Feb. 25, 2004 – A congressional delegation from the House Select Committee on Homeland Security will visit the territory this weekend as part of a three-stop tour Friday through Sunday "to review crucial homeland security issues, including drug trafficking and terrorism links," Delegate Donna M. Christensen announced on Wednesday.
Christensen is one of six members of the committee taking part in the tour. Before arriving in the Virgin Islands, the lawmakers will visit the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Miami's air- and seaports.
In the Virgin Islands, Christensen said in a release, the delegation "will tour the High Density Drug Trafficking Area and be briefed on the progress of efforts to stop illegal drug trafficking." It also will receive an update on the fiscal year 2004 resources that the Department of Homeland Security has allocated "to mitigate homeland security concerns that are unique to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico." And the group will tour the Hovensa facility, one of the world's largest oil refineries.
The delegation will hold a press conference on Saturday afternoon at the Crown Bay dock on St. Thomas.
At Guantanamo Bay, Christensen's release stated, the delegation will receive an operations overview. The naval base "protects the ability of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships to operate in the Caribbean," providing supplies and support, the release said. It is the oldest U.S. base outside the continental United States and "the only one in a country that does not enjoy an open political relationship with the United States."
In Miami, the delegation will review passenger screening and cargo security at Miami International Airport, observe Port of Miami passenger and baggage screening and document security programs, and receive a briefing on regional security issues at the U.S. Southern Command headquarters.
Scheduled to participate in the tour, along with Christensen are Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., who chairs the Homeland Security Committee; Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., the committee vice chair; Rep. Jim Turner, D-Texas, the ranking Democrat on the committee; Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., who chairs the Infrastructure and Border Security Subcommittee; and Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who chairs the Rules Subcommittee.
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