JAMES W. ZIGLAR
IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY, TERRORISM, AND GOVERNMENT
TECHNOLOGY'S ROLE IN PREVENTING THE ENTRY OF TERRORISTS INTO
THE UNITED STATES
OCTOBER 12, 2001
SD-226 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
MADAME CHAIRWOMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE, I want to thank you for the
opportunity to testify on the important issue of how technology can be better
employed to prevent the entry into our country of persons who wish to do harm
to our people and institutions. I am always pleased to return to the Senate.
I shall always be grateful for the opportunity I had to serve as the Senate
Sergeant at Arms from November 1998 to August 2001.
Although I have served as Commissioner for only two months, I have not viewed
that as a liability in responding to the tragic events of September 11, primarily
because of the highly professional career public servants who have provided
me with mature advice and assistance. These tragic events, however, have provided
an opportunity for me to examine, with a fresh eye, the management, personnel,
technology, and policy needs capabilities of the INS.
Steps to Improve Security
Mr. Chairman, the questions you have and the reason, I believe, you called
this hearing --are straightforward: You and most Americans would like to know
what steps we can take to improve our security consistent with our values and
Even before September 11, we were examining that question in depth at how we
can improve the INS, at all levels, and especially in the area of technology.
We recognize that technology is a huge "force multiplier" that we
must employ effectively at the INS if we are to accomplish our mission.
Pursuant to the mandates of the Clinger-Cohen legislation, in response to the
recommendations of the General Accounting Office (GAO), and because it makes
good business sense, the INS is currently in the process of developing its Enterprise
Architecture. This project represents our long-term, strategically-oriented
approach to accomplishing the information driven aspects of the INS mission.
We began the planning for this project in October 2000 and I expect the final
delivery of this project, the transition plan to our target architecture, to
be ready at the beginning of the 3rd quarter of FY 2002.
In addition, as part of our overall restructuring initiative, I encouraged our
employees at all levels to think "outside the box" as to how we can
better accomplish our mission. They responded with a number of creative ideas,
some of which we are still evaluating. However, within the context of what is
already known to be "doable" and effective, we have arrived are considering
at a series of measures that would strengthen our enforcement capabilities.
We are working within the Administration to determine how to implement these
measures. Some of our ideas are as follows: Mr. Chairman, I suggest for your
consideration, and that of the entire Congress, the following actions:
As requested in the President's budget, increase the number of Border Patrol
agents and support staff along the northern border, while not neglecting the
continuing needs along the southwest border. Such increases should also include
necessary facilities, infrastructure and vehicles.
Provide additional agent support equipment and technology enhancements. Unfortunately,
neither the Senate nor the House currently is funding the President's request
at $20 million for "force multiplying technology."
Significantly increase the number of Border Patrol agents and support staff
along the northern border, while not neglecting the continued needs along the
southwest border. It is important that such increases include necessary facilities
infrastructure, vehicles and support personnel, and that Border Patrol personnel
assigned to the northern border represents a net increase of agents nationwide.
Expand INS access to portable wireless biometric identification systems, such
as mobile IDENT.
Increase funding for roads, lights, fences, and vehicle barriers.
In the Inspections area, as we proposed in our FY 2002 budget, we believe
we should increase the number of Inspectors at our Ports of Entry.
In the Inspections area, increase the number of inspectors to fully staff land
borders, airports, and seaports, allowing our ports-of-entry to operate without
jeopardizing security or officer safety.
Require inspection of all International-to-International Transit Passengers
(ITI) so that all travelers who arrive in the United States are inspected.
Increase the number of criminal investigators and intelligence analysts to enhance
investigative capabilities and develop more information on possible national
security threats. A substantially enhanced investigative and intelligence force
would make it possible to begin to address the concern about nonimmigrants who
illegally enter, overstay or otherwise violate the immigration laws of the United
INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVES
Require carriers to submit Advance Passenger Information before boarding passengers
(whether the passenger is heading to the United States or attempting to depart
the United States) to assist in preventing known or suspected terrorists, criminals,
and inadmissible passengers from boarding.
Make Advance Passenger Information data widely available to law enforcement
agencies, enhancing the ability to identify potential threats prior to departure
from or arrival in the United States, as well as to prevent the departure of
individuals who may have committed crimes while in the United States. This would
require additional personnel and equipment.
