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DHS Officials Discuss Efforts to Combat the Opioid Crisis

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 15:35
Release Date: June 19, 2018

On June 19, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials participated in a hearing titled "Opioids in the Homeland: DHS Coordination with State and Local Partners to Fight the Epidemic." The hearing took place in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and was held by the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency.

During the hearing, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Director of Field Operations, Baltimore Casey Durst and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Marlon Miller discussed DHS efforts to both stop the flow of illegal opioids into American communities and dismantle criminal networks responsible for drug trafficking.

“HSI is committed to battling the U.S. opioid crisis,” said Miller in his written testimony. “HSI will continue to vigorously pursue the cartels that bring not only heroin and fentanyl to the U.S., but other narcotics that have a dangerous, and too often deadly, impact on our communities.”

“As America’s unified border agency, CBP plays a critical role in preventing illicit narcotics, including opioids, from reaching the American public,” said Durst in her written testimony. “CBP leverages targeting and intelligence-driven strategies, and works in close coordination with our partners as part of our multi-layered, risk-based approach to enhance the security of our borders and our country.”

CBP’s Office of Field Operations is extensively engaged in the interdiction of terrorists, narcotics, weapons, and currency. CBP works closely with local police forces, including the Pennsylvania State Police, on a number of opioid-related issues. CBP also works with local fusion centers which share information to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.

ICE works to target, investigate, disrupt, and dismantle criminal networks responsible for the manufacturing, smuggling and distribution of dangerous opioids. In Philadelphia, the ICE Homeland Security Investigations team is leading a Cyber Crimes Investigations Task Force charged with addressing the online opioid traffickers. In May 2017, this task force arrested a narcotics trafficker near Philadelphia who acted as a large-scale domestic reshipper for a Chinese drug trafficking organization. To date, HSI Special Agents have attributed at least 39 overdose deaths to this drug trafficking organization. Also in 2017, HSI dismantled a dark net drug trafficking organization that operated what is believed to be two of the largest-ever clandestine fentanyl tableting laboratories in Pennsylvania.


Topics:  Border Security Keywords:  opioids
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Secretary Nielsen's Remarks on the Illegal Immigration Crisis

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 19:03
Release Date: June 18, 2018

WASHINGTON - Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen delivered the below remarks at the White House Press Briefing on the illegal immigration crisis at the southern border:

SECRETARY NIELSEN: Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to be here because I would love to see if I can help explain some of what is going on and give you some of the facts. I know there have been a lot put out there but hopefully we clarify some things today. I just wanted to start by thanking the sheriffs of the United States, I had the privilege of speaking to them this morning at the National Sheriffs’ Association Conference. We are so thankful for their partnership here at DHS and all they do to protect our communities so, I thank them.  I want to provide you an update on the illegal immigration crisis on our Southern Border and the efforts the Administration is taking to solve this crisis and to stop the flood of illegal immigrants, drugs, contraband, and crime coming across the border. So let’s just start with a few numbers and facts.

So, in the last three months we have seen illegal immigration on our Southern Border exceed 50,000 people each month – multiples over each month last year. Since this time last year, there has been a 325 percent increase in Unaccompanied Alien Children and a 435 percent increase in family units entering the country illegally. Over the last ten years, there has been a 1,700% increase in asylum claims, resulting in an Asylum Backlog today, in our country of 600,000 cases.

Since 2013, the United States has admitted more than half a million illegal immigrant minors and family units from Central America – most of whom today, are at large in the United States.

At the same time, large criminal organizations such as MS-13 have violated our borders and gained a deadly foothold within the United States.

This entire crisis, just to be clear, is not new. It has been occurring and expanding over many decades. Currently, it is the exclusive product of loopholes in our federal immigration laws that prevent illegal immigrant minors and family members from being detained and removed to their home countries.  In other words, these loopholes create a functionally open border. Apprehension without detention and removal is not border security.

We have repeatedly called on Congress to close these loopholes. I myself have met with as many members that have been willing to meet with me, I’ve testified seven times. I will continue to make myself available to ask that they work with us to solve this crisis. Yet, the voices most loudly criticizing the enforcement of our current laws are those whose policies created this crisis – and whose policies perpetuate it.

In particular, we need to reform three major loopholes, let me quickly walk you through them. First, we need to amend the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act or TVPRA, which is much easier to say – this law encourages families to put children in the hands of smugglers to bring them alone on the dangerous trek northward. And make no mistake, we’ve talked about this before, this trek is dangerous and deadly.

Second, we need to reform our asylum laws to end the systemic abuse of our asylum system and stop fraud. Right now our asylum system fails to assist asylum seekers who legitimately need it. We are a country of compassion, we are a country of heart, we must fix the system so that those who truly need asylum can, in fact, receive it.

Third, we need to amend the Flores Settlement agreement and recent expansions which would allow allow for family detention during the removal process – and we need Congress fund our ability to hold families together through the immigration process.

Until these loopholes are closed by Congress, it is not possible – as a matter of law – to detain and remove whole family units who arrive illegally in the United States. 

Congress and the courts created this problem, and Congress alone can fix it. Until then, we will enforce every law we have on the books to defend the sovereignty and security of the United States. Those who criticize the enforcement of our laws, have offered only one counter-measure: open borders – the quick release of all illegal alien families, and the decision not to enforce our laws. This policy would be disastrous, its prime beneficiaries would be the smuggling organizations themselves, and the prime victims would be the children who would be plunged into the smuggling machines and gang recruitment on the trip north.

There is a lot of misinformation about what DHS is and is not doing as it relates to families at the border, and I want to correct the record.

Here are the facts:

First, this Administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border.

We have a statutory responsibility that we take seriously to protect alien children from human smuggling, trafficking, and other criminal actions, while enforcing our immigration laws.

We have a long existing policy – multiple administrations have followed – that outline when we may take action to protect children.

We will separate those who claim to be parent and child if we cannot determine a familial or custodial relationship exists. For example, if there is no documentation to confirm the claimed relationship between an adult and a child. 

We do so if the parent is a national security, public or safety risk, including where there are criminal charges at issue, and it may not be appropriate to maintain the family in detention together.

We also separate a parent and child if the adult is suspected of human trafficking. There have been cases where minors have been used and trafficked by unrelated adults in an effort to avoid detention. I’ll stop here to say that in the last five months, we’ve had a 314 percent increase in adults and children arriving at the border fraudulently claiming to be a family unit. This is, obviously, of concern.

And separation can occur when the parent is charged with human smuggling. Under those circumstances, we would detain the parent in an appropriate, secure detection facility, separate from the child.

What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law. Everyone is subject to prosecution.

When DHS refers a case against a parent or legal guardian for criminal prosecution, the parent or legal guardian will be placed into U.S. Marshals Service custody for pre-trial detention pursuant to an order by a federal judge and any accompanying child will be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services and will be reclassified as an Unaccompanied Alien Child.

That is in accordance with the TVPRA—a law that was passed by Congress—and a following court order – neither are actions the Trump Administration has taken.

And let’s be clear – if an American were to commit a crime anywhere in the United States, they would go to jail and be separated from their family.  This is not a controversial ideal. 

Second, children in DHS and HHS custody are being well taken care of.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement provides meals, medical care, and educational services to these children. They are provided temporary shelter, and HHS works hard to find a parent, relative, or foster home to care for these children.

Parents can still communicate with their children through phone calls and video conferencing.

And a parent who is released from custody can be a sponsor and ask HHS to release the child back into their care.

Further, these minors can still apply for asylum and other protections under U.S. immigration law if eligible.

We take allegation of mistreatment seriously and I want to stress this point. We investigate, we hold those accountable when and if it should occur. We have some of the highest detention standards in the country. Claiming these children and their parents are treated inhumanely is not true, and completely disrespects the hardworking men and women at the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Third, parents who entered illegally are—by definition—criminals.

Illegal entry is a crime as determined by Congress.

By entering our country illegally—often in dangerous circumstances—illegal immigrants have put their children at risk.

Fourth, CBP and ICE officers are properly trained to care for minors in their custody.

DHS and HHS treats all individuals in its custody with dignity and respect, and complies with all laws and policy.

This reinforces and reiterates the need to consider the best interest of the children and mandates adherence to established protocols to protect at-risk populations, to include standards for the transport and treatment of minors in DHS and HHS custody.    

Additionally, all U.S. Border Patrol personnel on the southwest border are bilingual. Every last one of them. They are directed to clearly explain the relevant process to apprehended individuals, and provide detainees with written documentation—in both Spanish and English—that lays out the process and appropriate phone numbers to contact.

And finally, DHS is not separating families legitimately seeking asylum at ports of entry.

If an adult enters at a port of entry and claims asylum, they will not face prosecution for illegal entry. They have not committed a crime by coming to the port of entry.

As I mentioned, DHS does have a responsibility to protect minors and in that case as well, we will only separate the family if we cannot determine there is a familial relationship; if the child may be at risk with the parent or legal guardian; or if the parent or legal guardian is referred for prosecution.

We have a duty to protect the American people, and it’s one that I take very seriously.

Here is the bottom line: DHS is no longer ignoring the law. We are enforcing the laws as they exist on the books. As long as illegal entry remains a criminal offense, DHS will not look the other way. DHS will faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress as we are sworn to do.

As I said earlier today, surely it is the beginning of the unraveling of democracy when the body who makes the laws – instead of changing them – tells the enforcement body not to enforce the law.

I ask Congress to act this week so that we can secure our borders and uphold our humanitarian ideas. These two missions should not be pitted against each other. If we close the loopholes we can accomplish both.

Before I take questions, I just want to ask that in your reporting, please consider the men and women of DHS who are dedicated law enforcement officers who often put their lives at risk. Let’s remember their sacrifice and commitment to this country. And with that I’ll take some questions.

# # #

Topics:  Border Security, Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Border Security, Family detention, southwest border
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen Remarks at National Sheriffs’ Association Conference

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 12:16
Release Date: June 18, 2018

Thank you, Congressman Scalise, It’s an honor to join you all today. I’m happy to be joined by Matt Albence, Director of ERO, Sector Chief Karish, and FLETC Deputy Director Fallon.

I’d like to thank Sheriff Eavenson for his leadership of the Association this past year, and congratulate Sheriff Layton on his new position as incoming president. I had the honor of meeting Sheriff Layton as well as Sheriff Dannels and others last month on a trip to Arizona where I heard directly from law enforcement on the challenges of working along the border. On behalf of DHS, I look forward to our continued partnership with the NSA, our nation’s sheriffs, and your Executive Director, Jonathan Thompson. Jonathan – thank you for inviting me to speak here today.

