Homeland Security begins port worker background checks

| 4/26/2006

The Department of Homeland Security has begun checking the backgrounds of about 400,000 workers at the nation’s ports, but that number does not include truckers – yet.

The background checks are the initial stages of the Transportation Worker Identification Card program, referred to as the TWIC program, and include longshoremen and maritime workers employed by facility owners and operators.

Jarrod Agen, a spokesman for Homeland Security, told “Land Line Now” that truckers will be included in the formal, more in-depth TWIC background checks, which will include 750,000 people and could begin by the end of 2006.

The initial background checks are expected to be complete by the end of summer and will simply compare the names of the port workers to terrorist and immigration watch lists.

“This initial check is not as in-depth as the formal TWIC check will be,” Agen said. “This initial one runs the name against the terror watch lists and the immigration list to make sure they are of legal employment.”

Agen said the timeline for the rest of the TWIC program depends on a “notice of proposed rulemaking” to be issued in the coming months by Homeland Security. Once that proposal makes its way through channels and gains official approval, the TWIC program will begin.

– By Terry Scruton, senior writer
Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this article.