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18 February 2004

Innovation, Technology, Partnerships Improve U.S. Border Security

DHS official rejects "Fortress America" label, says U.S. a welcoming nation

The United States is using new technologies and "unprecedented partnerships" with private industry and international allies to gather information about cargo, people and terrorists threats, improving border security and the immigration process, officials say.

In a February 18 address at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, Border and Transportation Security Stewart Verdery gave a broad overview of U.S. initiatives to enhance security while preserving the free flow of legitimate travel and trade.

"We have come a long way since September 10, 2001 to secure our cargo and immigration systems," said Verdery.

"Our immigration policies had been a Jeckyl and Hyde mix of enforcement, facilitation, and amnesty. And our cargo generally moved unscreened across oceans, rails, and highways," he said.

Discussing security improvements for the shipping and transportation of cargo, Verdery said the U.S. has "completely transformed" its process of inspections of incoming cargo, using centralized processing of intelligence sharing through its National Targeting Center. The U.S. has also strengthened requirements for carriers to submit manifest data earlier in the process, he said.

Recognizing that container shipping is "uniquely vulnerable" to a potential terrorist attack, Verdery said DHS launched the Container Security Initiative (CSI) -- a program to identify high-risk cargo containers and pre-screen them before they are loaded on vessels destined for the United States.

"If terrorists used a sea container to conceal a weapon of mass destruction and detonated it on arrival at a port, the impact on global trade and the global economy could be immediate and devastating," said Verdery.

The assistant secretary said that governments representing 19 of 20 ports identified thus far for the program agreed to participate in CSI and that the program has been successfully implemented in 16 of those ports.

DHS has also been working to introduce more "securely sealed, tamper evident" cargo containers, said Verdery, which can be achieved with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) high security bolts and better placement of seals.

Discussing the U.S. immigration system, Verdery said the first phase of U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program was "successfully" implemented at 115 airports and 14 major seaports on January 5, 2004.

The automated entry/exit system, he said, requires most visitors traveling on visas to the United States to have two fingerprints scanned by an inkless device and a digital photograph taken by immigration officials upon entry at U.S. air and seaports.

"These two steps add only seconds to the inspection and we have not seen significant inspection delays anywhere, despite ‘the-sky-is-falling' predictions of many," he said.

US-VISIT provides the capability to verify the identity of incoming visitors, record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens into and out of the United States, and confirm compliance with visa and immigration policies. Exit procedures at air and seaports will be phased in in 2004, and entry and exit enhancements at U.S. land borders will be phased in throughout 2004 and 2005.

As of February 13, 2004, 1.2 million passengers had been processed through the entry portion of US-VISIT, producing 88 verified watchlist hits, added Verdery. These hits included a citizen from El Salvador intercepted after US-VISIT determined that he had previously been convicted of a drunk driving hit and run death under another identity, and a citizen from Peru whom the US-VISIT biometric check disclosed to be a convicted cocaine trafficker wanted for escaping from a federal prison in 1984, he said.

In response to a questioner's suggestion that security initiatives and changes in U.S. visa policies have fostered an image of the United States as an unwelcoming nation, Verdery said, "We reject the 'fortress America' label."

"We very much want people who are coming here for travel, for business, for family reasons, for study to come, and we are trying to take a comprehensive review of the various security programs that have been put into place to see do they really work," said Verdery.

He said his office is undertaking a comprehensive review of visa policy, working in close partnership with the U.S. Department of State.

"We think some of the problems have been getting better in terms of delays in issuing visas and port of entry issues. We think we are making progress," added Verdery.

Discussing the perception of DHS initiatives, he said, "Perception is something we need to work on. We need to make the case to people that these new procedures are in their interests, that it protects travelers, that it will speed people through the border."

Following is the text of Verdery's remarks as prepared for delivery:

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U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C.
February 18, 2004

Remarks of C. Stewart Verdery, Jr.
Assistant Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Policy and Planning
At the Heritage Foundation

Building 21st Century Borders: Policy Development to Meet New Threats

INTRODUCTION

Thank you Larry (Wortzel) for that introduction.