As sheriffs, you are a vital part of our homeland security team. You are on the frontlines. And so it is a privilege to be here and have an opportunity to thank you for the commendable, often-dangerous, job you all do every day.

Sadly, as earlier mentioned, we were reminded of that danger with the loss of two members of the sheriff family last week. Deputy Sheriff Theresa King and Deputy Sheriff Patrick Rohrer were killed in the line of duty, and I join all of you in mourning the loss of these dedicated officers. My thoughts and prayers are with the law enforcement family always.

Law enforcement is a calling for a select few who are tireless, faithful and dogged in executing their duty to protect their communities from danger and in honoring their oaths to uphold the law. On behalf of the men and women of DHS, thank you all for your dedication and sacrifice.

Please know that DHS is your partner and will be by your side as we protect our borders, enforce our immigration laws and defend our communities. As many of you know, DHS is the largest law enforcement agency in the country. I am proud to support all law enforcement – your passion, your mission, your commitment to fight for what you need to do the job entrusted to you.

To a select few in the media, Congress, and the advocacy community I have a message for you: this Department will no longer stand by and watch you attack law enforcement for enforcing the laws passed by Congress. We will not apologize or back down for doing the job the American people expect us to do.

Unfortunately, for political gain, some politicians are trying to pit local and state law enforcement officials against federal officials. This blue on blue approach is a disservice to the public and every law enforcement official around the country.

This morning, I want to discuss three threats that will require collaboration and partnership with you. I want to start off by addressing one of the most prominent homeland and national security threats facing the Department and many of you as well. That’s the threat to our nation resulting from the lawlessness at our borders and a lack of respect for our immigration laws.

Make no mistake: Our border is in crisis. It’s being exploited by criminals, smugglers, and thousands of people who have no respect for our laws.

As I mentioned, last month, in Douglas, Arizona, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of sheriffs whose communities are often the ones on the front lines as smugglers, traffickers, and transnational criminal organizations take advantage of our unsecure border. I would especially like to thank Sheriff Dannels of Cochise County for hosting that meeting. And thank you to Sherriffs Layton, Martinez, Napier, Wilmot, and Wolfinger for sharing your thoughts and concerns with me. During that meeting we agreed to establish a periodic meeting schedule and I look forward sitting down with you again in July.

These sheriffs see first-hand that border security is an issue of law and order. Whether it’s Customs and Border Protection or Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and officers or local law enforcement, these professionals confront the ugly business of human trafficking and drug and human smuggling on a daily basis.

But they also confront the reality of the humanitarian crisis unfolding. From rescuing illegal immigrants in the desert to uncovering them in packed and overheated trailers, law enforcement bears witness to the effects on our most vulnerable – our children. And the gang violence and recruitment of children is not limited to illegal alien children.

During my visit last month, the sheriffs shared with me a picture—a horrific one—of a 15 year old boy, an American citizen who was recruited by a Mexican cartel to smuggle drugs. This kid, way in over his head, lost his load of drugs. In retaliation, he was repeatedly stunned with a Taser and savagely beaten with a board. These cartels are infiltrating our communities, corrupting children, and hurting our citizens. Make no mistake - they are not humanitarians. They prioritize profit over human life.

Our challenge moving forward – as a community – is to identify what we can do to address these complex problems. The men and women who have sworn to protect our communities have expressed their frustration with previous administrations failing to act. Thank you, President Eavenson, for your recent letter to me underscoring this point.

But that failure to act has changed under this President.

Securing our nation’s borders and empowering the men and women in uniform on the front lines to carry out their missions is a priority for this President, this Department and for me.

Our Border Patrol Agents are working tirelessly, but they need additional resources and authorities. That’s why President Trump is calling for a border wall system – the operators have spoken and asked for a system in very specific, very defined areas of the border.

As a result, we are building the first new wall in ten years.

But this system goes beyond a wall, and includes—as the Border Patrol and our nation’s sheriffs have requested—the technology, transportation infrastructure, and personnel to support a secure border.

While we are glad to have construction underway, we need Congress to fully fund the border wall system and I am hopeful that legislation soon to be acted on in the House will authorize these resources.

But there’s more that needs to be done beyond a wall system. We must continue to enforce the laws, as passed by Congress, and to close dangerous legal loopholes that serve as pull factors to those seeking to illegally enter the country.

We need to be clear: Illegal actions have serious consequences. No more free passes. No more get out of jail free. No more lawlessness.

Today, DHS is referring those who illegally cross our borders to the Department of Justice for prosecution. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions and DOJ will take up those cases.

It is important to remember that every day in communities across the country—if you commit a crime, the police will take you to jail—regardless of whether you have a family.

I want to take one minute to address the consequences of actually enforcing our immigration law. There has been much outcry and consternation from many in Congress over the last few weeks that we at DHS are actually enforcing the law at the border.

As a result of charging people for crimes they HAVE actually committed, we must often separate adults from minors in their custody. In our society and most others in the world, it is well established that you don’t send children to jail with their parents.

DHS is faced with a reality not of our making: We cannot detain children with their parents. We must either release both the parents and children – this is the historic get out of jail free practice of the previous administration – or the adult and the minor will be separated as a result of prosecuting the adult. Those are our only two options.

It is important to note that these minors are very well taken care of. You know this, as you have detention facilities of your own. We operate according to some of the highest standards in the country – food, medical, and education are all taken care of.

Let’s be honest. There are some who would like us to look the other way when dealing with families at the border and not enforce the law passed by Congress. Including some Members of Congress. Past Administrations may have done so but we will not. We do not have the luxury of pretending all individuals claiming to be a family are, in fact, a family. We have to do our job. We will not apologize for that. We are sworn to do that.

This Administration has a simple message: If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you. If you make a false immigration claim, we will prosecute you. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, we will prosecute you.

But I have also made clear – you do not need to break the law by entering illegally to claim asylum. If you are seeking asylum go to a port of entry.

For months, staff at CBP, ICE and USCIS and I have been on the Hill briefing members about the threat posed by these loopholes and discussing ways to close them and to fix our broken immigration system.

So, let me take a minute to walk you through a few of the legal loopholes that DHS must confront every day and the solutions we have requested from Congress. The effects of our broken system are felt in all communities – not just those on the border.

First, under existing law, certain unaccompanied alien children from Mexico and Canada who enter illegally and have no valid claim to stay can be quickly returned home, but unaccompanied children from every other country in the world must be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 72 hours and then released to parents or guardians in the United States. This is a significant pull factor that encourages these children to make the dangerous journey north.

Additionally, when a child is apprehended with their parents, DHS is required – due to various court rulings – to release that child within 20 days. As I mentioned earlier, this effectively creates a “get out of jail free” card for families and groups who pose as families. Unsurprisingly, word of this loophole has spread across the world. From October 2017 to this February, DHS saw a staggering 315 percent increase in illegal aliens fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into the country, compared to the previous year.

To address these issues we’ve asked Congress to change the law to allow for the expeditious return of all unaccompanied alien children, regardless of their country of origin. We are also asking Congress to allow us to keep families together while they are detained. These fixes would go a long way toward discouraging families from sending children on the harrowing journey to the US, resulting in fewer children in the hands of gangs, such as MS-13, and more adults facing the consequences of their actions.

Second, our system for asylum is broken. We are a compassionate country that has taken in millions of refugees and granted asylum to hundreds of thousands over the last few decades or assisted them near their home countries. Since 1975, the United States has welcomed more than 3 million refugees from all over the world, and each year typically admits nearly two-thirds of the world’s resettled refugees, more than all other countries combined.

Unfortunately, because we have an incredibly low initial standard for claiming credible fear, as part of the asylum process, our generosity is abused. As a result, over the last seven years we have seen the number of individuals claiming asylum skyrocket.

Before 2011, approximately one out of every 100 people arriving illegally claimed credible fear and sought asylum in the United States. Today, that number is one out of every ten. The result of such a low threshold for an initial credible fear screening is an asylum backlog of 600,000 cases where applicants sit in limbo for years waiting for resolution.

After passing the unnecessarily low-standard initial screening, applicants can live and work in the U.S. for years. This is true even for the 80 percent who are ultimately rejected for asylum at their final adjudication. For the 20 percent who truly need asylum, they are mired in the years-long backlog and are in limbo.

To address this issue, we’ve asked Congress to adjust the standard of proof to prevent well-coached applicants from uttering the “magic words” indicating a fear of returning home. This change would ensure that those who deserve asylum find it quickly so they can begin their new lives.

Finally, as you well know many communities have adopted “sanctuary” policies that protect criminal aliens from federal law enforcement. Instead of turning these criminals that are in their custody over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to face immigration proceedings consistent with federal law, these communities shelter them and release the criminals back onto their streets. They often refuse to simply cooperate and share information with DHS as we enforce federal law.

To address this issue, we are asking Congress to fully authorize ICE detainers—and provide indemnification for jurisdictions who willfully comply. Removing criminal aliens in controlled environments such as jails protect the men and women of ICE as well as the local communities. I would encourage you to reach out to Members to ensure your voices are heard.

In the meantime, as ICE’s state and local law enforcement partners are increasingly challenged in court for facilitating the secure and orderly custodial transfer of criminal aliens to ICE, NSA has been a strong partner in working with us to address this public safety issue.

For example, as many of you know, NSA and the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA) worked with ICE to develop a new process to clarify that aliens held by these jurisdictions are held under the color of federal authority, thereby affording local law enforcement liability protection from potential litigation as a result of faithfully executing their public safety duties.

As a result, earlier this year, ICE announced 17 Basic Ordering Agreements (BOA) with various Florida sheriffs that aim to prevent the release of criminal aliens back into the community.

ICE is instituting the BOA process with a small number of partner jurisdictions in order to ensure a smooth roll-out, but intends to gradually expand implementation with willing law enforcement partners over the coming months.

Going into this week’s vote in Congress, my message to members is clear – you have a choice. If you want to secure our borders, if you want to keep gangs such as MS-13 out of our communities, if you want to address the fundamental issues driving illegal immigration, if you want to restore the rule of law, you must close these loopholes. If you want to support a broken immigration system that harms the interests of Americans and our security, rewards those who thumb their noses at our laws, and puts families and children needlessly at risk, then don’t vote to fix the problem. It is a simple choice.


For those who have complained about this Administration’s vigorous enforcement of the law – and the results of that enforcement – this is your opportunity to work with us to fix the incentives that encourage, and even reward, people who violate our laws and, even worse, put themselves and their families at risk of harm in the hands of smugglers and gangs. This is a complex and emotionally-charged issue. It will take courage and clear-eyed solutions to address it. I am optimistic that we will see Members rolling up their sleeves to fix these challenges.

