You are here

Written testimony of MGMT Under Secretary Claire Grady, and CBP Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello for a House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing titled “Bang for the Border Security Buck: What do we get for $33 billion?”

Release Date: 
March 15, 2018

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairwoman McSally, Ranking Member Vela, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, it is an honor to appear before you today on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to discuss how the right mix of technology, infrastructure and personnel enable DHS to achieve strategic and operational border security objectives.

Within DHS, CBP is responsible for securing approximately 7,000 miles of land border, 95,000 miles of shoreline, 328 ports of entry (POE), and the associated air and maritime space from the illegal entry of people and contraband into the United States. The border environment in which CBP works is dynamic and requires continual adaptation to respond to emerging threats and changing conditions. We appreciate the partnership and support we have received from this subcommittee and your commitment to the security of the American people.

Through a series of Executive Actions, President Trump has taken steps to enhance border security, promote public safety, minimize the threat of terrorist attacks by foreign nationals, and protect American workers from unfair foreign competition. Last January, the President signed the Executive Order entitled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (EO 13767). EO 13767 directs executive departments and agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation’s Southern border, prevent further illegal immigration to the United States, and repatriate aliens with final orders of removal swiftly, consistently, and humanely. EO 13767 also establishes the foundation for securing our Southern border by directing the provision of necessary tools, resources, and policy goals for DHS’s dedicated men and women, who are responsible for preventing illegal immigration, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and acts of terrorism, to fulfill their critical mission.

Our testimony today discusses DHS’s ongoing efforts through the right mix of infrastructure, personnel and advanced technology- to enhance our deterrence, detection, and interdiction of illegal cross-border activity, at and between the POEs. However, legislative changes are needed to address some of the most complex challenges facing our Nation. DHS looks forward to working with Congress to ensure safe and lawful admissions; defend the safety and security of our country; and protect American workers and taxpayers.

For example, the Administration proposes amending current law to ensure the expeditious return of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) and family units. The Administration proposes correcting the systemic deficiencies that created the asylum backlog, as well as proposes providing additional resources to reduce the immigration court backlog and ensure the swift return of illegal border crossers. The Administration proposes expanding the criteria that render aliens inadmissible and ensure that such aliens are maintained in continuous custody until removal. The Administration also proposes increasing employment verification and other protections for U.S. workers.

The Administration also seeks to expand the grounds of removability and the categories of aliens subject to expedited removal and by ensuring that only aliens with meritorious valid claims of persecution can circumvent expedited removal, and proposes increasing penalties for repeat illegal border crossers and those with prior deportations. The Administration also proposes strengthening the removal processes for those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas, and implementing measures to prevent future visa overstays which may account for a growing percentage of illegal immigration. There are nearly one million aliens with final orders of removal across the country—meaning these removable aliens were afforded due process of law, had their day in court, and were ultimately ordered removed by a judge—yet they remain in our nation and ICE only has 6,000 Deportation Officers to arrest and remove them. The Administration looks to strengthen law enforcement by hiring 10,000 more ICE officers and agents, and supports the request from the Department of Justice to hire 300 more federal prosecutors.

We urge Congress to address the challenge of so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions. Hundreds of state and local jurisdictions across the country do not honor ICE requests to hold criminal aliens who are already in state and local custody. Instead, they release them back into their communities, where they are allowed to commit more crimes. In addition to public safety concerns related to “sanctuary” policies, they pose a greater risk of harm to ICE officers, who must locate and arrest these criminals in public places. This increases the likelihood that the criminal aliens can resist arrest or flee. Rather than enhancing public safety, sanctuary jurisdictions undermine it by creating a safe haven for criminal aliens. States and localities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities should be ineligible for funding from certain grants and cooperative agreements. Authorizing and incentivizing states and localities to enforce immigration laws would further help ICE with its mission and make all communities safer.

Investing in Border Security

CBP’s proposed investments leverage the Capability Gap Analysis Process (CGAP), an annual, full spectrum requirements analysis process. In use since 2014, CGAP creates a consistent and repeatable, field-driven approach to conducting mission analysis and planning aimed at identifying capabilities gaps across the complex environments the United States Border Patrol (USBP) agents work in every day. Capability gaps are captured directly from the field using this process, and are explored through qualitative and quantitative analysis and other evidence to provide information to decision makers about the border security mission space across the Northern, Southern, and Costal Borders of the United States. This methodology leads to informed investments that achieve the greatest possible operational impact. As the threats along the borders change, USBP will update this analysis as needed to maximize the impact of future investments.

