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Updated: 1 hour 11 min ago

Secretary Nielsen Announces Historic Steps with Northern Triangle Security Ministers to Confront Irregular Migration, Caravans

16 hours 22 min ago

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

 

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Topics: Border Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Human Trafficking, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Keywords: Secretary Nielsen

Secretary Nielsen Statement on FY19 Homeland Security Funding Bill and National Emergency Declaration

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 11:11
On February 15, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released a statement on the signing of the legislation that funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and on the President’s declaration of a national emergency:

“The legislation passed by both chambers of Congress and signed today by the President gives the Department of Homeland Security critical funding to protect the homeland, including some resources to secure our borders and enforce our nation’s immigration laws. It increases the DHS overall budget by $1.7 billion, including $1.375 billion to build new border barriers where our frontline personnel need it most, and contains no restrictions on total barrier mileage. The legislation also includes $415 million in humanitarian assistance to address the serious crisis at our southern border, 4,754 additional beds for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain illegal aliens humanely and keep our citizens safe, and $570 million for specialized screening equipment at our Ports of Entry to detect illegal drugs and human smuggling. Moreover, the bill provides additional resources to combat child exploitation, human trafficking, transnational criminal organizations, and other cross-border criminal activity.

“Finally, the bill funds the Coast Guard’s Polar Security Cutter, increases important funding for the newly created Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and provides funding for 200 computed tomography machines that will help our dedicated TSA employees keep our skies safe.

“But the legislation doesn’t provide everything we need, and it gets nowhere close to completely solving the serious humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.  Time and again, Congress has failed to fully fund DHS to confront this situation and to handle the influx of aliens, drugs, and other illicit traffic into our country. That is why I strongly support the President’s decision to unlock additional funding for physical barriers, including resources from the Department of Treasury and the Department of Defense. Moreover, I applaud the President’s decision to declare a national emergency.  This is a crisis—pure and simple—and we need to respond accordingly.  We cannot standby as our border security is further compromised and our immigration laws are exploited.  Now is the time to act and to uphold our fundamental responsibility to our citizens and our nation to safeguard U.S. territory.”

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Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: funding

Secretary Nielsen Statement on the Nomination of Chad Wolf

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 06:04

On February 15, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement on President Trump’s intent to nominate Chad F. Wolf to be the Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy and Plans at the Department of Homeland Security:

“I want to congratulate Chad on his nomination to be the Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans. Chad has tirelessly and exceptionally served DHS for the last two years in various positions, including most recently as Chief of Staff for the Department. While Chad’s shoes will be tough to fill, I am confident he will bring the same work ethic, knowledge and skillset to the Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans. I look forward to continuing our work together in his new role and to a swift confirmation process.”

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Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: staffing

RAND Releases Report Commissioned by DHS on Building an Effective and Practical National Approach to Terrorism Prevention

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 09:03

On February 14, the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC), operated for the Department of Homeland Security by the RAND Corporation, released a new report on how to build an effective and practical national approach to terrorism prevention. The report, commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security, examines past terrorism prevention efforts and makes recommendations for future programs.

“As threats from terrorism evolve, our understanding of prevention also has to evolve,” said Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention and Security Elizabeth Neumann. “In addition to the DHS internal review of prevention efforts, the Department asked the RAND Corporation for a third party assessment. I am pleased to share with the American people the highlights of their findings and to discuss steps we are taking as a Department to further enhance the security of our homeland.”

The report highlights various areas of terrorism prevention, including:

  • Successful community education efforts by DHS;
  • Countering terrorist narratives through public-private partnerships;
  • Robust systems inside government for suspicious-activity reporting, and the need for a uniform mechanism for making interventions for referral by the public;
  • How spending on terrorism prevention in the U.S. compares with some of our partners;
  • The role of state, local, nongovernmental and private organizations in leading prevention efforts, with support from the federal government; and,
  • The importance of addressing domestic as well as international terrorism in prevention programs.

Assistant Secretary Neumann today announced the release of the report at an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation, click here to watch her remarks. The full report is available here.

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Topics: Preventing Terrorism
Keywords: counterterrorism

Secretary Nielsen Statement on Administrator Long

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 12:27

On February 13, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement on FEMA Administrator Brock Long’s announced resignation:

“Over the last two years, Administrator Long has admirably led the men and women of FEMA during very difficult, historic and complex times. Under Brock’s leadership, FEMA has successfully supported State and Territory-led efforts to respond and recover from 6 major hurricanes, 5 historic wildfires and dozens of other serious emergencies.  I appreciate his tireless dedication to FEMA and his commitment to fostering a culture of preparedness across the nation.

“Deputy Administrator Pete Gaynor will become Acting Administrator upon Brock’s departure. Rest assured, FEMA is prepared to continue to lead current recovery efforts, to respond to new disasters, and to get ready for this year’s hurricane season.”

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Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: FEMA

Written testimony of CISA Director Christopher Krebs for a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing titled “Defending Our Democracy: Building Partnerships to Protect America’s Elections”

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 21:00

310 Cannon House Office Building

Chairman Thompson, Ranking Member Rogers, and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify regarding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) progress in reducing and mitigating risks to our Nation’s election infrastructure. DHS has worked to establish trust-based partnerships with state and local officials who administer our elections, and I look forward to sharing with you an update on our work during the 2018 midterm election cycle.

Leading up to the 2018 midterms, DHS worked hand in hand with federal partners, state and local election officials, and private sector vendors to provide them with information and capabilities to enable them to better defend their infrastructure. This partnership led to a successful model that we aim to continue and improve upon in the 2020 election cycle.

Since 2016, DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has led a voluntary partnership of Federal Government and election officials who regularly share cybersecurity risk information. CISA has engaged directly with election officials—coordinating requests for assistance, risk mitigation, information sharing, and incident response. To ensure a coordinated approach, CISA convened stakeholders from across the Federal Government through the Election Task Force.

