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Updated: 1 hour 3 min ago

FEMA Leads Massive Whole Community Response Effort for Hurricane Michael Survivors

4 hours 33 min ago

​WASHINGTON – Thousands of first responders and volunteers continue working together to save lives, restore power and help survivors affected by Hurricane Michael.

More than 16,000 federal employees, including over 8,000 military personnel have been deployed to support Hurricane Michael response efforts.

Since Michael’s landfall, search and rescue teams from FEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard and others, working alongside state responders and volunteers, have completed 110 evacuations, 4,193 rescues/assists, 15,287 shelter in place checks, and 128 animal assists. Structural assessments were completed on 16,827 structures in Florida.

FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams are in Florida helping survivors register for assistance. More than 28,000 individuals and households registered for disaster assistance and are being referred to federal, state or voluntary agencies for assistance.

Sunday, President Trump issued a major disaster declaration for Georgia, making federal assistance available to individuals and households, and authorizing debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance.

Sixteen different states are sending support through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. More than 25 missions are active in both Florida and Georgia with more than 430 people deployed to assist.

More than 35,000 utility workers from 26 states, are working to restore power. Customer outages are declining; as customers are restored, companies are reallocating resources strategically. Efforts in the hardest hit areas may be prolonged due to access constraints and the level of damage.
In Florida, FEMA provided 715,000 meals and 1.5 million liters of water per day. FEMA transferred more than 350,000 meals to Georgia for feeding operations.

The federal government is supporting more than 30 distribution sites to provide meals, water and other items in areas where stores are not open, or supplies are limited. Florida residents can find information about food and water locations by visiting residents can learn more at the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency's website. These points of distribution are further supported by voluntary and faith-based field kitchens and mobile feeding units.

Residents in Alabama, Florida and Georgia should:

  • Stay safe. Return home only if you are told it is safe by local officials. As you clear debris please look carefully around the debris for any visible cables. If you see any cables, wait for professional help. Power cables can kill easily.
  • Be strong. Focus on your specific needs and take care of one another. Shelters are providing information, charging stations, and connection to assistance from federal, state, and voluntary agencies. They also have communications support so you can contact loved ones and let them know you’re safe.
  • Start cleaning up. Photograph/video damages before you start cleaning up. Contact your insurance company to file a claim.

For those outside the impacted area,never forget – Cash Is Best! It’s critical that the right resources get where they’re needed most. A financial contribution to one of the over 80 voluntary and faith-based organizations operating in the impacted area will speed recovery and help survivors.

The Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has made the Disaster Distress Helpline available to assist residents in the impacted area in coping with the stress caused by Hurricane Michael. To connect with a trained crisis counselor, call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (for Spanish, press 2 or text Hablanos to 66746).

Other federal, private sector and voluntary organizations response actions include:

FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Teams

  • Three rescues, 110 evacuations, 61 assists, 15,287 shelter in place checks, 1,055 animal assists, and 16,827 structural assessments completed in Florida.

American Red Cross

  • More than 1,600 people stayed overnight in shelters in Florida and Georgia.
  • As people are now in shelters, survivors can use the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well site to check in and find missing individuals.

U.S. Department of Defense

  • More than 5,000 personnel are engaged in Hurricane Michael response efforts.
  • Department assets including 32 helicopters, six fixed wing aircraft, 17 swift water vehicles and up to 160 high water vehicles are available to support search and rescue missions.

National Guard Bureau

  • More than 4,000 National Guard troops in Florida and Georgia have been assigned to over 50 missions that include search & rescue, engineering, route clearance and POD support at 30 locations. Troops are also providing support at 12 shelter locations.
  • A Guard heavy engineering unit has cleared 107 city blocks in the affected area.

U. S. Coast Guard

  • U.S. Coast Guard working with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, completed 355 assistances/rescues and one animal rescue in Florida.Three USCG Damage Assessment Teams and two Reconstruction Teams are assessing and repairing damaged facilities.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

  • The Corps is engaged in seven response programs including providingtemporary emergency power in Florida, offering technical assistance on debris removal, route clearance and temporary roofing.
  • The Corpsdeployed 90 personnel to support response efforts.
  • Twenty route clearance teams are clearing roads in Florida.
  • Two Deployable Tactical Operations System Vehicle are in Florida to assist with communication capabilities and connectivity.
  • The Corps is actively monitoring and managing dams within the area impacted by Hurricane Michael to make as much water storage available as possible.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • Eight Health and Human Services Disaster Medical Assistance Teams are caring for patients at four emergency departments in Florida.
  • A U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps behavioral health team is providing crisis counseling for hospital staff, emergency responders and community members in severely impacted areas.

U.S. Department of Transportation

  • DOT created an interactive web mapping application on transportation infrastructure.

Federal Communications Commission

  • The FCC is providing emergency assistance to communications providers and has created a dedicated webpage for information about Michael, including tips for communicating during an emergency.

U.S. Department of Interior

  • Interior has 225 personnel on the ground conducting debris clearance and infrastructure damage assessments.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • USDA launched a disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website that provides information about disaster assistance programs offered by the USDA.

U.S. Department of Labor

  • National Dislocated Worker Grant (DWG) funding is available to help Florida assess its workforce needs due to significant job losses caused by Hurricane Michael. This funding assists the state and local governments to expand service capacity of dislocated worker training and employment programs.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • NOAA law enforcement continues supporting urban search and rescue missions.
  • Aerial images of the Florida panhandle are available on

Whole Community Response Efforts: The federal government is just one part of the team; FEMA is leading a partnership with faith-based, voluntary, and non-governmental agencies and the private sector to reach every survivor who needs help.

  • The Salvation Army mobilized 48 mobile feeding units with a combined service capacity of 72,000 daily meals.

  • Operation Barbeque Relief has field kitchens in Florida with a total meal capacity of 30,000 meals per day.

  • In Florida, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief opened a disaster kitchen which can produce up to 20,000 meals per day. Three more kitchens with an additional 40,000 meals per day capacity are expected to open today.

  • In Georgia, Southern Baptists Disaster Relief is opening one kitchen today with a capacity of 15,000 meals per day.

  • Airbnb announced 900 homes have opened to host displaced survivors for free, including 200 in Florida. Airbnb expanded Open Homes program across Florida and adjacent states.

  • More than 6,000 volunteers have registered with Volunteer Florida to assist Hurricane Michael survivors.

Topics: Disasters
Keywords: disaster relief, Hurricane Michael, natural disasters
Categories: Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security Hosts Central American Countries for Security Day

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 18:00

Today, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen hosted the second day of the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, which focused on improving citizen security and safety in Central America. As part of the conference, Secretary Nielsen and Mexican Foreign Secretary Videgaray met with leaders from Northern Triangle countries in Washington, D.C., including Minister of Government Degenhart of Guatemala, Secretary of Security Pacheco of Honduras, and Minister of Justice and Public Security Landaverde of El Salvador.

