Tuesday, September 29, 2015

HR 3586 Introduced – Maritime Security

Last week Rep. Miller (R,MI) introduced HR 3568 the Border and Maritime Coordination Improvement Act. The bill would add a number of new sections to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 dealing with maritime security issues. Only a few of those provisions will be of specific interest to readers of this blog.

Joint Task Forces

The bill adds a new §420A to the Homeland Security Act that establishes a number of new border security joint task forces to “conduct joint operations using Department component and office personnel and capabilities to secure the international borders of the United States” {new §420A(a)}.

It provides for three specific task forces (East, West, and Investigation). The bill also provides authority for the Secretary to establish a number of other task forces, including one specifically to deal with cybersecurity {new §420A(i)(4)}. There are no details provided on what the purpose of a cybersecurity joint task force or how it might be constituted.

New TWIC Requirements

A new §420D is added to address concerns about Transportation Workers Identification Credentials (TWIC) being issued to non-US citizen applicants. The purpose of the new procedures outlined in this section are to ensure that “an individual who is not lawfully present in the United States cannot obtain or continue to use a Transportation Worker Identification Credential” {new §420D(a)}.

The language would require the Secretary to publish a list of documents that would provide acceptable proof that an applicant’s identity and legal presence in the United States. Additionally, a training program would have to be established to ensure that personnel processing TWIC applications from non-US citizens could detect fraudulent documents.

Finally the expiration of TWICs issued to non-US citizens would be changed so that they would expire on “the date of its expiration, or on the date on which the individual to whom such a TWIC is issued is no longer lawfully present in the United States, whichever is earlier” {new §420D(c)}.

Moving Forward

Miller is the Chair of the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee and the Committee Chair, Rep. McCaul (R,TX) is a co-sponsor of this bill. This bill will certainly move through the committee process. In fact, it is one of the bills scheduled to be marked up by the full Committee on Wednesday.

There is supposed to be substitute language for this bill offered by Miller, but that language has not yet been published. I suspect that this will be the only amendment offered to this bill and it will almost certainly be approved by a voice vote. If that is the case this bill will most likely move to the floor of the House by the end of the year under suspension of the rules.


The adding of cybersecurity to the list of task forces that could be formed by the Secretary is kind of odd. The only other proposed or suggested task force that is not specifically designed to look at border control issues is suggested to be established in response to a major terrorist incident.

I suppose that since this bill established the bureaucratic guidelines for the establishment of joint agency task forces within the Department, it does make a certain amount of sense, but burying the provision in the US Customs Services portion of the statute still raises more questions then it answers. It will be interesting to see how/if this is specifically addressed in the Committee Report on this bill.

The TWIC provisions in this bill fall under the heading of ‘what has taken so long?’ I can see this providing some problems for people who are working here under renewable immigration documents. It is going to be costly for them to renew their TWIC more frequently than US citizens, but I don’t suspect that that was really part of the consideration for this measure.

I was kind of disappointed that this opportunity wasn’t taken to specifically include authorization for TWICs to be issued to employees of CFATS covered facilities. That would be a significant expansion in the number of TWICs to be issued, but I suspect that we are going to be seeing this happen in any course as the CFATS personnel surety program starts to ramp up. Specifically authorizing this would allow for a coordinated expansion of the program rather than a reactive expansion of capability in response to an ‘unexpected’ increase in the number of applications.

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