The Department and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) have convened federal government and election officials regularly to share cybersecurity risk information and to determine an effective means of assistance. Since 2016, the Election Infrastructure Subsector (EIS) Government Coordinating Council (GCC) has worked to establish goals and objectives, to develop plans for the EIS partnership, and to lay the groundwork for developing an EIS Sector-Specific Plan. Participation in the council is entirely voluntary and does not change the fundamental role of state and local jurisdictions in overseeing elections.

DHS and the EAC have also worked with election vendors to launch an industry-led Sector Coordinating Council (SCC), a self-organized, self-run, and self-governed council with leadership designated by sector membership. The SCC serves as the industry’s principal entity for coordinating with the Federal Government on critical infrastructure security activities related to sector-specific strategies. This collaboration is conducted under DHS’s authority to provide a forum in which federal and private sector entities can jointly engage in a broad spectrum of activities to coordinate critical infrastructure security and resilience efforts which is used in each of the critical infrastructure sectors established under Presidential Policy Directive 21, Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience. The SCC has helped DHS further its understanding of the systems, processes, and relationships particular to operation of the EIS.

Within the context of today’s hearing, I will address our efforts in 2018 to help enhance the security of elections that are administered by jurisdictions around the country, along with our election related priorities through 2020. While there was activity targeting our election infrastructure leading up to the midterms, this activity is similar to what we have seen previously and occurs on the Internet every day. This activity has not been attributed to nation-state actors and along with the Department of Justice (DOJ), we concluded that there is no evidence to date that any identified activities of a foreign government or foreign agent had a material impact on the integrity or security of election infrastructure or political or campaign infrastructure used in the 2018 midterm elections

Assessing the Threat

The Department regularly coordinates with the Intelligence Community and law enforcement partners on potential threats to the Homeland. Among non-federal partners, DHS has engaged with state and local officials, as well as relevant private sector entities, to assess the scale and scope of malicious cyber activity potentially targeting the U.S. election infrastructure. Election infrastructure includes the information and communications technology, capabilities, physical assets, and technologies that enable the registration and validation of voters; the casting, transmission, tabulation, and reporting of votes; and the certification, auditing, and verification of elections.

In addition to working directly with state and local officials over the past two years, we have partnered with trusted third parties to analyze relevant cyber data, including the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC), the National Association of Secretaries of State, and the National Association of State Election Directors. DHS field personnel deployed around the country furthered information sharing and enhanced outreach.

Enhancing Security

During the 2018 midterms, CISA provided a coordinated response from DHS and its federal partners to plan for, prepare for, and mitigate risk to election infrastructure. Working with election infrastructure stakeholders was essential to ensuring a more secure election. CISA and our stakeholders increased awareness of potential vulnerabilities and provided capabilities to enhance the security of U.S. election infrastructure as well as that of our democratic allies.

Election officials across the country have a long-standing history of working both individually and collectively to reduce risks and ensure the integrity of their elections. In partnering with these officials through both new and ongoing engagements, CISA will continue to work to provide value-added—yet voluntary—services to support their efforts to secure elections in the 2020 election cycle.

Improving Coordination with State, Local, Tribal, Territorial and Private Sector Partners

Increasingly, the nation’s election infrastructure leverages information technology for efficiency and convenience, but also exposes systems to cybersecurity risks, just like in any other enterprise environment. Just like with other sectors, CISA helps stakeholders in federal departments and agencies, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments, and the private sector to manage these cybersecurity risks. Consistent with our long-standing partnerships with state and local governments, we have been working with election officials to share information about cybersecurity risks, and to provide voluntary resources and technical assistance.

CISA works with the EI-ISAC to provide threat and vulnerability information to state and local officials. Through funding by CISA, the Center for Internet Security created and continues to operate the EI-ISAC. The EI-ISAC has representatives co-located with CISA’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) to enable regular collaboration and access to information and services for election officials.

Providing Technical Assistance and Sharing Information

Knowing what to do when a security incident happens—whether physical or cyber—before it happens, is critical. CISA supports election officials with incident response planning including participating in exercises and reviewing incident response playbooks. Crisis communications is a core component of these efforts, ensuring officials are able to communicate transparently and authoritatively when an incident unfolds. In some cases, we do this directly with state and local jurisdictions. In others, we partner with outside organizations. We recognize that securing our nation’s systems is a shared responsibility, and we are leveraging partnerships to advance that mission. CISA actively promotes a range of services including:

Cyber hygiene service for Internet-facing systems: Through this automated, remote scan, CISA provides a report identifying vulnerabilities and mitigation recommendations to improve the cybersecurity of systems connected to the Internet, such as online voter registration systems, election night reporting systems, and other Internet-connected election management systems.

Risk and vulnerability assessments: We have prioritized state and local election systems upon request, and increased the availability of risk and vulnerability assessments. These in-depth, on-site evaluations include a system-wide understanding of vulnerabilities, focused on both internal and external systems. We provide a full report of vulnerabilities and recommended mitigations following the testing.

Incident response assistance: We encourage election officials to report suspected malicious cyber activity to NCCIC. Upon request, the NCCIC can provide assistance in identifying and remediating a cyber incident. Information reported to the NCCIC is also critical to the Federal Government’s ability to broadly assess malicious attempts to infiltrate election systems. This technical information will also be shared with other state officials so they have the ability to defend their own systems from similar malicious activity.

Information sharing: CISA maintains numerous platforms and services to share relevant information on cyber incidents. Election officials may also receive information directly from the NCCIC. The NCCIC also works with the EI-ISAC, allowing election officials to connect with the EI-ISAC or their State Chief Information Officer to rapidly receive information they can use to protect their systems. Best practices, cyber threat information, and technical indicators, some of which had been previously classified, have been shared with election officials in thousands of state and local jurisdictions. In all cases, the information sharing and use of such cybersecurity threat indicators, or information related to cybersecurity risks and incidents complies with applicable lawful restrictions on its collection and use and with DHS policies protective of privacy and civil liberties.