As Secretary, I am willing to work with any and all members of Congress who will pass legislation that helps the men and women of my Department secure our borders, and helps you, our sheriffs and our other law enforcement partners keep our communities safe from nefarious actors. And I look forward to many such conversations this week with member.

As Congressman Scalise said, it is an issue the last four administrations have struggled with.

Human Trafficking

Aside from immigration, we also have several national challenges facing us as a community – such as human trafficking and the opioid epidemic.

Today, almost every community is affected by the modern day slavery known as human trafficking. President Trump has made combatting human trafficking a priority across the government, and has directed federal agencies to jointly address this significant problem.

At DHS, we leverage our law enforcement resources to target traffickers, and disrupt and dismantle their criminal enterprises all along their illicit pathways.

ICE Homeland Security Investigations conducts law enforcement operations for both international and domestic trafficking cases, and ICE victim assistance specialists help trafficking survivors rebuild their lives.

In 2017, ICE Homeland Security Investigations initiated 833 human trafficking cases, resulting in 1,602 criminal arrests, and the identification and/or rescue of 518 trafficking victims.

USCIS provides eligible non-citizen trafficking victims with immigration relief.

Customs and Border Protection identifies victims along our borders and at our ports of entry.

And our Federal Law Enforcement Training Center teaches law enforcement professionals to identify victims and conduct trafficking investigations.

It is no secret that Transnational Criminal Organizations are using their networks to smuggle dangerous drugs, illegal aliens, and potential terrorists into our country.

These TCOs have no concern for human lives—they are solely motivated by profit. These criminal networks are a significant and persistent threat to our nation’s security—and we are working tirelessly to stop them.

One example is Operation Safe Haven, an investigation into a loosely affiliated organization that coordinated the illegal movement of women—from Mexico and Central America, across the Southern Border, and into brothels throughout the southern United States.

As we see in Operation Safe Haven, while human trafficking and human smuggling are not synonymous - human trafficking of course referring to people who are transported against their will - people who are illegally smuggled into this country are easy for traffickers to exploit—because they sometimes have nowhere to turn.

In a single day, after a 15 month investigation, federal authorities arrested 29 people in 13 cities across 8 states. Law enforcement officers also rescued 15 victims.

So we must raise awareness.

As the ICE Special Agent in Charge in Atlanta said, “This investigation identified women victimized through fraud, force, and coercion—including underage teens. To the criminals behind these illegal enterprises, these women are just objects used to pull a quick profit, and then discarded or passed on to the next trafficker down the line.”

At the Department of Homeland Security, the Blue Campaign is our unified effort to raise public consciousness about human trafficking, and bring traffickers to justice. That includes developing industry-specific tool kits and training products.

These products will help private industry and law enforcement stakeholders recognize the signs of trafficking specific to their line of work.

I ask you to be part of our team, and part of this greater global fight against human trafficking.

Drug Trade

The final topic I’d like to discuss today also affects every corner of our country—the drug trade, a massive source of income for TCOs, and a key driver of desperation and violence on both sides of the border.

The drug trade in the United States has reached epidemic levels, particularly with regard to opioids which kill more than 115 of our fellow Americans every day. In April I met with some of your NSA members, as well as members of the National Association of Counties, and other stakeholders, for a roundtable discussion on the opioid crisis.

Many of you have seen this crisis in action every day. All state, local and county resources are facing challenges. Emergency medical services are overwhelmed, there are challenges with foster care for children of opioid-addicted parents, and county budgets are being stretched to the limit.

This is why the President worked with the U.S. Congress to provide for six billion dollars in the next two fiscal years to address this growing crisis in the country.

Despite the pull on your limited resources, at-capacity detention facilities, healthcare challenges, and personnel shortages, you have been more than willing to assist the federal government in our efforts. During the recent opioid roundtable, several of your Association members made presentations or commented about innovative initiatives being created in counties to provide alternatives to those caught in addiction.

The sacrifices you are making and the challenges you are facing have not gone unnoticed, and I want to say thank you.

At DHS, combating this public health emergency is an all-hands effort, and we are attacking the problem at all stages: from the source, at the border, in the interior of our country, over the internet, and through the mail.

DHS, together with the Departments of Justice and State, works with our law enforcement counterparts throughout the world, particularly those from China, Mexico, and South America, to share information regarding known sources of heroin, fentanyl, and precursors.

These efforts are also forward-looking. We are monitoring how the crisis continues to evolve, and ensuring proactive outreach with countries that have the potential to become new major sources of opioids.

But that is only one part of our approach. We are equally focused on stopping opioids and other drugs from crossing our borders, and CBP plays a critical role in the Department’s counter-narcotics efforts. Last year, CBP seized millions of pounds of drugs, and—illustrating the violence and corruption inherent in trafficking—millions of dollars and thousands of firearms.

Our efforts are not limited to our land borders and last year, the Coast Guard seized a record 223 metric tons of cocaine—with a street value of $7.2 billion—and handed more than 600 suspected drug smugglers over to the Department of Justice for prosecution.

In the interior of our country, HSI investigates opioid smuggling domestically through Border Enforcement Security Taskforces (BESTs). HSI currently operates 62 BESTs in locations throughout the United States, leveraging the participation of more than 1,000 federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agents and officers, representing over 100 law enforcement agencies, to target opioid smuggling. For those of you have joined our task forces, we thank you.

HSI also performs an essential role in detecting, investigating, and preventing the sale and distribution of opioids through the internet. In coordination with our federal and state, local partners and with increased capabilities, cyber analytics, and trained cyber investigators and analysts, HSI has the ability to remove the sellers and products and to eliminate market places and uncover the identities of the members of entire supply chains from manufacturers to distributors and, in many cases, to the end user.

In addition to land and sea interdiction, we are also working to end opioid transfer and delivery by air. This includes enhancing the quantity and quality of Advance Electronic Data to help us better target high-risk shipments to the United States through international mail, and working with our partners in the U.S. Postal Service to better detect and intercept high-risk shipments passing through those facilities. I want to thank Congressman Scalise and others in the House for working on the STOP Act – the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act – to give DHS more information to prevent the entry of these drugs.

I cannot overstate this: We cannot win this fight alone. The sheer magnitude of the opioid epidemic requires us to expand and strengthen our existing partnerships within the federal government, with international partners, with state and local partners, and—of course—with you, our nation’s sheriffs.

So allow me to end with a call for continued partnership. You are on the front lines of this fight. You are our eyes and ears. You know your communities and their needs. And whether it’s TCOs, illegal migration flows, human trafficking, or opioids, we cannot address these challenges without your input. We need your experience, your expertise, your insights.

And today, I ask you to consider the many ways we can strengthen our partnership. I invite you to join one of our many task forces, to take the training DHS offers, or to share trends and patterns through Suspicious Activity Reporting, and the National Network of Fusion Centers.

During my recent visit with border sheriffs that I mentioned earlier, I suggested one approach was to solicit ideas from your community by forming a working group to the Homeland Security Advisory Council. The Council is designed to tackle tough issues in the homeland security enterprise and provide me as Secretary with practical solutions. One example might be an issue raised to me concerning participation in grant programs.

While grants provide necessary resources to your departments for detection and apprehension, grant eligibility may not extend to other areas such as incarceration, prosecution and adjudication. This results in some county governing bodies’ reluctance to authorize your participation in grant programs because of added costs on the criminal justice system. A working group could study this problem using experts from your community and provide meaningful solutions.

By partnering together we will not only realize important advancements in the safety and security of the Nation, we will build resilience in our communities.

Most of all, I ask you to let us know what more you need from us. With me here today from our Office of Partnership and Engagement’s Office of State and Local Law Enforcement are Assistant Secretary for Partnership and Engagement John Hill and Deputy Assistant Secretary Brian Dorow.

I am also excited to announce today that I will soon be appointing Scott Erickson as my Law Enforcement Advisor. Many of you know Scott. He works today in our Office of Partnership and Engagement and is also here today. Soon he will be bringing his deep law enforcement background into my office to make sure your voices are heard and that our partnerships are deepened.

The protection of our homeland can only be successful through partnerships. I look forward to working with you on the challenges I discussed today as well as on combatting emerging threats, such as drones and chemical and biological attacks. Please share lessons learned – what is working and what is not. Help us see the trends you see.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I am honored to work alongside the sheriffs to make our nation more secure.

Topics:  Border Security, Human Trafficking, Immigration Enforcement, Law Enforcement Partnerships Keywords:  Blue Campaign, Border Security, opioids
Categories: Homeland Security

Myth vs. Fact: DHS Zero-Tolerance Policy

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 11:49
Release Date: June 18, 2018

In recent days, we have seen reporters, Members of Congress, and other groups mislead the public on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) zero-tolerance policy.

Federal law enforcement officers have sworn duties to enforce the laws that Congress passes.  Repeating intentionally untrue and unsubstantiated statements about DHS agents, officers, and procedures is irresponsible and deeply disrespectful to the men and women who risk their lives every day to secure our border and enforce our laws.


DHS has a policy to separate families at the border. 


DHS does not have a blanket policy of separating families at the border.   However, DHS does have a responsibility to protect all minors in our custody.  This means DHS will separate adults and minors under certain circumstances.  These circumstances include: 1) when DHS is unable to determine the familial relationship, 2) when DHS determines that a child may be at risk with the parent or legal guardian, or 3) when the parent or legal guardian is referred for criminal prosecution. 

  • Familial Relationship – If there is reason to question the claimed familial relationship between an adult and child, it is not appropriate to detain adults and children together.
  • Human Trafficking and Smuggling – If there is reason to suspect the purported parent or legal guardian of human trafficking or smuggling, DHS detains the adult in an appropriate, secure detection facility, separate from the minor.  DHS continues to see instances and intelligence reports indicating minors are trafficked by unrelated adults, posing as a “family” in an effort to avoid detention.
  • Safety Risk – If there is reason to suspect the purported parent or legal guardian poses a safety risk to the child (e.g. suspected child abuse), it is not appropriate to maintain the adult and child together.
  • Criminal Prosecution – If an adult is referred for criminal prosecution, the adult will be transferred to U.S. Marshals Service custody and any children will be classified as an unaccompanied alien child and transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services custody.

In recent months, DHS has seen a staggering increase in the number of illegal aliens using children to pose as family units to gain entry into the United States. From October 2017 to February 2018, there was a 315 percent increase in the number of cases of adults with minors fraudulently posing as “family units” to gain entry.


Prior to April 2017, DHS never separated families arriving at the border.  


DHS has separated families under the circumstances described above.  Because of court decisions, DHS can generally no longer hold families in detention beyond 20 days.  


DHS can indefinitely detain families who cross the border illegally. 


