Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Troy A. Carter Sr. (LA-02)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr. (D-L.A.) and Congressman Clay Higgins (R-L.A.) introduced the bipartisan TWIC Efficiency (TWICE) Act. This legislation will improve access to the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program by supporting those currently in Federal, State, or local prisons by helping them apply in advance or get ready to apply for TWIC cards and assisting individuals who are appealing or requesting exceptions if they are initially deemed ineligible for the program.
“I am passionate about making sure our criminal justice system is fair and that returning citizens have every possible opportunity for success when they come home,” said Rep. Carter.“So many jobs in the United States require a TWIC card just to work behind a secure facility’s gate. Louisiana’s industry is begging for this workforce. This bill will help make reentry more successful and ensure that workforce training can improve people’s lives.”
The TWICE Act would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to:
- Develop guidelines to improve returning citizens’ access to the TWIC program.
- Develop guidelines to assist individuals in custody to pre-apply for TWIC cards and to assist those requesting an appeal or waiver after issuance of a “Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility.”
- Provide a briefing to Congress within a year on improvements to access to the TWIC program.
“I’ve often observed, in the course of my life, that a man’s character shouldn’t be measured by how he falls, it should be measured by how he stands back up. Americans are loving and compassionate, we believe in second chances, and this bill will help men that want to help themselves,” said Rep. Higgins. “I’m thankful to my Louisiana Brother Congressman Troy Carter for his leadership on TWICE, and I’m prayerful that my colleagues in the House and Senate will agree that every child of God deserves a chance to work, to earn an honest living.”
“The TWICE Act not only increases economic mobility for citizens, it also improves the movement of goods across the country,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc. “More Louisianians will now be able to play meaningful roles in fueling and feeding the world due to the state’s established leadership in energy, advanced manufacturing, trade, and logistics. These efficiencies equally benefit American workers and employers by increasing access for a qualified, yet underutilized talent pool to good jobs within Greater New Orleans, and at over 3,000 facilities across the nation. We thank Congressmen Carter and Higgins, as well as the TSA for their collaborative work to improve administration of this critical credential.”
The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program was created by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002 as a response to September 11th and extenuating concern over national security. TWIC remains critical to national security by regulating access to maritime facilities and vessels. Across the country, there are 13,825 vessels and 3,270 facilities under MTSA’s jurisdiction. These facilities are often major employment hubs – ports, terminals, factories, refineries, power plants, and more.
TWIC assists in controlling workers access, like those involved in the surface transportation of containers in or out of ports or those involved in the construction, maintenance, or operation of adjacent facilities and their associated infrastructure. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) manages TWIC card applications. In total, 2.3 million Americans have TWIC cards, and about 500,000 Americans enroll per year.
TWIC cards are often required for employment in high-demand professions for which labor is in low supply. Facilities within MTSA’s jurisdiction are critical to the supply chain yet are egregiously affected by labor shortages. Nationally, as of October 2023 there is a 2-million-person gap between job openings and unemployed workers, and the labor participation rate has fallen from 67% in 2000 to 62% today.
Before issuing a TWIC card, TSA will conduct a security threat assessment to determine a person’s eligibility. Applicants with criminal records, depending on the offense, will be temporarily or permanently disqualified from the TWIC program. According to TSA, individuals in the custody of Federal, State, and local prisons are not eligible until after they are released from custody. After, they will receive a “Preliminary Determination of Illegibility” for one-year post-release, regardless of offense. Applicants may appeal preliminary determination and go through a redress process; TSA may issue a waiver in certain circumstances.
Based on a TSA-verified sample, approximately 98% of applicants are issued a TWIC card, including redress cases. However, approximately 62% of applicants do not respond to redress notifications. Only 0.1% of those requesting redress are denied due to TSA standards. The redress process is burdensome, and often takes months for TSA to review conviction details, circumstances, and proof of rehabilitation. Assisting applicants with the redress process – and minimizing the number of applicants going through this process – can accelerate hiring, increase the labor pool, and reduce TSA’s administrative burden.
Nearly 30% of American adults have a criminal record, yet adult incarceration nationally has declined by 30% in the past decade. Just in Louisiana, about 13,000 formerly incarcerated persons are released back into communities each year.