Throughout the day's sessions, discussions focused on security cooperation, stemming the flow of illegal migration, combating organized crime and gangs, and enhancing regional and citizen security.

Secretary Nielsen recognized the efforts being taken by the Northern Triangle governments to strengthen security in the region. In the area of narcotics trafficking, one of many subjects the leaders touched upon today that affects security in the region was that much of South American cocaine bound for the U.S. travels through Central America. As part of the Department's commitment to stopping the flow of illicit drugs crossing our borders, Secretary Nielsen committed to continuing to work with these countries to address drug trafficking.

Additionally, the leaders discussed the flow of illegal immigrants from Northern Triangle countries. Since 2014, when nearly 52,000 children from the Northern Triangle region of Central America made the dangerous journey alone to the U.S. border, the U.S. government has worked with the governments of the Northern Triangle to address the root causes of illegal immigration to the United States. By reducing crime and violence, addressing corruption and impunity, disrupting the activities of transnational criminal organizations, and providing citizens in Central America with greater economic opportunity, the United States is helping to foster an environment where families can envision their futures in their home countries and communities.

During the working sessions, Secretary Nielsen thanked all of the Central American leaders for their continued partnership as we work to build a secure and prosperous Central America. Secretary Nielsen also reaffirmed her commitment to fighting human smuggling organizations and transnational criminals who continue to do harm to Central American families and children.

For more information on the joint progress since the 2017 conference and the agreements to expand cooperation over the two-day Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, please see the U.S. Fact Sheet here.

(DHS Official Photo/Tara Molle)


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

Secretary Nielsen Statement on the Confirmation of Pete Gaynor

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 09:48

“Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Pete Gaynor to be Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). With the 2018 hurricane season fully underway, Pete’s confirmation could not have come at a more critical time. His experience as both a state and local emergency manager, combined with more than two decades of service in the United States Marine Corps, make him an invaluable addition to the Administrator’s leadership team at FEMA. Deputy Administrator Gaynor will immediately get to work helping the many Americans recently devastated by the destruction of Hurricane Michael across the East Coast.  I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead to support the men and women of FEMA as they carry out their missions.”


Topics: Disasters, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: FEMA, Secretary Nielsen
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Issues Waiver to Expedite Border Construction Project in Hidalgo County, Texas

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 10:24

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security has issued a waiver to waive certain laws to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads near the international border in the state of Texas, in the county of Hidalgo.  The waiver was published in the Federal Register on Oct. 11, 2018.

This waiver is pursuant to authority granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security by Congress and covers a variety of environmental, natural resource, and land management laws.  Congress 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 at 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 barriers and roads in the vicinity of 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, barriers, 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 barriers and roads authorized by section 102 of IIRIRA.

The Department exercised the waiver authority in Section 102 (c) of IIRIRA on five occasions from 2005 to 2008 and on two occasions in 2017.

The geographic scope of this waiver covers an approximate 14-mile long wall project located in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.  This is within the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector.  The Rio Grande Valley Sector remains an area of high illegal alien activity and marijuana seizures.  In fiscal year 2017, the United States Border Patrol apprehended over 137,000 illegal aliens and seized approximately 260,000 pounds of marijuana and approximately 1,192 pounds of cocaine in the Rio Grande Valley Sector.  In order to achieve operational control of the border in the RGV Sector, DHS will implement a border infrastructure project that will focus on an area consisting of multiple segments of border wall that will start near the intersection of Abram road and the IBWC levee and extend eastward to the intersection of Rio Rico Road and the IBWC levee.  The new segments of wall construction will augment the existing wall infrastructure by closing a substantial amount of border gaps along the border in Hidalgo County that were not previously completed during the 2008 wall construction.

While the waiver eliminates DHS’ obligation to comply with various laws with respect to covered projects, DHS remains committed to environmental stewardship.  DHS has been coordinating and consulting, and intends to continue doing so, with other federal and state resource  agencies to ensure that impacts to the environment, wildlife, and cultural and historic artifacts are analyzed and minimized, to the extent possible.

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
Keywords: Border Security, CBP
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Issues Waiver to Expedite Border Wall Gate Construction Project in Texas

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 10:31

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security has issued a waiver to ensure the expeditious construction of gates in existing wall structure near the international border in the state of Texas. The waiver was published in the Federal Register Oct. 10, 2018. 

This waiver is issued 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 at 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 Department exercised the waiver authority in Section 102 (c) of IIRIRA on eight prior occasions.

The geographic scope of this waiver provides for the installation of 11 automated border wall gates and associated site improvements at existing openings in the existing PF225 Bollard Fence alignment in the U.S. Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector. The project sites are within the area of responsibility of the Fort Brown, Brownsville, and Harlingen Border Patrol Stations within Cameron County Texas. The gates will be located off the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) Levee at the end or along existing levee ramps. Once installed, the gates will serve as a persistent impediment to illegal entry while still allowing access to the riverside of the gates for the USBP, certain private citizens and other local/state/federal officials, and local emergency responders.

The Rio Grande Valley Sector remains an area of high illegal alien activity.   In fiscal year 2017, the United States Border Patrol apprehended over 137,000 illegal aliens and seized approximately 260,000 pounds of marijuana and approximately 1,192 pounds of cocaine in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. The new segments of wall construction will augment the existing wall infrastructure by closing gaps in the existing border wall.  No wall will be constructed within the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge under this project.  

While the waiver eliminates DHS’ obligation to comply with various laws in carrying out the project, DHS remains committed to environmental stewardship.  DHS has been consulting, and intends to continue doing so, with stakeholders including federal and state resource agencies and affected landowners.  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.


Topics: Border Security
Keywords: Border Security, CBP, dhs
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Announces Strategy to Protect the Homeland from Electromagnetic Incidents

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 17:18

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced the release of the Strategy for Protecting and Preparing the Homeland against Threats from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and Geomagnetic Disturbance (GMD).

The Strategy lays 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.

Electromagnetic incidents caused by an intentional EMP attack or naturally-occurring GMD events, while unlikely, could cause serious damage to the nation’s critical infrastructure, including the electrical grid, communications equipment, and transportation capabilities.

While the Strategy is primarily focused on Departmental activities, it 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. This partnership is essential to help critical infrastructure owners and operators to manage EMP and GMD risk.

The Department is currently developing an accompanying Implementation Plan, which will include measures that enable DHS to evaluate progress toward addressing identified capability gaps. Together, the Strategy and its companion Implementation Plan will improve the Department’s management oversight and optimize resource utilization for our EMP/GMD protection, response, and recovery activities.

DHS intends to review and update the EMP/GMD Strategy, as needed, and regularly assess the Department’s progress on the Implementation Plan.

You can view the Department’s EMP/ GMD Strategy here.

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Keywords: intelligence
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Nielsen Remarks at AUSA Annual Meeting and Exhibition: As Prepared For Delivery

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 13:44


Good afternoon, everyone.  I want to thank you for the invitation to speak at this year’s meeting of the Association of the United States Army.