DHS generally releases families within 20 days.  This creates a “get out of jail free” card for illegal alien families and encourages groups of illegal aliens to pose as families hoping to take advantage of that loophole.

In 2014, DHS increased detention facilities for arriving alien families and held families pending the outcome of immigration proceedings.  However, a federal judge ruled in 2015 that under the Flores Settlement Agreement, minors detained as part of a family unit cannot be detained in unlicensed facilities for longer than a presumptively reasonable period of 20 days, at which point, such minors must be released or transferred to a licensed facility.  Because most jurisdictions do not offer licensure for family residential centers, DHS rarely holds family units for longer than 20 days.  The judge’s ruling made it much more difficult for the Federal government to use the detention authorities Congress gave it.


DHS is referring for prosecution all families coming to the border.


DHS only refers to the Department of Justice those adults who violate the law by crossing the border illegally (or who have violated some other criminal law) and are amenable for prosecution.  When adults, with or without children, unlawfully enter this country, there must be a consequence for breaking our laws. 

DHS is not referring for prosecutions families or individuals arriving at ports of entry or attempting to enter the country through legal means.  These families and individuals have not broken the law and will be processed accordingly. 


DHS is turning away asylum seekers at ports of entry.


DHS complies with Federal law with regard to processing individuals claiming asylum at ports of entry. 

CBP processes all aliens arriving at all ports of entry without documents as expeditiously as possible without negatively affecting the agency's primary mission to protect the American public from dangerous people and materials while enhancing the nation’s economic competitiveness through facilitating legitimate trade and travel.

As the number of arriving aliens determined to be inadmissible at ports of entry continues to rise, CBP must prioritize its limited resources to ensure its primary mission is being executed.  Depending on port circumstances at the time of arrival, CBP officials will allocate the necessary resources to its primary mission and operate appropriate access controls and queue management procedures for those arriving aliens without proper travel documents.     


DHS separates families who entered at the ports of entry and who are seeking asylum – even though they have not broken the law. 


If an adult enters at a port of entry and claims asylum, they will not face prosecution for illegal entry. DHS does have a responsibility to protect minors we apprehend and will separate in three circumstances:1) when DHS is unable to determine the familial relationship, 2) when DHS determines that a child may be at risk with the parent or legal guardian, or 3) when the parent or legal guardian is referred for criminal prosecution. 


Once separated, arriving alien adults cannot contact minors and are not told where the minors are being held by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).   


DHS is committed to and has procedures in place to connect family members after separation so adults know the location of minors and have regular communication with them.

HHS and DHS work to facilitate communication between detained adults and minors (in HHS custody) in a number of ways to include telephone and/or video conferencing.  Additionally, ICE has posted information in all over 72-hour facilities advising detained adults who are trying to locate, and/or communicate with a child in the custody of HHS to call the Detention Reporting and Information Line (DRIL) for assistance.  This posted information includes:

  • HHS Adult Hotline (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish):
    • If calling from outside an ICE detention facility, call 1-800-203-7001.
    • If calling from an ICE detention facility, dial 699# on the free call platform.
    • Please note that you will need to provide the child’s full name, date of birth, and country of origin.  It is also helpful to provide the child’s alien registration number, if you know it.
  • HHS Email:

Individuals may also obtain information about a particular immigration case (including their child’s), or information about reunifying with minors, through the following methods:

  • ICE Call Center (Monday-Friday, 8 am-8 pm EST):
    • If calling from outside an ICE detention facility, call 1-888-351-4024.
    • If calling from an ICE detention facility, dial 9116# on the free call platform.
  • ICE Email:

Additionally, CBP has developed and distributed bilingual documents outlining the separation and reunification process. 


Language barriers prevent aliens apprehended at the border, and subject to prosecution, from receiving adequate information. 


All US Border Patrol trainees are required to take Spanish language training while at the Border Patrol Academy, and achieve proficiency in Spanish.  All Border Patrol personnel on the Southwest Border are bilingual.

CBP apprehends illegal aliens from numerous countries that speak many languages other than Spanish.  Should an agent ever have a language or communication issue, they are required to find another Agent who speaks the language or to utilize contract interpreters. 

All Border Patrol personnel at the border are directed to clearly explain the relevant process to apprehended individuals.  CBP provides detainees with written documentation (in Spanish and English) that lays out the process – to include the appropriate phone numbers to contact. 


CBP and ICE officers are not properly trained to separate minors from their custodians.    


The safety of CBP employees, detainees, and the public is paramount during all aspects of CBP operations.  CBP treats all individuals in its custody with dignity and respect, and complies will all laws and policy, including CBP’s National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search (TEDS). TEDS reinforces/reiterates the need to consider the best interest of children and mandates adherence to established protocols to protect at-risk populations, to include standards for the transport and treatment of minors in CBP custody.    

All ICE facility staff who interact with adults receive trauma-informed care training.  ICE is augmenting mental health care staffing, to include trained clinical staff, to provide mental health services to detained adults.


DHS detention facilities are in poor condition and do not provide clean drinking water.


DHS facilities are safe and sanitary, and adults and minors are provided access to food and drinking water, medical care as needed, and adequate temperature control and ventilation.


DHS and HHS houses migrants in “inhumane fenced cages” or in an “ice box.”


DHS and HHS utilize short-term facilities in order to process and temporarily hold migrants that have been apprehended.  These short-term facilities do not employ the use of ‘cages’ to house minors.  Certain facilities make use of barriers in order to separate minors of different genders and age groups – for the safety of those who are being held. Additionally, CBP facilities have adequate temperature control and ventilation.  ICE facilities are designed for longer-term detention of adults and, in some cases, families.

DHS takes seriously our responsibility for the safety and security of all migrants in the custody of the United States government.


DHS has never separated families for prosecutions before – this is a new policy in this Administration. 


Illegal border crossers, including family units, were referred for prosecutions, as appropriates, under the previous Administration. The average referral rate for amenable adults from FY10 – FY16 was 21 percent.


By choice, DHS refuses to keep families together through the immigration adjudication and removal process. 


Court decisions interpreting the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA), which has been in existence for over 20 years but was significantly broadened in 2015, limits the government’s ability to detain family units. Pursuant to these court decisions, minors detained as part of a family unit cannot be detained in unlicensed facilities for longer than a presumptively reasonable period of 20 days, at which point, minors must be released or transferred to a licensed facility.  Because most jurisdictions do not offer licensure for family residential centers, DHS can rarely detain a family for longer than 20 days. 

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) requires unaccompanied alien children (other than those from contiguous countries – Mexico and Canada – who are eligible to withdraw their application for admission) be transferred from DHS to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours, absent exceptional circumstances.

Topics:  Border Security, Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Border Security, Family detention, southwest border
Categories: Homeland Security

Fact Sheet: Zero Tolerance Immigration Prosecutions - Families

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 13:08
Release Date: June 15, 2018

The risks of crossing the Rio Grande and desert terrain, or hiding in stash houses or tractor trailers, are high for adults and even more deeply concerning for children.  Individuals who seek to enter the United States should do so at ports of entry.

The Attorney General directed United States Attorneys on the Southwest Border to prosecute all amenable adults who illegally enter the country, including those accompanied by their children, for 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a), illegal entry. 

Children whose parents are referred for prosecution will be placed with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

The information below provides information about:

  • Care for children
  • Family communication processes
  • The removal process
Additional InformationProsecution/Removal Proceedings

Individuals who are apprehended by Border Patrol are taken to stations for processing. 

  • All individuals, including both adults and children, provide biographical information and, in many cases, fingerprints. 
  • Border Patrol agents enter information into appropriate electronic systems of records, including information about the claimed or confirmed family relationship. 

Individuals who are believed to have committed any crime, including illegal entry, will be referred to the Department of Justice and presented before a federal judge.

After the conclusion of any criminal case, individuals will be transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for appropriate immigration proceedings. 

Any individual processed for removal, including those who are criminally prosecuted for illegal entry, may seek asylum or other protection available under law. 

Alien children may also present an individual claim for asylum and depending on the circumstances, may undergo separate immigration proceedings.

Communication and Coordination for Families

Children in HHS ORR custody are provided with appropriate care, including medical care, mental health care, and educational programs. Children are normally held in a temporary shelter or hosted by an appropriate family.

While in HHS care, ORR begins the process of locating a sponsor for the child for discharge from federal custody. 

  • A sponsor can be a parent, adult sibling, relative, or appropriate home that meets criteria for the safety of the child and continuation of any immigration proceedings.  A parent who is prosecuted and later released can be a sponsor and ask HHS to release his or her child back into his or her custody. 
  • In Fiscal Year 2017, 90 percent of the children were released to a sponsor who was either a parent or close relative.

HHS and DHS work to facilitate communication between detained parents and their children in HHS care. 

  • ICE is dedicating a facility as its primary family reunification and removal center. 
  • Parents and legal guardians who have been criminally prosecuted and are awaiting removal will normally be detained there. 
  • All ICE facility staff who interact with parents will receive trauma-informed care training. 
  • ICE is augmenting mental health care staffing, to include trained clinical staff, to provide mental health services to detained parents who have been separated from their children. 
  • ICE will work with detained parents to provide regular communication with their children through video teleconferencing, phone, and tablets.

HHS and ICE can take steps to facilitate family reunification for purposes of removal, consistent with federal law where the parent or legal guardian is capable of providing for the physical and mental well-being of the child and comports with the wishes of the parent or legal guardian. 

Contact Information

For assistance in locating child(ren), individuals may contact the Office of Refugee Resettlement by calling 1-800-203-7001, email, or visit  Individuals should provide the child’s full name, date of birth, and country of origin, as well as the alien registration number (A number), if available.  Operators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and speak both Spanish and English.  If calling from an ICE detention facility, dial 699# on the free call platform.

For information about an immigration case or the process for reunifying with child(ren), individuals can call the ICE hotline at 1-888-351-4024, email, or visit  If calling from an ICE detention facility, call using speed dial 9116# on the free call platform.  ICE is committed to connecting family members as quickly as possible after separation so that parents know the location of their children and have regular communication with them. ICE has posted information in all longer-term facilities with this information. 

Topics:  Border Security, Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Border Security, Family detention, southwest border
Categories: Homeland Security

Frequently Asked Questions: Zero Tolerance Immigration Prosecutions

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 13:07
Release Date: June 15, 2018

The Attorney General directed United States Attorneys on the Southwest Border to prosecute all amenable adults who illegally enter the country, including those accompanied by their children, for 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a), illegal entry. Children whose parents are referred for prosecution will be placed with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The following are Frequently Asked Questions regarding Zero Tolerance Immigration Prosecutions.

