Homeland Security

Readout of Secretary Nielsen’s Trip to Jordan and Egypt

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Thu, 12/13/2018 - 15:33

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen traveled to Aqaba, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt to meet with international partners to discuss collaborative efforts to combat emerging transnational threats. The trip was highly successful in reaching agreement on increased training opportunities, information sharing and a general consensus on joint efforts to confront and combat terrorism and transnational smuggling and trafficking.

While in Jordan, Secretary Nielsen participated in the Aqaba Process, during which she met with Jordanian government officials to discuss the importance of a collaborative approach to problems that threaten the safety and stability of our countries, including the spread of terrorism and evolving cyber threats. 

The Aqaba Process is a multi-national forum led by His Majesty King Abdullah II to enhance global coordination in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.  This session of the Aqaba Process, which included heads of state, government officials and law enforcement officials from throughout the region as well as from Europe and Africa, focused on combatting terrorism in East Africa and developing approaches to countering emerging security challenges.

“As always, King Abdullah II has shown great leadership in hosting the Aqaba Process and bringing together leaders committed to combating terrorism,” said Secretary Nielsen. “The focus on threats in East Africa, and steps taken to confront them, continues to shine a spotlight on an area of the world where the United States and other allies remain committed to making more secure.”

Secretary Nielsen next travelled to Egypt, where she met with senior Egyptian officials on a range of security-related issues focused on terrorism financing, cyber security, border and maritime security, customs modernization, aviation security and law enforcement intelligence sharing.

She met with the Minister of Finance Dr. Mohamed Maait to discuss the necessary steps to conclude a bilateral Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement, as well as, to improve intelligence and law enforcement information sharing in support of border management and criminal investigations. They also identified ways to strengthen customs collections and further facilitate the movement of legitimate trade and travel. 

Secretary Nielsen also met with Minister of Defense General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed, the head of the Navy Vice Admiral Ahmed Khalid H. Said, the head of the Border Guards Major General Bassem Riyad, and other Defense officials to discuss expanding cooperation on port security and border operations.  Together they discussed the importance of continued collaboration to secure the extensive Egyptian borders to prevent the travel of criminals and terrorists. 

Additionally, Secretary Nielsen met with the Minister of Civil Aviation Air Marshall Younes il Masry to discuss the recent improvements to Egyptian air cargo screening processes that resulted in the lifting of U.S. restrictions on certain classes of air cargo. They also engaged on future cooperation to address insider threats in the aviation environment, and improve security at key Egyptian airports outside of Cairo. 

In meetings with the Chairman of the Administrative Control Authority, Chairman General Sherif Seif Eldien Hussain Kalil, the parties discussed the best practices for combating human trafficking, smuggling, financial crimes, and cybercrime. The Secretary praised the outcomes of recent bilateral collaborations that resulted in successful joint law enforcement action. Both parties agreed that future cooperation will concentrate on technical assistance and training and joint investigations.

In a meeting with Interior Minister Mahmoud Tawfik, Secretary Nielsen stressed the importance of counter terrorism operations, anti-human trafficking efforts and preventing terrorist travel.  The Secretary and the Minister agreed to work together to improve information sharing and identity confirmation practices, including better reporting of lost and stolen passports. 

On her final stop in Egypt, the Secretary met with Dr. Ashraf Mohe El Din, the head of the Egyptian Pyramid complex, where they discussed mutual efforts to protect valuable antiquities – including Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations efforts to prevent the smuggling of cultural items and to return such items to their home countries.

“Our Egyptian partners were incredibly generous with their time and as a result we reached consensus on a litany of actions that our two countries will take to better coordinate to secure our homelands,” said Secretary Nielsen. “Efforts to secure air cargo, passengers and borders, to strengthen cyber and financial investigations, and to root out insider threats and corruption make both of our countries more secure and we are thankful for their continuing collaboration on these matters.” 