In particular, I would like to thank AUSA President General Carter Ham and Lieutenant General Guy Swan for inviting me here today.  I would also like to recognize Lieutenant General Jeff Buchanan, who has been a great partner for the Department.

And of course, thank you to each of you for your committed service to our country.  I got the public service bug from my parents and uncles, who all served in the Army. 

It is truly humbling to stand before the greatest Army on earth, its supporters—especially the families—and the industry partners who play a vital role in its successes.  Thank you for your sacrifices, your dedication, and your faith in freedom.  It is an honor to address you.


Today I first want to outline how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is embracing a “Resilience Agenda” to adapt to a new age of threats.

And second, I want to touch on how the dynamic dangers we face require deep partnerships, especially between DHS and the military.

Two 9/11s—and a Legacy of Resilience

Let me begin on the topic of “resilience” and how the American experience is defined by it.

History will forever record that September 11th began as a beautiful day in New York.  However, by 9 a.m. the morning calm was broken by the sound of explosions.

“I’d never heard such a noise,” one New Yorker recalled.  It “seemed as if thunder wasn’t anything…it was enough to deafen [anybody].”

The attack site was “covered with flame” and the area was strewn with debris.  While pedestrians fled for safety, first responders rushed into—and not away from—danger to care for hundreds of injured.

It was an act of war.  And it would shape the course of American history forever.

The attack I’ve described was not the work of Osama bin Laden.  It was Great Britain who was the perpetrator.  And the date was September 11th, 1814, the day of the last confrontation in the War of 1812.  The Battle of Plattsburgh.

That morning in upstate New York, U.S. troops and naval forces waged a furious struggle against the invading British, which resulted in several hundred casualties but effectively ended the war. 

Ultimately, U.S. ships won the day, but the U.S. Army won the admiration of the American people.  On land, our troops were outnumbered nearly 10-to-1.  But thanks to clever strategic planning—including the employment of obstacles and dead-end traps—the U.S. Army forced the British into retreat, saving American lives and helping bring the war to a conclusion on our terms, and not those of a foreign power.

We came out of the war not weakened, but as a stronger, more focused nation.  Throughout the centuries that followed, the United States Army continued to build an American legacy of resilience.

You marched into Gettysburg to keep the Union from falling apart…you stormed the beaches of Normandy to oppose the forces of tyranny…and you fought worldwide to keep communism from posing a mortal threat to our way of life.

Thankfully it would be almost 200 years after the Battle of Plattsburgh before another major foreign attack hit the U.S. mainland.  And when it did on September 11, 2001, you responded with courage and resolve.

Many in this room deployed to faraway lands to take the fight to the enemy “over there” so the fight did not come “over here.”

Before I continue, I want to take a moment to thank you on behalf of the nation you have defended and the people you have inspired. 

Adapting to a New Age of Threats

When we were attacked on September 11, 2001, in our darkest hour, we saw real heroism…we saw renewed hope…and we saw relentless resilience.

A time when our incredulity was replaced by defiance and our rallying cry was marked by unified determination:  “United We Stand” was written in sidewalk chalk, on bumper stickers, and in the hearts of all Americans who pledged not to be intimidated by evil.

Born from that commitment was the Department of Homeland Security.  And since our creation we have learned a lot from men and women in military uniform, especially the U.S. Army.

After all, let’s not forget the age gap between us…this year you celebrated your 243rd birthday—we celebrated our 15th.  We still have much to learn.

In that short time, though, you have taught DHS a great deal about being “ready and resilient”- R2 is a strong and lasting strategy and one that I seek to imbed in all we do at DHS.  Years after 9/11, we are still not prepared for everything- we can’t be.

But what we can do is instill and champion a “culture of resilience” in our everyday lives.  Given the myriad of threats we face today in the homeland- that resilience must be relentless.  Such a culture is not just about bouncing back; it’s about bouncing forward, adapting and innovating even while under attack, and coming back stronger to stare down the next challenge more decisively than before.

This philosophy is now central to the Department’s approach for securing the homeland.  Our “Relentless Resilience Agenda” is about…

  • Leaning in against today’s threats while zooming out to prepare for those on the horizon;
  • Being adaptive to keep pace with our adversaries;
  • Identifying and confronting systemic risk;
  • Preparing at the citizen level;
  • Building redundancy into everything;
  • And raising the baseline of our security across the board—and across the world.

We cannot afford a policy of strategic patience, not when our enemies and adversaries are working day and night to undermine us.  Instead, we are reasserting U.S. leadership.  And we are building the toughest homeland security enterprise America has ever seen.

What keeps me up at night – a question I am often asked- is this:  emerging threats are now outpacing our defense.

Whether it is sophisticated malware, weaponized drones, or do-it-yourself chemical and biological weapons, the dangers of tomorrow are coming right at us today.

We need to adapt to this tectonic shift in the threat landscape—before it’s too late.

Dynamic Dangers, Deeper Partnerships

In today’s world, where threat actors are crowd-sourcing chaos, we MUST crowd-source our response.

This is only possible through deep public, private, and international cooperation.  Partnerships used to be a “nice to have.”  But now they are a lifeline for America’s survival.

That is why DHS is deepening its ties across the military.

We are coordinating our activities with DOD to better combat emerging threats, secure our borders, and respond to natural disasters.

Emerging Threats

Nowhere are the dangers of emerging threats more evident right now than in cyberspace.

The DHS cybersecurity arm—NPPD—collaborates closely with DOD, recognizing the importance of syncing DOD actions to defend cyberspace with our domestic network defense activities.

I am proud to say that the partnership is now wider, deeper, and more impactful than it has ever been before.

Our cyber efforts also include our joint efforts to protect our democratic institutions against foreign interference.

DOD and the military services have teamed up with DHS in both “seen and unseen” ways to keep our adversaries from threatening our election infrastructure and from meddling in our domestic affairs.

We are also working together to defend the homeland against drone threats.  The danger is real.  Terrorists, transnational criminals, and other nefarious actors are using drones around the world to spy, to smuggle illicit goads, and to kill.

And they have our homeland in the crosshairs.

Today, I can announce that we are preparing to turn the tide.  On Friday the President signed into law new authorities that will allow DHS to identify, track, and take down dangerous drones that might pose a threat to major national events, sensitive facilities, DHS operations, and more.

Our new authorities are fashioned after existing DOD authorities.  And we will be working closely together to apply lessons-learned to our new counter-drone mission in the homeland.

A few weeks ago, I visited NORTHCOM and had the opportunity to discuss these plans with General O’Shaughnessy, and we are on a good path.

The same applies to our work to counter terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.  DHS works hand-in-hand with DOD and our armed forces to disrupt terror suspects overseas, to stop terrorist travel, and to detect chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear dangers.

For example, in the past year, we have undertaken new efforts to forward-deploy our people to dangerous parts of the world to help DOD identify terrorists who might threaten the United States.

And we have partnered in the wake of Russia’s chemical attacks in the UK to make sure we are better prepared to guard against dangerous WMD agents.