Why Are Parents Being Separated From Their Children?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may separate a parent or legal guardian from his or her child for several reasons, including situations where DHS cannot ascertain the parental relationship, when DHS determines that a child may be at risk with the presumed parent or legal guardian, or if a parent or legal guardian is referred for criminal prosecution, including for illegal entry.

Where Are Children Going?

Alien children who are separated from their parents or legal guardians will be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS ORR).

What Happens to Children in HHS Custody?

HHS ORR provides care for all alien children in its custody, to include medical care, mental health care, educational services, and other services.  HHS also works to locate a sponsor (parent, guardian, other adult relative, or foster care provider) for the children in its custody, for purposes of releasing the child from government custody.

What Happens After Criminal Prosecution?

Parents or legal guardians who are charged with illegal entry will be transferred from DHS to the Department of Justice, where they will be presented to a judge for a hearing on their criminal case.  After completion of criminal proceedings, they will be transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for immigration proceedings.

Any individual who is subject to removal may, in the course of immigration proceedings, seek asylum or other relief or protection from removal.  The fact that an individual was prosecuted for illegal entry does not affect this right.

HHS and ICE can take steps to facilitate family reunification, for purposes of removal, if the potential sponsor is capable of providing for the physical and mental well-being of the child..and comports with the wishes of the parent or legal guardian. 

Children may also present an individual claim for asylum or other relief or protection from removal, and depending on the circumstances, may undergo separate immigration proceedings.

How Can I Communicate With My Child?

For parents or legal guardians detained in ICE custody, ICE and HHS will work to schedule regular communication with their children in HHS custody, through telephone and/or video conferencing.

Additionally, individuals may locate and communicate with their children through the following methods:

  • HHS Parent Hotline (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish):
    • If calling from outside an ICE detention facility, call 1-800-203-7001.
    • If calling from an ICE detention facility, dial 699# on the free call platform.
    • Please note that you will need to provide the child’s full name, date of birth, and country of origin.  It is also helpful to provide the child’s alien registration number, if you know it.
  • Email ORR at

Individuals may also obtain information about a particular immigration case (including their child’s), or information about reunifying with their children, through the following methods:

  • ICE Call Center (Monday-Friday, 8 am-8 pm EST):
    • If calling from outside an ICE detention facility, call 1-888-351-4024.
    • If calling from an ICE detention facility, dial 9116# on the free call platform.
  • Email ICE at
Topics:  Border Security, Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Border Security, Family detention, southwest border
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen Meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 15:25
Release Date: June 13, 2018

On June 13, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem during the inaugural International Homeland Security Forum.

Secretary Nielsen thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for his government’s close cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a range of counterterrorism and public safety issues. This includes aviation security, border security, cybersecurity, emergency management, law enforcement, and science and technology research and development.

In addition to these efforts, Secretary Nielsen also highlighted actions DHS has taken to counter threats. These efforts include countering the proliferation of nuclear, missile, and other technology; providing capacity building to our allies; and countering cyber threats. Further, Secretary Nielsen suggested that DHS and the government of Israel cooperate to advance implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2396, which provides greater international focus on measures to address returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters and transnational terrorist groups.

Secretary Nielsen traveled to Israel for the inaugural meeting of the International Homeland Security Forum. The purpose of the forum is to improve countries’ capabilities to face homeland and public security issues; deepen bilateral and multilateral cooperation; and share knowledge and best practices.

(DHS Official Photo/Tara Molle)

(Official DHS Photo/Tara Molle)


Topics:  International Engagement Keywords:  counterterrorism
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Nielsen Receives Operational Briefing on Israeli Security Technology, Delivers Remarks at the International Homeland Security Forum

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 14:51
Release Date: June 12, 2018

On June 12, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen joined the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs and Public Security and the Israeli Defense Forces for an operational briefing on security technology and operations.

Secretary Nielsen also delivered remarks at the inaugural International Homeland Security Forum. The purpose of the forum is to improve countries’ capabilities to face homeland and public security issues; deepen bilateral and multilateral cooperation; and share knowledge and best practices.

(DHS Official Photo/Tara Molle)

(DHS Official Photo/Tara Molle)

(DHS Official Photo/Tara Molle)

Secretary Nielsen’s International Homeland Security Forum remarks as delivered are below:

“The Second Phase of the Fight: Turning the Tide Against Terrorists”

Greetings ministers, ambassadors, colleagues, and partners.  Thank you, Sharon, for that kind introduction.  It is a privilege to join you here this evening.

I’d like to thank Minister Erdan for the opportunity to participate in this important summit and for this wonderful gala and for his gracious hospitality…thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for his steadfast leadership...and thank you all for being here.

When President Donald Trump visited Israel last year, he said, “I have come to this ancient land to reaffirm the enduring friendship between the United States and the State of Israel.”

Tonight, it is an honor to do the same.

Our alliance has been fortified through crises and strengthened by collaboration.  Following the 9/11 attacks—the deadliest terror assault in modern world history—you were right there by our side.

We knew we could not win the coming fight alone.  And we turned to you for guidance because the State of Israel has withstood decades of violence at the hands of fanatics—and has proudly defended freedom against relentless terrorist enemies.

The result has been clear to all of us:  Courage has brought this nation prosperity.  And resolve has rightfully earned it the admiration of the free world.

So it is fitting that you are hosting the inaugural International Homeland Security Forum.  And I thank you for your commitment to security through partnership.

Tonight I’d like to set the tone for our dialogue over the next two days by discussing the threat we face, how we’ve entered a new phase of the fight, and what we can do to turn the tide against terrorists.

I will highlight how we are dealing with terrorism in America, and—most importantly—what we must do together globally to protect our people and prevail over this menace.

Minister Erdan, we did not pre-coordinate our remarks, but you will find that we are of one mind with regard to the threat and what must be done.

I do not need to convince anyone in this room that the threat is both real and grave.

From Ottawa to Berlin, our communities are now on the frontlines.  All countries represented here have experienced this evil in one form or another, whether your nationals have been victims or your homelands have been hit directly.

But let me be clear:  This isn’t petty crime.  This isn’t a mere public safety problem.  We are at war.  And we must respond accordingly.

Victory in this struggle begins with moral clarity.  If we lose sight of who we stand against or what we stand for, then we will certainly lose the fight.

So all of us in this room must remember we are engaged in a generational struggle against Islamist militants, the preeminent terror threat to our lives, our livelihoods, and our way of life.

This menace takes many forms.  Whether it is global jihadist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda and their legions of digital followers, or the proxies of rogue nation states such as Iran, our enemies have perverted a major religion to justify horrific violence and lust for power.

Their goal is to establish a totalitarian empire governed under a backwards and repressive worldview.  And the danger they pose is at its highest point in decades.

Gone are the days when terrorists had to work patiently over many months or years to sneak an operative onto our shores.  Now all they need is a smartphone and an internet connection.

They are franchising violence globally, crowd-sourcing attacks on social media, and using secure communications to plot in darkness.

This includes promoting do-it-yourself jihad.  Fanatics have adopted a “bring your own device” policy encouraging use of whatever weapon they can get their hands on to cause destruction—be it guns, knives, vehicles, or axes.

The result is a historic level of terrorist activity.  The numbers speak for themselves.

For instance, there have been more than 100 terrorist attacks in Western countries since the rise of ISIS in 2013, resulting in thousands of casualties.

The United States has been the victim of around 25 of those incidents.  That means that three-fourths of all terrorist attacks in America since 9/11 have happened since the formation of ISIS.

Most were carried out by homegrown violent extremists inspired by the group’s heinous propaganda.

We saw a killing spree in California.  A terrible shooting at a Florida nightclub.  And bombings and vehicle assaults in New York.

We have uncovered plots to attack the United States Congress.  Plans to strike military bases.  Blueprints for killing pedestrians on public beaches and at large events.  And today we have thousands of open terrorism investigations across all 50 of our states—many of which involve homegrown violent extremists radicalized online.

The good news is that we have put clear-eyed, focused pressure on terrorist groups around the world.  We have obliterated the core safe havens of groups such as ISIS and taken tens of thousands of them off the battlefield.

And when it comes to nation-state threats, we are replacing complacency with consequences.

The United States is standing up to rogue regimes that bankroll terror and use proxies to advance their malign goals.

But in the overall war against terrorists, we are now in what I call the “second phase of the fight.”

This phase will be defined not by the shock and awe of kinetic action—but by the speed and depth of cross-border cooperation.

The threat has spider-webbed.  Terrorists have fanned out across the globe.  They are rapidly reconstituting in new physical safe havens.  And they remain connected through potent virtual safe havens of hate, conspiracy, and violence.

The challenge now for us is systemic risk.

In other words, a terrorist in your land is very much a threat to mine.

And any country that doesn’t secure its borders—that doesn’t track and target terror suspects—becomes the weakest link, passing the risk onto all of us.

We must come together if we are going to win this second phase of the fight.

If I’ve learned anything in my years focusing on cyber security, it’s that the antidote to systemic risk is collective defense and resilience.

We need to apply the same concept to counterterrorism.

Our security depends on our ability to quickly swap threat information and simultaneously fix security flaws and to build redundant systems and resilient functions.

Specifically, I ask that we use this forum to deepen cooperation in three key areas:

The first is preventing and disrupting terror plots—and helping each other to do the same.

When we become aware of new intelligence or identify suspicious individuals, we’ve got to get that information to each other more quickly.

For the most part, this doesn’t require new organizations, new programs, or more people.  It requires better leveraging the tools and organizations we already have—such as Interpol, Europol, and bilateral sharing platforms.

We also need to develop common approaches to quickly identify and mitigate emerging threats.

This includes chemical and biological weapons, armed drones, and other deadly tools used to strike soft targets and crowded places.

As we speak tonight, somewhere a terrorist is advancing plans to kill innocent civilians using one of these methods.

And it’s up to us to patch vulnerabilities that would make such an attack possible to carry out.

My Department is aggressively pursuing mitigations to these dangers.  We’ve launched a new Office for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, we’re testing new detection platforms, we’re pursuing counter-drone systems and authorities, and we’ve recently released a major soft target security plan.

We have learned a great deal from our Israeli partners about soft target security—and how to maintain a society that is both open and secure.

I invite you to partner with us on these efforts.  Let’s bring together our experts.  Let’s share best practices.  But more than that, let’s develop joint action plans to close security gaps and help others to do the same.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention aviation security.

We are tracking ongoing threat streams in this sector.  And we are convinced that our enemies remain hellbent on taking down passenger aircraft.

So I call on all nations here tonight to help us raise the bar on aviation security globally.

The United States has put in place new “seen and unseen” security requirements for all flights into our territory.

