U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
REMARKS BY SECRETARY RIDGE TO THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB OF CALIFORNIA
San Francisco, California
Second, you can see the progress at our borders. We've significantly improved our coordination and cooperation with Mexico and Canada with our "Smart Border" accords…which were designed to keep criminals, smugglers and terrorists and their contraband out, without restricting the flow of commerce.
We're also hiring 1,700 new inspectors and hundreds of Border Patrol Agents and equipping them with state-of-the-art technology, including non-intrusive inspection machines and radiation pagers. And our $400 million US VISIT system will be underway at select locations by the end of the year. US VISIT is essentially a "virtual border" that will use biometrics to confirm the identity and status of all travelers, both to and from the United States.
Third, you can see the progress we've made at our airports – from the curb to the cockpit. We've begun to arm our pilots and have hardened all cockpit doors. Thousands of air marshals fly the skies with us, while passenger and baggage screeners are better trained and better equipped to do their jobs. We've also hired federal security officers to oversee security at our airports. We've strengthened perimeter security…and initiated fingerprint-based criminal background checks on all workers who have unescorted access to secure areas within the terminal.
What's more, under federal law, all air carriers now must provide advanced passenger information on international flights. This enables us to identify high-risk passengers attempting to enter or leave the United States.