Classified information sharing: To most effectively share information with all of our partners—not just those with security clearances—DHS works with the intelligence community to rapidly declassify relevant intelligence or provide as much intelligence as possible at the lowest classification level possible. While DHS prioritizes declassifying information to the extent possible, DHS also provides classified information to cleared stakeholders, as appropriate. DHS has been working with state chief election officials and additional election staff in each state to provide them with security clearances.

Field-based cybersecurity advisors and protective security advisors: CISA has more than 130 cybersecurity and protective security personnel available to provide actionable information and connect election officials to a range of tools and resources to improve the cybersecurity preparedness of election systems; and to secure the physical site security of voting machine storage and polling places. These advisors are also available to assist with planning and incident management for both cyber and physical incidents.

Physical and protective security tools, training, and resources: CISA provides guidance and tools to improve the security of polling sites and other physical election infrastructure. This guidance can be found at www.dhs.gov/hometown-security. This guidance helps to train administrative and volunteer staff on identifying and reporting suspicious activities, active shooter scenarios, and what to do if they suspect an improvised explosive device.

Election Security Efforts Leading up to the 2018 Midterms

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, DHS officials supported a high degree of preparedness nationwide. DHS provided free technical cybersecurity assistance, continuous information sharing, and expertise to election offices and campaigns. EI-ISAC threat alerts were shared with all 50 states, over 1,400 local and territorial election offices, 6 election associations, and 12 election venders.

In August 2018, DHS hosted a “Tabletop the Vote” exercise, a three-day, first-of-its-kind exercise to assist our federal partners, state and local election officials, and private sector vendors in identifying best practices and areas for improvement in cyber incident planning, preparedness, identification, response, and recovery. Through tabletop simulation of a realistic incident scenario, exercise participants discussed and explored potential impacts to voter confidence, voting operations, and the integrity of elections. Partners for this exercise included 44 states and the District of Columbia; EAC; Department of Defense, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Cyber Command, and the National Security Agency; DOJ; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Office of the Director of National Intelligence; and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Through the “Last Mile Initiative,” DHS worked closely with state and local governments to outline critical cybersecurity actions that should be implemented at the county level. For political campaigns, DHS disseminated a cybersecurity best practices checklist to help candidates and their teams better secure their devices and systems.

On Election Day, DHS deployed field staff across the country to maintain situational awareness and connect election officials to appropriate incident response professionals, if needed. In many cases, these field staff were co-located with election officials in their own security operations centers. DHS also hosted the National Cybersecurity Situational Awareness Room, an online portal for state and local election officials and vendors that facilitates rapid sharing of information. It gives election officials virtual access to the 24/7 operational watch floor of the CISA NCCIC. This setup allowed DHS to monitor potential threats across multiple states at once and respond in a rapid fashion.

Our goal has been for the American people to enter the voting booth with the confidence that their vote counts and is counted correctly. I am proud to say that our efforts over the past two years have resulted in the most secure election in modern history.

No Evidence of Election Interference

The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Acting Attorney General have concluded that there is no evidence to date that any identified activities of a foreign government or foreign agent had a material impact on the integrity or security of election infrastructure or political or campaign infrastructure used in the 2018 midterm elections for the United States Congress. The activity we did see was consistent with what we shared in the weeks leading up to the election. Russia, and other foreign countries, including China and Iran, conducted influence activities and messaging campaigns targeted at the United States to promote their strategic interests.

Election Security Efforts Moving Forward

Ensuring the security of our electoral process remains a vital national interest and one of our highest priorities at DHS. In the run up to the 2020 election season, DHS will continue to prioritize elections by broadening the reach and depth of information sharing and assistance that we are providing to state and local election officials, and continuing to share information on threats and mitigation tactics.

DHS goals for the 2020 election cycle include improving the efficiency and effectiveness of election audits, continued incentivizing the patching of election systems, and working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the states to develop cybersecurity profiles utilizing the NIST Cybersecurity Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure. We will also continue to engage any political entity that wants our help. DHS offers these entities the same tools and resources that we offer to state and local election officials, including trainings, cyber hygiene support, information sharing, and other resources.

DHS has made tremendous strides and has been committed to working collaboratively with those on the front lines of administering our elections to secure election infrastructure from risks. Just last week, DHS officials provided updates to the secretaries of state, state election directors, and members of the GCC and SCC on the full package of election security resources that are available from the Federal government, along with a roadmap on how to improve coordination across these entities. DHS also worked with our Intelligence Community partners to provide a classified one day read-in for these individuals regarding the current threats facing our election infrastructure.

We will remain transparent as well as agile in combating and securing our physical and cyber infrastructure. However, we recognize that there is a significant technology deficit across SLTT governments, and state and local election systems, in particular. It will take significant and continual investment to ensure that election systems across the nation are upgraded and secure, with vulnerable systems retired. These efforts require a whole of government approach. The President and this Administration are committed to addressing these risks.

Our voting infrastructure is diverse, subject to local control, and has many checks and balances. As the threat environment evolves, DHS will continue to work with federal agencies, state and local partners, and private sector entities to enhance our understanding of the threat; and to make essential physical and cybersecurity tools and resources available to the public and private sectors to increase security and resiliency.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Committee today, and I look forward to your questions.

Topics: Cybersecurity, Election Security
Keywords: CISA, Election infrastructure, information sharing, Partnering for Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, Presidential Policy Directive 21

DHS Issues Waiver to Expedite Secondary Fence Replacement Project in San Diego

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:29

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a waiver to ensure the expeditious construction and replacement of approximately 12.5 miles of secondary wall near the international border in the state of California. The waiver was published in the Federal Register on February 7, 2019.

