Ports of Entry and Border Security. H.R. 3576 (introduced Sept. 18 by Rep. O’Rourke, D-Texas) seeks to
increase transparency, accountability and community engagement within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, provide independent oversight of border security activities, and improve training for CBP agents and officers.
Under this bill, the Department of Homeland Security would have to submit to Congress a report that contains an assessment of the current standards and guidelines for managing ports of entry. This assessment would have to include information on staffing levels and the need for additional staffing, rules governing the actions of Office of Field Operations agents, average delays for transit through air, land and sea ports of entry, the effects of border security efforts and technologies on facilitating trade at ports of entry, the economic impact of the policies and practices of CBP agricultural specialists and Office of Field Operations work, and physical infrastructure and technological needs at ports of entry.
Based on this report, DHS would have to establish updated guidelines and standards for managing ports of entry to address any identified needs or shortcomings; e.g., increasing levels of staffing of CBP agricultural specialists at ports of entry at which delays hinder or negatively impact the local or national economies, increasing the use of or updating technology at ports of entry at which there are average delays of over two hours, publishing rules on the handling of documents at ports of entry, and establishing management and leadership skills training courses for supervisors and managers at ports of entry.
This bill would also establish a DHS Border Oversight Committee tasked with developing recommendations for improvements regarding border enforcement policies, strategies and programs that take into consideration their impact on border communities. It would also establish within the DHS an ombudsman for border and immigration related concerns that would, among other things, be responsible for conducting inspections of the facilities of CBP, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Supply Chain Security. H.R. 3586 (introduced Sept. 22 by Rep. Miller, R-Mich.) would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to improve border and maritime security coordination within DHS. Among other things, this bill would do the following.
- codify the addition of an export component to the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism
- require DHS, at least 30 days before signing with a foreign partner an arrangement providing for mutual recognition of supply chain security practices, to notify Congress of the proposed terms of that arrangement and determine that the foreign program provides comparable security to that provided by C-TPAT
- require regular updates to Congress on the strategic plan to enhance the security of the international supply chain
- require a report to Congress within 270 days on the effectiveness of, and the need for any improvements to, the Container Security Initiative
- repeal a requirement for DHS to conduct a one-year pilot program to assess the risk posed by and improve the security of empty containers at U.S. seaports
Wildlife Trade. H.R. 3526 (introduced Sept. 16 by Rep. Grijalva, D-Ariz.), would extend the import- and export-related provision of the Endangered Species Act to species proposed for listing as threatened or endangered under that law. According to a press release from Born Free USA, “this ensures that when an imperiled species, such as the African lion, is proposed for listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, hunters do not rush to kill as many of them as possible for trophies before their window of opportunity closes.”