For thirty years, this organization has been an important and effective voice in the public policy issues confronting our government and our nation. Having spent six years just across the street working in the Senate, I care to rely heavily on the work of your analysts and worked closely with creative thinkers like Todd Gaziano. And Tripp Baird, Drew Bond, and David Muhlhausen were colleagues during those tumultuous years in Congress. So it is an honor to have the opportunity to speak to you under the Heritage banner. It will also be nice afterwards to have lunch here, rather than heading off to my old haunts at Subway and Armand's.

In two weeks the Department will celebrate its one year anniversary. Like many marriages, during the first year we spent considerable time learning how to work together in a new household, figuring out our roles, and to be honest sometimes wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. But nearly one year later I stand before you with new gray hairs and an immense feeling of accomplishment at what the Department of Homeland Security has accomplished in just one year.

Secretary Ridge has said "innovation is one of our greatest weapons" in the war against terrorism. New ideas stem from the freedom to explore, to assess needs and approach solutions. Author and business leader William Pollard said, "Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow."

As Assistant Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Policy and Planning, my job is to look at what we as a country are doing today to protect our borders and our trade, and then to create policies -- combining theories with legal authority and budgets -- that improve upon them. Finding the proverbial needle -- a terrorist or terrorist weapon -- in the haystack will also take some luck, but as they say, luck is the residue of design.

We all remember the great show Seinfeld. One of the best episodes was when Jerry and George Costanza created a sit-com about nothing. And I, like millions, laughed that nothing could be so funny. Well, this job is the polar opposite -- it is about everything. We know that only one mistake -- allowing a terrorist and a weapon to converge in our country -- could kill ten Americans, or a thousand, or a million. And even an event with relatively few casualties could throw our economy into chaos and possibly tempt us to curtail the civil liberties that have made America a beacon of hope and expression for over 200 years.

And that temptation may be strong. Life in the United States -- and perhaps the world -- will never be quite the same as before September 11, 2001. I remember where I was, working in Senator Nickles office on the third floor of the U.S. Capitol. It was a nice fall morning and we had the windows open to catch a breeze coming up the Mall. We had just learned about the Trade Center attacks when we suddenly heard a "BOOM" outside our window. Soon the smoke appeared from the Pentagon. And it was only a few hours later when we learned that our former colleague in Senator Nickles' office, Barbara Olson, had been on the plane that hit the Pentagon. And so a vow was made that we would never lose sight of our mission to protect the nation against any future attacks. The terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as symbols of America. Our economic and military power represent a threat to the type of world they would like to create.

We all were dramatically affected by September 11, but the President gave me the opportunity and challenge to help fix the holes in security that allowed these tragic events to happen.

MY ROLE

I was confirmed by the Senate in June and in this role, I report to Border and Transportation Security Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson. One of five directorates at DHS, BTS is responsible for over 100,000 dedicated employees who represent the meat and potatoes of the Department. They were brought together under a single roof because of their common focus of ensuring the security of our nation's borders, ports of entry, and transportation systems, while at the same time facilitating the flow of legitimate commerce and enforcing our nation's immigration, narcotics, and trade laws.

My office, the Office of BTS Policy and Planning, is responsible for developing, evaluating, and coordinating policy. In advising Secretary Ridge and Under Secretary Hutchinson, I am responsible for working directly with the agencies that comprise BTS -- the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. To address all of these duties, my office has a top-notch staff of policy professionals with extensive experience in immigration, customs, transportation, international affairs, and international trade.

THE CHALLENGE

Briefly let me tell you the scope of the challenge that the Department faces every day. First, our borders.
-- The United States has 7,500 miles of land borders.
-- It has 9,500 miles of shoreline and 361 seaports.
-- More than 440 million visitors arrive each year.
-- At our 157 ports of entry, 118 million vehicles, 11 million trucks, 2.5 million railcars, and 7 million cargo containers cross annually.
Now for our transportation systems.
-- About 768,000 commercial flights operate the United States at 429 commercial airports with 635 million passengers each year.
-- We have 143,000 miles of freight railways and nearly 4 million miles of highways.
-- We boast 550 major public transportation systems and 590,000 bridges.

We have come a long way since September 10, 2001 to secure our cargo and immigration systems and we had a long way to go. Trying to retrofit our aviation systems, both in terms of airport design and airline business practices, to provide sufficient security has been a major undertaking. Our immigration policies had been a Jeckyl and Hyde mix of enforcement, facilitation, and amnesty. And our cargo generally moved unscreened across oceans, rails, and highways.