The CGAP is used by USBP to identify needs related to 12 master capabilities: communications; doctrine and policy; domain awareness; human capital management; impedance and denial (I&D); information management; intelligence and counter intelligence; mission readiness; planning and analysis; security and partnerships; access and mobility; and command and control. While CGAP identifies needs across all 12 master capabilities, four capabilities – I&D, domain awareness, access and mobility, and mission readiness – are consistently prioritized by field commanders as the most important. These identified needs are then subject to appropriate review and validation through the DHS requirements processes.

Infrastructure

Tactical infrastructure, including physical barriers and complementary capabilities, has long been a critical component of CBP’s multi-layered and risk-based approach to securing our Southern border. Tactical infrastructure also supports Executive Order 13767 Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements and CBP’s operational requirements, including the high-priority border wall system.

Between the Ports of Entry

The land along the border between the United States and Mexico is extremely diverse, consisting of desert landscape, mountainous terrain, and urban areas. Today we have several types of barriers, including steel bollard and levee wall along nearly one-third, or 654 miles, of the Southern border.

I&D is among the four capabilities that field commanders consistently prioritize during the CGAP process. I&D is the ability to slow and/or stop the use of terrain for illicit cross-border activity. This is achieved primarily through the use of man-made infrastructure such as a physical wall, and the complementary deployment of personnel, roads, and technology. It is undeniable that border barriers have enhanced – and will continue to enhance – CBP’s operational capabilities by creating an enduring capability that impedes illegal cross border activity and facilitates the deterrence and prevention of illegal entries. I&D investments are critical in protecting border areas with short vanishing times, where illicit crossers can quickly evade law enforcement by ‘vanishing’ into border communities. Investments in I&D, and particularly in border wall system, will help CBP obtain operational control of the border and prevent illegal border crossings.

Following extensive risk-based analysis of operational needs along the Southwest border using the CGAP process, CBP identified its top 17 priority investments that will assist the agency in stopping the illicit flow of people and goods into the country between ports of entry. The investments will result in the construction of 450 miles of new or replacement primary pedestrian barrier and 272 miles of new or replacement secondary barrier, for a total of 722 miles of planned construction. CBP estimates that it will cost approximately $18 billion to build the top 17 priority groups.

CBP is seeking to build on the successes of, and lessons learned from, the construction and operation of existing barriers to deploy a system that addresses dynamic cross-border threats. CBP is working with industry and partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to incorporate additional alternative barrier design features and other innovative solutions into our border barrier systems. Border barrier systems are comprehensive solutions that include a concentrated combination of various types of infrastructure such as walls, all-weather roads, lighting, sensors, enforcement cameras, and other related technology. Deployments of additional infrastructure will be made using a multi-phased approach that meets USBP’s operational requirements, and which safeguards national security and public safety. These deployments will be the results of thorough analysis of threat and mission effectiveness and follow disciplined acquisition processes overseen by DHS.

Throughout the planning, design, and construction process, CBP will complete project, budget, real estate, and environmental planning to ensure appropriate resource stewardship. CBP will leverage expertise in federal acquisition to maximize transparency and accountability and to ensure the most effective and efficient solutions are deployed to meet requirements, in accordance with the established DHS acquisition lifecycle framework and acquisition review board oversight.

CBP is committed to ensuring that all stakeholder communities, including Federal partners, state, local, and tribal officials, and impacted communities, are kept informed and engaged throughout this process.

At the Ports of Entry

CBP supports a vast and diverse real property portfolio, consisting of more than 4,300 owned and leased buildings, over 28 million square feet of facility space, and approximately 4,600 acres of land throughout the United States. CBP continues to construct and modernize Land Ports of Entry (LPOE) along the Northern and Southern borders, and to complete additional enhancement and expansion projects within the Office of Field Operations (OFO) portfolio. Constructing and improving CBP’s physical infrastructure is essential to keeping facilities operationally viable for frontline and mission support functions.

Technology

Technology enhances CBP’s operational capabilities by increasing the ability of the men and women of CBP to: detect and identify individuals illegally crossing the border; detect dangerous goods and materials concealed in cargo and vehicles; and detect and interdict illegal activity in the air and maritime domains. For CBP, the use of technology in the border environment is an invaluable force multiplier that increases situational awareness. Technology enhances the ability of CBP to detect illegal activity quickly, with less risk to the safety of our front-line personnel.

