FAQs

What is Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP)?

Every day, hundreds of thousands of packages shipped into the United States from China, Russia, India and other foreign countries go mostly unchecked for dangerous and illegal contents. Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP) is a coalition of families, health care advocates, security experts, businesses and nonprofits who believe it is time to ensure that all such packages are properly screened using electronic data so U.S. intelligence and law enforcement authorities know what packages are sent, who they are coming from, and where they are going. Until then, our communities remain vulnerable to foreign attacks and illegal, toxic drugs.

What is Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP) working to do?

With the rise of e-commerce, it is easier than ever to get goods from India, China and other foreign countries with just the click of a button. We want to make sure that the 191 foreign postal systems across the globe are playing by our security rules when shipping packages that are delivered into our communities by the U.S. Postal Service. We are asking Congress, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of the Treasury to close an outdated policy loophole by requiring these foreign postal services to submit customs and advance electronic security data as well as Air Cargo Advance Screening data before shipping packages into the United States. By closing this hole in our nation’s security system, we can track and help stop illegal substances before they end up in our communities, keeping them safer from terrorists and other foreign bad actors.

What is the loophole that needs to be closed?

While private package express carriers, such as UPS and FedEx, provide the necessary electronic data on packages for screening and targeting by U.S. authorities, 191 foreign postal services shipping into the U.S. do not. It’s time for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, the National Targeting Center and other appropriate federal agencies to end this security gap by obtaining advance electronic security data on ALL packages entering the United States, so the authorities can use this information to screen for and seize dangerous and illegal shipments.

What is advance electronic security data?

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, the National Targeting Center and dozens of other U.S. agencies depend on this electronic data on packages to perform their enforcement duties and keep us safe from foreign bad actors. For each package being mailed to the U.S., this data includes the shipper name and address, consignee name and address, cargo description, weight, and piece count.

When an agency’s analysis shows information that a package may be high risk, packages receive additional physical screenings before they leave their U.S. port of entry.

Advance electronic security data is important because the volume of packages imported through foreign postal services is so massive – an estimated 340 million packages annually – it’s impossible for authorities to screen every package physically one-by-one. The advance electronic data manifests enable intelligence and security officials to target high-risk packages and stop them before they leave the first entry point into the United States.

How many packages enter the U.S. without advanced security screenings?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, approximately 340 million packages are shipped into the U.S. from foreign countries annually without advance electronic security data, thereby preventing proper screening by our government’s intelligence and law enforcement systems. These comprise approximately 90 percent of all packages shipped into the U.S., while the other approximately ten percent are shipped by the private express carriers.

What are the risks from intelligence and law enforcement agencies missing electronic data from some shipments?

Over ninety percent of all inbound packages to the U.S. are coming from foreign postal services without the essential data intelligence and law enforcement officials need. As we work to keep America safe from another terrorist attack, this security loophole is leaving our communities and families vulnerable to terrorists and other bad actors shipping dangerous, foreign items into the U.S. This gaping hole creates an easy path for children and others to go online and access deadly illegal drugs like fentanyl from countries overseas, fueling a national health epidemic. It also allows terrorists and other bad actors in foreign countries to have direct, unchecked access to our communities and homes.

Have foreign bad actors ever taken advantage of this loophole to bring toxic or dangerous contraband into the U.S.?

Alarmingly, yes. In a recent audit by LegitScript, a firm that specializes in finding and shutting down illegally-operated online pharmacies, 100 percent of illegal online pharmaceutical purchases shipped from foreign countries came in through foreign postal services, such as India Post and China Post, and zero percent were seized.

Yet in October 2010, using the very same type of intelligence that the ASAP coalition is asking for all foreign packages to submit, authorities intercepted two U.S.-bound packages from Yemen containing bombs capable of bringing down the aircraft. According to the U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP), experts believed that the bombs which X-rays failed to detect were designed by Al Qaeda to detonate in mid-air over Chicago, Illinois. While the security gap between private express carriers and foreign postal services was evident then, it still exists today for packages imported from foreign postal services.

Doesn’t the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) already screen every package before it enters the United States?

With the massive volume of packages imported through foreign postal services – an estimated 340 million each year – it’s impossible to screen every package physically one-by-one. It would be like searching for a needle in a haystack. CBP cannot effectively screen every package without advance electronic data about each package and its contents. That’s why ASAP is asking for advance electronic data manifests for all packages, so intelligence and security officials can target high-risk packages and stop them before they leave the first entry point into the United States.

Currently, packages shipped by private carriers are screened by CBP and other federal agencies using advanced electronic data obtained about each package before the U.S.-destined package even leaves the ground abroad. By contrast, shipments through the foreign postal system almost never provide this data, allowing hundreds of millions of packages a year shipped by 191 foreign posts such as China Post and India Post to come into the United States without any package level intelligence data provided to CBP.

Why hasn’t this security loophole been closed?

Under the Trade Act of 2002, Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with the Postmaster General to issue regulations by which the U.S. Customs and Border Protection would receive advance electronic data on ALL packages entering the United States. The program was later bolstered by the implementation of the Air Cargo Advance Screening System (ACAS) that specifically targets dangerous goods, and the private sector quickly conformed by submitting electronic data to U.S. authorities on packages it delivers from foreign countries to the United States.

But the regulations to include packages shipped via foreign postal services such as China Post, India Post, Russia Post and others have yet to be issued. Without data, Customs and Border Protection and other government security agencies responsible for keeping Americans safe cannot target and screen out high risk items before they reach our homeland. Further, foreign postal services have yet to offer to implement this important security tool for keeping dangerous items out of our country.

How often do carriers provide advanced security information during the shipping process?

According to an audit by Copenhagen Economics, private express carriers submitted 98 percent of their customs declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, while foreign posts such as China Post, India Post, and others were unable to verify whether any data had been submitted.

Why are health organizations a part of Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP)?

Because of the security loophole, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement receive no advance electronic security data to track hundreds of millions of the packages that are coming into our country from foreign countries – including opioids and counterfeit drugs that can be easily purchased online with just a click of a button. Illegal pharmaceuticals are unregulated and unpredictable. Some may include inadequate amounts of the necessary ingredients or none at all; others include deadly toxins and chemicals. Even worse, synthetic recreational drugs, which are difficult to detect and can be far more dangerous than their street counterparts, are given an easy and undetected route into the United States.

With an easy path for children and others to go online and access deadly illegal drugs like fentanyl from countries such as China, Russia and India, this security loophole is helping to fuel the national opioid epidemic.

Does this security loophole affect existing legislation to address the opioid epidemic?

Current legislation to address the nation’s opioid epidemic by tightening prescribing regulations does not address this security loophole. Taking action to close this security gap will complement current legislative efforts across the country and in Washington to battle the national health epidemic around opioid abuse.

What can be done to fix this security loophole?

We need President Trump and Congress to insist that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of the Treasury close this security loophole and keep Americans safe. Either enact a new law or issue the necessary regulations to require foreign posts to submit, as the private express carriers do, customs and advance electronic data as well as Air Cargo Advance Screening data for packages imported to the United States.