So how are we meeting this immense challenge? In the 21st century, a border is not simply a geographic line between two points. It is more. Today, while border guards inspect documents, people, and cargo, they simultaneously must inspect elaborate data housed by information systems. These lines of code and information have become a virtual border for our nations.

Today, I want to talk a little about where we were, where we are today, and where we are going. Building on the fine tradition of the Border Patrol Agents, U.S Customs inspectors and others who put themselves out on the line to defend our borders, we are creating programs that use state of the art-technology and unprecedented partnerships with industry and international allies to develop information about cargo, people and threats to make our first line of defense thousands of miles away from our shores.

CARGO

Although security concerns, and specifically use of the cargo supply chain to transport implements of terrorism, were certainly on the radar screen of U.S. government before 9/11 as well as that of shippers and manufacturers, it is fair to say that loss prevention was the primary goal, not terrorist threats.

Similarly, our approach in government reflected other national interests. In the pre 9/11 world, the efforts of the legacy Customs operations in the cargo arena were largely focused intercepting narcotics, drugs, and other forms on contraband, and, of course, the traditional role of ensuring that duties and taxes were applied as required.

Pre 9/11, efforts focused on the actual security of the cargo supply chain were sporadic and were not linked into an overall Federal mission to protect cargo, faculties and conveyances. For example, although Customs performed targeting of shipments, this process was largely decentralized, with individual ports often running different types of targeting programs. As a result levels of inspection varied from port to port, often encouraging shippers to use more "lenient" ports over others. Post 9/11, we have completely transformed the targeting process by centralizing this function at our National Targeting Center and by applying targeting rules across the system that ensure that the most recent threat and intelligence information is factored into the targeting process. We have also created critical links to other government information sources to ensure that we have as many pieces to our risk analysis "puzzle" as possible. As part of this effort, we have strengthened the requirements for information by requiring carriers to submit manifest data earlier in the process, an undertaking that would have been much more controversial and difficult to implement prior to September 2001.

This need for better information is also reflected in new requirements for port security programs now required by the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as efforts underway with foreign governments to establish security measures. Earlier exchange of information is absolutely critical to ensuring an effective partnership with foreign governments, particularly if we are to rely on their efforts to assist us with identifying threats and vulnerabilities. We see a new level of willingness to engage in the post 9/11 world.

Finally, I believe that the post 9/11 reality reflects a strengthened commitment between government and industry. We have come together out of necessity, recognizing that neither government nor the private sector can address the security challenges alone. This recognition has spurred the development of programs where industry has stepped forward to implement more rigorous security measures on a voluntary basis. What we hope to achieve as we move forward with such efforts is the realization of security benefits as well as decreased theft and facilitated flow of goods. In other words, we hope that security measures can ultimately support a stronger business model.

I would be remiss if I did not mention how important CBP Commissioner Rob Bonner has been in these efforts. His ability to focus legacy Customs and now CBP on innovative programs to meet the terrorist threat has been extraordinary and it shows in the progress that has made since 2001.

Now, I want to focus on some of these key programs and initiatives in a bit more detail ...

CONTAINER SECURITY INITIATIVE (CSI)

Oceangoing sea containers represent the most important artery of global commerce -- some 48 million full sea cargo containers move between the world's major seaports each year, and nearly 50% of all U.S. imports (by value) arrive via sea containers.

Because of the sheer volume of sea container traffic and the opportunities it presents for terrorists, containerized shipping is uniquely vulnerable. If terrorists used a sea container to conceal a weapon of mass destruction and detonated it on arrival at a port, the impact on global trade and the global economy could be immediate and devastating.

Given this vulnerable system, we realized the need to develop and implement a program that would enable us to better secure containerized shipping against the terrorist threat. That program is the Container Security Initiative (CSI).

Under CSI, DHS has entered into bi-lateral partnerships with other governments to identify high-risk cargo containers and to pre-screen them before they are loaded on vessels destined for the United States. It involves stationing personnel at the foreign CSI ports to identify and target high-risk containers that might pose a terrorist security risk. The initial goal was to implement CSI at the top 20 ports in terms of the volume of cargo containers shipped to the United States. That's because those top 20 ports alone account for two-thirds of all containers shipped to U.S. seaports, and most cargo shipments from high-risk countries are transshipped through these ports.