At the Ports of Entry

Smugglers use a wide variety of tactics and techniques to traffic concealed drugs and other contraband through POEs. CBP incorporates advanced detection equipment and technology, including the use of Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) equipment and radiation detection technologies, to maintain robust cargo, commercial conveyance, and vehicle inspection regimes at our POEs.

NII technology is a critical element in CBP’s ability to detect contraband, and materials that could pose nuclear and radiological threats. CBP currently has 304 large-scale NII systems and over 4,500 small-scale systems deployed to, and between, POEs. These systems enable CBP officers to examine cargo conveyances such as sea containers, commercial trucks, and rail cars, as well as privately owned vehicles, for the presence of contraband without physically opening or unloading them. This allows CBP to work smarter and faster in detecting contraband and other dangerous materials. CBP officers also utilize NII, as well as spectroscopic and chemical testing equipment and narcotics detection canines, to detect and presumptively identify illicit drugs, including illicit opioids, at international mail and express consignment carrier facilities. As of January 31, 2018 CBP has deployed NII systems to conduct more than 83 million examinations, resulting in more than 18,500 narcotics seizures, with a total weight of more than 4.23 million pounds, and more than $79.292 million in currency seizures.

Scanning all arriving conveyances and containers with radiation detection equipment prior to release from the POE is an integral part of CBP’s comprehensive strategy to combat nuclear and radiological terrorism. In partnership with Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD), CBP has deployed nuclear and radiological detection equipment, including 1,280 Radiation Portal Monitors (RPM), 3,319 Radiation Isotope Identification Devices (RIID), and 35,294 Personal Radiation Detectors (PRD) to all 328 POEs nationwide. Utilizing RPMs, CBP is able to scan 100 percent of all mail and express consignment mail and parcels; 100 percent of all truck cargo; 100 percent of personally-owned vehicles arriving from Canada and Mexico; and nearly 100 percent of all arriving sea-borne containerized cargo for the presence of radiological or nuclear materials. Between 2002 when the RPM program began, through January 31, 2018, CBP has scanned more than 1.41 billion conveyances for radiological contraband, resulting in more than 6.1 million alarms in primary and secondary operations, all of which have been successfully adjudicated at the proper level.

In conjunction with CBP’s many other initiatives, advancements in cargo and conveyance screening technology provide CBP with a significant capacity to detect dangerous materials and other contraband, and continue to be a cornerstone of CBP’s multilayered security strategy.

Technology Investments between the Ports

Thanks to the support of Congress, CBP continues to deploy proven, effective technology to strengthen border security operations between the POEs, in the land, air, and maritime environments. These investments increase CBP’s ability to detect illegal activity along the border, increase our operational capabilities, and improve the safety of frontline law enforcement personnel.

Surveillance Capabilities

Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) systems are one of the technologies deployed along the Southwest border in Arizona. IFTs provide long-range, persistent surveillance. An IFT system automatically detects items of interest with radar, identifies and classifies them with day and night cameras, and tracks them at the Command and Control Center through the integration of data, video, and geospatial location input.

Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS) are another technology used by USBP in select areas along the Northern and Southern borders. These systems provide short-, medium-, and long-range, persistent surveillance from towers or other elevated structures. Existing RVSS are being upgraded with newer cameras, communication backhaul, command and control programs, and additional towers.

In some areas along both the Northern and Southern borders, USBP uses Unattended Ground Sensors (UGS), to provide focused, short-range, persistent surveillance. UGS are remotely monitored surveillance systems that detect, identify and track activity and subjects in areas not easy to access or monitor with other technology. These sensors are hand-installed, fixed but relocatable, easy to conceal, and adaptable to numerous operational environments. Detection capabilities include seismic, magnetic, acoustic, infrared, radar, microwave, photoelectric, contact closure and various others. Imaging UGS (I-UGS) provide photo or video verification of detections and allow advanced image analytics.

Fixed systems provide persistent surveillance coverage to efficiently detect unauthorized border crossings. Once detection is confirmed, USBP can quickly deploy the appropriate personnel and resources to interdict. Without fixed-system technology such as IFT, RVSS, and UGS, the USBP’s ability to detect, identify, classify, and track illicit activity would be significantly limited.

