SELECT HOMELAND SECURITY ACCOMPLISHMENTS FOR 2005
Under new leadership, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introduced a comprehensive, risk-based agenda in 2005 to change the department?s practices, operations, and organizational structure. Many changes under this review have been implemented, including the creation of a department-wide policy office, a strengthened role in the intelligence community, the ability to conduct joint operations across the department, and a renewed focus on planning and preparedness. The following are select accomplishments over past the year:
Secretary Chertoff made it a top priority to strengthen border security, interior enforcement and reform the immigration process. DHS has improved existing border operations, established international partnerships, and developed new approaches to control our borders.
- Secure Border Initiative Drastically Reduces Detention Times. Under this comprehensive strategy for controlling the border and enforcing immigration laws, Secretary Chertoff expanded Expedited Removal throughout the border as well as the number of countries whose nationals qualify, which cut their detention time in half; initiated a ?Catch and Return? policy; authorized the completion of a fence near San Diego that languished in litigation for a decade; expanded the use of military-proven technologies like the UAV, Stryker and sensors; and increased the frequency of deportation flights. This strategy is further supported by the President?s budget, which includes funding for 1,000 additional U.S. Border Patrol agents and 2,000 new detention beds.
- Arizona Border Control Initiative Bolsters Resources in Tucson Corridor. The second phase of this successful initiative included an additional 534 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents permanently assigned to the Arizona border, a 25 percent increase. These agents were supplemented by 200 agents and 23 aircraft temporarily assigned to the Tucson sector. The initiative coupled with Operation ICE Storm, a human smuggling initiative, has resulted in more than 350 smugglers prosecuted in total, millions in illicit profits seized and a significant decrease in homicides according to local authorities.
- Security and Prosperity Partnership Creates Common Security Approach. The United States, Canada and Mexico entered into this trilateral partnership to establish common approaches to emergency response, improving aviation, maritime, and border security, enhancing intelligence sharing, and facilitating the legitimate flow of people and cargo at our shared borders.
- Operation Community Shield Nets 1600 Gang Members. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) introduced this unprecedented partnership with law enforcement at all levels around the country to combat dangerous criminal gangs like MS-13. In less than a year, ICE agents have arrested more than 1,600 illegal immigrant gang members, who now face criminal prosecutions or are in removal proceedings.
- Immigration Backlog Cut by 2.8 million. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services refined processes and automated their services to reduce the backlog of applications for immigration services and benefits from 3.8 million cases in January 2004 to approximately one million in October 2005.
The Department of Homeland Security is committed to secure trade and travel. DHS is aggressively working with foreign partners to achieve our common security goals while finding new ways to facilitate the flow of legitimate international commerce and travel.
- US-VISIT to Complete Deployment of Biometric Entry System. By the end of this year, US-VISIT will have fully implemented the biometric entry portion of the US-VISIT system at 115 airports, 14 seaports and 154 land ports of entry. US-VISIT has processed more than 44 million foreign visitors and detected 950 individuals with a criminal history or immigration violations.
- Passport Requirements Strengthened. As part of a multi-layered approach to increasing the security of our citizens and visitors by helping to ensure the integrity of their travel documents, DHS imposed requirements establishing that all Visa Waiver Program travelers must have a machine-readable passport to enter the United States. Visa Waiver Program countries are now also required to produce new passports with digital photographs as of Oct. 26, 2005.
- Global Customs Security Standards Adopted. CBP led the World Customs Organization to unanimously adopt a framework of standards to secure and facilitate global trade. CBP?s Container Security Initiative (CSI), which identifies and screens high-risk maritime cargo containers before they are loaded on vessels to the U.S., is currently operational at 42 foreign ports worldwide. Approximately 75 percent of cargo containers headed to the U.S. originates in or are shipped from CSI ports.
