Secretary Nielsen to Travel to Southern Border to Oversee Responses to Humanitarian and Security Emergency
WASHINGTON - Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen will travel to the U.S.–Mexico border this week where DHS agents and officers are coping with record migration flows. The Secretary will meet with frontline operators to assess the crisis, the Department’s response, and efforts to surge federal government resources to the area to restore order. She will also review the implementation of measures announced earlier this week to reassign port-of-entry personnel to support the humanitarian response and to provide the relief needed for agents to resume their security missions, including the impact this personnel reallocation has had on trade and travel. Secretary Nielsen will highlight the urgent need for lasting solutions to the emergency by urging Congress to fix the legal loopholes fueling migration flows.
On Wednesday, April 3, the Secretary will travel to El Paso, Texas where she will visit the El Paso Del Norte Port of Entry and the El Paso Border Patrol Station, as well as receive a briefing at the El Paso Station’s Satellite Processing Facility. El Paso’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Sector and facility is currently over capacity by 280% with more than 3,400 in custody.
Secretary Nielsen will then travel to Yuma, Arizona on Thursday to meet with DHS leaders from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a roundtable meeting with local law enforcement officials, local elected officials, and representatives from non-governmental organizations. On Friday April 5, she will join President Donald Trump in Calexico, California to visit the border wall, participate in a roundtable discussion on the emergency, and discuss the way forward.
Yesterday, Secretary Nielsen announced that DHS would be taking a full-fledged “disaster response” approach to the border emergency, including appointing a lead federal official for interagency action and utilizing FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center. Secretary Nielsen has directed DHS agencies to surge resources and personnel from across the Department toward border security and migration management and has also put out a call for volunteers from non-border missions from both DHS component agencies and interagency partners.
This week, Secretary Nielsen directed CBP to undertake emergency surge operations, including immediately redeploying hundreds of CBP personnel from field operations and ports of entry to assist with the response to the crisis. By reassigning these personnel, Border Patrol agents will be freed up from humanitarian response and enabled to return to critical security operations.
Keywords: Border Security, Customs and Border Protection, Secretary Nielsen
Secretary Nielsen Convenes Border Crisis Meeting, Taps Manuel Padilla to Coordinate Interagnecy Border Emergency Cell
On April 2, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen convened a DHS-wide meeting on the humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border. The Secretary received updates on the latest apprehension numbers, capacity challenges, and the Department’s operational response.
“I want to be clear with the American people: there is an unprecedented emergency at the southern border, and DHS is leading a true government-wide emergency response,” said Nielsen. “We are using every tool at our disposal, redeploying personnel and resources, and calling on all federal agencies to assist, where possible. While only legislation can fix this crisis in the long term, we cannot wait for Congress to act. It is our duty to secure the homeland, enforce our immigration laws, and uphold our humanitarian obligations. So we are devoting everything we can to that end.”
Secretary Nielsen announced her decision to temporarily re-assign Manuel “Manny” Padilla as the lead official to coordinate DHS and interagency support to the border crisis response effort. Manny is a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol, serving most recently as Chief of the Rio Grande Sector. In September 2018 he was appointed by President Trump as Director of the Department’s Joint Task Force - West. Effectively immediately, Manny will lead an Interagency Border Emergency Cell to improve information sharing and coordinate interagency support to CBP and ICE efforts to bring the situation under control.
“Manny brings deep on-the-ground experience and an operator’s understanding of the challenges we face in responding to the current crisis,” said Nielsen. “I have asked him to lead day-to-day efforts to ensure our frontline agencies have what they need to confront this situation head on. Manny’s team will utilize the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) as the hub for interagency coordination.”
Earlier this week, the Secretary announced additional actions to address the border emergency, and this week she will be traveling to the Southern Border to oversee response operations.
###Topics: Border Security, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: Border Protections, U. S. Border Patrol
Secretary Nielsen Orders CBP to Surge More Personnel to Southern Border, Increase Number of Aliens Returned to Mexico
Today, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen issued a memorandum to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan outlining new steps the agency must take to combat the growing security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border.
“The crisis at our border is worsening, and DHS will do everything in its power to end it,” said Secretary Nielsen. “We will not stand idly by while Congress fails to act yet again, so all options are on the table. We will immediately redeploy hundreds of CBP personnel to the border to respond to this emergency. We will urgently pursue additional reinforcements from within DHS and the interagency. And we will require those seeking to enter the United States to wait in Mexico until an immigration court as reviewed their claims.”
The Secretary ordered Commissioner McAleenan to undertake emergency surge operations and immediately increase its temporary reassignment of personnel and resources from across the agency to address the influx of migrants. According to the directive, the CBP Office of Field Operations shall accelerate its planned reallocation of up to 750 officers to Border Patrol Sectors that are affected by the emergency. Moreover, CBP is directed to explore raising that target, is authorized to exceed it, and shall notify the Secretary if reassignments are planned to exceed 2,000 personnel.
Secretary Nielsen further directed CBP to immediately expand the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a DHS initiative to return aliens to Mexico to wait during the pendency of their U.S. immigration proceedings. The Secretary directed CBP to return hundreds of additional migrants per day above current rates to Mexico, consistent with U.S. law and humanitarian obligations. This increase in returns shall include individuals apprehended or encountered at or between POEs. Moreover, the agency is directed to plan for an expansion of MPP beyond the locations in which it currently operates in California and Texas.Topics: Border Security
Keywords: Border Security, Customs and Border Protection, Secretary Nielsen
Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen in Europe for Bilateral Security Meetings, Representing U.S. at Gathering of G7 Interior Ministers
WASHINGTON- Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen will travel to Europe this week to meet with senior officials from the governments of the United Kingdom and Sweden prior to participating in the G7 Interior Ministers’ Meeting in Paris, France. She is set to raise urgent matters with foreign partners on emerging threats, including cybersecurity and risks to U.S. networks, the evolving terrorist threat, and foreign adversary interference in the U.S. homeland—and how we can work with allies to thwart these dangers.
On Monday, April 1 and Tuesday, April 2, the Secretary will meet with the U.S. ambassador and country team at the Embassy in London. Nielsen will later hold a bilateral meeting with UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid to advance transatlantic collaboration against an array of security threats. While in London, she will also confer with top UK counterterrorism and cybersecurity officials on sensitive matters and efforts to stay ahead of common enemies.
On Wednesday, April 3, Secretary Nielsen will meet with the Minister of Home Affairs Mikael Damberg in Sweden, where the pair plan to discuss actionable ways to enhance bilateral information sharing and joint security activities, especially related to blocking foreign interference by nation-state adversaries. Nielsen will also meet with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm.
On Thursday, April 4 and Friday, April 5, Secretary Nielsen will be in Paris to participate in the third annual G7 Interior Ministers’ meetings. The Secretary will meet with her security counterparts from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the European Union (EU). The Secretary will raise issues that require immediate attention, including the challenge posed by illegal immigration, terrorist threats to the United States and its allies, and how to confront new developments on the digital battlefield. Nielsen plans to hold bilateral meetings with her counterparts from France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and the EU.
# # #Topics: Cybersecurity
Keywords: Cybersecurity, Secretary Nielsen
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen made the following statement today on the situation at the U.S. southern border and how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responding:
“Today I report to the American people that we face a cascading crisis at our southern border. The system is in freefall. DHS is doing everything possible to respond to a growing humanitarian catastrophe while also securing our borders, but we have reached peak capacity and are now forced to pull from other missions to respond to the emergency.”
“Let me be clear: the volume of ‘vulnerable populations’ arriving is without precedent. This makes it far more difficult to care for them and to prioritize individuals legitimately fleeing persecution. In the past, the majority of migration flows were single adults who could move through our immigration system quickly and be returned to their home countries if they had no legal right to stay. Now we are seeing a flood of families and unaccompanied children, who—because of outdated laws and misguided court decisions—cannot receive efficient adjudication and, in most cases, will never be removed from the United States even if they are here unlawfully. The result is a massive ‘pull factor’ to our country.”
“My gravest concern is for children. They are arriving sicker than ever before and are exploited along the treacherous trek. Smugglers and traffickers know that our laws make it easier to enter and stay if you show up as a family. So they are using children as a ‘free ticket’ into America, and have in some cases even used kids multiple times—recycling them—to help more aliens get into the United States. Our border stations were not designed to hold young people for extended periods, yet this influx has forced thousands of them into facilities that are getting crowded and overwhelmed. This goes well beyond politics. We must come together to find a way to tackle the crisis and reduce the flows so children are not put at risk. Any system that encourages a parent to send their child alone on this terrible journey—where they are exploited, pawned, and recycled—is completely broken.”