Border Security

But perhaps even more fundamental to our nation’s security is the work happening at our borders.

Let me be clear:  border security is national security.  There is no more basic or essential responsibility of a country than to protect and assert its borders.

And we are grateful that we have had the military’s support in safeguarding our territory.

Human smuggling, trafficking, violence, and criminal activity has reached alarming levels.  So in April, President Trump directed the Department of Defense to expand its existing support to CBP to help us gain operational control of our borders.

This is known as Operation Guardian Support.

More than 1,600 dedicated National Guardsmen are in the field supporting our CBP personnel in securing our southern border, and I thank them for their efforts.

Working together, this operation has allowed us to stop known criminals and dangerous drugs from getting into our country.

And the collaboration goes well beyond our immediate borders.

DHS and the military have pioneered extraordinary interagency efforts to dismantle transnational criminal organizations abroad to keep their violence and illicit goods from ever reaching America in the first place.

The Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) model is the perfect example.  At JIATF-South in Key West, Florida, our personnel sit side-by-side with many of yours to track bad guys transiting the hemisphere trying to reach our shores.

Seamless information sharing allows us to stop these criminals in their tracks…and to bring them to justice.

I asked the President to visit JIATF-South earlier this year, and he was blown away by what he saw.

We will be doing much, much more in the next year to build on this type of model to go after transnational criminals…so stay tuned.

Natural Disasters

Finally, we continue to deepen our cooperation to prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

The past year has been unprecedented in terms of both the scale and scope of disasters impacting our country.

In rapid succession last year, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria devastated the southern states and territories.  And while we were still responding to those hurricanes, we began sending our resources westward, aiding those affected by the series of wildfires in California.

In total, more than 46.9 million Americans—nearly 15% of the U.S. population—were affected by these storms and wildfires.  It was one of the costliest and most-damaging seasons for natural disasters in history, with the cumulative cost exceeding $300 billion.

And while forecasts for this hurricane season aren’t quite as severe as those last year, we have already witnessed the devastating impacts of Hurricane Lane in Hawaii and Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas and we are actively preparing for Hurricane Michael in the Gulf.

These types of disasters demand a response beyond what any one agency can handle.  They require all hands on deck.  And DOD has stepped up to the plate, working seamlessly with DHS to help state and local officials respond to catastrophic crises.

Throughout the responses to hurricanes over the past year, Combatant Commands leadership were among our closest partners.  They assisted in providing key resources from USTRANSCOM, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other Title 10 forces that saved American lives and property.

This includes the assignment of heavy-lift aircraft, hospital ships, and high water vehicles, among others, so responders could deploy straight to the source.  Our joint efforts are critical to a speedy and effective response—distributing commodities, clearing routes, providing equipment, conducting search and rescue - the list goes on.

I would like to thank Lieutenant General Buchanan—who is with us today—for being a vital partner in Puerto Rico and making extraordinary efforts to leverage unique DOD resources to help the community recover.

Please join me in giving him – and all those who have supported DHS and our state and local first responder partners- a round of applause.  [Lead applause.]

Without the dedicated work from our partners throughout the Department of Defense, our emergency response missions following Hurricane Maria—and every other disaster—would not have been possible, so thank you.

Call to Action

Americans may not expect that cyber security, border security, and disaster response depend so heavily on DHS and DOD collaboration.  But they do.  And those partnerships—including through the leadership of the U.S. Army—have made our nation immeasurably safer and more secure.

I want to urge each of you to view partnership through a new lens.

You know all-too-well that America is the biggest target in the world.  Criminals want to steal from us.  Our enemies want to attack us.  And foreign adversaries are working in real-time to undermine us.  They are exploiting our open society and infiltrating our communities.  And we can’t let it happen. 

The task is daunting, especially because technology has given the bad guys so many new vectors through which to attack us.

But rather than throw in the towel, we need to throw down the gauntlet and put them on notice that America will rise to the challenge and deliver consequences for interference.

Think creatively about how we can partner…how we can share information…how we can combine our authorities to overcome the threats to our nation.  Look outside of traditional boundaries and lines of effort.  And knock down the silos wherever you see them.

I know the lawyers are having a heart attack right now.  But if we do it the right way, we can protect our homeland like never before and have a competitive advantage over those that would dare threaten us.


In closing, I urge each of you to add to the American legacy of resilience that the Army has helped build through centuries of service. 

Last week I was reminded of that great legacy when I had the privilege of witnessing President Trump award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Ronald Shurer.

Ron is a DHS employee in the U.S. Secret Service, where he is a special agent and a member of the agency’s counter-assault team.

Before that, though, he was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army—a Special Forces medic who joined the military in response to 9/11.

In April 2008, his team came under heavy enemy attack on a mountainside in Afghanistan.  Under withering fire from machines guns, snipers, and rocket-propelled grenades, Ron charged up and down the mountain to treat his fellow soldiers, to get them to safety, and to return to fight the enemy.

His actions were nothing short of extraordinary.  And I cannot tell you how fortunate and proud we are to have him as part of the DHS team.

Ron exemplifies the U.S. Army’s spirit of resilience.  And it is that same kind of relentless resilience that we need to guide us through hurricanes, network intrusions, or terror attacks—whatever the danger may be.

I am proud to say we have nearly 55,000 military veterans in the Department of Homeland Security.  And I’d be remiss if I didn’t advertise to this audience that we are always ready to welcome more.

I want to thank you all for your service to our country and for the invitation to join you today.

I am inspired by your example.  Humbled by your service.  And deeply appreciative of your partnership.

On behalf of DHS and a grateful nation, thank you.

Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: Border Security, Emerging threats, resilience
Categories: Homeland Security

Statement from DHS Press Secretary on Recent Media Reports of Potential Supply Chain Compromise

Sat, 10/06/2018 - 19:10

“The Department of Homeland Security is aware of the media reports of a technology supply chain compromise. Like our partners in the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre, at this time we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story. Information and communications technology supply chain security is core to DHS’s cybersecurity mission and we are committed to the security and integrity of the technology on which Americans and others around the world increasingly rely. Just this month – National Cybersecurity Awareness Month – we launched several government-industry initiatives to develop near- and long-term solutions to manage risk posed by the complex challenges of increasingly global supply chains. These initiatives will build on existing partnerships with a wide range of technology companies to strengthen our nation’s collective cybersecurity and risk management efforts.”

Topics: Cybersecurity
Keywords: Cybersecurity, supply chain security
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen Statement on President Trump’s Counterterrorism Strategy

Fri, 10/05/2018 - 08:55

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement today on President Trump’s National Counterterrorism Strategy:

“Since 9/11, the threats to our homeland—and our enemies—continue to evolve.  It’s time for our counterterrorism posture to do the same.  President Trump’s National Counterterrorism Strategy is the bold framework we need to confront a new age of terror, in which the ‘away game’ and ‘home game’ are now one in the same.

