DHS Forces 1 Million-plus Port Workers to Enroll in Access-Clearance Program
Port workers, longshoremen, truckers, and others at the port of Corpus Christi began enrolling yesterday in the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The program's goal is to ensure that any individual who has unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities and vessels has received a thorough background check and is not a security threat. Approximately 6,000 workers are expected to enroll at the Corpus Christi Safety Council Office, and nationwide more than 1 million workers with unescorted access to secure areas will apply during the rest of 2007 and in 2008.
"The start of enrollment is one more step in our effort to prevent persons who are a threat from gaining access to secure areas of port facilities," said Maurine Fanguy, TWIC program director for the Transportation Security Administration. "We appreciate the support of our partners at the port of Corpus Christi for helping to make one of the world's most advanced interoperable biometric systems a reality."
Corpus Christi is the second port to begin enrollment in the nationwide program. Ultimately, TSA will establish fixed enrollment centers at 147 ports and will deploy mobile enrollment centers to dozens of other locations as needed. "TWIC will be a crucial part of our multi-layered risk based approach to maritime security," said Coast Guard. Capt. Robert Paulison. "It will strengthen security and access control at ports and on thousands of other maritime facilities and vessels."
The Port of Corpus Christi is the seventh-largest port in the United States in tonnage movement. It began serving the Coastal Bend area of Texas in 1926 with a 25-foot channel and at 45 feet is now one of the deepest ports in the Gulf of Mexico.