DHS Publishes Port Security Proposal

Thursday, May 18, 2006
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published a detailed proposal of new rules aimed at preventing terrorist attacks on domestic ports. In late April, DHS implemented the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, which included name-based background checks on nearly 400,000 port workers in the United States. The initial checks were followed by a 275-page proposal detailing the program designed to deter people who pose a security threat from entering U.S. ports. The rulemaking proposal was submitted to the Federal Register for publication last week. Industry sources said that the publication of the proposal on the register would only establish the legality of the program. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would collect workers' biographic information including 10 fingerprints, name, date of birth, address, phone number, alien registration number if applicable, photo, employer and job title. Also, all individuals with unescorted access to port facilities and vessels would be required to have go through similar screening and obtain a TWIC. Background checks would include a review of criminal history records, terrorist watch lists, legal immigration status, and outstanding wants and warrants. Some trade associations and longshoremen unions expressed concerns about the potential violation of port workers' civil liberties despite being supportive of the increased port-security measure. The public will have 45 days to comment on the proposal, and four public meetings will be hosted by TSA and the U.S. Coast Guard to solicit public input. (Source: Washington Post)
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