prior to boarding a direct flight to the United States thereby obviating the need for further CBP processing or TSA security screening upon arrival. This enhances border and aviation security and allows the United States and our international partners to jointly identify and address threats at the earliest possible point. More than 16 million individuals traveled through one of CBP’s preclearance locations in Canada, Ireland, the Caribbean, or the United Arab Emirates in FY 2015, and our goal is to process 33 percent of US-bound air travelers through preclearance by 2024.

Along U.S. Borders

Fixed system technology increases CBP’s situational awareness and the USBP’s ability to detect, identify, classify, and track illicit activity by providing line-of-sight surveillance to efficiently detect incursions in varying terrain. CBP integrates mobile and portable systems to address areas where rugged terrain and dense ground cover may allow adversaries to penetrate through blind spots or avoid the coverage areas of fixed systems.

The Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) systems and Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS) are fixed technology assets used in select areas along the borders. The IFT system is a series of fixed surveillance towers and equipment located in Arizona that provide long-range persistent surveillance. These tower systems automatically detect and track items of interest, and provide centralized operators with video and geospatial location of suspected items of interest for identification and appropriate action. RVSS provide short-, medium-, and long-range persistent surveillance mounted on stand-alone towers or other structures. The RVSS uses day and infra-red (IR) cameras, radio, and microwave transmitters to send video to a control room and enable a control room operator to remotely and automatically detect, identify, classify, and track targets using a video feed.

CBP also uses Unattended Ground Sensors (UGS) and Imaging Sensors (IS), which contribute to improved situational awareness, agent safety, and rapid response. These sensors support our capability to detect and identify subjects. When a ground sensor is activated, an alarm is communicated to a data decoder that translates the sensor’s activation data to a centralized operations center computer system. IS are a specific type of UGS with an integrated camera and the ability to transmit images or video back to the operations center.

Working in conjunction with fixed surveillance assets, CBP’s mobile technology assets provide flexibility and agility to adapt to changing border conditions and threats along the Southwest border. Mobile Surveillance Capability systems provide long-range mobile surveillance with a suite of radar and camera sensors mounted on USBP vehicles.

CBP’s Tactical Aerostats and Re-locatable Towers program, originally part of the Department of Defense (DoD) Reuse program, uses a mix of aerostats, towers, and electro-optical/infra-red cameras, to provide USBP with increased situational awareness through an advanced surveillance capability over a wide area. This capability has proven to be a vital asset in increasing CBP’s ability to detect, identify, classify, and track activity. As of December 2015, USBP agents seized 122 tons of narcotics and conducted over 50,000 apprehensions of illegal border crossers with the assistance of existing aerostats and towers.

Technology is critical to border security operations. Through the deployment of these complementary and effective fixed and mobile systems, CBP gains more coverage and situational awareness of surveillance gaps, and increases its ability to adapt to changing conditions to effectively detect, identify, classify, track, and interdict potential threats along the borders.

From the Air and the Sea

AMO increases CBP’s situational awareness, enhances its detection and interdiction capabilities, and extends our border security zones, offering greater capacity to stop threats prior to reaching the Nation’s shores. Through the use of coordinated and integrated air and marine capabilities – including fixed and rotary wing aircraft, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), tethered aerostats and patrol and interdiction vessels – AMO detects, interdicts, and prevents acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs, and other contraband toward or across U.S. borders. AMO conducts critical aerial and maritime surveillance, interdiction, investigation, and multi-domain awareness law enforcement operations, in addition to providing assistance to ground personnel.

AMO P-3 Long Range Trackers and Airborne Early Warning Aircraft provide detection and interdiction capability in both the air and marine environments. Sophisticated sensors and high endurance capability greatly increase CBP’s range to counter illicit trafficking. P-3s are an integral part of the successful counternarcotics missions operating in coordination with Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF)-South. P-3s patrol in a 42 million square mile area that includes more than 41 nations, the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and maritime approaches to the United States.

Additionally, UAS are increasingly instrumental in CBP’s layered and integrated approach to border security. AMO has deployed six UAS along the Southwest Border to detect, identify, and classify moving tracks of interest over land and sea. Four of these aircraft have Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER) capability, which is a side-looking airborne radar that detects illegal border crossers and relays their positions to field agents, while simultaneously capturing terrain change detection information across larger stretches of the border. UAS are also used to meet surveillance and other mission requirements along the Northern borders and in the drug source and transit zones. During FY 2015, CBP’s VADER-equipped UAS recorded 9,371 detections of illegal activity.

Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) have a multi-mode radar for use over water and land, an electro-optical/infrared camera system, and a satellite communications system. This highly adaptable and capable aircraft replaces several older, single-mission assets. An equally important asset is the DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). It bridges the gap between the longer range P-3s and UAS and the smaller MEA. The DHC-8 is an invaluable situational awareness platform for AMO in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

AMO’s persistent surveillance capability is performed through the collection and fusing of detection sensor data from a variety of sources, including ground based long and short range radar systems, as well as CBP’s Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS), which provides air, maritime, and limited land domain awareness. This capability is critical in the detection of low-altitude aircraft and other potential threats attempting to penetrate the border undetected. CBP assumed responsibility of TARS from the U.S. Air Force in 2013, providing radar detection and monitoring of low-altitude aircraft and surface vessels along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Florida Straits, and a portion of the Caribbean. In FY 2015, TARS detected more than 400 suspect aircraft originating in Mexico which resulted in 14 seizures and four arrests, nine of those seizures and two of those arrests were made by Mexican government forces and were facilitated by AMO.

Some of the most important advancements in increasing CBP’s situational awareness are in the area of data integration and exploitation. Downlink technology, paired with the BigPipe system, allows AMO to provide a video feed and situational awareness to its law enforcement partners in real-time. In addition, the Minotaur mission integration system will allow multiple aircraft to share information from multiple sources, providing a never before seen level of air, land, and sea domain awareness. As the Minotaur system evolves across the fleet, it will provide increased awareness for a greater number of users as the information is integrated into the Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC).

A vital component of DHS’s domain awareness capabilities, CBP’s AMOC integrates the surveillance and law enforcement data capabilities of DHS’s federal and international partners. CBP agents assigned to AMOC serve to correlate information from USBP technology with AMOC’s systems to close the gaps in situational awareness. This combined effort has contributed to a reduction in the ultra-light aircraft activity on the Southwest border. FY 2015 suspect activity has decreased to 59 events from a high of 332 in FY 2010. Overall, AMOC evaluated almost 500,000 air tracks in FY 2015 with a 99.99 percent successful resolution rate. AMOC has integrated DoD and FAA sensors into the CBP network to expand our awareness well beyond the U.S. air and maritime borders. The stemming of the panga-type boat threats on the West Coast is attributed to the whole of DHS (CBP, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations) coordinated efforts with Mexican partners facilitated through this integration and collaboration.

Coordinating with extensive law enforcement and intelligence databases, including classified systems and communication networks, AMOC enhances our situational awareness and uses its capability to coordinate law enforcement responses to suspect activity in the air, maritime, and land domains. AMOC systems are connected to nearly 150 locations in various agencies to enable collaboration.

CBP’s continued deployment of fixed and mobile border surveillance technology, integrated with AMOC’s enhanced domain awareness capabilities, allows CBP the flexibility to shift more officers and agents from detection duties to the interdiction of illegal activities on our borders.

USBP and AMO use a risk-based strategy to deploy resources and address emerging threats. In coordination with the new DHS joint requirements process, USBP uses the Capability Gap Analysis Process (CGAP) to conduct mission analysis and identify capability gaps. From this analysis, USBP performs follow-on planning to identify operational requirements over the short, mid, and long-term and to identify potential solutions, which may (or may not) include technology, tactical infrastructure, or other solutions depending on the nature, scope, severity, and geographic location of a given capability gap. Terrain, threat, and other considerations vary greatly across sectors and regions, making a “one size fits all” approach ineffective. The AMO CGAP process is in the developmental stage at this time. Once completed, it will interface with USBP processes to further identify aviation technology solutions targeting border security initiatives.

Additionally, CBP is looking to the future by working closely with the DHS Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) to identify and develop additional technologies to improve our situational awareness, surveillance, and detection capabilities along our land and maritime borders. In August of 2015, Secretary Johnson signed a memo establishing Component-led Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) as the central mechanism by which DHS identifies technology gaps and coordinates and prioritizes its research and development efforts in priority mission areas. The Border Security IPT, consisting of senior representatives from S&T, CBP, USCG, ICE, Department of Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), and Joint Requirements Council (JRC), has identified several key R&D needs, including small dark aircraft detection; tunnel detection, surveillance and forensics; and maritime surveillance and communications in remote environments.

As conditions on the ground or in the approaches change, CBP will adjust its operational posture and will continue to invest and focus border security resources in the most effective and efficient way possible to meet the Nation’s border security needs.

1 Visas are issued by the Department of State.


Intelligence and Information Sharing

Criminal intelligence-sharing is a key component in building situational awareness efforts along the Northern and Southwest borders. CBP and component agencies contribute to several initiatives to improve the combined intelligence capabilities of Federal, state, local, tribal, and international partners.

CBP hosts a monthly briefing/teleconference with state and local partners in order to monitor emerging trends and threats along the Northern and Southwest border and provide a cross-component, multi-agency venue for discussing trends and threats. The briefing focuses on narcotics, weapons, currency interdictions, and alien apprehensions both at and between the POEs. These briefings/teleconferences currently include participants from: DHS Joint Task Force-West, ICE; USCG; Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Northern Command; Joint Interagency Task Force-South; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; U.S. Attorneys’ Offices; Naval Investigative Command; State Fusion Centers; and local law enforcement as appropriate.