Topics: International Engagement, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: International partnerships
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Blue Lightning Initiative Hosts Stakeholder Summit

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:02

On November 27, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Blue Campaign hosted a Blue Lightning Initiative (BLI) Stakeholder Summit in Washington, DC, to further its effort to combat human trafficking in the aviation industry. The BLI is an element of the Blue Campaign, led by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and DHS Component Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The Summit attracted stakeholders from across the United States including air carriers, port authorities, industry associations, and law enforcement agencies. The Summit included remarks from senior DHS and DOT officials, highlighting the federal government’s role in combatting human trafficking, and a panel of subject-matter experts who shared industry best practices and protocols. DHS recognizes the importance of engaging its industry partners in the fight to end modern day slavery. DHS would like to thank the 23 existing BLI partners, who have contributed to the success of the initiative.

BLI trains airline personnel to identify potential traffickers and human trafficking victims, and to report their suspicions to federal law enforcement. To date, more than 100,000 aviation industry personnel have been trained through the BLI, and actionable tips continue to be reported to law enforcement.

Click here to learn more about BLI. For airlines and aviation industry organizations looking to learn more about partnering with BLI to train their employees on human trafficking and reporting options, email bluecampaign@hq.dhs.gov or trafficking@dot.gov for more information.

Subject-matter expert panelists answer questions pertaining to the role of their organizations in combating human trafficking (CBP Official Photo/Glenn Fawcett)

Loretta Kennedy of JetBlue Airways fields a question during the panel portion of the summit (CBP Official Photo/Glenn Fawcett)

Brandi Bynum, Senior Blue Campaign Coordinator facilitates the BLI Stakeholder Summit (CBP Official Photo/Glenn Fawcett)

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Topics: Human Trafficking
Keywords: Blue Campaign, Combatting Human Trafficking
Categories: Homeland Security

Walls Work

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 10:50

WE ARE BUILDING THE FIRST NEW BORDER WALL IN A DECADE.

DHS is committed to building wall and building wall quickly. We are not replacing short, outdated and ineffective wall with similar wall.  Instead, under this President we are building a wall that is 30-feet high.

FACT: Prior to President Trump taking office, we have never built wall that high.

Once funding was provided, DHS began construction of border wall exceptionally quickly, in some locations in as little as nine months from funding to building– a process that commonly takes two years or more in other parts of Government. By the end of FY 2019, DHS expects to have construction completed or underway for more than 120 miles in the areas it’s most needed by the U.S. Border Patrol. The pace of construction has picked up as initial limiting factors like land acquisition and funding have been addressed.

Before After

The El Centro Sector built approximately two miles of 30' steel bollard wall west of the Calexico West Port of Entry. The contract was awarded in November 2017, construction started in February 2018 and was completed in October 2018.

In FY 2017 Congress provided DHS $292 million to build 40 miles of steel bollard wall in San Diego, El Centro and El Paso Sectors, Border Patrol’s highest priority locations in place of outdated, operationally ineffective barrier. DHS received its FY17 funding for border wall construction in May 2017. DHS awarded the first contract against that funding in November 2017 and began construction three months later in February 2018. As of November 21, 2018, CBP has constructed more than 31 of the 40 miles with the remaining 9 miles scheduled for completion by early 2019:

  • El Centro Project (2.25 miles): Completed.
  • El Paso Project (20 miles): Completed
  • San Diego Primary Project (14 miles): Completion anticipated in May 2019.
  • El Paso Project (4 miles): Construction started in September.

 

How effective is this new border wall? On Sunday when a violent mob of 1,000 people stormed our Southern border, we found the newly constructed portions of the wall to be very effective.  In the area of the breach, a group of people tore a hole in the old landing mat fence constructed decades ago and pushed across the border.  U.S. Border Patrol agents who responded to the area ultimately dispersed the crowd, which had become assaultive, and apprehended several individuals.  All of the individuals were either apprehended or retreated into Mexico.  That evening, the fence was repaired.  There were no breaches along the newly constructed border wall areas.

