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May 16, 2016

Legislation Introduced to Expand DHS Overseas Efforts to Prevent Terrorist Travel, Add 2000 Officers to CBP Workforce

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, introduced legislation to help prevent terrorist travel and improve security.  This new bill will increase the Department of Homeland Security’s presence overseas by expanding programs that allow DHS personnel to vet and screen travelers before they come to the United States.

The Expanding DHS Overseas Passenger Security Screening And Vetting Operations Act (H.R. 5256) will:

  • Require DHS to issue a comprehensive five-year strategy and annual implementation plans to expand overseas operations in a risk-based, coordinated manner.
  • Authorize an additional 2,000 CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Officers and 600 Agriculture Specialists to address existing domestic staffing shortages, such as at U.S. international airports, and expand overseas operations.
  • Create an additional layer of security by authorizing a program for CBP to work with foreign authorities and airlines to identify and prevent terrorist travel.
  • Expand the Visa Security Program by expanding its overseas presence and direct it to screen visa applicants against multiple government databases.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement introducing the legislation:

“Over the past several years, terrorists have exploited legitimate channels of travel to the United States from countries around the globe with the intention of conducting attacks.  To continue our efforts to prevent terrorist travel, the Department of Homeland Security needs a comprehensive strategy to ‘push out our borders’ and expand its presence and partnerships around the world to ensure vetting of passengers well in advance of their arrival in the United States. This bill will also add 2000 officers to the CBP workforce, which will help address existing staffing shortages at U.S. international airports and ensure it has manpower to enhance its overseas screening footprint.”

Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation sponsored by Ranking Member Thompson: the Department of Homeland Security Strategy for International Programs Act (H.R. 4780).  This bill requires DHS to develop a comprehensive strategy for its international programs, where personnel and resources are deployed abroad for vetting and screening persons seeking to enter the U.S.  H.R. 4780 is a central piece of the Expanding DHS Overseas Passenger Security Screening and Vetting Operations Act (H.R. 5256).  Congressman Thompson speaks on the floor about H.R. 4780:

Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), William R. Keating (D-MA), Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-NJ), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) are original co-sponsors of H.R. 5256.

Bill Fact Sheet

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Media contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978