For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 8, 2003
Homeland Security Announces New Initiatives
WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Tuesday, Sept. 2, Secretary of Homeland
Security Tom Ridge announced plans to "reorganize to better mobilize"
the people and resources of the Department of Homeland Security to make
this country more secure. In a speech at the American Enterprise
Institute in Washington, Secretary Ridge discussed the Department's
plans to make available more than 5,000 additional armed federal law
enforcement agents to the skies, consolidate three different border
inspection functions into 'one face at the border,' and consolidate
terrorism grant and training programs within one office at the
Department. The Secretary also announced the implementation of the
Strategic Communications Resources Effort (SECURE) to provide security
clearances and secure video and telephone communications to all the
states and territories.
SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE NUMBER OF FEDERAL OFFICERS FOR AIR SECURITY:
Federal Air Marshals and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) officers have previously operated independently of one another to
disrupt threats to civil aviation - often with separate intelligence
and regardless of the level of threats to specific targets. To
increase coordination and information sharing between the two and allow
for a "surge capacity" to effectively respond to specific threats,
Secretary Ridge announced that the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS)
and Explosives Unit from the Transportation Security Administration
will transfer to ICE.
The move will enhance the security of the traveling public by:
- Creating a "surge capacity" to effectively deal with specific
threats by cross-training FAMS and ICE agents to help disrupt aviation
security related threats.
- Allowing for the real-time sharing of sensitive law enforcement
information with the FAMS.
- Helping law enforcement agencies - federal, state and local - to
investigate and respond quickly to incidents at the nation's airports
and increase their ability to communicate swiftly and efficiently with
DHS personnel involved in screening passengers and cargo leading to
comprehensive coverage of the aviation environment.
The movement of Federal Air Marshals to Homeland Security's U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement will significantly increase the
number of federal law enforcement agents available to deploy during
times of increased threats to aircraft ultimately providing a surge
capacity during increased threat periods or in the event of a terrorist
ONE FACE AT THE BORDER:
Historically, travelers entering the United States make three stops
- an Immigration inspector, a Customs inspector and an Agriculture
inspector, if they are carrying food or plants - with three separate
Homeland Security employees. Today, the Department's U.S. Customs and
Border Protection (CBP) is following through on a commitment to unify
this system to process travelers more rapidly and conveniently while
simultaneously identifying and addressing potential risks.
The "One Face at the Border" initiative unifies the inspection
process by cross-training CBP inspectors to perform all three
- Travelers will now meet a single primary inspection officer
specially trained to determine who needs to go through secondary
inspections -- another significant step for Homeland Security to create
efficiencies and unity around a single mission.
- The primary inspector will quickly process law-abiding travelers.
The primary inspector will refer travelers whose information, demeanor
or actions raise questions to secondary inspectors for additional
- Prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons and contraband from
entering the U.S.
- Deny entry to people seeking to enter the U.S. illegally
- Protect U.S. agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests
- Collect revenue
- The secondary inspection consists of trained Counter-Terrorism
Response (CTR) inspectors -- recently integrated passenger rover teams
and analysis units designated to conduct follow-up examinations of
questionable passengers who could have possible ties to terrorism.
These secondary, or CTR inspectors, will be responsible for:
- Coordinating with the local Passenger Analysis Unit and National
Targeting Center to ensure that the referred travelers are researched
- Conducting a thorough interview and examination of referred
travelers and documenting the results.
- Detaining travelers who they find to be in violation of the law.
- By utilizing one employee to perform all three primary inspection
functions, the Department will be able to deploy additional employees
into secondary inspection thus targeting our resources towards those
passengers with suspicious indicators.
Unifying three dedicated but separate workforces into one U.S.
Customs and Border Protection Officer, cross-trained to address all
three inspection needs, is another significant step toward Homeland
Security's effort to make the most effective use of the Department's
assets and thus better secure our homeland.
Strong, effective partnerships with state governments often means
sharing with state leaders specific, classified information about
terrorist threats to supplement federal efforts to prepare for, disrupt
and respond to these threats. Previously, this was not effectively
possible because of a lack of secure telephone and videoconference
equipment at the state level and too few state officials with the
appropriate security clearances. Secretary Ridge has ordered the
implementation of the Strategic Communications Resources (SECURE)
- All 50 state Emergency Operations Centers, as well as those of 2
territories and the District of Columbia, now have the capability to
communicate through secure videoconferencing.
- All state governors now have secure phones and the capability to
receive secure communications.
- Homeland Security is coordinating security clearances for an
additional five state-designated officials in each of the states and
ONE ACCESS POINT FOR STATE AND LOCAL GRANTS:
In order for state and local governments to be effective partners
with the federal government in securing the homeland, they need quick
and easy access to terrorism and emergency preparedness grant programs
designed to support their work. Prior to the formation of the
department, information about terrorism and emergency preparedness
grant programs were scattered throughout the federal government. Many
are now centered within Homeland Security, though still divided among
our various components. To make them even more accessible, Secretary
Ridge announced today that he will be sending a plan to Congress
shortly detailing the Department's plan to centralize these programs
within a single office. This transfer will put all of the federal
government's major terrorism preparedness grants in one location for
state and local partners.
State and Local authorities will now have a single point of contact
for terrorism and emergency preparedness efforts - one access point to
obtain critical grant funding. It ensures that nationwide, state and
local officials have one place in the Department where they can tap
into the resources and information they need, from applying for funds
to protect critical infrastructure to receiving guidance and expertise
for first responders. Such a reorganization will allow DHS to provide
more consistent grant guidance, coordination, and oversight.
As part of this package DHS will also launch a new web portal that
will utilize technology to make these grants more accessible by listing
all available DHS funding resources for state and local applications in
one place and streamlining the application process.