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U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Press Releases

Asa Hutchinson Sworn-In

At a full-house ceremony held Wednesday at the Immigration and Naturalization Service headquarters, Asa Hutchinson was sworn in as the first Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security in the Department of Homeland Security.

Taking the oath of office from Secretary Tom Ridge, Under Secretary Hutchinson officially steps in to lead the 100,000-employee Directorate responsible for securing the nation's borders and transportation infrastructure. As Secretary Ridge put it, Mr. Hutchinson "will be charged with ensuring the integrity of America's borders and the security of our transportation systems, on land, sea, and in the air. He will continue to work with Canada and Mexico to create 'smart borders' that are closed to terrorists but open to global trade and travel . . .The American people are watching us closely. Their expectations are high, and our performance must match . . . And Asa is the right person to lead [this effort]."

In taking on his new position with DHS, Asa Hutchinson steps down as the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. During the last two years leading the agency, Mr. Hutchinson served the first-ever indictments of known terrorists for drug trafficking. Also during his tenure, the Arellano Felix Organization, Mexico's most powerful and violent drug trafficking group, was targeted, resulting in the arrest of its mastermind, Benjamin Arellano Felix.

During remarks after his swearing-in, the Under Secretary referred to his days as a U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Arkansas. "I worked closely with many of the agencies represented here in this room. I had the chance to work with the INS and the Customs Service," Mr. Hutchinson said. "My respect for the professionalism of the men and women of these agencies grew the more I worked with them. And now, in a new time, under new circumstances, we will be working together again - along with the other agencies that will be joining BTS - on the important mission of protecting our homeland against terrorist attacks. I have full confidence that we have the right people to do the job."

On March 1st, the Department of Homeland Security, through the Directorate of Border and Transportation Security, will incorporate the United States Customs Service (currently part of the Department of Treasury), the enforcement division of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (Department of Justice), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Department of Agriculture), the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (Department of Treasury) and the Transportation Security Administration (Department of Transportation). BTS will also incorporate the Federal Protective Service (General Services Administration) to perform the additional function of protecting government buildings, a task closely related to the Department's infrastructure protection responsibilities.

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