“Moreover, our agents and officers at the border cannot fulfill their critical national security responsibilities while also attending to the influx of vulnerable populations. That is why, effective immediately, I am redirecting additional personnel and resources from across the Department to assist with the response, I have put out a call Department-wide for volunteers to provide support to our frontline agencies, and I am appealing to interagency partners for further assistance. But it will not be enough, so this week I notified Congress that DHS will need emergency legislative action to restore order, achieve operational control of our border, and ensure we can fulfill our humanitarian responsibilities effectively.”
“Make no mistake: Americans may feel effects from this emergency. As personnel are reallocated to join the crisis-response effort, there may be commercial delays, higher vehicle wait times at the border, and longer pedestrian lines. Despite these impacts, we cannot shirk our responsibility to the American people to do everything possible to secure our country while also upholding our humanitarian values.”
Secretary Nielsen sent a letter yesterday to Congress highlighting the severity of the crisis, especially the danger posed to children by the journey to U.S. borders and the realities of a system reaching peak capacity. This week, after many months of diplomatic negotiations, Secretary Nielsen signed a historic regional compact this week with representatives of the Northern Triangle—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—to confront the crisis at the source. The countries agreed to work with the United States to combat human smuggling and trafficking, crack down on transnational criminals fueling the crisis, and strengthen border security to prevent irregular migration. The Secretary also met with senior officials from the Government of Mexico to discuss ways to quickly address the crisis and stem historic migration flows through Mexican territory, while ensuring all individuals legitimately fleeing persecution receive appropriate humanitarian protection.
# # #Topics: Border Security
Keywords: Border Security, immigration, Secretary Nielsen
Secretary Nielsen Signs Historic Regional Compact with Central America to Stem Irregular Migration at the Source, Confront U.S. Border Crisis
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen traveled to Tegucigalpa, Honduras where she met with security ministers representing the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The multilateral discussions mark the continuation of a multi-year diplomatic process and the signing of a historic Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on border security cooperation in Central America.
Together with Guatemalan Minister of Government Enrique Degenhart, Honduran Security Minister Julian Pacheco, and Salvadoran Minister of Justice and Public Security Mauricio Landaverde, Secretary Nielsen expressed her gratitude for the continued collaboration and partnership of the Central American nations as they work to stem the flood of irregular migration and develop regional approach to addressing the ongoing humanitarian and security emergency at our Southern Border.
“America shares common cause with the countries of Central America in confronting these challenges,” said Secretary Nielsen. “We all want to enforce our laws, ensure a safe and orderly migrant flow, protect our communities, facilitate legal trade and travel, support vulnerable populations, interdict dangerous and illicit drug flow, and secure our borders.”
“I look forward to implementing this historic agreement and working with my Northern Triangle counterparts to help secure all of our nations and to end the humanitarian and security crisis we face,” said Nielsen. “Together we will prevail.”
The MOC – the first ever multilateral compact on border security – aims to better synchronize cooperation between the countries in order to bolster border security, prevent the formation of new migrant caravans, and address the root causes of the migration crisis through better synchronized efforts to include the following:
- Human trafficking and smuggling;
- Combating transnational criminal organizations and gangs;
- Expanding Information and Intelligence Sharing;
- Strengthening air, land, and maritime border security.
Each of these focus areas will be pursued through an array of agreed-upon initiatives. Technical working groups with representatives from each country will monitor the initiatives and ensure they are carried out expeditiously. The groups will meet periodically throughout the year, with Secretary Nielsen and the Northern Triangle Ministers continuing to meet in the coming months to ensure continued momentum.
While in Honduras, Secretary Nielsen also participated in a bilateral meeting with the Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and First Lady Ana Rosalinda García de Hernández. Secretary Nielsen affirmed America’s commitment to working with Honduras in a shared effort of combatting human trafficking and child smuggling, as well as addressing the major drivers of irregular migration prompting families and individuals to put themselves in harm’s way by embarking on the dangerous journey north.
###Topics: International Engagement, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: International partnerships
Secretary Nielsen Statement on Executive Order to Protect the U.S. from Electromagnetic Pulse Attacks
On March 26, President Donald J. Trump signed the Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses, the first-ever comprehensive whole-of-government policy to build resilience and protect against electromagnetic pulses, or EMPs, which are temporary electromagnetic signals that can disrupt, degrade, and damage technology and critical infrastructure systems across large areas.
“EMPs pose a potential threat to our nation’s critical infrastructure, and this executive order will advance our national goal of increased resilience across all infrastructure sectors. DHS remains committed to working with our interagency partners to ensure a more resilient, prepared America by reducing the risk of EMP events. DHS is grateful for the president's leadership on this critical issue and continued commitment to protecting our country and keeping Americans safe,” said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen.
The executive order outlines DHS’ lead role in implementing the following activities:
- Provide timely information on credible EMP threats and events to stakeholders;
- Take a risk-informed approach to understand and enhance resilience to the effects of EMP across all critical infrastructure sectors, including coordinating the identification of national critical functions and prioritization of associated critical infrastructure at greatest risk to the effects of EMP;
- Coordinate response to and recovery from the effects of EMP on critical infrastructure;
- Consider EMP scenarios as a factor in preparedness exercises;
- Conduct R&D to better understand and more effectively model the effects of EMP on national critical functions, and then develop technologies and guidelines to protect this critical infrastructure;
- Maintain survivable means to provide necessary emergency information to the public during and after an EMP event; and
- Develop quadrennial EMP risk assessments, with the first risk assessment delivered within 1 year of this order.
The executive order will foster increased resilience to EMP events through better data gathering, testing, risk assessments, and private sector coordination. It directs departments and agencies to coordinate and streamline efforts, while fostering an environment that promotes private sector innovation to strengthen our critical infrastructure.
DHS last year announced the Strategy for Protecting and Preparing the Homeland against Threats from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and Geomagnetic Disturbance (GMD), which laid out a clear vision and an approach for DHS to take to protect critical infrastructure and prepare to respond and recover from potentially catastrophic electromagnetic incidents. The strategy also reflects a consensus Intelligence Community assessment of the EMP threat posed by our nation’s adversaries. Primarily focused on Departmental activities, the DHS strategy recognizes the importance of continued close collaboration with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial decision-makers, sector-specific agencies, and private sector critical infrastructure owner-operators.
###Topics: Critical Infrastructure Security
Keywords: Executive Order
Secretary Nielsen Meets with Mexican Officials on Border Emergency, Travels to Honduras to Meet with Northern Triangle Governments to Address Crisis at Source
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen met with senior officials from the Government of Mexico Tuesday, March 26 to discuss border security and immigration, and she will travel to Honduras to participate in multilateral meetings with regional partners to discuss the common cause America shares with the countries of Central America in confronting migration flows and promoting security and prosperity. There she plans to sign a first-of-its-kind regional accord meant to address the migration crisis.
The Secretary traveled to Miami, Florida on Tuesday for a bilateral meeting with Mexican Secretary of the Interior Olga Sanchez Cordero and senior Mexican government officials. They discussed ways the U.S. and Mexico can work together to address irregular migration and the record levels of illegal entries at the U.S. Southern Border, where last month DHS apprehended more than 75,000 individuals—a 12-year high. They also discussed combating human trafficking and smuggling, security cooperation, and U.S. plans to bolster the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a DHS initiative to return migrants to Mexico and provide humanitarian protections while they await U.S. immigration processing.
On Wednesday, March 27 the Secretary will be in Tegucigalpa, Honduras to participate in a multilateral meeting at the Ministry of Security with Northern Triangle officials representing the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The meeting will mark the continuation of a multi-year diplomatic process aimed at stemming the flood of irregular migration at the source, and ultimately help confront the ongoing humanitarian and security emergency at the U.S. Southern Border. The meetings will be led by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández.
The Secretary and Northern Triangle security ministers have been working toward the development of a first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Cooperation—or “regional compact”— between the U.S. and the countries of the Northern Triangle. Reflecting improved cooperation between the countries, the accord focuses on stemming the migration crisis at its source, including preventing the formation of new migrant caravans that set out to reach the United States.
A final compact would cover four distinct areas of collaboration:
- Combating Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling
- Countering Organized Crime and Gangs
- Expanding Information and Intelligence Sharing
- Strengthening Border Security
Following Secretary Nielsen’s call for the formation of a “compact” last summer, in February she and Northern Triangle security ministers announced the signing of a joint statement declaring a commitment to reach a final deal to improve information sharing, law enforcement cooperation, and public messaging to address the ongoing crisis.
Earlier on Wednesday, Nielsen will participate in bilateral meetings with the Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and First Lady Ana García Carías at the Ministry of Security in Tegucigalpa.