This waiver is pursuant to authority granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security by Congress. Congress has provided the Secretary of Homeland Security with a number of authorities necessary to carry out DHS’s border security mission. One of these authorities is found in section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, as amended (“IIRIRA”).  Section 102(a) of IIRIRA provides that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall take such actions as may be necessary to install additional physical walls and roads near the United States border to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States. In section 102(b) of IIRIRA, Congress has called for the installation of additional fencing, walls, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors on the southwest border. Finally, in section 102(c) of IIRIRA, Congress granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to waive all legal requirements that the Secretary, in Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure the expeditious construction of the walls and roads authorized by section 102 of IIRIRA.

The approximately 14-mile bollard style wall project in San Diego that was awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on December 20, 2018, will include an area that begins near the eastern end of Border Field State Park and extends east to where the existing primary pedestrian fence ends.

Tactical infrastructure, when combined with the appropriate technology and personnel, significantly reduces the amount of illegal border entries and enhances the Border Patrol’s ability to secure the border. San Diego Sector was the busiest sector in the nation during the early 1990s. The construction of infrastructure has reduced illegal entries; however, more work remains to be done. In Fiscal Year 2018, there were over 38,000 apprehensions in the San Diego Sector by Border Patrol. In this Fiscal Year to date San Diego Sector has apprehended over 18,500 illegal immigrants, a more than 69 percent increase of the apprehensions for same period last fiscal year.

DHS remains committed to environmental stewardship. DHS has been consulting, and intends to continue doing so, with stakeholders including other federal and state resource agencies. Such consultation facilitates DHS’s assessment of potential impacts and informs its efforts to minimize, to the extent possible, potential impacts to the environment, wildlife, and cultural and historic resources.

The Department of Homeland Security continues to implement President Trump’s Executive Order 13767 - also known as Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements – and continues to take steps to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border.

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Topics: Border Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Keywords: Border Security, southwest border

Readout from Secretary Nielsen’s Trip with Vice President Mike Pence

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 08:08

On February 6, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen accompanied Vice President Mike Pence to Norfolk, Virginia to visit the Joint Task Force – East (JTF-E). During their visit they received a briefing from Joint Task Force East (JTF-E) and the Department’s other Joint Task Forces, toured Coast Guard Cutter Bear, and spoke with DHS employees.

JTF-E leads the coordination of integrated operations and investigations by leveraging DHS component, interagency, and partner nation capabilities to increase border security, reduce terrorism risk, and degrade Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) while also facilitating the flow of lawful travel and commerce to and from the United States.

JTF-E is a geographically focused, multi-component task force with a Joint Operating Area (JOA) covering 10.3 million square miles of land and sea, as well as over 3,000 miles of U.S. coastline (including the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast of the United States), Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Whether you serve in the Coast Guard, CBP, ICE, TSA, or elsewhere in the DHS family, you are part of one team. And you are on the frontlines of securing our homeland and defending our way of life,” said Secretary Nielsen. “I cannot tell you how proud I am to serve alongside you.”

Following the JTF-E briefing, Vice President Pence and Secretary Nielsen toured Cutter Bear which sits in the port of Portsmouth, VA. Cutter Bear will soon depart for a counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific. 

The trip concluded with Secretary Nielsen and the Vice President Pence speaking with frontline defenders from across multiple DHS agencies.

Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security, Transportation Security
Keywords: CBP, ICE, JTF-E, My TSA App, uscg

Secretary Nielsen Statement on the State of the Union

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 19:32

WASHINGTON –Tonight, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement on the State of the Union:

“Border security is not, and should not be, a partisan issue. President Trump clearly laid out the need for new Federal funding and serious reforms to our outdated laws in order to fully secure our southern border. Make no mistake, there is a humanitarian and security crisis at our border that will continue to worsen if Congress fails to act. We have all seen the horrors of human smuggling, drug trafficking, and the violence carried out by cartels and other transnational criminal organizations. DHS frontline personnel have made it clear what they need from Congress to end the crisis and fully secure the border. It is time Congress recognizes the facts on the ground and takes this problem seriously.”

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Topics: Border Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: Border Security, immigration enforcement, state of the union

Secretary Nielsen Statement on New Migrant 'Caravan'

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 08:52

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement on the new migrant ‘caravan’ that arrived at the Southern Border of the United States:

“Approximately 2,000 aliens have arrived in northern Mexico as part of a 'caravan' seeking to cross our Southern Border into Texas. Illegal entry will not be tolerated, and we stand ready to prevent it. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been working with the Departments of State, Defense and Justice to ensure all possible resources are available to address this lawless caravan. DHS will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of law enforcement personnel on the frontlines. Such caravans are the result of Congress’s inexcusable failure to fully fund a needed physical barrier and unwillingness to fix outdated laws that act as an enormous magnet for illegal aliens. This crisis won’t be solved until we have comprehensive border security. Until then, DHS will do everything in its power – with the assistance of federal and state partners - to hold smugglers and traffickers accountable, enforce our laws, and keep American communities safe.”

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Topics: Border Security, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: Border Security

Acting Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security Submit Joint Report on Impact of Foreign Interference on Election and Political/Campaign Infrastructure in 2018 Elections

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 07:23

Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen submitted a joint report to President Donald J. Trump on February 4, 2019 evaluating the impact of any foreign interference on election infrastructure or the infrastructure of political organizations, including campaigns and candidates in the 2018-midterm elections.

The classified report was prepared pursuant to section 1(b) of Executive Order 13848, Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Influence in a United States Election, which the President issued on September 12, 2018. 

Throughout the 2018 midterm election cycle, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security worked closely with federal, state, local, and private sector partners, including all 50 states and more than 1400 local jurisdictions, to support efforts to secure election infrastructure and limit risk posed by foreign interference.  Efforts to safeguard the 2020 elections are already underway. 

Although the specific conclusions within the joint report must remain classified, the Departments have concluded there is no evidence to date that any identified activities of a foreign government or foreign agent had a material impact on the integrity or security of election infrastructure or political/campaign infrastructure used in the 2018 midterm elections for the United States Congress. This finding was informed by a report prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) pursuant to the same Executive Order and is consistent with what was indicated by the U.S. government after the 2018 elections.   

