Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 17, 2006

Chertoff and Rice speak on “secure borders and open doors”

Filed under: Aviation Security,Border Security,DHS News — by Christian Beckner on January 17, 2006

Sec. Chertoff and Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice just finished their speech on “Joint Vision: Secure Borders and Open Doors in the Information Age.” Some quick highlights:

The speech had three key topics: (1) using new information technology to “renew America’s welcome”, (2) the creation of travel documents for the 21st century, and (3) conducting smarter screening in all places where travelers are encountered.

Sec. Rice covered the first topic, and highlighted the investments that the State Department has made in the consular process and the declines in wait times for visa processing in the last two years. But she noted the need to continue to improve the process, and announced the following new activities:

  • Pilot projects at Washington Dulles and Houston airports to improve and clarify the entry process for foreign visitors upon arrival, using tools such as new video messages and personal greeters.
  • Extension of entry windows for foreign students arriving on visas, allowing students to apply 120 days (instead of 90) for the visas, and arrive 45 days (instead of 30) before the start of classes.
  • The use of video conferencing technology in some instances to make visa interviews for foreigners less onerous.
  • The creation of a new joint DHS-State federal advisory board with representatives from tourism and travel, academia, and business to help the government identify best practices for travel policies.

Sec. Chertoff then spoke on the second and third topics: secure travel documents and screening.

On the secure travel document issue, he commented that DHS will:

  • Introduce a new, cheap and secure travel card by the end of 2006. He called the system for this card the “People Access Security Service” or PASS.
  • Attempt to unify various trusted traveler credentialing systems into a single unified system, to enable border officials to concentrate their resources better on those who might pose a threat.

On the topic of screening systems, Chertoff noted that:

  • DHS and State will strive to streamline the visa process, with the long-term objective of developing a paperless visa process.
  • DHS will create a new government-wide mechanism for public redress of mistakes on government watchlists such as the “no-fly list” by the end of this year.

Overall, an impressive strategy and a daunting list of self-imposed deadlines for DHS and State to meet.

Here’s the link to the DHS-State fact sheet that describes the announcement in greater detail. And here’s the initial reports from the AP, the New York Times, and the LA Times on the event.

Update (1/17): Rice’s remarks can be found here, and Chertoff’s are here.

Update 2 (1/17): After analyzing the announcement more closely, and reading the press accounts that included information from the off-the-record Q&A after the event, I feel even more strongly that this is a very solid and positive strategy for DHS and State to pursue. But some elements of this strategy (e.g. the “Global Enrollment Network” and paperless visa processing) are very ambitious, and they could fall prey to various obstacles and pitfalls, such as privacy issues, incompatible technology, and data security, if not executed with extreme care and precision.

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Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » New PASS travel cards: $50

January 18, 2006 @ 6:54 pm

[…] Press reports today indicate that the new People Access Security Service (PASS) cards, announced yesterday and intended to serve as a substitute to a passport for U.S. compliance with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), will cost about $50 per person. This story suggests that the PASS cards will include both biometric and RFID technology […]


Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » The origins of the Rice-Chertoff initiative

February 20, 2006 @ 11:26 pm

[…] I also hope there is follow-through, given the strategic importance of many of the ideas introduced at the press conference. Right now the picture is unclear: there’s only passing mention of the Rice-Chertoff initiative in the FY 2007 budget request for DHS, and nothing linked to funding requests. Hopefully additional information will be forthcoming in the coming appropriations hearings. The travel and tourism industries need to keep up the pressure for State and DHS to fund and move forward on these critical activities. […]


Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » Is the Rice-Chertoff initiative falling behind?

April 12, 2006 @ 12:06 am

[…] Sec. Chertoff spoke today at the 2006 Global Travel and Tourism Summit; his full remarks are available here. The speech was a reprise of his remarks in January with Sec. Rice to unveil the “Secure Borders and Open Doors” initiative. I was very supportive of this initiative when it was announced, and continue to believe that the initiative includes a number of excellent ideas. But I’m increasingly worried that the initiative is moving forward more slowly than it should. The FY 2007 budget request for DHS did not mention the Rice-Chertoff initiative’s proposals, and today’s speech seemed to suggest that deadlines were starting to slip: […]

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » DHS developing new traveler redress system

January 5, 2007 @ 4:27 pm

[…] The one-year anniversary of the launch of the Rice-Chertoff Initiative is later this month; this program is the result of Chertoff’s promise in that speech to establish a “government-wide traveler screening redress process before the end of this year [2006].” […]

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