“Today our country is fighting terrorists groups, such as ISIS and al-Qaeda, on physical and virtual battlefields.  Our enemies are crowd-sourcing their violence and spreading their hate to all corners of the globe, including into our own communities.  And they are pursuing sophisticated plots using emerging technologies, as well as simple do-it-yourself tactics, in order to cause fear and destruction and to undermine our open society.

“The President’s strategy puts terrorists on notice that their time is up.  We are hardening our defenses at home and abroad, shutting down their plots and obstructing their operations, crushing their networks wherever we find them, and working to prevail over their hateful ideology.  In cooperation with our many partners across the country and around the world, DHS is committed to supporting the President’s strategy and implementing his vision for a forward-leaning defense of the homeland.”


Topics: Preventing Terrorism, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: counterterrorism
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen Statement on Passage of Legislation to Counter Dangerous Unmanned Aerial Systems

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 10:42

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement today on the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which will provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) with authorities to counter unmanned aerial systems (CUAS) used for nefarious purposes:

“The evolving threat posed by malicious drone technology is quickly outpacing the federal government’s ability to respond. Transnational criminals use drones to identify security gaps in order to sneak into the country undetected. Smugglers use drones to bring illegal drugs across the border. Terrorist groups aspire to use armed drones against our homeland and U.S. interests and have already deployed such devices abroad to surveil, disrupt, and kill. 

“Existing legal constraints and statutes have prohibited the Department of Homeland Security from addressing these drone-threat scenarios and protecting the American people. The Department’s lack of authorities also prevented us from testing truly needed drone-defense technologies. Today Congress took a major step forward to address these vulnerabilities.

“I am grateful Congress has voted to send a bill to the President’s desk that provides DHS the crucial authorities it needs to protect the homeland against unmanned aerial threats. Today’s action will help the U.S. government identify, track, and mitigate weaponized or dangerous unmanned aerial systems in our skies.

“I would like to thank Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-MO), of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL) of the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee; Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) for their support.

“Additionally, I would like to thank Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS) of the House Homeland Security Committee; Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) of the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), who championed this legislation. 

“The Department can now begin to address these vulnerabilities and stop nefarious actors from exploiting them.”

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Topics: Homeland Security Enterprise
Keywords: CUAS, dhs, DOJ, Secretary Nielsen
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS and DOE Meet with Oil and Natural Gas Sector Coordinating Council, Announce Pipeline Cybersecurity Initiative

Wed, 10/03/2018 - 16:49

On October 2, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) met with the Oil and Natural Gas Sector Coordinating Council as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske and National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Under Secretary Christopher Krebs led the meeting alongside Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary Karen Evans and leaders from the oil and natural gas industry. The group discussed ways industry and government can take a more strategic approach to securing pipelines and other critical infrastructure.

“The National Risk Management Center (NRMC) is DHS’s effort to secure tomorrow’s infrastructure, providing a central point of entry for working with industry to manage long-term strategy risk across our critical infrastructure sectors,” said NPPD Under Secretary Christopher Krebs. “This meeting was a key milestone in the partnership between the federal government and the oil and natural gas industry, as we launched the pipeline cybersecurity initiative that partners DHS NPPD cybersecurity resources, DOE’s energy sector expertise, with TSA’s regular and ongoing assessments of pipeline security to get a broader understanding of the risks the sector faces. Collaborative efforts like this allow us to better understand the threat landscape and direct more targeted and prioritized risk management activities. We look forward to continuing these important meetings with the other critical infrastructure sectors across the country.” 

“TSA is committed to the mission of securing the nation’s natural gas and oil pipelines, and values longstanding relationships with pipeline operators across this great nation,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “This meeting and the ones to follow will build upon the expanded cyber security measures in the recently updated Pipeline Security Guidelines and our collaboration with the National Risk Management Center to minimize the consequences of an attack or disruption.”

“As the Sector-Specific Agency for the energy sector, the U.S. Department of Energy is committed to working with our industry and interagency partners to enhance our nation's energy security," said DOE Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response Karen S. Evans. “The Pipeline Cybersecurity Initiative will leverage the unique expertise of DOE, DHS, TSA, and other federal agencies to support the efforts of the Oil and Natural Gas Subsector Coordinating Council to address the threats to our nation's pipelines."

Secretary Nielsen announced the NRMC during the DHS National Cybersecurity Summit in New York City this summer.


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Keywords: Cybersecurity, national cyber security awareness month
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen Kicks Off National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Wed, 10/03/2018 - 09:22

On October 2, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen kicked off National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), with a conversation at the Washington Post’s Cybersecurity Summit. Secretary Nielsen discussed DHS’s continued efforts to secure our nation’s election systems and combat the threats to our cyberspace.

Click here to watch the full conversation.

  • The Need for CISA: “The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Act has bipartisan support. It is meant to recognize the importance of the mission that we have at DHS. We are responsible for federal efforts when it comes to both protecting critical infrastructure, working with the owner-operators in private sector, and protecting all those civilian dot govs. To do that, we have to have both a name that indicates that is what we do, and we have to be able to streamline the organization so that we can become more operational.”
  • Information Sharing: “First of all, the information sharing is much stronger than it ever has been before. We’re working very closely with the intel community. The moment that we see something significant, we are, in conjunction with them, sharing with our state and local partners."
  • Preparing for Election Day: “For Election Day, we’re setting up a situational awareness room—a virtual place where everybody can share information quickly. We are actually pre-deploying Hunt and Incident Response Teams (HIRT)…we’ll be there to support our partners if they need it.”
  • Influence vs. Interference: “There are two categories that we’re worried about. One is the direct attacks on election infrastructure. That is where DHS has the lead. The other is this more nefarious, but also nebulous area of foreign influence. That can be done through state spokesmen in a foreign country and through state-run media. In Russia, that could include RT and Sputnik.”
  • Our Adversaries: “Russia is more—at the moment—focused on sowing discord on all sides, and through that chaos, hoping to promote their own policies. So it’s slightly different.  China’s playing a longer and more holistic game. Russia is being pretty noisy about it right now in terms of not just their use of state-run media, but also what we attribute to be social media personas.”
  • 2018 Elections: “We currently have no indication that a foreign adversary intends to disrupt our election infrastructure. But I will immediately follow that with, this is a point in time. We know they have the capability and we know they have the will. So we’re constantly on alert. What we see with China right now are influence campaigns, the more traditional, long-standing, holistic influence campaigns.”
  • 2017 Intel Community Assessment: “The President has been clear, I’ve been clear, and the intel community has been clear. We all support the intel community assessment from 2017. I would also say to those in the audience, it’s worth rereading. There’s a lot in there that is still very relevant today, including an entire annex on Russian propaganda and how they actually use state-sponsored media and others to try to influence and sow discord in our society.”

This October marks the 15th year of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month an annual initiative to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. NCSAM is a collaborative public-private effort to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. DHS’s cybersecurity efforts are not just a one-month effort. However, throughout the entire month, DHS will be highlighting our department-wide efforts to enhance the security and resilience of the nation’s cyber ecosystem.

Learn more about NCSAM here.