While the report remains classified, its findings will help drive future efforts to protect election and political/campaign infrastructure from foreign interference.

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Topics: Election Security, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: Department of Justice, Election infrastructure

DHS Combats Human Trafficking And Seizes Counterfeit Merchandise During the Super Bowl

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 16:16

As Super Bowl 53 approaches, 25 elements of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with nearly 600 personnel, have been working to support State, local, and private sector security officials ensure a safe and secure event. At the same time, the Department, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), is on the ground in Atlanta working to combat criminal organizations’ attempts to exploit the event.

“We will not allow criminals to profit from the suffering of the most vulnerable among us,” said Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen. “Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work diligently to stop human trafficking that can surge around large events.”

ICE HSI has seen first-hand the negative impact of human trafficking following the mass movement of people in the metro Atlanta area for Super Bowl 53. This form of modern-day slavery targets and exploits millions of men, women, and children across the country every year.  This week alone, ICE HSI has made 40 arrests associated with its anti-human trafficking operation and rescued four victims in the Atlanta area. DHS is committed to eradicating human trafficking and encourages all Americans to recognize the signs of trafficking and join the fight to end this heinous crime.

The Super Bowl also results in an increase in the sale of counterfeit goods such as tickets, hats, and jerseys. Purchasing counterfeit goods can not only ruin the Super Bowl fan experience, it can also jeopardize the health and safety of consumers, burden the U.S. economy, and ultimately fund criminal organizations. In the past week, ICE HSI has seized over 6,000 counterfeit sports items estimated to be worth over $250,000.

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Topics: Human Trafficking, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Keywords: counterfeit, Homeland Security investigations, Super Bowl

DHS Announces Implementation of Visa Sanctions on Ghana

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 18:09

Ghana has Failed to Accept Removed Nationals 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced, in coordination with the Department of State, the implementation of visa sanctions on Ghana due to lack of cooperation in accepting their nationals ordered removed from the United States.

Pursuant to her authority under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen notified Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Government of Ghana has denied or unreasonably delayed accepting their nationals ordered removed from the United States. As a result, Secretary of State Pompeo has ordered consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants. Without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population. The sanctions will remain in place until the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies Secretary Pompeo that cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level.

“Ghana has failed to live up to its obligations under international law to accept the return of its nationals ordered removed from the United States,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. “The United States routinely cooperates with foreign governments in documenting and accepting U.S. citizens when asked, as appropriate, as do the majority of countries in the world, but Ghana has failed to do so in this case.  We hope the Ghanaian government will work with us to reconcile these deficiencies quickly.”

Topics:
Keywords: State

DHS Secures Super Bowl 53

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 15:40

On January 30, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen met with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel, local law enforcement officials, and the National Football League (NFL) security team in Atlanta to discuss joint efforts to ensure a safe and secure Super Bowl 53.

“This weekend, thousands of football fans from around the country will travel to watch the New England Patriots face-off against the L.A. Rams in Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta. At DHS, we are proud to support the City of Atlanta in their planning and preparations for Super Bowl 53,” said Secretary Nielsen. “Protecting an event of this magnitude is no small task.  Twenty-five DHS entities with nearly 600 personnel are working hand-in-hand with the NFL and local law enforcement to ensure this weekend remains safe and secure.”


(DHS Official Photo/Tim Godbee)
 

The Department has been engaged with planning efforts for Super Bowl 53 since 2017 through our locally-based Federal Coordination Team. Our federal interagency partners are also supporting Super Bowl security with an additional 500 personnel.

Our primary job is to support and enable our partners in State and local law enforcement and the private sector as they protect the Super Bowl. We help by providing intelligence, conducting physical and cyber assessments at Super Bowl-related venues, providing capacity such as canine teams and air assets, and making sure that everyone is prepared if an incident happens through planning and exercising.
 

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Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: department of homeland security, Super Bowl

Readout from Secretary Nielsen’s Trip to San Diego

Tue, 01/29/2019 - 17:35

On January 29, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen traveled to San Diego to meet with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees and to conduct an operational tour of the San Ysidro Port of Entry to assess implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).

Secretary Nielsen met with employees from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to thank them for their continued professionalism and dedication to the mission.

“I’m continually impressed with the daily success stories I hear from the exceptional men and women of ICE,” said Secretary Nielsen.

Following her remarks to employees, Secretary Nielsen went on an operational tour of the San Ysidro Port of Entry and saw firsthand the implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols. The MPP are designed to help ensure migrants are protected according to U.S. and international obligations while also addressing the security and humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border.

MPP, which was announced in December, will require certain migrants to await the processing of their immigration claims in Mexico.

The Secretary explained, “The MPP will enable DHS to take a huge step forward in bringing order to chaotic migration flows, restoring the rule of law and the integrity of the United States immigration system, and allowing DHS to focus resources on providing relief to individuals fleeing persecution while at the same time holding those accountable who make false asylum claims.”

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Topics: Border Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: ICE

MIGRANT PROTECTION PROTOCOLS

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 18:37

“We have implemented an unprecedented action that will address the urgent humanitarian and security crisis at the Southern border. This humanitarian approach will help to end the exploitation of our generous immigration laws. The Migrant Protection Protocols represent a methodical commonsense approach, exercising long-standing statutory authority to help address the crisis at our Southern border.” – Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen

What Are the Migrant Protection Protocols?

The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) are a U.S. Government action whereby certain foreign individuals entering or seeking admission to the U.S. from Mexico – illegally or without proper documentation – may be returned to Mexico and wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings, where Mexico will provide them with all appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay. 

Why is DHS Instituting MPP?