###Topics: International Engagement, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: immigration, International partnerships
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen traveled to Austin, Texas, where she delivered remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Midyear meeting between heads of state police agencies, police chief associations, and midsize agencies.
During her remarks, the Secretary reaffirmed the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) commitment to supporting, enabling, and empowering our law enforcement partners, issuing a call to deepen collaboration between DHS and the IACP to combat emerging threats and create resilient communities. The Secretary thanked the men and women of the IACP for their hard work and vigilance, stressing the importance of working together in the common commitment to apprehend, detain, and bring to justice criminals who threaten the safety of American citizens.
In McAllen, Texas, Secretary Nielsen met with over two-dozen sheriffs for a roundtable discussion on the importance of secure borders and immigration enforcement to the safety of their communities; specifically—their mutual collaboration through the 287(g) program.
The program, one of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) top partnership initiatives, allows a state or local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE—under a joint Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)—in order to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdiction’s program to remove criminals and gang members who proliferate crime, gang violence, drugs, and other illicit materials. Secretary Nielsen touched on current operational challenges, outlined strategic objectives, and highlighted the important role our law enforcement partners play in support of the 287(g) program.
In Fiscal Year 2018, our 287(g) partners had over 25,000 encounters with known or suspected criminal illegal aliens. This resulted in over 7,000 criminal and immigration violator removals in Fiscal Year 2018.
"It should come as no surprise that criminals don’t care about borders. We’ve seen them use the security crisis to boost their profits, their violence, their exploitation of vulnerable populations. Business is booming for the bad guys, and I again call on Congress to change the laws that are now outdated and do not address today’s crisis,” said Secretary Nielsen. “This is truly an emergency and our system is at the breaking point. I want to again thank our partner Sheriffs for their service and the hard work they do every day."
"I commit to all Americans that at DHS we’re doing everything we can to stop the drug trafficking, the child exploitation, the gang violence—to protect vulnerable populations and to protect our communities. But we can only do so much and Congress must act to fix this crisis."
Recently, in Galveston County, Texas, DHS 287(g) partners encountered an alien convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child, who is a two time reentry non-registered sex offender who served 10 years of deferred probation in 2004, and who had been freely walking around Texas communities. Additionally, in Smith County, Texas in January 2019, 287(g) partners encountered an alien convicted of felony burglary, drug possession, identify fraud, and felony theft.
Secretary Nielsen, who was joined by ICE Acting Director Ronald D. Vitiello, U.S. Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodolfo Karisch, and Jackson County, Texas Sheriff AJ Louderback, then participated in a media availability to reiterate the Department’s shared commitment to the safety of our communities and applauded the sheriffs for their joint efforts through the 287(g) program.
###Topics: Border Security
Keywords: law enforcement partnerships
WASHINGTON – Today, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the details of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget request to Congress for DHS and its component agencies and offices. The DHS request includes $51.7 billion in discretionary funding and an additional $19.4 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). The Budget request provides critical resources to help our frontline personnel do their jobs to secure the homeland against all threats and hazards, and it ensures DHS is able to defend Americans against emerging dangers.
“The American people and our law enforcement personnel rightfully demand effective border security as supported by the White House budget—building the wall and giving the men and women of DHS the support, tools, and resources they need to safeguard our territory,” said Secretary Nielsen. “This year’s request also delivers landmark investments to protect America and our way of life—including by combating terrorism and homeland threats, defending our nation’s networks and critical infrastructure, facilitating and securing legal trade and travel, and so much more.”
Border & Maritime Security
To address the unprecedented humanitarian and security crisis at the Southwest Border, the FY 2020 budget requests $5.0 billion for the construction of approximately 200 miles of a new border wall system and over $232 million to equip our law enforcement personnel with the latest in surveillance technology. Further, over $80 million is requested to provide migrant care including medical services, general consumables and transportation. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) funding request includes 54,000 beds to address immigration enforcement. DHS continues to support its law enforcement men and women in uniform by requesting over 1,000 combined Border Patrol Agents and Customs and Border Protection Officers, and over 1,660 ICE law enforcement and support staff. In continued commitment to safeguarding our Nation’s ports and waterways while enforcing the law on the high seas, the Department has requested $1.2 billion in funds for recapitalization of U.S Coast Guard resources.
Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security
In an age of pandemic malware and network instructions, the Budget requests $1.3 billion for programs such as Federal Network Protection, Proactive Cyber Protection, and Infrastructure Security, which will allow DHS to safeguard the federal government’s civilian information technology systems against cybersecurity risks. It also supports the maturation of the Department’s new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
The FY 2020 Budget goes further to invest in the security of the traveling public. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) continues to experience airline passenger volume growth at airport checkpoints nationwide. The funding request for TSA supports an additional 700 Transportation Security Officers (TSO) contributing to a total of more than 46,600 TSOs, the highest level in history. Additionally, $221 million is requested for new equipment to effectively detect smaller and more artfully concealed threats within checked or carry-on bags in response to an evolving threat landscape.
Emergency Management & Recovery
In keeping with a policy of “Relentless Resilience,” the Budget proposes crucial resources to enhance the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A funding request of $28.5 billion, which includes $19.4 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund, ensures FEMA continues to provide the requisite support to disaster survivors by increasing their capacity to take effective and practical steps to help themselves, their families, and their communities. And it funds FEMA’s transformation into a more responsive agency focused on helping Americans better prepare for the worst.
Above are select examples of DHS funding requests. For the full overview, click here.
Keywords: aviation security, Border Security, critical infrastructure, Cybersecurity, department of homeland security, FEMA
On March 18, Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen delivered the 2019 State of Homeland Security Address, hosted by the Auburn University McCray Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security and George Washington University.
The Secretary offered her assessment of the ever-evolving security landscape, operational challenges, and a look forward at the Department’s forthcoming strategic plan to protect Americans, our values, and our way of life. McCray Institute Director Frank J. Cilluffo moderated a question-and-answer session with the Secretary following the remarks. In particular, she highlighted the Departments major success over the past year.
“Life is changing faster than at any point in human history. And as a nation, we face a choice: shape the world around us, or get shaped by it. We cannot hide from the future. If we do, history will judge us harshly,” said Secretary Nielsen. “That is why today it is my duty to report that—although the overall security of our homeland is strong—the threats we face are graver than at any time since 9/11.”
The Secretary also highlighted the steps DHS is taking to identify and adapt to emerging threats through sustained partnership, innovation, and perseverance.
“There is no room in this great nation for violent groups who intimidate or coerce Americans because of their race, religion, sex or creed,” said Secretary Nielsen.
“We have worked with social media companies to crack down on terrorist propaganda online. And we have ramped up soft-target security nationwide, with a particular focus on protecting schools, large events, major gatherings, and places of worship. As I noted earlier, we need a ‘Whole of Society’ approach to turn the tide, which is why in 2019, DHS will host the first-ever National Summit on Terrorism Prevention. This two-day event will bring together tech companies, NGOs, community leaders, law enforcement, social service providers, and more in an effort to better ‘crowd-source’ our defenses against terror.”
Secretary Nielsen also addressed the ongoing humanitarian and security emergency at the U.S. Southern Border.
“We cannot lose sight of our most basic obligations to the American people, reflected in the second goal of our strategic plan: to defend U.S. borders and sovereignty. There is no more fundamental responsibility for a nation. And yet, the American people have been let down by our government again…and again,” said Secretary Nielsen.
“I want to cut through the politics to tell you loud and clear: there is no ‘manufactured’ crisis at our Southern Border. There is a real-life humanitarian and security catastrophe.”
“And today I can tell you that we are on track to interdict nearly 100,000 migrants this month. The situation at our Southern Border has gone from a crisis…to a national emergency…to a near system-wide meltdown.”
Secretary Nielsen laid out a road map for guarding against digital dangers, too.
“Threat actors are mercilessly targeting everyone’s devices and networks. They are compromising, co-opting, and controlling them. And they are weaponizing our own innovation against us.”
“America is not prepared for this. Your average private citizen or company is no match against a nation-state such as China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia. It is not a fair fight. And until now our government has done far too little to back them up.”
“President Trump has made homeland security his number-one priority. Not number two, or three, or four. It’s Pillar One of the U.S. national security strategy. And as Secretary of Homeland Security, I am running with that mandate to obtain the resources, to secure the authorities, and to execute the changes we need to fully transform homeland security and give the American people the protection they deserve.”
To watch the Secretary’s full address, click here. To read the remarks as prepared for delivery, click here.
###Topics: Homeland Security Enterprise, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: State of Homeland Security
Thank you, General Burgess. I could not be more grateful to you and to Frank for your leadership and public service. Would you all join me in thanking them?
I would also like to thank the Auburn Center for Cyber and Homeland Security and George Washington University for hosting me.