In FY18, Congress provided $1.375B for border wall construction which equates to approximately 84 miles of border wall in multiple locations across the Southwest border, including:

  • $251M for secondary border wall in the San Diego Sector
  • $445M to construct new levee wall system in the Rio Grande Valley Sector
  • $196M to construct new steel bollard wall system in Rio Grande Valley Sector
  • $445M for primary pedestrian wall in San Diego, El Centro, Yuma and Tucson Sectors

What’s next you might ask? When combined with the funds provided in FY 2017 and FY 2018, if funded at $5B in FY 2019 DHS expects to construct more than 330 miles of border wall in the U.S. Border Patrol’s highest priority locations across the Southwest border.

DHS is positioned to construct 215 miles of Border Patrol’s highest priority border wall miles including:

  • ~5 miles in San Diego Sector in California
  • ~14 miles in El Centro Sector in California
  • ~27 miles in Yuma Sector in Arizona
  • ~9 miles in El Paso Sector in New Mexico
  • ~55 miles in Laredo Sector in Texas
  • ~104 miles in Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas

The Bottom Line: Walls Work. When it comes to stopping drugs and illegal aliens across our borders, border walls have proven to be extremely effective. Border security relies on a combination of border infrastructure, technology, personnel and partnerships with law enforcement at the state, local, tribal, and federal level. For example, when we have installed wall in Yuma Sector, we have seen border apprehensions decrease by 90 percent. In San Diego we saw on Sunday that dilapidated, decades old barriers are not sufficient for today’s threat and need to be removed so new – up to 30 foot wall sections can be completed.

Topics: Border Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Keywords: Border Security, border wall, immigration enforcement
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Blue Campaign Announces Partnership with United Airlines

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 09:14

On December 7, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new industry partnership between the DHS Blue Campaign – the unified voice for DHS’s efforts to combat human trafficking – and United Airlines.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign is excited about its partnership with United Airlines. United has a robust human trafficking awareness training program and will be a leader in the airline industry’s efforts to combat human trafficking. Together, the Blue Campaign and United Airlines will share their resources and begin an endeavor to identify and alleviate the terrible toll of human trafficking,” said Trent Frazier, Executive Director of DHS Campaigns.

Through this partnership, the Blue Campaign will co-brand its awareness materials with United Airlines. These materials will further support United Airlines employee training, which empowers them to recognize indicators of human trafficking and report suspected cases. The Blue Campaign will also facilitate other types of outreach to educate United Airlines’ employees, including its crew members, about human trafficking. 

“At United, safety is our top priority,” said Steve Morrissey, United’s vice president, regulatory and policy. “Partnering with the Department of Homeland Security and combining our collective resources further underscores our commitment to safety and strengthens our determination to recognize and report instances of human trafficking.”

The Blue Campaign leverages its partnerships with state and local governments, the private sector, and others, to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice. As with other public-facing industries, the Blue Campaign looks forward to collaborating with United Airlines to combat human trafficking.

For more information about the Blue Campaign, click here.

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Topics: Human Trafficking
Keywords: Blue Campaign, Combatting Human Trafficking, public-private partnership
Categories: Homeland Security

Statement on Secretary Nielsen's Meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary-Designate Marcelo Ebrard

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 17:51

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton released the following statement on U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen's meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary-Designate Marcelo Ebrard.

“Today in Washington, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen met with Mexican Foreign Secretary-Designate Marcelo Ebrard to discuss a variety of issues of shared concern and new opportunities. This conversation covered several joint interest areas in order to define common vision and showing leadership together throughout the region. This was the first official visit in the United States for Secretary-Designate Ebrard.”

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Topics: International Engagement
Keywords: International partnerships
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Nielsen Statement On San Ysidro Port Of Entry Closure

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 16:54

"This morning, CBP was forced to close the San Ysidro Port of Entry to ensure public safety in response to large numbers of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. illegally. After being prevented from entering the Port of Entry, some of these migrants attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them. As I have continually stated, DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons. We will also seek to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who destroys federal property, endangers our frontline operators, or violates our nation’s sovereignty. CBP, along with other DHS law enforcement, federal law enforcement, the U.S. military and state and local law enforcement, will continue to have a robust presence along the Southwest Border and at our ports of entry to prevent illegal entry or violence. We continue to stay in close contact with Mexican authorities and we remain committed to resolving this situation safely in concert with our Mexican partners."