These measures are guarding against concealed explosives, corrupted insiders, suspicious passengers, chemical weapons, and more.

I urge all nations here to expand these enhancements to your own domestic and international flights and to make it much harder for terrorists to put commercial passengers in danger.

Our second focus area should be on blocking terrorists from crossing our borders and infiltrating our open societies.

At the direction of President Trump, the U.S. government has taken sweeping action to secure our borders and prevent dangerous individuals from getting into America.

Border security is national security.  Our Israeli partners know that better than anyone, and I was fortunate today to see the incredible work they are doing to keep their territory safe.

The United States has also put in place measures to dramatically improve screening and vetting of individuals traveling to our shores.

We have made applications more rigorous…intensified background checks…put in place new information sharing requirements…launched a new National Vetting Center to better leverage intelligence…and more.

The result is that we are identifying and stopping terror suspects who would otherwise have gone undetected.  In fact, on average, my Department now blocks 10 known or suspected terrorists a day from traveling to or attempting to enter the United States.

But our efforts alone are not enough.

We need to stop terrorist travel together and urgently implement UN Security Council Resolution 2396.

The Resolution—signed by all of our nations—requires every country to collect biometric data, develop terrorist watchlists, and deploy suspicious traveler targeting capabilities.

I can’t emphasize this enough:  These tools stop terrorist attacks.  Period.  So all governments must adopt them.

And we should use this Forum to discuss how we can build capability in countries that are currently unable to fulfill the requirements.

The United States has a vast array of tools and resources to help others do this.  And we stand ready to talk about how we can help build capacity.

Your nations also have critical expertise that must be brought to the fight and shared.  If we prepare individually, we will fail collectively.

Finally, we must come together to counter and defeat the evil ideology fueling terrorist movements worldwide.

Make no mistake—this is a war of ideas, not unlike the struggle against communism and fascism.

Terrorists are using a corrupted worldview to unify their ranks, recruit new followers, and incite violence.

So we must expose the poverty of their ideas, the naked hypocrisy of their actions, and the fallacy of their message.

Last week, I traveled to California for a summit hosted by the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a consortium of companies working to make the web less hospitable to terrorists.

Companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter are working hard to delete terrorist accounts, take down violent content, and prevent propaganda from being uploaded in the first place.

It’s starting to work.  Jihadists are having a tougher time reaching the masses and are unable to exploit platforms they once used with ease.

But as Minister Erdan said, there is still a long way to go.  Terrorists can switch apps and accounts within seconds, so we must look beyond the tech giants.

The summit focused on engaging smaller and emerging companies, and I ask that all of you join us in helping them understand the threat and combat it.

That goes for nonprofits, too.

It will be the grassroots—not governments—that deal the decisive blow to terrorist ideologies through counter-messaging.

So we must empower startups and NGOs to fight back against extremist content and spread counter narratives.

My Department is already doing this through information sharing and capacity building programs.

And I hope to use this Forum here in Israel to discuss how we can partner on threat briefings, summits, and other efforts to arm those on the digital frontlines.

I want to close tonight by talking about what success looks like in this long war.

The continuous stream of terrorist attacks in our homelands is not a “new normal” we should come to accept.  We cannot tolerate defeatism.

We will win this struggle, though it will not be marked by a single, victorious moment.

Success will be when terrorist groups are unable to project their violence globally and across borders…when they’ve lost their brand appeal…when they are reduced to a local problem…and when they are forced to cease most of their aggressive activity to focus on their own survival.

This will not come easy.  But our path to victory begins with collective defense.

So to our allies, America’s message is that you should never question our willingness to partner and our commitment to confronting these threats together.

And to our enemies, the message from all of us is that you should never question our resolve.  We cannot be intimidated or coerced.  And in return for violence, we will deliver justice and protect our freedoms.

Thank you for being here.  Thank you again to our Israeli hosts for bringing us together.  And let me end with my deepest thanks to all of you for your partnership with the United States of America.


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

DHS Announces Strengthened Northern Border Strategy

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 10:23
Release Date: June 12, 2018

On June 12, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published an updated Northern Border Strategy (NBS). The strategy establishes a clear vision and concrete actions that will improve DHS’s efforts to safeguard our northern border against terrorist and criminal threats, facilitate the safe and efficient flow of lawful cross-border trade and travel, and strengthen cross-border critical infrastructure protection and community resilience.

The NBS will:

  • Enhance border security operations through better information sharing, improved domain awareness, and integrated operations.
  • Facilitate and safeguard lawful trade and travel by enhancing rapid inspection and screening, enforcing a fair trade environment, and bolstering border infrastructure.
  • Promote cross-border resilience by supporting response and recovery capabilities between federal, state, local, tribal, and Canadian partners.

The NBS, which supersedes the 2012 DHS Northern Border Strategy, draws upon the findings from the Northern Border Threat Analysis Report delivered to Congress in summer 2017.

The Department is currently developing an accompanying Northern Border Strategy Implementation Plan which will include measures that enable DHS to evaluate progress toward addressing any identified capability gaps on the northern border. Together, the Strategy and its companion Implementation Plan will improve the Department’s oversight and optimize resource utilization in support of enhancing security, travel, trade, and resiliency along the U.S. - Canada border.

While the NBS is primarily focused on Departmental activities, it recognizes the importance of continued close collaboration with federal, state, local, tribal, private sector, and Canadian partners. Such partnerships remain critical to the security, resiliency, and management of our northern border.

DHS intends to review and update the Northern Border Strategy every five years and assess the Department’s progress on the implementation plan annually. View the Northern Border Strategy here.

Topics:  Border Security Keywords:  Northern Border Strategy
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Announces the Launch of the "Countering Terrorists Exploitation of Social Media and the Internet" Training

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 10:28

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security’s hosted U.S. Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Task Force and the United Kingdom’s Home Office provided a demonstration of a new online educational training course, “Countering Terrorists Exploitation of Social Media and the Internet,” to members of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). This training was first announced by DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen in February 2018 at the 2018 Digital Forum on Terrorism Prevention.

With 300 hours of content uploaded every minute to content service platforms, identifying and removing or blocking terrorist content has been a challenge for companies, especially smaller startups with limited resources to manage.

This online 90-minute training is designed to educate startup companies and social media companies about how terrorists may seek to exploit their platforms. This narrated course includes videos and images of official and unofficial terrorist media products, quizzes to test knowledge, as well as supplementary notes pages to explore select topics in greater detail.

The majority of the training examines the online activities of ISIS, al‑Qa'ida, and these two groups’ supporters, as well as White Supremacist Extremists. The final section of the training course highlights select initiatives where governments and industry have worked either together or independently to counter this threat. This section is designed to highlight the significant progress made to date in countering terrorist exploitation of social media and the internet and to encourage additional thinking about how to continue collaboration on this issue.

Companies interested in gaining access to the training can request it on Tech Against Terrorism’s Knowledge Sharing Platform (Sign up at: or reach out to with the subject line “Training”.

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Topics:  International Engagement Keywords:  countering terrorism, cve Public Affairs
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen to Travel to Israel

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 11:06
Release Date: June 8, 2018

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen will travel to Jerusalem, Israel next week to participate in the International Homeland Security Forum. While in Israel, Secretary Nielsen will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. She will also serve as keynote speaker and participant at the forum with Israeli leaders and other international partners. Additionally, Secretary Nielsen will receive an operational briefing on Israeli border infrastructure technology and systems. The forum is expected to include delegates from 17 countries and will focus on counterterrorism and how the United States, Israel, and our international partners can work together to further combat emerging threats.


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Topics:  International Engagement Keywords:  counterterrorism
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Releases Soft Target and Crowded Places Security Enhancement and Coordination Plan

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 08:43

By Bob Kolasky, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Infrastructure Protection


Too often, we see news about attacks on ordinary people who are simply going about their everyday lives around the world, and even here at home. While we remain vigilant about preventing terrorist attacks on traditional targets and high profile events, it’s equally important that we focus on securing soft targets.  These are places where people gather freely, like music festivals, houses of worship, or shopping centers, which are easily accessible and often have minimal security, potentially making it easier and cheaper to carry out an attack.

Given recent trends, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has redoubled its efforts, including publicly releasing the DHS Soft Target and Crowded Places Security Plan Overview. The overview describes how the Department is working to enhance and organize its efforts around the security and resilience of soft targets and crowded places across the United States.

We have been working for many years to address security and preparedness around soft targets and crowded places, through four overarching lines of effort: directing security operations and support; facilitating awareness, intelligence and information sharing; building partner capability and capacity; and conducting research and development.

Looking ahead, the plan outlines several DHS initiatives that will leverage capabilities from across the Department to build the foundation for future success.  These efforts include:

  • Enhancing a culture of awareness through a major education and awareness campaign;
  • Engaging with key international partners to share best practices and lessons learned;
  • Increasing awareness of and access to resources;
  • Focusing and incentivizing investments in soft target and crowded places security; and
  • Focusing research and development on soft target-crowded places security.

In conjunction with the plan, the Department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) has also developed the Security of Soft Targets and Crowded Places Resource Security Guide. The guide is a catalog of soft target resources, many of which were created in collaboration with our partners to ensure they are useful and reflective of the dynamic environment we live in.  This guide is being further expanded to include resources from across the Department.

The bottom line is that the U.S. government has no greater responsibility than protecting the American people, but all levels of government, the private sector and even individual citizens play important roles in protecting communities and preventing attacks.  I encourage you to get involved, visit, and review the Plan, Resources Guide, and other key information.

Topics:  Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  public safety
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Receives “A+” Grade on the SBA Annual Small Business Procurement Scorecard

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 14:53
Release Date: June 7, 2018

For the ninth year in a row, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has earned an “A” grade or higher on the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Annual Small Business Procurement Scorecard (PDF, 2 pages, 53 KB). For this reporting period, the Department earned its third “A+,” the highest score possible.

SBA’s scorecard measures federal agencies’ success in meeting their overall small business contracting goals.

The Department’s small business program is the largest agency to consistently earn an “A” grade or higher on the SBA’s annual scorecard. Last fiscal year, DHS awarded 34.75 percent of total contracting dollars to small businesses, greatly exceeding the government-wide goal of 23 percent.

Small businesses play a critical role in delivering efficient and innovative solutions to support our mission needs. Partnership with the small business community will continue and the Department remains committed to their participation in the efforts to secure the nation.

For more information about the Department’s small business programs, visit


Topics:  Homeland Security Enterprise Keywords:  small businesses
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen Meets with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 12:33
Release Date: June 7, 2018

On June 7, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen met with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in Washington, D.C.  She was joined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. During the meeting, Secretary Nielsen reaffirmed her support for Honduran efforts to increase security and prosperity in their country, and reiterated the Department’s commitment to combating transnational organizations and the illicit flow of narcotics entering the United States.