Before I begin, let me also extend my appreciation to the many friends, colleagues, and distinguished guests joining us.
In this room are men and women who built the Department of Homeland Security from the ground up…and others who have followed in their footsteps by taking up the call to service…and others who support our missions by executing theirs so well.
Thank you all for being here today.
We are gathered today at a pivotal moment.
Life is changing faster than at any point in human history. And as a nation, we face a choice: shape the world around us, or get shaped by it.
We cannot hide from the future. If we do, history will judge us harshly.
That is why today it is my duty to report that—although the overall security of our homeland is strong—the threats we face are graver than at any time since 9/11.
The ground beneath our feet has shifted. Our enemies and adversaries have evolved. And the arms of government are swinging too slowly to protect the American people.
Let me be clear: we are more secure than ever against the dangers of the last decade. But we are less prepared than ever for those that will find us in the next.
That is why under this President and during this Administration, we have made a decision: to shape the world around us. To create an environment that is favorable to U.S. interests. To put American security first. And to dramatically enhance the way we defend the homeland.
In short, we are going from “highly reactive” to “highly resilient.” And we are not wasting any time.
In fact, last year, I used this platform to announce a policy of “Relentless Resilience” at DHS.
Today, I am pleased to say we are implementing that agenda at breakneck speed. In the past 12 months, there has been more change at DHS than almost any single year in its history.
This morning, I will tell you what we have accomplished…where we are going…and why it matters.
I will preview our bold, new strategic plan by walking you through a few of the Department’s overarching goals.
New Wars, Many Battlegrounds
DHS was created to fight one primary, generation-defining struggle: the war on terror. But we now find ourselves defending against emerging threats on new battlegrounds.
Not only are we still facing the insidious threat from global jihadists, but we are under siege from transnational criminals…faceless cyber thugs and hackers…and resurgent nation-state rivals.
The battlespace is constantly in flux, flipping from the physical world…to the virtual world…and back again—all in the blink of an eye.
Today, I am more worried about the ability of bad guys to hijack our networks than their ability to hijack our flights. And I am concerned about them holding our infrastructure hostage…stealing our money and secrets…exploiting children online…and even hacking our democracy.
These aren’t wars that we can fight in slow motion—through meetings, memos, and endless discussions. If we don’t anticipate, adapt, and respond quickly, we will lose. Period.
The idea that we can prevail with so-called “Whole of Government” efforts is now an outdated concept. It’s not enough.
We need a “Whole of Society” approach to overcome today’s threats. Why? Because it’s not just U.S. troops and government agents on the frontlines anymore. It’s U.S. companies. It’s our schools and gathering places. It’s ordinary Americans.
Threat actors are mercilessly targeting everyone’s devices and networks. They are compromising, co-opting, and controlling them. And they are weaponizing our own innovation against us.
America is not prepared for this. Your average private citizen or company is no match against a nation-state such as China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia. It is not a fair fight. And until now our government has done far too little to back them up
President Trump has made homeland security his number-one priority. Not number two, or three, or four. It’s Pillar One of the U.S. national security strategy.
And as Secretary of Homeland Security, I am running with that mandate to obtain the resources, to secure the authorities, and to execute the changes we need to fully transform homeland security and give the American people the protection they deserve.
Combat Terrorism and Homeland Threats
Towards that end, our new DHS strategic plan integrates our mission across agencies and offices to reflect a unified approach.
The first goal is to Combat Terrorism and Homeland Threats.
Our Department was built in response to a complex, coordinated, and catastrophic terrorist plot. And we continue to do all we can to ensure we know who is traveling to the U.S. and to prevent nefarious actors from carrying out attacks on the homeland.
To thwart terrorist plotting, DHS has recently put in place some of the most sweeping security enhancements in a decade.
We have instituted tougher vetting and tighter screening in the travel system to prevent terrorists from infiltrating the United States, in addition to instituting the biggest aviation security enhancements in years. This includes sophisticated measures to detect concealed explosives and insider threats.
This year, our new National Vetting Center (NVC) will become fully operational. It will fuse law-enforcement data and intelligence from across the government to detect dangerous individuals seeking to reach our territory.
In the same vein, I am pleased to announce today that DHS has worked with the State Department to notify all countries in the world of more stringent information-sharing requirements to crack down on terrorist travel. Governments who work with us will make the world safer from extremists, while those that fail to comply will face consequences.
But these major improvements are not enough. Fanatics have innovated. They have realized terror can be done on the cheap and spread virtually—using simple online instructions and household tools.
With the rise of ISIS, the phenomenon of “do-it-yourself” mass destruction was born. And homeland security hasn’t been the same ever since.
Two years ago on Halloween, I remember receiving a White House Situation Room report that a truck had driven a mile down a bike path in New York City, mowing down cyclists.
Nearly 20 pedestrians were killed or injured before the carnage ended that afternoon. The driver claimed inspiration from ISIS and followed the terror group’s instructions to the letter: if you can’t join us overseas, stay in your homeland and kill—using any means possible.
Despite losing territory, the group’s reach remains global.
Just last week, the FBI arrested a Georgia woman tied to the United Cyber Caliphate—a hacking and propaganda wing of ISIS. The woman allegedly helped the group promote online “kill lists” featuring U.S. soldiers, government officials, and private citizens. One posting, which included the personal information of potential targets, offered a simple and chilling instruction: “Kill them wherever you find them.”
My Department assesses that the primary terrorist threat to the United States continues to be from Islamist militants and those they inspire, but we should not—and CANNOT—ignore the real and serious danger posed by domestic terrorists.
They are using the same do-it-yourself, mass-murder tactics- as we saw with the horrible assault last week in New Zealand against Muslim worshippers. Attacks on peaceful people in their places of worship are abhorrent. Our hearts go out to our friends and allies overseas. And I have offered them DHS’ full support.
We, too, have seen the face of such evil with attacks in places such as Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and Charleston.
And in the wake of the New Zealand tragedy, I want to make one thing very clear: we will NOT permit such hate in our homeland.
There is no room in this great nation for violent groups who intimidate and coerce Americans because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or creed.
We will counter violent extremists with the full authorities of this Department, and we will work with law enforcement partners to bring domestic terrorists to justice.
At DHS, we’ve launched new terrorism-prevention programs against ALL forms of violent hate. We are sharing more information with local authorities. We have worked with social media companies to crack down on terrorist propaganda online.
And we have ramped up soft-target security nationwide, with a particular focus on protecting schools, large events, major gatherings, and places of worship.
As I noted earlier, we need a “Whole of Society” approach to turn the tide, which is why in 2019, DHS will host the first-ever National Summit on Terrorism Prevention. This two-day event will bring together tech companies, NGOs, community leaders, law enforcement, social service providers, and more in an effort to better “crowd-source” our defenses against terror.
DHS is also focused on amplifying efforts to combat emerging threats.
Last year, with the help of Congress, we stood up a new Office of Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction—one of the biggest-ever reorganizations of DHS—to better protect Americans against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear dangers.
We also fought for—and won—legislative authority to detect and disrupt dangerous drones so they aren’t used in our homeland to spy, to steal, to smuggle, and to cause destruction.
In 2019, we will focus on executing these new authorities.
The full list of our reforms is much longer. But rest assured: DHS is more committed than ever to getting one step ahead of those who would dare to do us harm.
Defend U.S. Borders and Sovereignty
At the same time, we cannot lose sight of our most basic obligations to the American people, reflected in the second goal of our strategic plan: to Defend U.S. Borders and Sovereignty.
There is no more fundamental responsibility for a nation. And yet, the American people have been let down by our government again…and again.
I want to cut through the politics to tell you loud and clear: there is NO “manufactured” crisis at our Southern Border. There is a real-life humanitarian and security catastrophe.
Late last year, we were apprehending 50,000 – 60,000 migrants a month.
Last month, we apprehended more than 75,000—the highest in over a decade.
And today I can tell you that we are on track to interdict nearly 100,000 migrants this month.
The situation at our Southern Border has gone from a crisis…to a national emergency…to a near system-wide meltdown.
I say this with the utmost sincerity and urgency: the system is breaking. And our communities, our law enforcement personnel, and the migrants themselves are paying the price.
What’s different about the current flow is not just how many people are coming but who is arriving. Historically, illegal aliens crossing into the United States were predominantly single adult men from Mexico with no legal right to stay. We could detain and remove them within 48 hours.
But in recent years we have seen the volume of vulnerable populations—children and families—skyrocket. Over 60 percent of the current flow is now families and unaccompanied children, and 60 percent is non-Mexican. Our system was not built to handle this type of flow.