Implement the National Crime Information Center Interstate Identification
Index (NCIC III) at all ports of entry so that aliens with criminal histories
can be identified prior to or upon arrival in the United States. NCIC III should
also be available at all consular posts, INS service centers and adjudication
offices to help identify aliens who pose a potential threat.
Improve lookout system checks for the adjudications of applications at INS
service centers. This would require additional personnel.
Improve INS infrastructure and integration of all data systems so that data
from all sources on aliens is accessible to inspectors, special agents, adjudicators,
and other appropriate law enforcement agencies. This initiative is ongoing.
but will require substantial investment to complete.
Provide statutory authority to wWaive the calendar-year overtime cap for INS
employees to increase the number of staff-hours available by increasing the
overtime hours people can work. This proposal is included in the Administration's
OTHER INITIATIVESThis onerous provision that has not been imposed on most other
federal agencies has created a serious problem during the current heightened
security posture. For example, the continued availability of Border Patrol Agents
for security at major airports is significantly impacted by this provisio
Re-examine and potentially eliminate the Transit Without Visa Program (TWOV)
and Progressive Clearance to prevent inadmissible international passengers from
entering the United States.
Reassess the designation of specific countries in the Visa Waiver Program
to ensure that proper passport policies are in place. This initiative will require
the concurrence of and joint participation by the Department of State.
Obtain from the Department of State visa data and photographs in electronic
form at ports of entry so that visa information will be available at the time
of actual inspection.
Explore alternative inspection systems that allow for facilitation of low
risk travelers while focusing on high-risk travelers.
And review the present listing of designated ports of entry, in concert with
the U.S. Customs Service, to eliminate unnecessary ports. This will allow the
INS to deploy more inspectors to fewer locations making for a more efficient
use of resources.
In addition to the measures cited above, I have instructed my staff to move
forward expeditiously on two database improvement projects mandated by Congress.
While neither is a panacea, both would be an improvement over the status quo.
First, there has been much attention paid to student visas in recent weeks.
Today, the INS maintains limited records on foreign students and is able to
access that information on demand. However, the information is on old technology
platforms that are insufficient for today's need for rapid access. That is why
we are moving forward with the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS),
formerly known as CIPRIS. Objections, primarily by the academic establishment,
have delayed its development and deployment. However, with the events of September
11, that objection has virtually disappeared and the INS, with your help, will
meet, and intends to beat, the Congress' date of December 20, 2003 to start
implementation of SEVIS with respect to all foreign nationals holding student
visas. I hasten to add that there is a critical need to concurrently review
and revise the process by which foreign students gain admission to the United
States through the so-called I-20 certification process as we build the system.
To revise and rationalize this process will require cooperation between the
Department of State and the INS.
Second, substantial attention also has been paid to entry and exit data. Currently,
the INS collects data on the entry and exit of certain visitors. The data, most
of which is provided to the INS in paper form to meet our manifest requirements,
first must be transferred by hand from paper to an electronic database. This
is an extremely inefficient way of processing data which delays access to the
data by weeks and months. Knowing who has entered and who has departed our country
in real time is an important element in enforcing our laws. The Data Management
Improvement Act, passed in 2000, requires the INS to develop a fully-automated
integrated entry-exit data collection system and deploy this system at airports
and seaports by the end of 2003, the 50 largest land ports of entry by the end
of 2004, and completing the deployment to all other ports of entry by the end
of 2005. The legislation also requires a private sector role to ensure that
any systems developed to collect data do not harm tourism or trade. The INS
is moving forward to meet, or beat, those deadlines.
The INS already uses limited airline and cruise line data that is now provided
voluntarily as an integral part of the inspection process at airports and seaports.
We will work closely with Congress, other agencies, and the travel industry
in the coming months to expand our access to needed data and to enhance our
use of that data to ensure border security and more complete tracking of arrivals
There has also been a great deal of focus on the databases used to identify
persons who are inadmissible to the United States or who pose a threat to our
country. The INS, the Customs Service, and the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs have worked diligently over the past decade to provide our
ports of entry and consular posts with access to data needed by our officers.