Further, Secretary Nielsen and President Hernández discussed tangible ways to improve citizen security and enhance the rule of law in Honduras. They also discussed joint efforts to ensure a smooth transition related to the end of Temporary Protected Status for a select group of Honduran citizens. Finally, Secretary Nielsen reaffirmed her commitment to a more stable and secure Central America.

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Topics:  International Engagement Keywords:  Honduras
Categories: Homeland Security

Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Release Quarterly Alien Incarceration Report Highlighting the Negative Effects Of Illegal Immigration and the Need for Border Security

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 09:49
Release Date: June 7, 2018

WASHINGTON—President Trump’s Executive Order on Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect relevant data and provide quarterly reports on data collection efforts. On June 7, 2018 DOJ and DHS released the FY 2018 1st Quarter Alien Incarceration Report, complying with this order.[1] The report found that more than one-in-five of all persons in Bureau of Prisons custody were known or suspected aliens, and 93 percent of confirmed aliens in DOJ custody were in the United States unlawfully.

"The illegal immigrant crime rate in this country should be zero," said Attorney General Sessions. "Every crime committed by an illegal alien is, by definition, a crime that should have been prevented. It is outrageous that tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year because of the drugs and violence brought over our borders illegally and that taxpayers have been forced, year after year, to pay millions of dollars to incarcerate tens of thousands of illegal aliens. That is another reason why the Department of Justice under President Trump's leadership has instituted a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. Today's report is yet another reminder that we must continue this policy and help fulfill President Trump's goals of restoring lawfulness to our immigration system and ensure that immigration serves the good of this country."

“Bad actors know well our legal loopholes which act as a magnet for illegal immigration,” said Secretary Nielsen. “As DHS continues to carry out President Trump’s immigration priorities to keep America safe, Congress must urgently act to close dangerous loopholes that attract criminal aliens and also inhibit our ability to remove them.”

Section 16 of the Executive Order directs the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to collect relevant data and provide quarterly reports regarding: (a) the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons; (b) the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated as federal pretrial detainees under the supervision of the United States Marshals Service; and (c) the immigration status of all convicted aliens in state prisons and local detention centers throughout the United States. 

A total of 57,820 known or suspected aliens were in in DOJ custody at the end of FY 2018 Q1, including 38,132 persons in BOP custody and 19,688 in USMS custody. Of this total, 42,284 people had been confirmed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be aliens (i.e., non-citizens and non-nationals), while 15,536 aliens were still under investigation by ICE to determine alienage and/or removability.

Among the 42,284 confirmed aliens, 39,413 people (93 percent) were unlawfully present. These numbers include a 62 percent unlawful rate among 38,132 known or suspected aliens in BOP custody and a 78 percent unlawful rate among 19,688 confirmed aliens in USMS custody.

Approximately 16,233 aliens in USMS custody required housing in state, local, and private facilities, which cost $1,458,372.72 a day.

For the first time, the Quarterly Alien Incarceration Report included examples of newly sentenced or incarcerated aliens in BOP custody. These examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Anibel Rondolpho Rodriguez, an illegal alien from Honduras who was residing in Freeport, NY, was sentenced to 45 years in prison after he pled guilty to racketeering charges, two murder conspiracies, two attempted murders, and threatening to commit assault.
  • Eduardo Martinez, an illegal alien who was residing in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was sentenced to 324 months in prison after he pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin, distribution of over 50 grams of methamphetamine, and possession of a firearm.
  • Pedro Quintero-Enriques, an illegal alien from Mexico who was residing in Summerdale, Alabama, was sentenced to 108 months in prison after he pled guilty to illegal reentry after deportation and felon in possession of firearms.

This report does not include data on the alien populations in state prisons and local jails because state and local facilities do not routinely provide DHS or DOJ with comprehensive information about their inmates and detainees—which account for approximately 90 percent of the total U.S. incarcerated population.

Information Regarding Immigration Status of Aliens Incarcerated Under the Supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has an operational process for maintaining data regarding foreign-born inmates in its custody. On a quarterly basis, BOP supplies this information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE, in turn, analyzes that information to determine the immigration status of each inmate and provides that information back to BOP.

Out of the 183,058 inmates in BOP custody, 38,132 (twenty-one percent) were reported by BOP as known or suspected aliens. Further details regarding these 38,132 known or suspected aliens are as follows: 

  •  20,976 (55 percent) were unauthorized aliens who are subject to a final order of removal;
  •  11,698 (31 percent) remain under ICE investigation;
  •  2,850 (seven percent) were unlawfully present and now in removal proceedings;
  •  2,484 (approximately seven percent) were lawfully present aliens but are now in removal proceedings; and

 124 were aliens who have been granted relief or protection from removal.

Information Regarding the Immigration Status of Aliens Incarcerated as Federal Pretrial Detainees

USMS identified 19,688 confirmed aliens under ICE investigation detained at USMS facilities. Further details regarding these 19,688 confirmed aliens are as follows:

  •  13,858 (70 percent) were aliens who are subject to a final order of removal;
  •  3,838 (19 percent) remain under ICE investigation;
  •  1,560 (7.9 percent) were unlawfully present and now in removal proceedings;
  •  387 (approximately two percent) were lawfully present but are now in removal proceedings; and
  •  45 were aliens who have been granted relief or protection from removal.
Pending Charges Against Confirmed Aliens in USMS Custody

Of the 19,688 confirmed aliens in USMS custody, 10,971 (56 percent) were in custody for an immigration related offense. Additionally, 4,665 (nearly 24 percent) aliens were in custody for drug related offenses. Further details regarding the related charges of these inmates are as follows:

  • 974 (approximately five percent) were in custody for supervision violations;
  • 889 (approximately five percent) were in custody for property offenses;
  • 391 (approximately five percent) were in custody for weapons violations;
  • 378 (approximately two percent) were in custody for violent crimes;
  • 745 (approximately four percent) in custody were material witnesses.
Immigration Status of All Convicted Aliens Incarcerated in State Prisons and Local Detention Centers Throughout the United States

Some state and local jurisdictions already take proactive measures to make this data available to the public. For example, the Texas Department of Public Safety publishes data online regarding criminal alien arrests and convictions. These data do not account for all aliens in the Texas criminal justice system, as they are limited to criminal alien arrestees who have had prior interaction with DHS resulting in the collection of their fingerprints.

As reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), 251,000 criminal aliens have been booked into local Texas jails between June 1, 2011 and April 30, 2018, according to DHS status indicators. These criminal aliens were charged with:

  • More than 663,000 criminal offenses;
  • 1,351 homicides;
  • 7,156 sexual assaults;
  • 9,938 weapons charges;
  • 79,049 assaults;
  • 18,685 burglaries;
  • 79,900 drug charges;
  • 815 kidnappings;
  • 44,882 thefts;
  • 4,292 robberies.

Additional conviction data can be found in the report.

The Departments continue to progress towards establishing data collection of the immigration status of convicted aliens incarcerated in state prisons and local detention centers through the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.

NOTE: The FY 2018 Q1 Alien Incarceration Report can be found here.

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Topics:  Border Security Keywords:  Border Security
Categories: Homeland Security

Statement from DHS Press Secretary on May Border Numbers

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 15:24
Release Date: June 6, 2018

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton released the following statement on U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Southwest Border Migration numbers for May:

"The May 2018 Southwest Border Migration numbers show that for the third month in a row more than 50,000 illegal border crossers were apprehended.  The number of apprehended illegal border crossers increased slightly from the previous month and climbed by 160 percent in May 2018 in comparison to May 2017. 

"These numbers show that while the Trump administration is restoring the rule of law, it will take a sustained effort and continuous commitment of resources over many months to disrupt cartels, smugglers, and nefarious actors.  We are taking action and will be referring and then prosecuting 100 percent of illegal border crossers, we are building the first new border wall in a decade, and we have deployed the National Guard to the border.

"No one expects to reverse years of political inaction overnight or in a month.  It is also clear change will take more than Administration action alone. Congress must act to end legal loopholes that have left us with policies that serve as tremendous magnets for illegal immigration.  Smugglers, human traffickers, and nefarious actors know our loopholes well and accordingly exploit them. The refusal by members of Congress to close catch-and-release loopholes have prevented the Administration from controlling the border.

"As the May numbers indicate, we are seeing family units try to illegally cross our borders at staggering rates. In May 2018, the number of illegal family units trying to cross the border increased by 435 percent in comparison to May 2017 – and the number of unaccompanied alien children apprehended illegally crossing the border increased by 329 percent in May 2018 in comparison to May 2017."

CBP's Southwest Border Migration numbers for May can be found HERE.

Topics:  Border Security Keywords:  Border Security
Categories: Homeland Security

Written testimony of I&A Under Secretary and OGC for a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing titled “S. 2836, the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018: Countering Malicious Drones”

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 23:00
Release Date: June 6, 2018

342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member McCaskill, and distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for inviting DHS to speak with you today. We appreciate the opportunity to discuss the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) role in countering threats from small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in our National Airspace System (NAS).


First, we would like to thank the Committee for its attention to this issue and holding this hearing to highlight the critical importance of the interagency efforts to secure the national airspace. We would also specifically thank Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member McCaskill, and the other members of this committee for introducing and cosponsoring a bill that would specifically address our equities in this area – this is a monumental step forward. With enactment of this proposal, Congress would reduce risks to public safety and national security, which will help to accelerate the safe integration of UAS into the NAS and ensure that the United States remains a global leader in UAS innovation.

DHS continues to strongly support the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) UAS integration efforts. As the safe integration of commercial and private UAS into the NAS continues, this technology also presents increasing security challenges that require a layered and parallel government security response from federal partners to protect the public from misuse of this technology. The misuse of this technology poses unique security challenges. Generally, examples of UAS-related threats include recklessly flying UAS near critical infrastructure, intentionally conducting surveillance and counter surveillance of law enforcement, smuggling contraband, or facilitating kinetic attacks on stationary or mobile, and high consequence targets.

We have already seen transnational criminal actors adopt UAS technology to move drugs across the border. Terrorist groups overseas use drones to conduct attacks on the battlefield and continue to plot to use them in terrorist attacks elsewhere. This is a very serious, looming threat that we are currently unprepared to confront. Today we are unable to effectively counter malicious use of drones because we are hampered by federal laws enacted years before UAS technology was available for commercial and consumer use. Public access to these systems, with their current operational capacity and range were not even conceived of when these laws were adopted.

