Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff announced today that the department is taking significant steps to enhance security by checking the backgrounds of port workers.
The department will begin conducting name-based background checks on nearly 400,000 port workers within the United States. These checks will be an initial measure as the department expedites the rollout of a comprehensive nationwide biometric-based Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) in 2006.
“It is fundamental that individuals who pose a security threat do not gain access to our nation’s ports,” said Secretary Chertoff. “The name-based checks will provide an immediate security boost while we simultaneously complete the work to implement a secure national transportation worker credential.”
The preliminary name checks will be completed by the summer of 2006 and will initially be required for longshoremen and maritime employees of facility owners and operators. Ultimately, all individuals will require a TWIC in order to be eligible for unescorted access to secure areas.