Because of outdated laws, misguided court decisions, and a massive backlog of cases, we are usually forced to release these groups into the United States. And we have virtually no hope of removing them in the future, despite the fact that the vast majority who apply for asylum do not qualify for it.
Smugglers and traffickers have caught on, advertising a “free ticket” into America. As a result, the flow of families and children has become a flood. Cases of “fake families” are popping up everywhere. And children are being used as pawns.
In fact, we have uncovered “child recycling rings,” truly, child re-victimization rings, a process by which innocent children are used multiple times to help aliens gain illegal entry. As a nation we cannot stand for this.
The humanitarian situation cannot be ignored. In one study, more than 30 percent of women reported being sexually assaulted along the way, and 70 percent of all migrants reported experiencing violence. We give pregnancy tests to girls as young as 10 to ensure we can offer appropriate medical support.
Smugglers and traffickers are forcing people into inhuman conditions, demanding extraordinary sums of money, and putting lives in danger.
They are NOT humanitarians. They are swindlers. And they are making it harder for us to identify those who actually need protection.
And given the brutal journey and travel conditions, children are arriving at the border sicker than ever before.
Make no mistake—this is also a security crisis. Criminals are using the situation to line their pockets, while gangs are exploiting the loopholes to bring in new recruits.
And we are seeing the spread of violent crime and drugs—the majority of which come into our country via the Southern Border both at and between ports of entry.
What’s worse, last year we identified tens of thousands of convicted and wanted criminals attempting to cross. And those are just the ones we know about.
So what are we doing about it?
DHS has built the first border wall to go up in a decade. We are building more, and have plans for hundreds of new miles to block illicit goods, illegal entry, and help ensure a safe and orderly migrant flow….
We have worked with the Pentagon to deploy thousands of troops to the Southern Border …
We have worked with the Justice Department to prosecute single adults who cross illegally …
We have engaged the Northern Triangle countries to address the challenge at the source…and this month I expect to sign a historic, first-ever “regional compact” with these nations to counter human and drug smuggling, trafficking, and irregular migration …this is something I have been pursuing for years…
We have also stepped up efforts to protect women and children from being abused, kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and exploited on the journey…and to provide support to survivors…
We are doing more to dismantle transnational criminal organizations…
And we have intensified operations to seize illicit drugs—especially opioids.
I am also looking at ways to help at-risk migrants apply for U.S. asylum from within Central America—rather than embarking on the treacherous trek to our border. We must find ways to help vulnerable populations sooner in their journey north.
But it’s still not enough.
Our laws aren’t keeping up with the migrant flows, and until they are fixed, the situation will only get worse and more heartbreaking.
We need Congress to stop playing politics and do what’s right.
We need Congress to change the law to allow us to keep families together throughout the immigration process…to ensure the safe and prompt return of unaccompanied children to their home countries…and to reverse the court ruling that directs dangerous criminals to be released into our communities.
This a complex and emotional issue. But no matter what side of the aisle you are on, we have common cause: to uphold our sovereign responsibility to secure our borders; to facilitate legal trade and travel; to prevent drugs from poisoning our communities, and to help vulnerable populations - all at the same time.
While we wait for Congress to do its job, I must say that I couldn’t be prouder of the men and women of DHS who continue to do theirs with professionalism and compassion.
Despite the politically charged atmosphere and the dangers of the job, our agents, officers, and enlisted personnel—whether they are from CBP, ICE, USCIS, Coast Guard, or beyond—have done an extraordinary job staying focused on the mission.
They are seizing drugs on the high seas. They are identifying fraudsters applying for visas. They are investigating vast criminal networks throughout our country—in the physical world and on the dark web. They are taking down gun runners, sex slavery rings, and child exploiters. They are helping us welcome more legal immigrants each year than any other nation on earth. And so much more.
They all deserve our respect and the thanks of a grateful nation.
I want to briefly tell you about someone who exemplifies these committed efforts: Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Alicia MacDonald.
Just last April, Agent MacDonald and her colleagues executed high-risk arrest warrants against gang members tied to the Mexican mafia. They apprehended individuals linked to at least seven homicides.
Because of her meticulous police work, these violent criminals are off the streets.
Epitomizing the dedication of DHS employees, Agent MacDonald was eight-months pregnant when she led a multi-location, search-and-arrest mission as part of this investigation.
And during her three months of maternity leave, she continued to work from home…on her own time…and on her own volition…to ensure these gang members were brought to justice in the courts.
Special Agent MacDonald is here with us today. Alicia, could you please stand?
You represent the best of DHS.
Secure Cyberspace and Critical Infrastructure
On the top of my list of threats—the word CYBER is circled, highlighted, and underlined. The cyber domain is a target, a weapon, and a threat vector—all at the same time.
That is why another goal in our strategic plan is Secure Cyberspace and Critical Infrastructure.
Nation states, criminal syndicates, hacktivists, terrorists—they are all building capacity to infiltrate and undermine our networks. They are weaponizing the web.
For instance, in the past two years, we witnessed North Korea’s WannaCry ransomware spread to more than 150 countries, holding healthcare systems hostage and bringing factories to a halt.
And we saw Russia probing our energy grid, compromising thousands of routers around the world, and unleashing NotPetya malware, which wreaked havoc as one of the costliest cyber incidents in history.
I could go on for hours.
What worries me, though, is not what these threat actors have done, but what they have the capability to do. Stealing our most sensitive secrets…deceiving us about our own data… distracting us during a crisis…launching physical attacks on infrastructure with a few keystrokes…or planting false flags to embroil us in conflict with other nations.
The possibilities are limitless. But the time we have to prepare is not.
To get ahead of our adversaries, we released the first DHS Cybersecurity Strategy last May. This was Step One.
Step Two was partnership.
I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating: In our hyper-connected world, if we prepare individually, we will fail collectively.
So DHS held a first-of-its-kind National Cybersecurity Summit in New York City. We brought together CEOs from some of the largest companies in America, hundreds of senior risk and security officers, multiple Cabinet officials, and Vice President Pence to take a clear-eyed look at America’s cybersecurity posture.
The gathering produced real results. Participants took action to deepen partnerships, break down barriers, and better integrate collective risk-management efforts.
We announced the formation of the National Risk Management Center (NRMC), a premier forum for government and industry to collaborate against evolving digital dangers.
And in the months that followed, we took an even bigger leap.
We consolidated and strengthened federal efforts to protect our nation’s digital networks. And with Congressional authorization, we established the landmark Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency—CISA—at DHS.
CISA was long overdue—and will be at the “front of the fight” in cyberspace for years to come.
But strategies, partnerships, and organizational change will still only get us partway. So we have ramped up operations to keep intruders out of our networks.
First and foremost, we have driven a change in U.S. policy to replace complacency with consequences. We have made clear we will no longer accept malicious cyber interference.
We are fighting back in both “seen and unseen” ways, including publicly attributing cyber attacks to the perpetrators, levying sanctions, and delivering other consequences.
This has sent a powerful message to online adversaries, especially nation-states: America has had enough, and WE WILL NOT hesitate to punish you for compromising our networks.
We have also instituted a next generation risk management approach to identify and assess critical functions—not only specific assets and systems.
We are wielding DHS authorities to get dangerous software, such as Kaspersky-branded products, out of federal systems…and taking swift action to patch newly discovered vulnerabilities.
Alarmingly, our adversaries are using state-owned companies as a “forward-deployed” force to attack us from within our supply chain. So we are working with industry partners to identify and delete these bugs and defects from our systems.
But of all the digital threats, the ones we must take most seriously are those aimed at the very heart of our democracy.
In 2016, at the direction of Vladimir Putin, Russia launched a concerted effort to undermine our elections and our democratic process using cyber-enabled means.
Their meddling didn’t stop there. They have continued to interfere in our public affairs and have attempted to sow division online among Americans on hot-button issues.
Unfortunately, other nation-state rivals appear to be following suit and are—in various ways—working to virtually influence U.S. policy and discourse.
So let me just send one last message to our cyber adversaries: you cannot hide behind your keyboards and computer screens…we are watching you…and no matter what malware you develop, I promise you, the engines of our democracy are far stronger and far more resilient than any code you can write.
Last year we applied our “lessons learned” from 2016 to prevent hacking in the 2018 elections.
It was a full court press.
We worked to support all 50 states in a variety of ways, including technical assistance, security assessments, planning, exercises, sharing of threat data, and incident response.
On Election Day, more than 90 percent of American voters lived in an area covered by our network sensors—vastly more than in 2016.
And it worked.
Thanks to DHS cyber defenders and many partners nationwide—I can say with confidence that the 2018 election was the most secure in the modern era.
Some of the people who made that happen are with us today. Matt Masterson and Geoff Hale were road warriors. They spent weeks and months across the country, away from their families, building partnerships and most importantly, establishing trust.
