A new bill, proposed by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) would reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) units and aim to enhance the two entities' customs and trade enforcement efforts.
Currently, CBP and ICE only exist as functions under DHS discretion according to the Homeland Security Act. Baucus and Grassley, chairman and ranking member of the Finance Committee, respectively, introduced the bill in order to firmly establish the two divisions within DHS and require them both to prioritize and enhance their specific missions. Additionally, the bill, named the Customs Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act of 2009 would create high-level trade positions in CBP and ICE, strengthen trade enforcement by requiring CBP to develop its own risk assessment methodologies to better target cargo that violates U.S. customs and trade laws and require the DHS Secretary to identify concrete benefits for participants in the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), a program that provides business participants with reduced inspections and expedited processing at the border in exchange for taking steps to protect their supply chains from illegal smuggling or concealed cargo.
"Customs facilitation and trade enforcement are vital to America's economic security," said Baucus. "CBP and ICE have not focused sufficient resources on their trade missions and this bill would direct them to do so. It would give these agencies the resources and tools they need to better enforce our customs and trade laws so legitimate goods enter our country quickly, and harmful goods or goods that infringe intellectual property rights (IPR) stay out." A provision in the bill would also establish a new division within ICE that would coordinate federal efforts to prevent the import or export of goods that violate IPR, and explicitly states that CBP has the authority to seize unlawful devices used to circumvent these protections.
"The CBP and the ICE agencies do important work," said Grassley. "This legislation will help them to accomplish their commercial missions by strengthening the accountability and prioritization of commercial customs functions, even as they continue to protect homeland security."
Jacob Barron, NACM staff writer. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NACM_National.