The U.S. is facing a security and humanitarian crisis on the Southern border. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is using all appropriate resources and authorities to address the crisis and execute our missions to secure the borders, enforce immigration and customs laws, facilitate legal trade and travel, counter traffickers, smugglers and transnational criminal organizations, and interdict drugs and illegal contraband.  

MPP will help restore a safe and orderly immigration process, decrease the number of those taking advantage of the immigration system, and the ability of smugglers and traffickers to prey on vulnerable populations, and reduce threats to life, national security, and public safety, while ensuring that vulnerable populations receive the protections they need.

Historically, illegal aliens to the U.S. were predominantly single adult males from Mexico who were generally removed within 48 hours if they had no legal right to stay; now over 60% are family units and unaccompanied children and 60% are non-Mexican. In FY17, CBP apprehended 94,285 family units from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador (Northern Triangle) at the Southern border. Of those, 99% remain in the country today.

Misguided court decisions and outdated laws have made it easier for illegal aliens to enter and remain in the U.S. if they are adults who arrive with children, unaccompanied alien children, or individuals who fraudulently claim asylum. As a result, DHS continues to see huge numbers of illegal migrants and a dramatic shift in the demographics of aliens traveling to the border, both in terms of nationality and type of aliens- from a demographic who could be quickly removed when they had no legal right to stay to one that cannot be detained and timely removed.

In October, November, and December of 2018, DHS encountered an average of 2,000 illegal and inadmissible aliens a day at the Southern border. While not an all-time high in terms of overall numbers, record increases in particular types of migrants, such as family units, travelling to the border who require significantly more resources to detain and remove (when our courts and laws even allow that), have overwhelmed the U.S. immigration system, leading to a “system” that enables smugglers and traffickers to flourish and often leaves aliens in limbo for years. This has been a prime  cause of our near-800,000 case backlog in immigration courts and delivers no consequences to aliens who have entered illegally.

Smugglers and traffickers are also using outdated laws to entice migrants to undertake the dangerous journey north where on the route migrants report high rates of abuse, violence, and sexual assault. Human smugglers and traffickers exploit migrants and seek to turn human misery into profit. Transnational criminal organizations and gangs are also deliberately exploiting the situation to bring drugs, violence, and illicit goods into American communities.  The activities of these smugglers, traffickers, gangs and criminals endanger the security of the U.S., as well as partner nations in the region.

The situation has had severe impacts on U.S. border security and immigration operations.  The dramatic increase in illegal migration, including unprecedented number of families and fraudulent asylum claims is making it harder for the U.S. to devote appropriate resources to individuals who are legitimately fleeing persecution. In fact, approximately 9 out of 10 asylum claims from Northern Triangle countries are ultimately found non-meritorious by federal immigration judges. Because of the court backlog and the impact of outdated laws and misguided court decisions, many of these individuals have disappeared into the country before a judge denies their claim and simply become fugitives.

The MPP will provide a safer and more orderly process that will discourage individuals from attempting illegal entry and making false claims to stay in the U.S., and allow more resources to be dedicated to individuals who legitimately qualify for asylum.

What Gives DHS the Authority to Implement MPP?

Section 235 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) addresses the inspection of aliens seeking to be admitted into the U.S. and provides specific procedures regarding the treatment of those not clearly entitled to admission, including those who apply for asylum.  Section 235(b)(2)(C) provides that “in the case of an alien  . . . who is arriving on land (whether or not at a designated port of arrival) from a foreign territory contiguous to the U.S.,” the Secretary of Homeland Security “may return the alien to that territory pending a [removal] proceeding under § 240” of the INA.”  The U.S. has notified the Government of Mexico that it is implementing these procedures under U.S. law.

Who is Subject to MPP?

With certain exceptions, MPP applies to aliens arriving in the U.S. on land from Mexico (including those apprehended along the border) who are not clearly admissible and who are placed in removal proceedings under INA § 240.  This includes aliens who claim a fear of return to Mexico at any point during apprehension, processing, or such proceedings, but who have been assessed not to be more likely than not to face persecution or torture in Mexico.  Unaccompanied alien children and aliens in expedited removal proceedings will not be subject to MPP.  Other individuals from vulnerable populations may be excluded on a case-by-case basis.

How Will MPP Work Operationally?

Certain aliens attempting to enter the U.S. illegally or without documentation, including those who claim asylum, will no longer be released into the country, where they often fail to file an asylum application and/or disappear before an immigration judge can determine the merits of any claim.  Instead, these aliens will be given a “Notice to Appear” for their immigration court hearing and will be returned to Mexico until their hearing date.

While aliens await their hearings in Mexico, the Mexican government has made its own determination to provide such individuals the ability to stay in Mexico, under applicable protection based on the type of status given to them.  

Aliens who need to return to the U.S. to attend their immigration court hearings will be allowed to enter and attend those hearings.  Aliens whose claims are found meritorious by an immigration judge will be allowed to remain in the U.S.  Those determined to be without valid claims will be removed from the U.S. to their country of nationality or citizenship.

 

DHS is working closely with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to streamline the process and conclude removal proceedings as expeditiously as possible.

Will Migrants in MPP Have Access to Counsel?

Consistent with the law, aliens in removal proceedings can use counsel of their choosing at no expense to the U.S. Government.  Aliens subject to MPP will be afforded the same right and provided with a list of legal services providers in the area which offer services at little or no expense to the migrant. 

What Are the Anticipated Benefits of MPP?

Every month, tens of thousands of individuals arrive unlawfully at the Southern Border.  MPP will reduce the number of aliens taking advantage of U.S. law and discourage false asylum claims.  Aliens will not be permitted to disappear into the U.S. before a court issues a final decision on whether they will be admitted and provided protection under U.S. law.  Instead, they will await a determination in Mexico and receive appropriate humanitarian protections there.  This will allow DHS to more effectively assist legitimate asylum-seekers and individuals fleeing persecution, as migrants with non-meritorious or even fraudulent claims will no longer have an incentive for making the journey.  Moreover, MPP will reduce the extraordinary strain on our border security and immigration system, freeing up personnel and resources to better protect our sovereignty and the rule of law by restoring integrity to the American immigration system.