Today, governments representing 19 of those top 20 have signed up to implement CSI. And we've actually already implemented CSI at 16 foreign seaports in Europe, Asia, and Canada. With nearly all of the top 20 are on board, we have begun Phase 2 of CSI, where we are expanding to additional strategically important foreign locations such as Malaysia.

CUSTOMS-TRADE PARTNERSHIP AGAINST TERRORISM (C-TPAT)

Approximately 17 million cargo containers and commercial trucks enter the U.S. every year. A comprehensive border security strategy for our nation and for global trade simply had to include the private sector, because they are the ones who own the supply chain. In this cooperative effort Customs could offer something to the private sector in return for their participation in this security program: expedited processing at the borders. Thus was born the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.

To join C-TPAT, companies must provide us with the measures they have taken to strengthen the security of their supply chains, from the foreign loading docks of their suppliers to the U.S. border. CBP reviews whether supply chain security best practices are met and will continue to be met. If so, a company is admitted into C-TPAT. Thereafter, CBP validates that supply chain security has been implemented and, where appropriate, suggests improvements.

In exchange, companies that meet our security standards get expedited processing at and through our borders. Shippers, brokers, and importers have joined the program in large numbers: from an original group of 7 major importers in December 2001, membership has grown today to more than 5,000 companies.

C-TPAT has become an important part of our risk-targeting strategy by permitting CBP to better target and, indeed inspect more cargo shipments that have not been secured through C-TPAT or which otherwise pose a potential risk. We will be working this year to strengthen the validations, or security review processes, for C-TPAT members, and to assist shippers to identify fellow C-TPAT members to leverage the program's effectiveness.

SMART CONTAINER

One of the most important things we can, and must, do is to introduce smarter, more secure containers into the marketplace. Commissioner Bonner has spoken about this as a future aspect of the expansion of the C-TPAT program. Within BTS, our interest in the implementation of the smart container is also linked to meeting requirements under the Maritime Transportation Security Act -- or MTSA -- and specifically the development of a "Secure System of Transportation" for the international maritime supply chain. BTS is moving forward aggressively to meet these mandates. Industry input into proposed solutions is essential and will be a significant part of our effort.

What do I mean by a smart container: First, it must be securely sealed, and second, it must be tamper-evident. Without both factors, factory and supply chain security is of little value if the box itself is not secure during transit. A "Smart Box" need not be expensive and doesn't require high technology. It can be achieved with an ISO high-security bolt seal and better placement of the seal to prevent unauthorized entry.

MARITIME DOMAIN AWARENESS

It is also crucial for the U.S. to increase domain awareness in the maritime sector as we attempt to identify and intercept as many threats as possible before they reach our shores. The Coast Guard plays the lead role in ensuring maritime domain awareness. Key elements under development include:

-- Instituting measures to increase the awareness of people, vessels and cargo within the maritime domain and fusing information and intelligence with other law enforcement agencies to maximize security.
-- Current regulations to require vessels to provide 96-hour advance notice of arrival at U.S. ports.
-- Conducting port security assessments in what we call our tier one ports -- these are the most significant military and economic ports all 55 of which will undergo assessments by the end of 2004; and So I think you'll agree that we've come a long way in securing our systems of international cargo. But we also understand that we must redouble our efforts, working with other nations and the private sector, and that is what we intend to do.

IMMIGRATION AND PASSENGER PROCESSING

As difficult as our cargo security task may have seemed in 2001, it was relatively simple compared to the reforms that were necessary to transform our immigration and passenger processing systems to meet the terrorism challenge. Some the weaknesses that existed in the fall of 2001 have been addressed, and others are in the process of being fixed, but there remain significant hurdles to climb. The policy challenges in this arena are immense and begin with the half-dozen places where our government has an opportunity to decide whether the traveler falls within the 99% of persons we want to come to the U.S. to visit, conduct business, or study, or the 1% that are criminals or potential terrorists.