By election day, the team had convinced fifty states and 1,400+ local jurisdictions to join our election security efforts.
Matt, Geoff, can you stand? The American people are grateful for your extraordinary work.
Now we have our eyes on the next election and are launching “Protect 2020,” a new initiative designed to get all States to a baseline level of election infrastructure cybersecurity well before the next vote.
More broadly, DHS is in the process of bolstering its approach to countering foreign influence to ensure we are prepared to “zoom out” and see the full scope of adversary attempts to undermine our networks, our nation’s critical infrastructure, and our homeland security.
Responding to Disasters
But it’s not just bad guys we are focused on. Mother Nature has been extremely active, too. And when disaster strikes—when a family loses everything—DHS and FEMA are often among the first to lend a helping hand.
Our hearts still break for those who’ve lost loved ones and livelihoods, whether in Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico…the Camp Fire in California…other catastrophic disasters that have affected almost every state.
To any citizen affected by these crises, I want to provide assurances that DHS is there for the long haul. We have your backs. And you will…not…be…forgotten.
We have delivered record-breaking levels of disaster assistance to Americans in the past two years, including putting $7 billion in the hands of disaster survivors—more than the previous decade. And in response to recent catastrophes, we are implementing a new vision focused on making America better prepared for the worst.
FEMA is investing substantial resources to build more resilient communities …we are forward-deploying federal personnel nationwide so they are working side-by-side with state and local officials well before disaster strikes.... and we are expanding alert systems so that we can warn citizens faster.
A New DHS for a New Age
I have covered only a few areas of our forthcoming strategic plan. But I can assure you in ways large and small, we are undertaking transformations to build a new DHS for a new age.
So whether it’s the work we do to stop unfair trade practices, to prevent thieves from compromising our financial systems, to protect our nation’s leaders, or to defend our waterways against criminals and foreign powers, DHS is casting aside stagnation for adaptation… convention for nimbleness.
We are maturing the DHS enterprise to expand “unity of effort”…through joint planning…joint analysis…and joint operations to facilitate everything from hunting down elusive cartel leaders to rescuing wayward migrants, lost in remote parts of the desert.
And we are overhauling our support components so that our frontline defenders get what they need more quickly, including timely intelligence to cutting-edge technology.
I want to close today by announcing a major milestone.
For many years—since our founding—DHS agencies have operated in temporary spaces and in offices scattered throughout D.C. and the surrounding area—a relic of our early days, when nearly two-dozen organizations were merged.
This has made it difficult for 240,000 employees to operate as “one” Department.
You may have noticed, however, a large construction project across the river—one of the largest government construction projects, in fact, since the Pentagon. This is the St. Elizabeth campus.
And I am pleased to announce this morning that, in less than a month, it will serve as the base of operations for a more focused, more unified, more effective and consolidated Department of Homeland Security.
When we move next month, we will take stock of all that has changed in the sixteen years since DHS was created.
And we will take a moment to remember those brave souls whose loss on 9/11 ultimately gave life to a Department charged with protecting the American people.
You see, the Department of Homeland Security was born from bravery.
Our forefathers and mothers are firefighters who rushed into burning buildings…they are first responders who carried victims out of skyscrapers that crumbled around them…and they are airline passengers who rushed a cockpit to save the lives of strangers they would never know.
These are the people who truly founded DHS. And I am proud to say that the men and women I lead are worthy of this heritage.
Many of the successes I discussed this morning—and our plans for the future—are due to the first-class leadership team in our Department.
But I think they would agree with me that the real credit belongs to each of the men and women—and their families—who, with honor and integrity, stand watch and defend our homeland at the tip of the spear.
To all of our employees, I want to say “thank you.” Like your DHS forbearers, you are brave, you are patriots, and you are an inspiration.
Thank you again for being here today.
May God bless each of you. And may God bless the United States of America.Topics: Homeland Security Enterprise
Keywords: State of Homeland Security
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement in response the shootings in New Zealand:
"In the wake of the attack on the two mosques in New Zealand, I want to express condolences and sympathies for those affected by the attacks, and reassure those in this country that the Department of Homeland Security is doing all it can to protect the homeland from violent extremists.
"While we are not aware of any current, credible or active threat domestically, nor of any current information regarding obvious ties between the perpetrators in New Zealand and anyone in the US— the Department is cognizant of the potential concerns members of Muslim-American communities may have as they gather at today’s congregational prayers.
"Communities with concerns should contact their local law enforcement agency, whom we are committed to supporting as they protect local mosques and reassure local community members.
"Additionally, please access and share with others who may be interested a list of useful resources, as well as fact sheets on the Department’s Hometown Security program and Security Assistance for Public Gatherings.
"Religious liberty is a hallmark of this country. Attacks on peaceful people in their place of worship are abhorrent and will not be tolerated. The Department strongly stands with those of all faiths as they seek to worship in peace and we will continue to work with stakeholders to protect the ability of all to worship freely and without fear.
"We will continue to monitor the situation as the response to this tragedy unfolds and investigations continue. Thank you to the many community partners who work closely with the Department as we endeavor to keep our country safe from the threats we face."
###Topics: Preventing Terrorism, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: countering terrorism
Readout from Secretary Nielsen’s Trip to the Advanced Training Center with Vice President Mike Pence
On March 13, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen accompanied Vice President Mike Pence to visit U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Advanced Training Center (ATC) in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. During the visit they toured the facility and observed a use of force simulation, mat room training for the Less Lethal Instructor Recertification Training Program, and a border wall presentation.
The ATC opened in August 2005 and is comprised of approximately 224 acres in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. ATC offers a total of 54 residential and exported courses in the areas of emergency preparedness, firearms, less-lethal devices and tactics, leadership, intelligence and targeting, and course and instructor development.
“The work done here is important in preparing our frontline defenders. The Advanced Training Center provides the men and women who have been called to serve with critical training to safeguard our nation,” said Secretary Nielsen. “Training is essential to mission success. And that’s why I’m so proud of the ATC—and the other DHS training facilities—because they are preparing our operators every day to overcome challenges in order to get the job done.”
The tour concluded with Vice President Pence and Secretary Nielsen speaking with current students attending training including frontline agents and officers and those there to attend leadership training.
###Topics: Border Security
Keywords: Border Protections
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen Announcement on Temporary Protected Status for South Sudan
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen has announced her determination that an extension of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for South Sudan is warranted pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act. After carefully reviewing conditions in South Sudan with interagency partners, Secretary Nielsen determined the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that support South Sudan’s current designation for TPS continue to exist. Therefore, pursuant to the statute, she has extended South Sudan’s TPS designation for 18 months.
Current beneficiaries under South Sudan’s TPS designation will be eligible to re-register for an extension of their status for 18 months, through November 2, 2020. Prior to the conclusion of the 18-month extension, the Secretary will review conditions in South Sudan to determine whether the TPS designation should be extended again or terminated.
The decision to extend TPS for South Sudan was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s designation is based. Following careful consideration of available information, including recommendations received as part of an interagency consultation process, the Secretary determined that the conditions supporting South Sudan’s designation for TPS continue to exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be extended.
There are 84 South Sudan TPS beneficiaries. This 18-month extension of South Sudan’s designation for TPS permits current beneficiaries under South Sudan’s TPS designation to re-register for TPS and remain in the United States with work authorization through November 2, 2020. To be eligible for TPS under South Sudan’s current designation, along with meeting the other eligibility requirements, individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since January 25, 2016, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since May 3, 2016.
Further details about this extension for TPS, including information about the re-registration process and employment authorization documents, will appear in a Federal Register notice.
# # #Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security
The U.S. Border Patrol is currently encountering illegal immigration at the highest rates since 2007, according to new data. In fact, in February more than double the level of migrants crossed the border without authorization compared to the same period last year, approaching the largest numbers seen in any February in the last 12 years, The New York Times reported.
“The truth is that the politics and policies of open borders have failed the American people. Our broken system endures, and the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis at our Southwest Border leaves many minors and families at extreme risk of being exploited by traffickers, human smugglers, gangs, and other nefarious actors seeking to profit at their expense,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen. “Activist courts, congressional inaction, and criminals intent on breaking our laws stand in the way of confronting illegal and uncontrolled migration threatening our safety and security. What was a crisis, is now a full-fledged emergency.”
“This cannot be a partisan issue,” Nielsen continued. “Every DHS Secretary since the Department’s inception has sounded the alarm about our unsecured border and its consequences. The American people and our law enforcement personnel rightfully demand effective border security: building the wall, strengthening our laws, and giving the men and women serving on the front lines the tools and resources they need to keep Americans safe. To that end, this Department pledges our unwavering resolve to confronting present and ever-evolving future threats to our national security at our Southwest Border.”Humanitarian and Security Crisis at a Breaking Point
New data reveals that more than 76,000 migrants illegally crossed into the U.S. and were apprehended or deemed inadmissible last month, a 12-Year High.