Mobile and Relocatable Surveillance Capabilities

Working in conjunction with fixed surveillance assets, USBP also uses mobile and relocatable systems to address areas where rugged terrain and dense ground cover may limit the effectiveness and coverage of fixed systems. Mobile and relocatable technology assets provide USBP with the flexibility to adapt to changing border conditions and threats.

Mobile Surveillance Capability (MSC) systems provide long-range, mobile surveillance. They include radar and camera sensors mounted on USBP vehicles. Mobile Vehicle Surveillance Systems (MVSS) are short-, and medium-range, mobile surveillance equipment. They consist of camera sensors on telescoping masts mounted on USBP vehicles. USBP agents deploy with these systems, which detect, track, identify and classify items of interest using the video feed.

Another system is the Agent Portable Surveillance System (APSS). Mounted on a tripod, it provides medium-range, mobile surveillance and can be transported by two or three USBP agents. Two agents remain on-site to operate the system, which automatically detects and tracks items of interest and provides the agent/operator with data and video of selected items of interest.

CBP’s Tactical Aerostats and Re-locatable Towers program, originally part of the Department of Defense (DOD) re-use program, uses a mix of aerostats, towers, cameras, and radar to provide USBP with increased situational awareness over a wide area. This capability has proven to be a vital asset in increasing USBP’s ability to detect, identify, classify, and track activity along the borders.

The Cross Border Tunnel Threat (CBTT) program strengthens border security effectiveness between POEs by diminishing the ability of Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) to gain access into the United States through cross-border tunnels and the illicit use of underground municipal infrastructure. This system helps CBP predict potential tunnel locations; detect the presence of suspected tunnels and tunneling activities as well as project the trajectory of a discovered tunnel; confirm a tunnel’s existence and location through mapping and measurements; and facilitate secure information sharing across all stakeholders.

Technology in the Air and Maritime Domains

AMO increases CBP’s situational awareness, enhances its detection and interdiction capabilities, and extends our border security zones, offering greater capacity to stop threats before they reach our shores. AMO’s assets provide multi-domain awareness for our partners across DHS, as well as critical aerial and maritime surveillance, interdiction, and operational assistance to our ground personnel. AMO performs its offshore functions in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard and DHS’s interagency partners.

AMO is investing in high speed Coastal Interceptor Vessels (CIV) specifically designed and engineered with the speed, maneuverability, seakeeping, and endurance necessary to intercept and engage a variety of suspected non-compliant vessels in offshore waters and on the Great Lakes. Additionally, AMO’s Small Vessel Standoff Detection radiation detection capability increases the probability of detecting radiological and nuclear materials that might be used in an attack. This transportable equipment is effective against small private or commercial vessels, and can detect a potential threat in advance of a boarding.

Multirole Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) are sensor-equipped aircraft for surveillance operations in regions where terrain, weather, and distance pose significant obstacles to border security operations. The MEA serves as a force multiplier for law enforcement personnel, facilitating the rapid-response deployment of equipment, canines, and people.

P-3 Long Range Trackers and Airborne Early Warning Aircraft provide critical detection and interdiction capability in both the air and marine environments. CBP P-3s are an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operated in coordination with the Joint Interagency Task Force - South. The P-3s patrol a 42 million-square-mile area that includes more than 41 nations, the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and seaboard approaches to the United States. In FY 2017, CBP’s P-3 operational efforts assisted in the seizure or disruption of the delivery of more than 163,000 pounds of cocaine, with an estimated wholesale value of $2.2 billion.

Multiple AMO aircraft are equipped with electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor systems that provide improved detection and identification capabilities, greater standoff ranges for more covert operation and safety, and have laser range finders, laser target illumination, and Shortwave Infrared functionality. These systems equip AMO aircraft with the capability to detect persons, vehicles, vessels, and aircraft during day, night, and in adverse visibility conditions, thus enabling classification of threats and enhancing mission value for ground agents.

Other critical components of AMO’s aircraft fleet include the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters which are able to carry eight agents with full gear. The Light Enforcement Helicopter (LEH) is a multi-mission helicopter used for aerial surveillance, tactical support, patrol of high-risk areas, and to transport agents responding to illegal border incursions, as well as serve search and arrest warrants. Another important asset is the DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), which bridges the gap between strategic assets, such as the P-3 and Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).