The border regions of the United States – land, maritime, and air environments – cannot be effectively policed by a single DHS Component or even a single governmental entity. A whole-of-government approach that leverages interagency and international partnerships as a force multiplier has been and will continue to be the most effective way to keep our border secure. Providing critical capabilities toward the whole-of-government approach, DHS works with our Federal, state, local, tribal and international partners – particularly, Canada and Mexico – to address transnational threats.

Through the 21st Century Border Management Initiative, led by a binational Executive Steering Committee, the United States and Mexico further strengthen our collaborative relationship and discuss topics relating to expanding and modernizing our border infrastructure, securing and facilitating the cross-border flows of people and cargo, strengthening public security, and engaging the border communities in the creation of this new border vision. Our strong partnership with the Government of Mexico, and our collaborative efforts along Mexico’s Southern border, contributed to the reduced flow of UAC moving through Mexico to our Southwest border. The United States also cooperates extensively with Canada, through the Beyond the Border Action Plan, to jointly assess shared threats, within, at, and away from our borders, while expediting lawful trade and travel. This collaboration has become even more critical in light of the evolving security threats, including the emergence of foreign fighters.

Through these bilateral initiatives, the United States, working closely with Canada and Mexico, jointly address issues pertaining to border management, including border violence, managing the flow of legitimate travelers, and strengthening border security.

Indicators of Success

Thanks to the support of Congress, the Nation’s long-term investment in border security continues to produce significant and positive results. DHS uses many different types of metrics to assess our performance in managing our security risks and facilitation responsibilities. It is important to emphasize that there is no single number or target level that can capture the full scope of our border security efforts. Instead, there are a series of important indicators that we use to assess our performance, evaluate trends, and refine our operations.

Border Patrol apprehensions – an indicator of illegal entries – totaled 337,117 nationwide in FY 2015, compared to 486,651 in FY 2014. This represents a more than 30 percent decline in the last year and almost 80 percent below its most recent peak in FY 2000. CBP officers and agents also played a critical counter-narcotics role, resulting in the seizure or disruption of more than 3.3 million pounds of narcotics in FY 2015. In addition, the agency seized more than $129 million in unreported currency through integrated counter network operations. In FY 2015, AMO contributed to the arrest of 4,485 suspects, the apprehension of more than 51,130 individuals, and the interdiction of more than 213,000 pounds of cocaine.

USBP uses the Consequence Delivery System (CDS) on the Southwest border as a means to standardize decision making in the application of consequences and examines the efficiency and effectiveness of individual consequences on various types of individuals without claims for legal immigration. Recidivism and the average number of apprehensions per recidivist are the strongest indicators of CDS effectiveness. Since CDS implementation in FY 2011, the annual reported recidivism rate has decreased from an average of 27 percent to 14 percent in FY 2015 and average apprehensions per recidivist decreased from 2.71 to 2.38 in FY 2015. Contributing factors to the reduction included reducing the percent of apprehensions resulting in a Voluntary Return, the least effective and efficient consequence, from 59 percent in FY 2010 to 4 percent in FY 2015; and applying more effective and efficient consequences to illegal entrants with a higher probability of making subsequent illegal entries.

CBP reports on several performance measures, in accordance with the Government Performance and Results (GRPA) Act of 1993 and the 2010 GPRA Modernization Act, and we are committed to the ongoing monitoring and reporting of program accomplishments and progress toward meeting mission goals. AMO reports annually on a GPRA metric that tracks the percent of detected conventional aircraft incursions resolved along all borders of the United States. In FY 2015, AMO reported a 99.3 percent border security success rate for this metric.

DHS recognizes the need for relevant performance measures to verify the effectiveness of our operations and assets. Furthermore, as border security operations become increasingly integrated, the ability to quantify individual contributions to shared outcomes becomes increasingly complex. DHS will continue to collaborate with internal and external partners to enhance current metrics, and develop new metrics, that provide meaningful outcome-focused measurements of illegal activity, trends, and effectiveness. We look forward to sharing these efforts with these Subcommittees in the future.


DHS has significantly increased its border security capabilities by adding thousands of frontline law enforcement personnel, and making substantial investments in infrastructure, situational awareness and surveillance technology, strategically deployed to areas of increasing challenge. This shift in border security resources and overall border security management is responsible for the significant decrease in the illegal flow of people across the Southwest border over the last 10 years.

The continued focus on unity of effort, in conjunction with intelligence and operational integration, and the deployment of advanced detection technology, enhances situational awareness and better enables DHS to plan effectively, enhance its agility, and appropriately respond to threats in the Nation’s border regions and approaches to secure the homeland.

Chairmen Meadows and DeSantis, Ranking Members Connolly and Lynch, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I look forward to your questions.

Last Updated: 10/06/2022
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