- TSA Revises Prohibited Items List. TSA revised the ?Prohibited Items? list so officers can spend more time checking for explosives and conducting targeted screenings, adding unpredictability to the screening process at airports and enhancing aviation security. TSA also developed several pilot programs to improve security at checkpoints at all modes of mass transportation. Following the bombings in London, TSA activated rail inspectors ahead of schedule in order to inspect 148 mass transit operations centers and facilities as well as police and emergency centers.
- Announced 10-Fingerscan Standard for Foreign Visitors. DHS announced the strengthening of the US-VISIT program by requiring 10-fingerscan collection with continued use of verification during later entries, to ensure the highest levels of accuracy in identifying people entering and exiting our country.
DHS has a unified strategic direction that establishes measurable priorities, targets, and a common approach to developing needed preparedness and incident communication capabilities. DHS has provided resources, training, and funding to support the job of those who stand on the frontlines of community protection ? our first responders.
- Largest Terrorist Attack Drill in History Preformed. DHS conducted the third Top Officials (TOPOFF) exercise since the department was established. The week-long exercise, which included international participation from Canada and the United Kingdom, was the largest full scale terrorist simulated exercise in the nation?s history. Collectively the department, through its Office of State and Local Government Coordination, has conducted more than 400 exercises at the national, state, and local level.
- $2 Billion Awarded to State and Local Governments. DHS awarded more than $2 billion in grants to state and local governments to support various prevention, protection and response initiatives.
- Standard First Responder Training Developed. DHS established a National Incident Management System (NIMS) standard curriculum to ensure first responder training is widely available and consistent among all training providers. More than 725,000 first responders completed NIMS training nationwide.
- Counterterrorism Training. DHS provided counterterrorism training to more than 1.2 million emergency response personnel from across the country on a range of incident response issues, including incident management, unified command, and public works protection/response, and training on weapons of mass destruction.
- Secure Data Sharing Network Established. DHS deployed the first phase of the Homeland Secure Data Network (HSDN) to 56 governmental sites, providing a unified system and program that enables the sharing and protection of secret-level data between our federal partners.
- Sharing Intelligence Information. The Office of Intelligence and Analysis provided state and local governments and the private sector with more than 1,260 intelligence information products on threat information and protective measures that can be taken to remain vigilant.
- Secret Service Operation Taps Network to Arrest 28 Globally. U.S. Secret Service conducted ?Operation Firewall,? in which the Secret Service became the first agency ever to execute a Title III wire tap on an entire computer network. This global operation resulted in 28 arrests in eight states and six foreign countries. These suspects stole nearly 1.7 million credit card numbers.
- Community and Individual Preparedness. The department?s Ready campaign, one the most successful campaigns in the Ad Council history, topped $465 million in cumulative donated media support and more than 1.9 billion web site hits. The department?s Citizen Corps program, which promotes grassroots community preparedness, expanded its service to more than 69 percent of the total population to ensure that citizens are prepared and capable of handling disasters or threats of all kinds.
One of the greatest challenges for the department in 2005 was in response to the extensive devastation brought about by the most active storm seasons on record. Support came from every component of the department.
- 33,000 Rescued by U.S. Coast Guard. In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Coast Guard saved over 33,000 lives in search and rescue operations. Coast Guard men and women employed their Continuity of Operations Plans and demonstrated deep commitment to the missions of search and rescue, protection of natural resources, and providing a safe, efficient marine transportation system.
- 23,000 Victims Airlifted from New Orleans Airport. At Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport more than 700 transportation security officers and federal air marshals helped evacuate more than 23,000 victims.
- 273,000 Sheltered. Working through the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supported the nation?s largest-ever sheltering operation, with more than 273,000 evacuees cared for. In addition, Red Cross and FEMA funded housing for 85,000 families in emergency hotel housing.
- 653,000 Families Receive Rental Assistance. FEMA has provided rental assistance to more than 653,000 families who were displaced as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. FEMA and federal partners have removed more than 55 million cubic yards of debris in the Gulf States region; approved $392 million in Community Disaster Loan Assistance and $205 million in unemployment insurance; and provided roughly $5.2 billion in direct assistance to victims of Katrina and Rita.