AMO’s aircraft have received a number of technological upgrades to increase their utility. For example, avionics upgrades to the AS-350 helicopter allow operators to focus more of their attention on the mission, making them more effective. AMO has also added electro-optical infrared detection technology to its fixed-wing, light observation aircraft, thereby greatly increasing its tactical capabilities.

UAS are an increasingly important part of CBP’s layered and integrated approach to border security. CBPs UAS consist of an unmanned aircraft, sensors, communication packages, pilots, and ground control operators. UAS platforms are used for surveillance, detection and other mission requirements along the Southwest border, Northern border, and in the drug source and transit zones. The UAS program has logged over 44,800 flight hours since it began in FY 2006, and been credited with assisting in interdiction or disruption of the movement of cocaine and marijuana with an estimated wholesale value of $1.1 billion. CBP can equip four UAS aircraft with Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER) sensor systems, which can detect human movement along the ground. Since 2012, VADER has detected over 51,600 people moving across the Southwest border.

Important advancements have come in the area of data integration and exploitation. New downlink technology allows AMO to provide a video feed and situational awareness to law enforcement personnel in real-time. In addition, the Minotaur mission management system will enable the integration and geo-synchronization of multiple aircraft sensors, mission databases, and intelligence gathering devices and allow multiple aircraft to share information from multiple sources, providing a never-before-seen level of air, land, and maritime domain awareness.

AMO’s Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) monitors the low-altitude approaches to the United States. With eight aerostat sites, the TARS elevated sensor mitigates the effect of the curvature of the earth and terrain-masking limitations associated with ground-based radars, enabling maximum long-range radar detection capabilities. From FY 2014 through FY 2016, TARS was responsible for detecting 86 percent of all suspected air smuggling flights approaching the Southwest border from Mexico.

A vital component of DHS’s domain awareness capabilities, AMO’s Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC) integrates surveillance capabilities and coordinates national security threat response with other CBP operational components, including USBP. It works with other Federal and international partners.1 AMOC helps AMO and its partners predict, detect, identify, classify, respond to and resolve suspect aviation and maritime activity in the approaches to U.S. borders, at the borders, and within the interior of the United States. AMOC utilizes extensive law enforcement and intelligence databases, communication networks and the Air and Marine Operations Surveillance System (AMOSS). The AMOSS provides a single display capable of processing up to 700 individual sensor feeds and tracking over 50,000 individual targets simultaneously. The eight TARS sites represent approximately two percent of the total integrated radars in AMOSS, yet accounted for 53 percent of all suspect target detections.

As we continue to deploy border surveillance technology, particularly along the Southwest border, these investments in fixed and mobile technology, as well as enhancements of domain awareness capabilities provided by the AMOC, allow CBP the flexibility to shift more agents from detection duties to interdiction of illegal activities.

Access & Mobility

USBP has consistently identified Access and Mobility as a key capability for gaining and maintaining operational control of the Southern Border. Access and Mobility is the ability to access areas of responsibility and, under all conditions, effect mobility for responding to illicit cross-border activity. CBP’s portfolio currently includes over 900 miles of access roads. Roads are necessary to increase access points and expand patrol roads in high priority areas. Patrol roads decrease travel time, improve incident response time, and increase the effective patrol range of USBP Agents (BPAs). Roads are a force multiplier and key in establishing operational control of the border.


1 AMOC partners include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Defense (including the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)), and the governments of Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas.

 

Border Technology Requirements Development

DHS is committed to effective and efficient resource allocation and ensures that all potential investments to fulfill capability gaps are subject to appropriate oversight from identification of potential need, validation of requirements, research and development, acquisition, testing, fielding, operation and sustainment, and ultimately disposal. CBP works closely with other elements of DHS headquarters and other DHS components to ensure strategy-led, operationally informed requirements development. This process enables DHS to execute acquisition strategies and budgets effectively and efficiently that address the broad range of complex border threats and challenges, including illegal migration, smuggling of illegal drugs, human and arms trafficking, and the threat of terrorist exploitation of border vulnerabilities.

For example, CBP works closely with the DHS Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) to identify and develop technology to improve our surveillance and detection capabilities along our land and maritime borders. This includes investments in tunnel detection and tunnel activity monitoring technology; tactical communication upgrades, and small UAS; low-flying aircraft detection and tracking systems, land and maritime data integration/data fusion capabilities, and border surveillance tools tailored to the Northern and Southern borders, including unattended ground sensors/tripwires, upgrades for mobile surveillance systems, slash camera poles, and wide-area surveillance.