- New data shows that more than 76,000 aliens were apprehended or deemed inadmissible at a port of entry in February.
- More than 2,000 aliens are being apprehended every day at the Southern border.
- Border Patrol has apprehended over 268,000 individuals since the beginning of the fiscal year, marking a 97% increase from the previous year.
- Our nation is experiencing an unprecedented surge of illegal alien families arriving our border, with more than 40,000 apprehended and deemed inadmissible in February.
- In this fiscal year (FY) to date, there has been a more than 300%increase in the number of family units apprehended compared to the same time period last fiscal year.
- Apprehensions of family unit aliens and Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) have surged by 338% and 54% respectively this year.
- There has been a wave of large migrant groups flooding to the border.
- 70 large groups of 100 or more individuals have attempted to cross the border so far this fiscal year, compared with only 13 the previous year.
- Many of the migrants arriving at our border are requiring medical assistance, further straining resources and personnel on the ground.
- Customs and Border Protection is executing a new directive to expand existing medical service contracts and deploy additional medical personnel to the border.
Our nation is experiencing a dire immigration crisis that requires swift and decisive action to confront illegal and uncontrolled migration threatening our safety and security.
- In the last two years alone, ICE officers have arrested 266,000 aliens with criminal records including those convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 homicides.
- In Texas, 276,000 criminal aliens were booked into local jails between June 1, 2011 and December 31, 2018, of which over 186,000 were classified as illegal aliens by DHS.
- Last year, ICE officers removed more than 10,000 known or suspected gang members already in our country illegally.
- Each week, approximately 300 Americans have died from heroin overdoses, of which nearly 90% comes across our southern border.
- Just last month, CBP made the largest seizure fentanyl ever recorded attempting to cross the southern border. It was enough to kill more than 115 million Americans.
- Alarmingly, CBP has reported that fentanyl smuggling between ports of entry at the southern border has more than doubled over our last fiscal year. Fentanyl was responsible for more than 28,400 overdose deaths variety of Americans in 2017. Just a few weeks ago, CBP made its largest fentanyl bust in U.S. history, seizing 254 pounds hidden in a truck trailer compartment.
- One in three women are sexually assaulted on the journey to the border.
- In FY 2018, ICE made more than 1,500 human trafficking arrests – 97% of them for sex-trafficking.
- 20,000 children were illegally smuggled into the United States during the month of December, alone.
- In the first five months of fiscal year 2018, CBP saw a 315% increase in individuals using children to pose as family units to gain entry into the United States.
- CBP has recorded a 50% spike over the last fiscal year of the number of gang members apprehended at the southern border.
# # #Topics: Border Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Keywords: Border Security, immigration enforcement
On Tuesday, February 26, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen traveled to Napa, California to participate in meetings with tech companies and foreign partners focused on combating terrorist use of the internet. During her engagements, Secretary Nielsen announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is overhauling its approach to terrorism prevention and called for a shift from a “whole-of-government” to a “whole-of-society” approach. She also announced that this year, DHS will convene a National Summit on Terrorism Prevention to bring together nonprofit organizations, community leaders and groups, state and local officials, law enforcement, and digital innovators to forge new partnerships to fight back against terrorist radicalization in our communities.
The Secretary met with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, who assembled a wide array of thought-leaders to confront the challenge of online terror recruitment, and discussed America’s close partnerships with Jordan on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, border security, and more.
On Wednesday, February 27, Secretary Nielsen traveled to San Francisco for a roundtable discussion with industry leaders regarding emerging technologies and evolving threats in order to explore how public-private partnerships can help keep America safe. After the roundtable, Secretary Nielsen received a briefing on the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP). Through SVIP, DHS is leveraging new technology and startup company innovations to secure the homeland.
###Topics: Cybersecurity, International Engagement, Preventing Terrorism, Science and Technology, Secretary of Homeland Security
El 20 de febrero de 2019, la Secretaria de Seguridad Nacional Kirstjen M. Nielsen y los ministros de seguridad del Triángulo Norte en San Salvador, El Salvador formalizaron el desarrollo de un “acuerdo regional” y un plan de acción dirigido a resolver la crisis humanitaria y de seguridad en curso por la migración irregular y la formación de caravanas de inmigrantes.
Al unir estas iniciativas con los esfuerzos existentes, la Declaración Conjunta busca enfrentar las “causas fundamentales” de la migración irregular para así desafiar los retos desde su origen, delineando un camino claro hacia un Memorándum de Cooperación formal y primero en su clase– o “acuerdo regional” – entre los ministros de seguridad de Estados Unidos y el Triángulo Norte. La Secretaria Nielsen propuso este “acuerdo” el verano pasado y espera que también incluya la participación de México. El acuerdo final abarcaría cuatro áreas específicas de colaboración:
- Combatir la Trata de Personas y el Contrabando Humano
- Contrarrestar el Crimen Organizado y las Pandillas
- Expandir el Compartir de Información e Inteligencia
- Reforzar la Seguridad Fronteriza
El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de los Estados Unidos de América, el Ministerio de Justicia y Seguridad Pública de la República de El Salvador, el Ministerio de Gobernación de la República de Guatemala y la Secretaría de Seguridad de la República de Honduras (en lo sucesivo, los "Participantes") poseen una fuerte asociación fundamentada en un compromiso conjunto para lograr una América Central estable y mejorar la seguridad y la protección de nuestros países.
Con la intención de fortalecer la sólida relación existente entre los Participantes y con miras a reafirmar sus intenciones de avanzar conjuntamente, se establece esta Declaración Conjunta para fundamentar las negociaciones relativas a un Memorando de Cooperación que los Participantes, y otros socios interinstitucionales, tienen la intención de negociar y firmar el 27 de marzo de 2019. Asimismo, los Participantes tienen la intención de negociar y firmar un Plan de Acción que desarrolle objetivos, mecanismos y los programas necesarios para la implementación de cada una de las áreas prioritarias del Memorando de Cooperación.
Se espera que el Memorando de Cooperación delinee un mecanismo para llevar a cabo reuniones anuales a nivel ejecutivo y técnico, y se centre en cuatro áreas prioritarias: combatir la trata de personas y el tráfico ilícito de migrantes, contrarrestar el crimen organizado y las pandillas, ampliar el intercambio de infommción y de asuntos de inteligencia y fortalecer la seguridad fronteriza.
Como parte de estas cuatro áreas prioritarias, la intención es resaltar las siguientes iniciativas en el Memorando de Cooperación y en el Plan de Acción:Combatir la trata de personas v el tráfico ilícito de migrantes
Los Participantes tienen la intención de que el Memorando de Cooperación y el Plan de Acción se centren en el proyecto común de crear capacidades en la región para detectar, desalentar y desmantelar las organizaciones de trata y tráfico ilícito de personas, centrándose en sus finanzas, logística, plataformas de comunicación y actividades delictivas conexas.
Iniciativas y programas
- Ampliar las operaciones para identificar las redes de tráfico ilícito y de trata de personas en el Triángulo del Norte y en los Estados Unidos.
- Incrementar la recolección de datos biométricos de personas que cruzan las fronteras en los países del Triángulo del Norte sin documentos válidos.
- Desarrollar criterios para el intercambio de información estratégica sobre flujos migratorios de alto riesgo, como las caravanas, dentro de los marcos jurídicos de cada país.
- Desarrollar un programa para analizar e identificar documentos de identidad fraudulentos que los migrantes utilizan para ingresar y transitar por El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras.
- Ampliar las campañas de mensajes a corto y largo plazo para rebatir directamente los mensajes que las organizaciones de trata y tráfico utilizan para reclutar migrantes
Los Participantes tienen la intención de desarrollar capacidades para aplicar la ley en el Triángulo del Norte para combatir las organizaciones criminales transnacionales, así como abordar otros delitos que generan violencia en la región.
Iniciativas y programas
- Desarrollar y presentar una propuesta integral para armonizar la legislación de la región relacionada con la lucha contra las pandillas, el crimen organizado y la trata y el tráfico ilícito de personas.
- Incrementar el intercambio de información relacionada con el crimen organizado transnacional y con las personas que participan o se benefician del tráfico ilícito de personas.
- Aumentar el enfoque de la investigación en rutas aéreas y vías marítimas y terrestres utilizadas por las organizaciones criminales transnacionales y las pandillas.