Topics: Cybersecurity, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: Cybersecurity, national cyber security awareness month
Categories: Homeland Security

Nationwide Emergency Alert Test Planned for Oct. 3

Tue, 10/02/2018 - 12:43

WASHINGTON – FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. The WEA portion of the test, which will be sent to consumer cell phones, will begin at 2:18 p.m. EDT. The EAS portion of the test, which will be sent to radio and television, will follow at 2:20 p.m. EDT.  This will be the fourth nationwide EAS test and the first nationwide WEA test. In light of the upcoming test, the agencies share the following key informational points:

The Basics
  • WHY: The purpose of the test is to ensure that EAS and WEA are both effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level. Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems helps to assess the operational readiness of alerting infrastructure and to identify any needed technological and administrative improvements.
  • HOW: The EAS and WEA test messages will be sent using FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), a centralized Internet-based system administered by FEMA that enables authorities to send authenticated emergency messages to the public through multiple communications networks.
  • WHO: FEMA will administer the test, in cooperation with the FCC and the National Weather Service, and with the participation of the communications industry.
  • WHEN: October 3, 2018, beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT on cell phones and 2:20 p.m. EDT on TV and radio. (This is the test back-up date; the test was previously postponed due to response efforts to Hurricane Florence.)
Nationwide Alert Test to Cell Phones
  • THE WIRELESS ALERT TEST MESSAGE: The WEA test message will appear on consumers’ phones and read, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”  Phones will display this national test using the header “Presidential Alert.”  These nationwide alerts, established pursuant to the WARN Act of 2006, are meant for use in a national emergency and are the only type of alert that can be sent simultaneously nationwide by FEMA.
  • RECIPIENTS: Many members of the public will receive the WEA test message on their cell phones. Specifically, beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT, cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA-compatible wireless phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA, should be capable of receiving the test message. Wireless phones should receive the message only once.
  • BACKGROUND ON SYSTEM: The WEA system, launched in 2012, is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. Alerts are created and sent by authorized federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governmental agencies through IPAWS to participating wireless providers, which deliver the alerts to compatible handsets in geo-targeted areas. To help ensure that WEA alerts are accessible to the entire public, including people with disabilities, WEA alerts are accompanied by a unique tone and vibration. The national WEA test will use the same special tone and vibration. In the event of a national emergency, a Presidential WEA alert would be issued at the direction of the President and/or his/her designee, and activated by FEMA.
Nationwide TV and Radio Alert Test
  • TV & RADIO ALERT TEST: The EAS portion of the test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and will be conducted with the participation of radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers (“EAS participants”).
  • THE TV & RADIO TEST MESSAGE: The EAS test message will be similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. It will state: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”
  • BILINGUAL: The EAS test message will be transmitted in both English and Spanish, with EAS participants deciding which version to use for their communities.
  • BACKGROUND ON SYSTEM: Emergency alerts are created and sent by authorized federal, state, local, tribal and territorial government agencies. EAS participants receive the alerts through IPAWS or through local “over the air” monitoring sources. EAS participants then disseminate the emergency alerts to affected communities. The FCC prescribes technical and procedural rules for communications providers’ participation in this process.

FEMA and the FCC have engaged in significant coordination with EAS participants, wireless providers, emergency managers, and other stakeholders in preparation for this EAS-WEA national test to minimize confusion and to maximize the public safety value of the test. The test is intended to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster, including requirements to help ensure that televised EAS messages are accessible to individuals with disabilities. 

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Topics: Disasters, Homeland Security Enterprise
Keywords: EAS, IPAWS, WEA
Categories: Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security Launches First National “If You See Something, Say Something®” Awareness Day Today

Tue, 09/25/2018 - 08:00

On September 25, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will hosts the national “If You See Something, Say Something®” Awareness Day. The “If You See Something, Say Something®” campaign is calling on citizens and national public and private-sector partners to participate in activities related to the campaign,including:

  • Learning what suspicious activity is, the common indicators of suspicious activity, and how to report suspicious activity.
  • Leading discussions in their communities about how to support the campaign and how they can play a role in keeping their community safe.
  • Using social media to share why it’s important to be vigilant and report suspicious activity, using the hashtags #WhyISeeSay and #SeeSayDay.

“Today marks an important milestone for the DHS ‘If You See Something, Say Something®’ campaign as the Department hosts the first national Awareness Day. We are thrilled with the support we have received from our public and private partners in educating citizens who are not aware of the campaign. It’s on all of us to protect our communities, and the campaign empowers citizens to play an active role keeping our homeland safe,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen.

To access Awareness Day resources and for more information on how to get involved, visit For more information about the campaign, visit You can also follow #SeeSayDay and #WhyISeeSay on social media.

About the “If You See Something, Say Something®” Campaign

Created by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and licensed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2010, “If You See Something, Say Something®” is a national campaign that raises public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement.



Topics: Preventing Terrorism
Keywords: If You See Something Say Something
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Announces New Proposed Immigration Rule to Enforce Long-Standing Law that Promotes Self-Sufficiency and Protects American Taxpayers

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 16:47

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed rule that will clearly define long-standing law to ensure that those seeking to enter and remain in the United States either temporarily or permanently can support themselves financially and will not be reliant on public benefits.

The proposed rule is available here.

The term “public charge” as applied to admission of aliens to the United States has a long history in U.S. immigration law, appearing at least as far back as the Immigration Act of 1882. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries public charge was the most common ground for refusing admission at U.S. ports of entry. 

“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” said Secretary Nielsen. “The Department takes seriously its responsibility to be transparent in its rulemaking and is welcoming public comment on the proposed rule. This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

Inadmissibility based on the public charge ground is determined by looking at the mandatory factors set forth in section 212(a)(4) of the  Immigration and Nationality Act and making a determination of the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future. The proposed regulation defines a public charge to be a person who receives certain public benefits above certain defined threshold amounts or for longer than certain periods of time.  Importantly, by law, the public charge inadmissibility determination is a prospective determination based on the totality of the circumstances, which includes statutorily required factors such as age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education and skills. 

In making this determination, DHS is proposing to consider current and past receipt of designated public benefits above certain thresholds as a heavily weighed negative factor.  The rule would also make nonimmigrants who receive or are likely to receive designated public benefits above the designated threshold generally ineligible for change of status and extension of stay.

The public benefits proposed to be designated in this rule are federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid (with limited exceptions for Medicaid benefits paid for an "emergency medical condition," and for certain disability services related to education), Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), institutionalization for long-term care at government expense, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing. The first three benefits listed above are cash benefits that are covered under current policy. 

The United States continues to be a global leader in humanitarian protection.  In calendar year 2017, the United States granted asylum and refugee status to more individuals than Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom combined.  By statute, asylees, refugees, and other categories of vulnerable individuals are not subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility and as such are not impacted by this rule. When considering receipt of public benefits in the public charge inadmissibility determination, DHS would also not consider any public benefits received by aliens serving in active duty or in the Ready Reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces, or the spouse or child of the service member. Additionally, DHS would not consider disaster relief, emergency medical assistance, benefits received by an alien’s U.S. citizen children, and Medicaid benefits received by children of U.S. citizens and potential adoptive children of U.S. citizens.