Topics:
Keywords: CBP

CBP Releases Apprehension Data

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 09:42

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United States Customs and Border Protection released new information regarding the number of family units apprehended along the southwest border and the demographics of large groups apprehended in recent months by the United States Border Patrol (USBP). As of today, USBP has seen a surge in Family Unit Aliens compared to the same time from last fiscal year by 280%.  Fiscal Year 2018 was a record year and this year will surpass that if the current trend continues without any legislative fixes.  Overall apprehensions between the POE’s are up 81%.

APPREHENSIONS

Over the past few months (FY19 to date), USBP has seen a dramatic increase in the number of large groups of 100 illegal aliens or more being apprehended along the southern border. In the El Paso, Rio Grande Valley, Tucson, and Yuma Sectors over the last four months, smugglers and traffickers have delivered 53 large groups, totaling 8,797 illegal aliens.

 

Of the 8,797 apprehended in large groups, 7,757 are from Guatemala, and comprised mostly of family units (FMUA) and unaccompanied children (UAC). That means 96.1% are members of family units (84.6%) or unaccompanied children (11.5%) and 99.6% are from the Northern Triangle countries: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

MEDICAL CRISIS

So far this fiscal year, USBP has also seen an increase in the numbers of apprehended individuals requiring medical attention.

  • USBP transported 2,224 subjects (5.3% of all southwest border arrests for the same period) to local hospitals since December 22, 2018.
     
  • USBP has spent a total of 19,299 hours providing various levels of support to these hospital visits. This includes transportation to and from, and over watch for each person/family at the hospital. This means there are less agents performing border security duties.
     
    On January 15, 2019, USBP arrested a group of 247 illegal aliens, of which 50 individuals required immediate treatment/evaluation from a medical professional at a hospital. Transporting 50 individuals to the hospital utilized nearly all available agents, severely limiting their ability to process the large group or respond to other border security duties; thus resulting in increased time in custody, delaying custody transfer coordination, and inhibiting response to other illegal cross-border traffic.

NARCOTICS

Smugglers and traffickers then use these large groups as “cover” while USBP resources are utilized to arrest and detention related duties associated with the large groups.

  • On January 16, 2018, USBP apprehended a group of 253 illegal aliens and in a separate event seized approximately 265 lbs of Marijuana.
     
  • On January 17, 2018, USBP agents seized 705 lbs of Cocaine. On the same day, USBP agents apprehended a large group of 174.
     
  • On January 18, 2018, USBP apprehended a group of 116 and in a separate event seized approximately 1,087 lbs of Marijuana.
Topics:
Keywords: CBP

DHS RELEASES SOUTHWEST BORDER ENFORCEMENT STATISTICS

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 07:36

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the number of enforcement actions at the southwest border for the month of December.  Due to the lapse in funding, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is unable to publish the enforcement actions for December on its website.

Total Enforcement Actions (individuals apprehended in between the ports of entry and deemed inadmissible at the ports of entry) for the month of December in Fiscal Year 2019 was 60,782. December marks the third consecutive month of enforcement actions surpassing 60,000.

The United States Border Patrol apprehended 50,753 individuals (83.5% of all enforcement actions) between the ports of entry on the southern border. The total number of individuals deemed inadmissible for entry at the ports of entry was 10,029.

Key statistics:

The total number of family unit aliens (FMUA) apprehended in between the ports of entry and deemed inadmissible at the ports of entry: 31,901

  • In Fiscal Year 2017, CBP averaged 13,210 family units and unaccompanied alien children each month – in Fiscal Year 2019 CBP is now averaging 31,188 a month. That is a 136% increase.
  • The total number of FMUAs apprehended in between the ports of entry was 27,518. December was a record-breaking month for FMUAs apprehended at the border.
  • FMUA apprehensions through December total 75,794 – higher than 5 out of the last 7 years FY totals – exceeding all but FY16 and FY18, but currently tracking 253% higher than FY16 and 280% higher than FY18 for the same time frames.
  • Of FMUA apprehensions in December, 95% are from Northern Triangle. 96% for the first quarter.
    • For the first quarter, 77% of family units are from Guatemala and Honduras alone.
  • This month marks the third time FMUA apprehensions exceeded Single Adult apprehensions.
    • Apprehensions from Guatemala exceeded Mexico for the third consecutive month (only happened four times) and Honduras has exceeded Mexico for the second consecutive month.

The total number of unaccompanied children apprehended in between the ports of entry and deemed inadmissible at the ports of entry: 5,121

  • Total number of unaccompanied children apprehended in between the ports of entry: 4,766
  • Total number of unaccompanied children deemed inadmissible at the ports of entry: 355

The total number of single adults apprehended in between the ports of entry and deemed inadmissible at the ports of entry: 23,682

  • Total enforcement actions for single adults fell by 10.87% in December from November.

 

Topics:
Keywords: CBP

MYTH/FACT: Known and Suspected Terrorists/Special Interest Aliens

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 16:57

In recent days, the terms “Special Interests Aliens” (SIAs) and “Known and Suspected Terrorists” (KSTs) have become more frequently used as part of discussions about the federal budget and border security.  These terms are not synonymous nor interchangeable, but are two separate terms that are commonly used in the national security community to describe different types of potential threats.  These are generally well understood terms that are, unfortunately, being misunderstood or mischaracterized as part of the current shutdown debate.

The facts are clear:

  • There are thousands of individuals on the terrorist watchlist that traveled through our Hemisphere last year alone, and we work very hard to keep these individuals from traveling on illicit pathways to our country.
     
  • We work with foreign partners to block many of these individuals and prevent them from entering the United States. But effective border security is our last line of defense.
     