The data contained in the National Automated Immigration Lookout System (NAILS),
the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS II), and the Consular Lookout
and Support System (CLASS) are uniformly available to our ports of entry through
a shared database called the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) that
is maintained on the U.S. Customs Service mainframe computer.
Through IBIS, the officers at our ports of entry can also access limited data
from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Immigration and Customs officers
have long had the capability to check NCIC wanted persons data on a limited
basis. Only recently have immigration inspectors been authorized to routinely
use NCIC criminal history data (NCIC III) to identify criminal aliens in advance
of their arrival. This capacity now exists at two ports of entry. Before September
11, the INS was working to expand the availability of this valuable data source
to additional locations. Legislation is being considered to ensure this expansion
is successful. I strongly support this legislation. To expedite this process,
we will require the assistance of Congress for additional communications and
mainframe capacity so that we may obtain real-time NCIC III data.
Many people who cross our land borders do so with a Border Crossing Card (BCC).
The INS and State Department have been working aggressively over the past several
years to replace the old Border Crossing Cards with the new biometric "laser
visa." Based on the statutory deadline, holders of the old
BCC can no longer enter the country. The new BCC has many security features
that make it a much more secure entry document.
Both at and between our ports of entry, the INS has used a fingerprint identification
system known as IDENT to track immigration violators. This system has provided
the INS with a significant capacity to identify recidivists and impostors. Congress
has directed the Department of Justice to integrate IDENT with access to the
FBI's automated fingerprint system, IAFIS, and we have been proceeding toward
that objective with the FBI and under the Department's direction.
The Limits of Technology
There is no quick fix, technological or otherwise, to the problems we face.
We must work with advanced technology and do all we can to improve our systems.
But we should not mislead ourselves into thinking that technology alone can
solve our problems. Technology must be coupled with a strong intelligence and
information-gathering and distribution system if we are to leverage our resources
and maximize our capabilities. That will require the seamless cooperation among
the many government agencies involved.
It should be noted that more than five hundred million inspections are conducted
at our ports of entry every year, and hundreds of millions of people enter the
United States without visas, either because they are U.S. citizens, through
visa waiver programs, or other exemptions from the normal visa process; the
INS has only 4,775 Inspectors to process these hundreds of millions of visitors
and approximately 2,000 investigators and intelligence agents throughout the
country who are available to deal with persons who have entered illegally, are
criminal aliens, or have overstayed their visas or otherwise have violated the
terms of their status as visitors in the United States.
If we are to meet the challenges of the future, we need to make changes at the
INS and we are in the process of making those changes. The structure of the
organization and the management systems that we have in place are outdated and,
in many respects, inadequate for the challenges we face. Our information technology
systems and related processes must be improved in order to ensure timely and
accurate determinations with respect to those who wish to enter our country
and those who wish to apply for benefits under our immigrations laws. The management
restructuring of the INS is on its way a mandate the President and the
Congress have given me -- and the improvement of our information technology
systems is moving ahead and can be accomplished with the help and support of
Madame Chairwoman, I would like to say one word about INS employees and the
events of September 11. Within hours of the attacks, the INS was working closely
with the FBI to help determine who perpetrated these crimes and to bring those
people to justice. Within 24 hours, under "Operation Safe Passage,"
The INS deployed several hundred Border Patrol agents to eight major U.S. airports
to increase security, prevent further terrorist incidents and restore a sense
of trust to the traveling public. At America's ports of entry, INS inspectors
continue to work tirelessly to inspect arriving visitors, while ensuring the
flow of legitimate commerce and tourism. Meanwhile, despite the tragedies and
the disruptions, our service operations have managed to complete over 35,000
naturalizations nationwide and process thousands of other applications since
September 11. America should be proud of the extraordinary effort of these men
It has been said that after September 11 "everything has changed."
I hope that is not true. America must remain America, a symbol of freedom and
a beacon of hope to those who seek a better life for themselves and their children.
We must increase our security and improve our systems but in doing so we must
not forget what has made this nation great our openness to new ideas
and new people, and a commitment to individual freedom, shared values, innovation
and the free market. If, in response to the events of September 11., we engage
in excess and shut out what has made America great, then we will have given
the terrorists a far greater victory than they could have hoped to achieve.
Thank you for this opportunity to appear, Madame Chairwoman. I look forward
to your questions.