In addition to collaboration with our DHS partners, as part of CBP’s efforts to seek innovative ways to acquire and use technology, CBP formed a partnership with DOD to identify and reuse excess DOD technology. To date, CBP has acquired several types of technology from DOD, including thermal imaging equipment, night vision equipment, and tactical aerostat systems, which increase CBP’s situational awareness and operational flexibility in responding to border threats. We will continue to pursue additional opportunities to leverage DOD excess equipment. We will do this in a sustainable way by considering the full life-cycle costs of the DOD equipment we are considering before acquiring it.

Hiring and Personnel

Frontline and non-frontline personnel are one of the most critical resources for improving border security. Mission readiness - the ability to properly train and equip personnel- is critical to CBP’s ability to secure the border and protect the American people.

EO 13767 mandated the hiring of 5,000 additional BPAs. To implement this direction, and as operational demands continue to evolve, CBP continues to explore all avenues to meet current and future human capital needs. CBP subjects its recruitment and hiring practices to an ongoing cycle of analysis and refinement, working constantly to strengthen its hiring capabilities and secure adequate staffing for critical frontline operations and the network of personnel who support these operations. CBP’s strategy includes initiatives designed to attract more applicants who are suited to the unique demands of CBP’s mission, expedite the pre-employment timeline, refine the hiring process to address potential bottlenecks, and reduce the attrition rate of the existing workforce.

In pursuit of our hiring goals, CBP recruiters will continue to participate in thousands of recruiting events, seeking to reach a diverse spectrum of applicants. In FY 2017, CBP participated in more than 3,000 recruitment and outreach events. In FY 2018, CBP has thus far participated in nearly 700 recruitment and outreach events. CBP’s use of advanced data analytics to direct recruitment efforts, deemed a best practice by OPM, has enabled CBP to identify demographics with low brand awareness of the CBP, and to refocus recruitment efforts toward these gaps. This has resulted in an overall increase in applicants and lowered the number of applicants it takes for one officer or agent to on-board. Recruitment at events for veterans and transitioning military personnel continues to be a top priority. CBP will continue to enhance our data analytics capabilities, refining CBP’s ability to identify groups of people who are most likely to pursue or be interested in a law enforcement career and providing us with targeted areas and specific audiences for recruitment. In addition, CBP will focus on digital advertising; and enhance branding through relationships with community partners.

CBP’s new frontline hiring process has led to significant reductions in the average time-to-hire. In the last 12 months, close to 70 percent of new BPAs and 60 percent of new CBP Officers on-boarded in 313 days or fewer, with 13 percent of each occupation on-boarding within 160 days, a significant improvement from the 469-day overall baseline established in January 2016. By streamlining CBP’s hiring process, CBP has increased the applicant-to-Enter onto Duty (EOD) rate, preventing otherwise qualified candidates from dropping out due to process fatigue or to accepting more timely job offers elsewhere.

A significant challenge for CBP is that much of our work must be carried out in remote locations. It can be difficult to attract applicants who are willing to work in these locations, and it is a significant factor in our attrition. CBP is working to develop programs that address attrition through relocation and retention incentives that meet employee aspirations, and at the same time enable CBP to staff these locations. We believe that a stable relocation program will help meet operational requirements and alleviate the lack of mobility, which significantly contributes to increased attrition across the workforce. Recruitment incentives are also helpful in attracting new personnel to join CBP, especially for positions in geographic locations that are difficult to fill. CBP is thankful for the continued dedication of Members of Congress to work collaboratively with CBP to develop solutions to this complicated challenge.

Conclusion

The border environment is dynamic and requires constant adaptation to respond to emerging threats and changing conditions. We cannot achieve the high priority operational control of the border that is vital to our Nation’s economic prosperity and security without these requested border wall system, and legislative fixes needed to address the challenges of today’s border environment. Facilities, systems, information technology, infrastructure, and assets that enable rapid deployment and mobility will enable CBP to respond effectively to changes in threats in the border environment. With the support of Congress, DHS will continue to secure our Nation’s borders through the risk-based deployment of infrastructure, personnel, and technology.

Chairwoman McSally, Ranking Member Vela, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. We look forward to your questions.

Last Published Date: October 21, 2019
Back to Top