  • The threat is real. The number of terror-watchlisted individuals encountered at our Southern Border has increased over the last two years. The exact number is sensitive and details about these cases are extremely sensitive. But I am sure all Americans would agree that even one terrorist reaching our borders is one too many.
     
  • Overall, we stop on average 10 individuals on the terrorist watchlist per day from traveling to or entering the United States—and more than 3,700 in Fiscal Year 2017. Most of these individuals are trying to enter the U.S. by air, but we must also be focused on stopping those who try to get in by land.
     
  • Additionally, Last year at our Southern Border, DHS encountered more than 3,000 “special interest aliens”—individuals with suspicious travel patterns who may pose a national security risk—not to mention the many criminals, smugglers, traffickers, and other threat actors who try to exploit our borders.

What is a Special Interest Alien?

Generally, an SIA is a non-U.S. person who, based on an analysis of travel patterns, potentially poses a national security risk to the United States or its interests.  Often such individuals or groups are employing travel patterns known or evaluated to possibly have a nexus to terrorism.  DHS analysis includes an examination of travel patterns, points of origin, and/or travel segments that are tied to current assessments of national and international threat environments.

This does not mean that all SIAs are “terrorists,” but rather that the travel and behavior of such individuals indicates a possible nexus to nefarious activity (including terrorism) and, at a minimum, provides indicators that necessitate heightened screening and further investigation.  The term SIA does not indicate any specific derogatory information about the individual – and DHS has never indicated that the SIA designation means more than that. 

This term isn’t new and neither is the threat from SIAs. In 2016, Secretary Johnson ordered that DHS form a “multi-DHS Component SIA Joint Action Group” to drive efforts to “counter the threats posed by the smuggling of SIAs.” Just this month, the House Homeland Security Committee released a report outlining the threat posed by SIAs, as well as unknown and other potentially dangerous individuals, traveling to the United States using illicit pathways.  The report can be found here: https://republicans-homeland.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FINAL-SIA-REPORT.pdf 

What is a Known or Suspected Terrorist?

KST is a term commonly used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

First, a “known terrorist” is an individual who has been (a) arrested, charged by information, indicted for, or convicted of a crime related to terrorism and/or terrorist activities by U.S. Government or foreign government authorities; or (b) identified as a terrorist or a member of a terrorist organization pursuant to statute, Executive Order, or international legal obligation pursuant to a United Nations Security Council Resolution.

Second, a “suspected terrorist” is an individual who is reasonably suspected to be engaging in, has engaged in, or intends to engage in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism and/or terrorist activities.

The use of KST is generally accepted to refer to someone for whom we have a reasonable suspicion to believe that they have or are likely to be engaged in terrorist activity, as that term is defined in U.S. law.

Why are these confused publicly?

In a document released by the White House, on Friday January 4, 2019, the White House, using data compiled by the Department of Homeland Security, mentioned a number of KSTs who were prevented from traveling to or entering the United States. 

The presentation stated that “3,755 known or suspected terrorists were prevented from traveling to or entering the United States by DHS (FY17).” This statistic has been used repeatedly by the Department and the Administration (e.g. “CBP prevents an average of 10 individuals on the terrorist watchlist per day from traveling to or entering the United States”). The majority of such individuals are attempting to travel to the United States by air, but others are encountered arriving by land and through maritime routes—and have been encountered attempting to enter the country through the Southern Border. 

A number that was not included in the presentation, yet has recently been used by Administration officials is Friday: “DHS encountered more than 3,000 Special Interest Aliens last year at the Southern Border.” These KST and SIA figures are not the same and should not be conflated.

Despite what some media has reported, SIAs are not simply people who “traveled from a country that had terrorism.”  The targeting information and analysis done by DHS is more sophisticated and incorporates a number of factors.  Often these are individuals who have obtained false documents, or used smugglers to evade security across multiple countries.  In addition, some have engaged in criminal activity that could pose a danger to the United States, and some are found to have links to terrorism after additional investigative work and analysis by CBP personnel.

The bottom line is that significant numbers of threat actors have attempted, and continue to attempt, to enter the United States surreptitiously and without authority.  DHS and other national security agencies remain concerned about the volume of terrorist-watchlisted individuals, SIAs, convicted criminals, gang members, and others who pose a threat to the homeland, attempting to enter the United States. And we will take all appropriate action to legally block their entry.

Topics:
Keywords: CBP

CBP Issues Statement on Illegal Border Crossings in San Diego Sector

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 11:25

The following is based on initial operational reporting. Last night, an approximately 150 migrants attempted to illegally enter the United States by climbing over and crawling under border fence in San Diego Sector. Due to CBP’s increased presence, a first group of 45 turned back towards Mexico. Shortly thereafter, migrants began throwing rocks over the fence at the CBP agents and officers. Several teenagers, wrapped in heavy jackets, blankets and rubber mats were put over the concertina wire. Border Patrol agents witnessed members of the group attempt to lift toddler sized children up and over the concertina wire and having difficulty accomplishing the task in a safe manner. Agents were not in a position to safely assist the children due to the large number of rocks being thrown at them.

To address the rock throwers assaulting agents and risking the safety of migrants attempting to cross who were already on the U.S. side, both smoke and minimal countermeasures were deployed. Agents deployed smoke, pepper spray and CS gas to a position upwind of the rock throwers and south of the border fence.  The deployments were not directed at the migrants attempting entry on the U.S. side or at the fence line.  The rock throwers were located south of the fence, in an elevated position both above the border fence area and the incursion attempt.

These countermeasures successfully suppressed the rock throwers causing them to flee the area. Most of the migrants attempting the incursion, to include those with children, returned to Mexico via a hole under the fence and by climbing over the fence.  No agents witnessed any of the migrants at the fence line, including children, experiencing effects of the chemical agents, which were targeted at the rock throwers further away.  Twenty-five apprehensions, including two teenage migrants, were made.  Under CBP use of force policy, this incident will be reviewed by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

 

Topics:
Keywords: CBP, Customs and Border Protection