The proposed rule will be officially published in the Federal Register in the coming weeks. Once the proposed rule is officially published, the public will be able to comment on the proposed rule. The comment period will last 60 days, starting on the day the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.  The official version in the Federal Register will contain information about how to submit comments.

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

Statement by Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen on the Release of the National Cyber Strategy

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 15:33

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement today on the National Cyber Strategy:

“The Trump administration has taken bold steps to strengthen our security and prosperity in cyberspace in the face of growing threats and competition.  The critical infrastructure that Americans rely on is threatened every day by nation-states, cyber criminals and hackers seeking to wreak havoc, disrupt commerce, and even undermine our democratic institutions. Today’s National Cyber Strategy – the first in fifteen years – strengthens the government’s commitment to work in partnership with industry to combat those threats and secure our critical infrastructure.

“The National Cyber Strategy, along with the DHS Cybersecurity Strategy released earlier this year, will guide the Department’s cybersecurity activities in a number of areas, including securing federal networks and information systems, managing risk to the nation’s critical infrastructure, and combatting cybercrime. With respect to securing federal networks, for example, we have used our authorities to ensure agencies are updating and patching systems, strengthening their email security, and removing Kaspersky antivirus products from their systems. To strengthen critical infrastructure security and resilience, DHS works across government and industry to share timely and actionable information as well as provide training and incident response support. Working with the private sector, the department’s newly launched National Risk Management Center is working collaboratively to break down silos, identify and prioritize national critical functions, provide a more holistic picture of the risk environment within and across sectors, and develop joint solutions to manage risk.

“The strategy also identifies several important steps which will further enable DHS to successfully combat cybercrime. Transnational criminal groups are employing increasingly sophisticated digital tools and techniques to enable their illegal activities online, and the strategy calls for DHS and the broader law enforcement community to continue to develop new and more effective legal tools to investigate and prosecute these criminal actors. It also notes the need for electronic surveillance and computer crime laws to be updated to keep pace with the rapidly evolving environment.

“Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and the Department of Homeland Security will continue to stand with our partners, in government and industry, to raise our collective defense against cyber threats to our security, prosperity, and way of life."

View the National Cyber Strategy here.

Topics: Cybersecurity, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: Cybersecurity
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Nielsen Swears in New Homeland Security Advisory Council Members

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 14:48

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen met with the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) to discuss her priorities for the Department. The group discussed a range of homeland security issues and Secretary Nielsen swore in eight new members to the HSAC: Jayson P. Ahern, Stewart A. Baker, Frank J. Cilluffo, Mark J. Dannels, Carol DiBattiste, Cathy Lanier, Wendy Smith-Reeve, and Chad Sweet.

“My vision for the HSAC, consistent with its charter, is to seek their strategic, timely, specific and actionable advice on a range of homeland security issues,” said Secretary Nielsen. “The Department relies on the unique perspectives and strategic advice provided by HSAC members to help address emerging threats in a rapidly changing world. I’m confident that the new members sworn in today will contribute to this important mission.”The HSAC is a Department of Homeland Security federal advisory committee that provides the Secretary with independent, informed recommendations, and advice on a variety of homeland security issues. The HSAC is comprised of national policy makers, representatives from state, local, and tribal governments, emergency, and first responder communities, academia, and the private sector. Former CIA and FBI Director Judge William Webster is chair of the HSAC.

For more information about the HSAC, visit

The eight new HSAC members sworn in today are:

Jayson P. Ahern is a Principal and Head of Security Services Practice at The Chertoff Group. In this role, he advises clients on a broad range of issues including homeland and border security management, global commerce and supply chain security, critical infrastructure protection, risk management, and strategic planning and implementation. Mr. Ahern retired as the former Acting Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection with DHS, after serving 33 years in federal law enforcement.

Stewart A. Baker is a partner in the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. He is the former Assistant Secretary of Policy at DHS where he implemented global policies with significant implications in maritime regulation, customs enforcement, immigration enforcement, identity management, SAFETY Act implementation, money laundering enforcement, government contracts, and regulation of travel and air transportation.

Frank J. Cilluffo directs the McCrary Institute for Cybersecurity & Critical Infrastructure Protection at Auburn University. Prior to joining Auburn, Cilluffo founded and directed the Center for Cyber & Homeland Security at George Washington University where he led a number of national security and cybersecurity policy and research initiatives. Cilluffo previously served as Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. Immediately following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Cilluffo was appointed by President George W. Bush to the newly created Office of Homeland Security. Before his White House appointment, Mr. Cilluffo spent eight years in senior policy positions with the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank.

Mark J. Dannels is the Sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona and is a 34-year law enforcement veteran. Sheriff Dannels holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Management from Aspen University and is a Certified Public Manager accredited from Arizona State University. He is the current Chair of the Immigration and Border Committee with the National Sheriff’s Association, a member of the Board of Directors for the Southwest Border Sheriff’s Coalition, and President of the Arizona Sheriff’s Association. Sheriff Dannels has been recognized and awarded the Medal of Valor, Western States Sheriff of the Year, Sheriff’s Medal, Deputy of the Year, Distinguished Service Award, Unit Citation Award, National Police Hall of Fame, Lifesaving Award, and dozens of community-service awards from service groups and governmental organizations.

Carol DiBattiste is currently the General Counsel & Chief Compliance, Privacy and People Officer at comScore. Prior to comScore, Ms. DiBattiste held public company senior executive roles at Education Management Corporation, Geeknet, Reed Elsevier/LexisNexis and ChoicePoint. She has served in numerous leadership positions throughout government, including the United States Department of Defense, where she was Under Secretary of the Air Force, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Veterans Affairs.

Cathy Lanier is currently the Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer for the National Football League. She previously served as the Chief of Police with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) from 2007 to 2016. A highly respected professional in the areas of homeland security and community policing, she took the lead role in developing and implementing coordinated counterterrorism strategies for all units within the MPD and launched the department’s Operation TIPP (Terrorist Incident Prevention Program).

Wendy Smith-Reeve is the Deputy Director, Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, and the Director, Division of Emergency Management. Ms. Smith-Reeve manages Arizona’s emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts and has supported and/or managed state response and recovery efforts for 100 state disaster declarations, and 12 presidential disaster declarations. Ms. Smith-Reeve is a current member and former president of the Arizona Emergency Services Association. She is a member of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) and formerly served as NEMA President.

Chad Sweet is the Co-Founder & CEO of the The Chertoff Group, a global advisory firm and investment bank exclusively focused on the security sector. Mr. Sweet advises companies and governments on their security and on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the security industry. With over a decade of investment banking experience, Mr. Sweet has been involved in more than $5 billion of successful M&A and capital formation engagements. Mr. Sweet was the former Chief of Staff of DHS and served in the CIA. He currently serves as Chairman of Trustwave Government Services as well as a Director of the corporate boards of Coalfire and Salient CRGT. Finally, in the non-profit sector, he is a Senior Fellow at the George Washington Homeland Security Policy Institute, a Director on RAND’s Global Center for Risk & Security, a Director of the Board of the Economic Club of Washington and a frequent commentator on security issues for FOX, CNN, CNBC and Bloomberg TV.