VISA POLICY

It starts for most people with the visa process which in 2001 was often done by mail. The Administration has made significant changes to the visa process and entry screening requirements since 9/11, to provide better security in light of the revised threat assessment to our national security. The percentage of visa applicants who are required to appear at a consular office for a personal interview has been steadily increasing over the past year. On August 1, 2003 new regulations were implemented which limit waiver of personal appearance for nonimmigrant visa applicants to only a few categories of exceptions, such as diplomats. And in coordination with the Department of Justice and Department of State, we have added more interagency security checks for certain groups of visa applicants from certain countries.

Moreover, the Department of Homeland Security has assumed lead responsibility for establishing visa policy, and has begun stationing employees in high-risk areas to assist the consular officers in the visa process.

PASSENGER INFORMATION

The next stop in our process, for air travelers, comes when people book flights to come to the U.S. and arrive at the airport. Since 2001, we have developed a capability to take robust Passenger Name Record information from a person's commercial air passenger reservation. PNR data is essential for CBP officers to adequately review the list of passengers on a plane destined for the United States, to determine if any passenger poses a threat to the aircraft or the other passengers on the aircraft, or is believed to be involved with terrorism or other transnational criminal activity.

This current process has been threatened by the invocation of European data protection laws. However, in December 2003, Secretary Ridge and European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein reached an agreement regarding the legal transfer of PNR data to Homeland Security. The agreement finds that Homeland Security's handling of the PNR data is sufficient for an "adequacy finding," which will support passenger privacy. Last week I went to Brussels to meet with European officials to finalize details of our agreement. It is essential that we resolve the issue of data protection with the European Union, so that we can separate the wheat from the chaff, reduce delays for travelers, and stop the terrorists before they can do harm.

We are also working to develop the CAPPS II program which will seek to facilitate domestic air travel and provide even greater security for international flights.

The next phase for international travelers comes at the airport check-in counter. CBP is also now able to access advance manifest information from people's passports as they check in for flights, a critical tool in our efforts to identify individuals who may pose a security threat.

Before 9/11, air carriers transmitted some advance information on international airline passengers to legacy U.S. Customs -- on a purely voluntary basis. We sought legislation that would make the transmission of that information mandatory. In late 2001, Congress enacted that legislation.

In less than a year, we achieved a 99% compliance rate. CBP, through our combined customs and immigration authorities, uses that information to evaluate and determine which arriving passengers pose a potential terrorist risk. Following departure but prior to a plane's arrival, the APIS data is checked against the multi-agency law enforcement database, known as the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS). IBIS includes the combined databases of over 20 federal agencies, including watchlists and the FBI's National Crime Information Center wanted persons files.

CBP uses the APIS and PNR data at the National Targeting Center via an advanced computer system called the Automated Targeting System to identify potential terrorists and terrorist targets for follow up at U.S. ports of entry.

The vital role of the NTC was demonstrated throughout the period of heightened aviation concern over the past two months. The NTC used advance information and its access to numerous databases to evaluate the flights of interest identified by the national intelligence community. These flights of interest were required to submit advance passenger information prior to departure and to postpone departure until the information could be fully vetted and cleared. The advance passenger information and passenger name records were run against major terrorist watchlist databases to identify any watchlisted terrorists on the flights, and reviewed by NTC analysts to detect reservation anomalies that might have indicated terrorism connections of non-watchlisted individuals.

We are also working with CBP to revive the old Immigration Security Officer concept to have CBP officers in certain foreign airports to put some "boots on the ground" to back up our analytical capability.

PORTS OF ENTRY

Next on our tour of immigration systems is the actual border itself, and a little history is in order. About a quarter century ago, the United States stopped asking international visitors to periodically register with immigration authorities. We stopped keeping track of the whereabouts and activities of our visitors. But on September 11th, 2001, 19 of them took advantage of our welcoming nature ... and took the lives of almost 3,000 people.

After the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, Congress required that an entry/exit system be installed at our ports of entry in the 1996 immigration act. It is estimated that about 40% of the millions of aliens illegally present in the U.S. entered with visas and overstayed their term of admission, but without any exit system and only a minimal, unreliable entry system, we have not known the real number or who has overstayed. Amazingly, we have relied on a paper-based system which literally requires people to hand-key in departure information weeks after it happens.

A second consequence of having no entry-exit system is that criminals have been able to come and go across our border, some dozens of times, using different aliases, without detection.