Los Participantes tienen la intención de que el Memorando de Cooperación y el Plan de Acción aborden su intención conjunta de ampliar el uso de plataformas de comunicación compartidas consolidadas, utilizando estos sistemas para rastrear a los delincuentes así como sus redes y finanzas, y de promover la producción y la focalización de información avanzada para fundamentar mejor las operaciones de aplicación de la ley y evitar el tránsito por la región de quienes puedan representar las amenazas.
Iniciativas y Programas
- Considerar establecer y desarrollar un protocolo de actuación para el intercambio de información a través del Grupo Conjunto de Inteligencia Fronteriza (GCIF).
- Alinear plataformas tecnológicas para cumplir con el intercambio de información y las necesidades operativas.
- Mejorar la utilización del GCIF como modelo regional para el intercambio de información.
- Implementar el Sistema de Infonnación Anticipada sobre Pasajeros (APIS) con conectividad a las bases de datos de los Estados Unidos, El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras.
- Ampliar las operaciones del Progranm de Seguridad Conjunta (JSP) en El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras.
- Continuar con los acuerdos del Programa de Intercambio Electrónico de Datos de Carga entre El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras y los Estados Unidos para mejorar el análisis de los datos relativos a la carga e identificar los envíos con alto riesgo de contrabando de narcóticos y otras amenazas.
Los Participantes tienen la intención de mejorar la capacidad de los servicios de las agencias regionales de seguridad terrestre y de aviación para patrullar y monitorear las fronteras, detectar y responder a las amenazas a lo largo de las fronteras y proteger los puertos, las regiones fronterizas entre puertos y los espacios marítimos en toda la región.
Iniciativas y programas
- Incrementar, en la medida de lo posible, el número de unidades policiales o de seguridad fronteriza en El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras, así como su capacitación, supervisión e integración.
- Mejorar la capacidad de las unidades de seguridad fronteriza.
- Completar y actualizar las evaluaciones de riesgo fronterizo.
- Desarrollar mecanismos para mejorar las comunicaciones transfronterizas.
Firmado en San Salvador, en duplicado, el 20 de febrero de 2019, en los idiomas inglés y español.Topics: Border Security
Keywords: Border Security, southwest border
On February 20, 2019, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen and Northern Triangle security ministers in San Salvador, El Salvador formalized the development of a “regional compact” and action plan aimed at addressing the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis of irregular migration and the formation of migrant caravans.
By pairing new initiatives with existing efforts, the Joint Statement seeks to address the “root causes” of irregular migration in order to address the challenges at their source, outlining a clear path toward a formal and first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Cooperation—or “regional compact”—between U.S. and Northern Triangle security ministries. Secretary Nielsen called for such a “compact” last summer and hopes it will also include participation from Mexico. The final compact would cover four distinct areas of collaboration:
- Combatting Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling
- Countering Organized Crime and Gangs
- Expanding Information and Intelligence Sharing
- Strengthening Border Security
The Department of Homeland Security of the United States of America, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security of the Republic of El Salvador, the Ministry of Government of the Republic of Guatemala, and the Secretariat of Security of the Republic of Honduras (hereafter referred to as the "Participants") have a strong partnership, rooted in a joint commitment to achieve a stable Central America and to enhance the safety and security of our countries.
With the intent of strengthening the Participants' well-established relationship and restating their intentions to move forward jointly, this Joint Statement is set forth to inform negotiations on a Memorandum of Cooperation the Participants, including other interagency partners, intend to negotiate and sign on March 27, 2019. Additionally, the Participants intend to negotiate and sign an Action Plan that develops objectives, mechanisms, and the necessary programs for the implementation of each of the Memorandum of Cooperation's focus areas.
The Memorandum of Cooperation is expected to outline a mechanism for annual meetings at the executive and technical levels that pays attention to four focus areas: Combatting Human Trafficking/Migrant Smuggling, Countering Organized Crime and Gangs, Expanding Information and Intelligence Sharing, and Strengthening Border Security.
Within these four focus areas, the intent is to emphasize the following initiatives in the Memorandum of Cooperation and Action Plan:Combatting Human Trafficking/ Migrant Smuggling
The Participants intend the Memorandum of Cooperation and Action Plan to address their joint intention to build capacity in the region to detect, deter, and dismantle human trafficking and smuggling organizations, targeting their finances, logistics, communications platforms, and related criminal activity.
Initiatives and Programs
- Expand operations to target human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Northern Triangle and the United States.
- Increase the collection of biometric data of individuals who cross borders in the Northern Triangle countries without valid documents.
- Develop criteria for the exchange of strategic information on high-risk migration flows, such as caravans, within each countries' legal frameworks.
- Develop a program to analyze and identify fraudulent identity documents used by migrants to enter and transit El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
- Expand long and short-term messaging campaigns to directly refute messaging utilized by smuggling organizations to recruit migrants.
The Participants intend to build law enforcement capacity in the Northern Triangle to combat transnational criminal organizations, and other crimes that drive violence in the region.
Initiatives and Programs
- Develop and present a comprehensive proposal to harmonize the region's laws related to combating gangs, organized crime, and human trafficking and smuggling.
- Increase the exchange of information related to transnational organized crime and the people who participate in and/or benefit from human smuggling.
- Increase investigative focus on aviation, land, and maritime pathways used by transnational criminal organizations and gangs.
The Participants intend the Memorandum of Cooperation and Action Plan to address their joint intention to expand the use of consolidated shared communication platforms, using these systems to track criminals along with their networks and finances, and promote the production of advance information and targeting to better inform law enforcement operations and prevent potential threats from transiting the region unimpeded.
Initiatives and Programs
- Consider establishing and developing an action protocol for the exchange of information through the Joint Border Intelligence Group (GCIF).
- Align technology platforms to meet information sharing and operational needs.
- Enhance the utilization of the GCIF as a regional model for information exchange.
- Implement Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) systems with connectivity to U.S. databases in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
- Expand Joint Security Program (JSP) operations in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
- Pursue Foreign Electronic Cargo Data Exchange Program arrangements between El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and the United States to improve analysis of cargo data and identify shipments that are high-risk for narcotics smuggling or other threats.
The Participants intend to improve the ability of the regional land and aviation agency security services to patrol and monitor borders, detect and respond to threats along borders, and secure ports, border regions between ports, and maritime spaces throughout the region.
Initiatives and Programs
- Increase to the extent possible the number, training, oversight, and integration of border police units or of border security units in the Northern Triangle.
- Improve the ability of border security units.
- Complete and update border risk assessments.
- Develop mechanisms to improve cross-border communications.
Signed at San Salvador, in duplicate, on February 20, 2019, in English and Spanish.Topics: Border Security, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: Border Security, southwest border
Secretary Nielsen Announces Historic Steps with Northern Triangle Security Ministers to Confront Irregular Migration, Caravans
On February 20, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen met Northern Triangle security ministers in San Salvador, El Salvador to discuss the development of a “regional compact” and action plan aimed at addressing the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis of irregular migration and the formation of migrant caravans.
“Today, we have declared a historic commitment – our mutual intention to crack down on smugglers and traffickers who are profiting from human misery. And we have declared our resolve to bring order where there is chaos…to bring justice to criminals and gangs…and to share information to secure our borders, our people, and our way of life,” said Secretary Nielsen. “Criminals show little regard for the welfare of the vulnerable people they exploit. Enough is enough. We cannot allow children to be used as pawns or women to be sexually assaulted or migrants to become victims of violence on the terrible journey north. We must put an end to this crisis and help vulnerable migrants closer to their point of origin,” she added. “I thank my foreign counterparts for their determination to increase cooperation with the United States on stopping the formation and movement of caravans and the networks that facilitate them.”
By pairing new initiatives with existing efforts, the Joint Statement seeks to address the “root causes” of irregular migration in order to address the challenges at their source. Specifically, Secretary Nielsen and her Northern Triangle counterpart ministers agreed to a roadmap for action that will result in better information sharing, law enforcement cooperation, and public messaging to deal with the ongoing crisis.
The Joint Statement signed today outlines a clear path toward a formal and first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Cooperation—or “regional compact”—between U.S. and Northern Triangle security ministries. Secretary Nielsen called for such a “compact” last summer and hopes it will also include participation from Mexico. The final compact would cover four distinct areas of collaboration:
- Combatting Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling
- Countering Organized Crime and Gangs
- Expanding Information and Intelligence Sharing
- Strengthening Border Security
Ministers agreed to complete the final agreement next month and to engage in regular meetings—at the senior and working levels—to help ensure these efforts commence quickly and are effectively executed and sustained.Watch Secretary Nielsen’s Closing Remarks at the 4th Northern Triangle Security Ministers Meeting
###Topics: Border Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Human Trafficking, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Keywords: Secretary Nielsen