Topics: Border Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: immigration enforcement, Port of Entry, southwest border
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Convenes Third Digital Forum on Terrorism Prevention with Southern California Stakeholders

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 16:26

On November 16, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships, joined by the Anti-Defamation League, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Hacker Fund, RAND Corporation, and Tech Against Terrorism convened the third Digital Forum on Terrorism Prevention in Santa Monica, California, to discuss innovative and inclusive responses to hate, polarization, and terrorism. 

The 70 participants included industry executives, non-profit leaders, educators, law enforcement, and local, state, federal, and foreign officials, who actively participated in “lightning round” talks about how programming activities contribute toward a broader architecture to prevent terrorism, specifically through the lens of technology.  The event was organized at the direction of DHS Secretary Nielsen, who after the second Digital Forum on Terrorism Prevention in Silicon Valley, called for another Digital Forum by the end of 2018, highlighting the value of engagements that feature “continued cross-section of all interested parties.”

The packed agenda featured high quality speakers on panels titled, “Innovative Responses to Hate,” “Inclusive Approaches to Polarization,” “Digital Advancement in the Age of Terrorism,” “Strategic Design, Incubation, and Measurement,” and “Vision for Future Collaboration.”  Speakers noted the importance of having technology to support work at the community level for many purposes, specifically to assess risk, amplify messaging, inform reporting, deliver training and toolkits, and ultimately drive online connections into a sustainable offline infrastructure that provides intervention services for those at risk of radicalization to violence.

While several organizations emphasized their demand for additional resources to support their respective programs, attendees also recognized how the whole was greater than the sum of its parts through cross sector engagement.  This was emphasized during the question & answer sessions, where conversations centered upon how solutions that address broad societal challenges (such as social isolation, bullying, marginalization, discrimination) also provide opportunity to address the advent of terrorism and hate crimes.  In the short time since the conclusion of the Digital Forum, many attendees have already begun connecting to strengthen the expanding network of terrorism prevention practitioners, regionally and nationally.

Participants also discussed how the evolving information environment presents new opportunities and challenges.  New and growing platforms provide broader reach for both broad communications and individualized messaging, but limited policies and weak enforcement capabilities of smaller organizations may consequently introduce unintended vulnerabilities that can be exploited to do harm.  Therefore, it became evident that the long term viability of civil society partners must be rooted in teamwork and information sharing, in order to adequately insulate populations from adversarial influence.

The third Digital Forum on Terrorism Prevention also revealed how prevention work takes on different shapes in different communities.  Program implementation and public discourse varies depending upon locality, since community leaders’ priorities vary.  Terrorism prevention practitioners have a responsibility to contextualize issues to ensure widest impact with any variety of stakeholders, including community centers, mental health organizations, school districts, human rights organizations, emergency management agencies, as well as the offices of elected officials.

In addition to the open discussions, DHS staff briefed  the online training course, “Countering Terrorists Exploitation of Social Media and the Internet,” which the U.S. Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Task Force and the United Kingdom Home Office jointly developed this year. The training examines the online activities of ISIS, al-Qa´ida, and White Supremacist Extremists, as well as highlights select initiatives where governments and industry have worked to counter the threat from these groups and movements.  The course is currently in its beta phase, with staff at multiple leading and startup technology companies having already completed it.  Companies and startups interested in gaining access to the training can request it on Tech Against Terrorism’s Knowledge Sharing Platform or email contact@techagainstterrorism.org with “Training” written in the subject line.

By addressing efforts to counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment, the Digital Forum on Terrorism Prevention fulfills several requisites featured in the new National Strategy for Counterterrorism.  It also meets the core goals of the DHS Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships: to provide awareness of the terrorist threat to civil society and government partners; to implement engagement programs that reduce barriers to reporting and bolster resistance to radicalization to violence; to spur innovation and expansion of intervention programs; and to build a positive feedback loop to continuously assess initiatives or programs for effectiveness and widely shares these lessons learned.

Topics: Preventing Terrorism
Keywords: terrorism prevention
Categories: Homeland Security
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