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Topics: Homeland Security Enterprise, Secretary of Homeland Security
Keywords: Homeland Security Advisory Council
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen Statement on President Trump’s National Biodefense Strategy

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 12:53

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement in support of President Trump’s National Biodefense Strategy:

“Biological threats—whether naturally occurring, accidental, or deliberate in origin—are among the most serious threats facing the United States today. As part of the President’s efforts to better protect Americans, the National Biodefense Strategy sets the course for the U.S. to combat 21st century biothreats. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stands ready to support the implementation of this strategy, in close coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Late last year, I directed the formation of the DHS Office of Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office (CWMD) to elevate and streamline our efforts to stop terrorists and rogue actors from using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents against us. Since then, the CWMD Office has renewed the Department’s emphasis on bio security with efforts to develop and deploy a new biodetection system, update emergency responder and medical personnel guidance, examine new technologies, and provide support to our frontline operating components. As threats continue to evolve, our defenses must evolve as well. The CWMD Office will continue to address complex biological threats to the nation, but DHS needs additional authorities to be fully execute its mission. I look forward to working with Congress to pass the proposed authorizing legislation that will best position our CWMD response, mitigation, and recovery measures.

“DHS will continue to work closely with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as industry and non-government organizations, to ensure we combat evolving biological threats and prepare to respond to biological disasters. By coordinating actions across the interagency, we can better anticipate, prevent, prepare for, respond to, mitigate, and recover from biological disasters.”


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Topics: Preventing Terrorism, Secretary of Homeland Security, Weapons of Mass Destruction
Keywords: biodefense
Categories: Homeland Security

The Patch Factory: Global Infrastructure for Managing Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 10:38

The Department of Homeland Security strives every day to help federal agencies, state, local, territorial and tribal governments, and critical infrastructure asset owners and operators raise the baseline of cybersecurity. With the continuous growth of connected systems and rapid technology evolution, cyber vulnerabilities are being discovered in more devices and systems than ever before. DHS is committed to assisting manufacturers with security of their products through a steady stream of vulnerability information.

DHS sponsors a number of programs that are core components of vulnerability identification, response, and management practices around the world. They provide services and information to help users, system administrators, operators and manufacturers maintain safer, more secure software without government intervention. Each is publicly available and free for use by entities building or maturing their vulnerability management functions.

Listing Known Vulnerabilities

Sponsored by DHS Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C), the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) is the de facto global standard for the identification and definition of security vulnerabilities. The Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute (HSSEDI), which is operated by The MITRE Corporation, runs the CVE program that enables vendors to identify and communicate to their customers how vulnerabilities affect their products and services.

Each CVE is comprised of an identification number, a description, and at least one reference for the general public to know where the vulnerability has been publicly disclosed. The list of CVEs enables a diverse community of public and private stakeholders to effectively communicate and share vulnerability and exposure information.

Providing CVEs for unique vulnerabilities helps different product vendors track and fix vulnerabilities, and allows end users to correlate security update information for vulnerabilities discovered on their networks.

Multi-Party Coordination, Analysis, & Tools for Discovery

The CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC), part of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, provides multi-party coordinated vulnerability disclosure services and produces vulnerability discovery tools. Multi-party vulnerability coordination and disclosure is the practice of coordinating a newly discovered vulnerability across a wide range of vendors and technologies at the same time.

The CERT/CC receives vulnerability reports from different kinds of researchers around the world and notifies the vendors who are potentially affected. CERT/CC also acts as a neutral third party to help develop mitigations (typically software updates) in an appropriate timeframe and publish actionable advice in the form of Vulnerability Notes.

The CERT/CC also develops and publishes open source tools to discover, analyze and diagnose software and system vulnerabilities. For example, CERT/CC’s Basic Fuzzing Framework and Tapioca tools have been used to find and help mitigate significant vulnerabilities in a wide range of applications, including thousands of smartphone apps.

Verified Data for Effective and Efficient System Maintenance

DHS and the National Institute of Standards and Technology co-sponsor the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) that performs analysis and provides expanded CVE entry information.  This analysis provides data points such as severity scores, impact ratings, and enhanced search capabilities for users of the information.  Also, it contains a record of each CVE-tagged defect and the associated fix or mitigation.

One of the important elements of the NVD is that it provides IT professionals with a rubric to measure the risk associated with known vulnerabilities and to prioritize system maintenance accordingly.

Coordination and Security Training for Control Systems and Medical Devices

The NCCIC Vulnerability Management and Coordination (VMC) team, through support from Idaho National Laboratory (INL), coordinates Industrial Control Systems (ICS) vulnerability disclosure. INL team members have unique expertise in assessing risks in critical systems and this collaboration provides the opportunity for DHS to act as a trusted third party in extremely sensitive disclosures.

In addition to assessing sensitive vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, such as energy, food/agriculture or water systems, this collaborative team also reviews those that could result in hazards for critical manufacturing or in medical devices. Building a well-connected and capable community of practitioners, particularly in the private sector, has been instrumental in strengthening DHS’ coordination network for these types of sensitive vulnerabilities.

To help the ICS community improve their cyber defenses, the NCCIC offers training and procedures that teams can use in improving their ICS security and developing or their own capabilities. In FY17, NCCIC trained more than 1,400 professionals in ICS security either in on-line courses or instructor led classes at INL.

Continuous Improvement

DHS and its program partners are always evolving and adapting to keep up with the ever-changing and growing cyber vulnerability mission. Recent milestones and achievements include:                                                                               

  • The CVE Security Automation Working Group launched a pilot program in May 2017 to improve open, automated data sharing within the CVE Program and between HSSEDI and the CVE Numbering Authorities (CNAs). CNAs are organizations authorized to assign CVE IDs for products within a particular scope. Enabling CNAs to share detailed data more quickly benefits the entire program.
  • The CERT/CC Vulnerability Analysis team established a one-day Vulnerability Response training course for project managers and others who may need to respond to vulnerabilities identified in their products. CERT/CC also published The CERT Guide to Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure, a compilation of lessons learned based on their handling of vulnerabilities in the past three decades.
  • At the NVD, NIST engineers have recently redesigned their data model, adding flexibility for new types of information and to improve search capability. The NVD is now finding ways to automate more data analysis and severity scoring through natural language processing and machine learning.

DHS recognizes community engagement as a critical component of discovering and correcting vulnerabilities before risks become incidents.

To suggest additional topics for a series on cybersecurity and risk management, please contact: cscexternalaffairs@HQ.DHS.GOV

Topics: Cybersecurity
Keywords: CERT, CS&C, cve, Cybersecurity, NCCIC
Categories: Homeland Security