Of course, the entry-exit system mandated by Congress in 1996 didn't happen. The deadline for the system was pushed back in 1998 and again in 2000 when Congress passed the Data Management Improvement Act ("DMIA"). The deadlines in the DMIA remain the deadlines we have today -- an entry-exit system was required at air and seaports by the end of 2003, at the 50 busiest land ports by the end of 2004, and at the remaining land ports by the end of 2005.

In the spring of 2003, Secretary Ridge named the entry-exit system "US-VISIT" (The United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) and upped the ante by promising not only to meet the 2003 air and seaport deadline, but by adding a biometric requirement to the system. His announcement, by the way, came on my second day of work at the Department -- surprise! The biometric is critical to the program's success:

-- The lack of biometrics in travel documents hampers the ability of consular and immigration officials to confidently tie the traveler to the document.

-- An effective system of biometrics required the development of an internationally agreed upon standard so that "biometric" documents could be consistent between countries and verified not only by the issuing country.

And after an incredible amount of quick policy work, equipment acquisition, and operational crash courses, the US-VISIT was successfully rolled out at air and seaports nation-wide on January 5. While a visa holder is being inspected by a CBP inspector, the traveler places his or her 2 index fingers on a small box to have the finger scanned. A very small camera also takes a photo of the visa holder. These two steps add only seconds to the inspection and we have not seen significant inspection delays anywhere, despite "the-sky-is-falling" predictions by many. As of February 13, 1,209,450 passengers have been processed through the entry portion of US-VISIT, producing 88 verified watchlist hits. These include:

-- A citizen of El Salvador intercepted in New York on January 10, after US-VISIT determined that he had previously been convicted of a DUI hit and run death under another identity. Through the use of another fraudulent identity, this individual had been able to successfully leave and re-enter the United States despite outstanding warrants for his arrest, including a visit as recently as December 12, 2003.

-- On January 14, DHS officers in Miami encountered a Peruvian national attempting to enter the United States. He had previously visited the United States in May 2003, and his name did not appear on any biographic watch lists. A biometric check under US-VISIT disclosed that he was in fact a convicted cocaine trafficker wanted for escaping from a federal prison in 1984. Although he had previously been able to enter the United States by using a fraudulent identity, this criminal could not fool the biometric capabilities of US-VISIT.

But the success of the initial phase of US-VISIT has only whet our appetite. There are several major phases left to design and implement -- this is a complicated job that will take time to complete. US-VISIT is designed to be rolled out in increments to ensure that the foundation is strong and the building blocks are effective. We are on track to meet the December 31, 2004 deadline to implement the US-VISIT program at the 50 busiest land border ports of entry. We also will work to collect biometrics from travelers in the Visa Waiver Program who are currently exempt from US-VISIT. And we need to integrate the smaller versions of US-VISIT which has been developed to enroll foreign students -- SEVIS -- and nationals from countries of special concern -- NSEERS. Lastly, we have to continue testing and implementing effective exit procedures to find those overstays and potential criminals and terrorists trying to leave the country.

To reach a fully, universal entry-exit system, we will also have to address the current ability of Canadians and some other Western Hemisphere visitors, as well as U.S. Citizens, to enter or re-enter the U.S. without holding a valid passport. This Western Hemisphere exemption, while not statutory, is longstanding and has allowed individuals to request admission to the United States with little, if any, documentation. In certain circumstances, an oral declaration of citizenship is sufficient. This is a great loophole in our improving entry-exit system and we will be looking carefully whether we should require that a valid passport or other secure document be presented to enter the United States.

CONCLUSION

Two hundred years ago this very month, the rag tag group now known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition sat at the banks of the Mississippi River, ready to commence a journey to find the mythical water passage to the Pacific Ocean. Such a passage they did not find, but they did push science to new limits, help settle the great plains, and prove the need for a united continent. We will never reach the mythical status of perfect safety, but we are making great progress in securing our homeland and improving the flow of goods and people along the way. Much like Lewis and Clark, sometimes it feels like we are paddling upstream. Much like Lewis and Clark's expedition, we know that homeland security is not a destination, but rather a journey. Like Lewis and Clark, we are inspired by a President with a vision. And like them, we will succeed.

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