Lack of Authority for Response

DHS is in need of legislative authority to counter the growing threat posed by UAS. Specifically, DHS needs Counter-UAS (CUAS) authorities to detect, track, and mitigate threats from small UAS. Without this mandate, DHS is unable to develop and operate many types of CUAS technologies. If enacted, S. 2836, the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 will provide DHS the ability to develop the necessary technology and deploy it in support of our identified missions to mitigate the range of threats from small UAS similar to the Administration’s CUAS legislative proposal.

The potential misuse of UAS presents unique security challenges. In normal security situations, law enforcement personnel can establish protective measures to protect people and property from mobile threats—that is simply not the case with drones as they are able to access areas that people, cars, or other mobile devices cannot. Moreover, the most effective technologies for countering malicious uses of UAS conflict with federal laws enacted long before UAS technology was available for commercial and consumer use.

DHS and our interagency partners identified significant legal challenges to law enforcement’s ability to use the most up-to-date technologies to detect, track, and mitigate the threats from small UAS. Our primary concerns with the existing legal uncertainty fall into three critical areas:

  1. The challenges posed by the rapid technological advancement utilized in UAS;
  2. Strong concerns for our law enforcement personnel subject to potential criminal liability if they were to take action to mitigate a UAS threat; and,
  3. The need to have comparable authority with our Department of Defense (DOD) partners when working together on National Security Special Events, Special Event Assessment Rating events, and other domestic security operations.

As a result, DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) need relief from Title 18 to allow us to use the most effective technology to counter the threat posed by UAS and to ensure that our law enforcement personnel are not criminally liable for using this technology. As you are aware, Congress provided DOD and the Department of Energy (DOE) with relief from Title 18 when it provided them with the authority to detect, track, and mitigate the threat posed by UAS in the FY2017 and FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 114-328 and P. L. 115-91). We are asking that DHS and DOJ be provided the exact same relief from Title 18. This bill, sponsored by Chairman Johnson and cosponsored by Ranking Member McCaskill, Senators Hoven, Heitkamp, Jones, Cotton, Cassidy, and Rubio, is a critical step to our front line officers’ efforts to mitigate UAS threats.

Additionally, providing relief from Title 18 will allow DHS to have commensurate authorities with our DOD partners when working together domestically, thus ensuring there are no operational authority conflicts to protect certain facilities, assets, and operations critical to national security against threats from UAS. Moreover, due to the rapidly evolving technology and the uncertainty associated with the application of Title 18 to these technologies, it is key to get relief from statutory barriers that were not originally intended for the UAS context.

If enacted, S. 2836 would authorize DHS and DOJ to conduct limited CUAS operations to identify, track, and mitigate drone threats. These authorities would apply to a narrow set of important and prioritized missions, and it would allow DHS and DOJ to protect Americans and our own personnel who perform law enforcement and protective missions.

The proposed legislation mirrors the existing statutory authority granted to DOD and DOE/NNSA in the 2017 NDAA and the 2018 NDAA (P.L. 114-328 and P. L. 115-91, respectively). DOD and DOE/NNSA have been able to use these authorities to protect designated facilities and assets here in the United States. The bill also contains robust measures designed to protect privacy and civil liberties. Specifically, the proposed bill limits the collection and retention of communications to and from the drone and ensures that such collection is undertaken only for the purpose of mitigating the threat caused by the UAS.

We are grateful for the demonstrated leadership from Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member McCaskill and all of the Senators cosponsoring S.2836 for your efforts to move these needed authorities forward. DHS and DOJ need Title 18 relief which this legislation provides to allow our officers access to technologies to counter the nefarious use of UAS. We cannot stress enough how important this is. The technology associated with UAS has and continues to evolve faster than the legal authorities surrounding it, and it is critical to grant our security operators relief from statutory barriers to ensure the Department can keep pace with evolving threats, adaptive enemies, and emboldened adversaries. DHS will continue to work with Congress to ensure the swift passage of this critical legislation to address the significant threat.


Since the Department was first authorized in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L.107–296), DHS has been on the frontlines to secure and protect our Nation. But the world has changed since 2002, in geopolitics, technology, and the threats we face. Today a cellphone has the computing power of the world’s fastest supercomputers only twenty years ago. Terrorists now communicate through encrypted cell phone apps and social media and are utilizing sophisticated, commercial technologies to conduct attacks —challenges we couldn’t foresee in 2002.

To best protect the United States and its citizens, we need updated authorities, updated support, and updated accountability for the world we live in today. It is time to ensure that the 240,000 DHS employees who work tirelessly to protect the nation have the tools they need to carry out our mission. The capability of small UAS’s is quickly evolving and more advanced systems are becoming widely available, making the potential threats even more acute. As these capabilities have become available, DHS has worked aggressively with our interagency partners to keep up with the advancement in technology. This work to increase our capability to counter existing threats and anticipate future ones will never stop – but we can’t make it operational without the authority to do so.

Overseas, terrorist groups and criminal organizations use commercially available UAS to drop explosive payloads, deliver harmful substances, and conduct illicit surveillance. Illicit actors, including terrorists, have been working to increase the payload capabilities of UAS for a variety of reasons, which presents a growing challenge of scale in mitigating the immediate effects of potential threats.

Domestically, criminals, including Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCO), are increasingly using UAS to deliver narcotics across the southern border, conduct illicit surveillance, avoid U.S. law enforcement, and interfere with ongoing law enforcement operations.

But the threat goes even beyond that. Malicious actors could utilize UASs in order to wirelessly exploit access points and unsecured networks and devices. This can include using UASs to inject malware, execute malicious code, and perform man-in-the-middle attacks. UASs can also deliver hardware for exploiting unsecured wireless systems. In 2015, researchers in Singapore attached a smartphone holding applications to a UAS to detect printers with unsecured wireless connections. The researchers flew the UAS outside an office building, had the phone pose as the printer, and tricked nearby computers to connect to the phone instead of the printer. When a user sent a document for printing, the phone intercepted the document and sent a copy to the researchers using a 3G or 4G connection. The document was then sent to the real printer so the user would not know the document had been intercepted.1

Malicious actors could also exploit vulnerabilities within UAS and UAS supply chains to compromise UAS belonging to critical infrastructure operators and disrupt or interfere with legitimate UAS operations. Since 2012, a DHS review of publicly available reporting indicates that there has been a notable increase in reporting of UAS activity near or over critical infrastructure; in 2016, over 2,800 incidents were noted in the national airspace, a 44 percent increase over 2015. We expect the trend to continue across all infrastructure sectors.


A vital component of DHS’s ability to monitor operational capabilities, CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO), Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC) integrates surveillance capabilities and coordinates national security threat response with other CBP operational components, including U.S. Border Patrol (USBP). It works with other federal and international partners in this effort.2 AMOC helps AMO and its partners predict, detect, identify, classify, respond to, and resolve suspect aviation and maritime activity in the approaches to U.S. borders, at the borders, and within the interior of the United States. AMOC utilizes extensive law enforcement and intelligence databases, communication networks and the Air and Marine Operations Surveillance System (AMOSS). The AMOSS provides a single display capable of processing up to 700 individual sensor feeds and tracking over 50,000 individual targets simultaneously.

From January 2015 through December 2017, CBP’s AMOC documented 59 UAS incidents along the Southwest Border, with Yuma, Arizona, and Brownsville, Texas, being the most prevalent areas for drug smuggling.


The U.S. maritime domain represents the access point for a majority of commerce, as well as transiting military vessels, hazardous chemical barges, cruise ships, regulated waterfront facilities, and recreational boating. All of these represent potential targets.

The Coast Guard is challenged to conduct its statutory missions over 90,000 square miles of water without the added challenge of UAS interference, either inadvertently or intentionally, with vessels and aircraft. UAS can interfere with many Coast Guard missions, including but not limited to:

  • Coast Guard escorts of U.S. Navy high value units (e.g. ballistic missile submarines);
  • Coast Guard protection of military outloads and supporting combat operations overseas;
  • Active search and rescue operations; and
  • Ongoing drug and migrant interdiction.

The Coast Guard is increasingly observing overflights of UAS while performing its missions. In 2017 alone, there were 97 Field Intelligence Reports of known UAS sightings during missions. Recently, a UAS landed on the deck of the Coast Guard Cutter Sea Lion while transiting into San Diego Harbor, a port of strategic military importance to the Nation. The cutter was unable to identify the operator of the device, leaving the crew vulnerable and unable to apply traditional Coast Guard use of force tactics, techniques, or procedures. In March of this year, a Coast Guard helicopter was forced to take evasive action to avoid a UAS while operating at low altitude. These scenarios are indicative of potential threats our fleet faces daily.


The Secret Service must be able to secure the airspace surrounding locations where a protectee is, or will be in order to provide the greatest level of security possible. The authority to counter malicious UAS is essential to that mission. The ability of a potential attacker to monitor Secret Service preparations for a protectee visit or to monitor protectee movements from the air would give them information that would facilitate planning a future attack. UAS could be used to not only plan but also conduct an attack on a protectee. Already, the Secret Service has had several instances where special agents and Uniformed Division officers were called upon to respond to UAS observed at or near protected locations. The threat presented by these devices is not hypothetical or in the future. It is here and now. The Secret Service needs all available tools, both technological and legal, to counter the threat posed by malicious UAS.

If enacted, S. 2836 will enhance Secret Service capabilities to secure airspace within the NCR, at sites visited by protectees, and at National Special Security Events. These authorities will enhance UAS early warning systems, which provide protective details with vital information in a timely manner so that they may take proactive measures against unknown UAS threats in order to maintain the integrity of a protective site and secure protectees.


UAS encounters near major airports remain a growing concern. As part of the FAA airmen certification process, TSA vets all FAA-certificated remote pilot operators against the Terrorist Screening Database. While we are not currently aware of any specific threat reporting targeting our domestic airports or airport operations, in January 2018, press reports indicated adversaries used bomb-laden drones to attack two Russian military bases in Syria. In light of this information, TSA continues to assess the evolving UAS threats to U.S. airports, as well as how those threats may be mitigated in the future, which requires close analysis and coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration.


The Federal Protective Service (FPS) protects more than 9,000 federal facilities across the nation and more than a million people at those facilities each day. Since January 2014, FPS has responded to and investigated 180 UAS incidents. The majority of these incidents have been non-nefarious, although several cases have resulted in criminal charges or other sanctions. Based on this experience, FPS has continuing concern with the following threat and risk vectors:

  • Accidental harm or death by out of control drone;
  • Unauthorized surveillance of sensitive facilities and operations;
  • Disruption of law enforcement activities;
  • Disruption of government business/provision of government services to customers;
  • Sensor delivery (acoustic, imagery, electromagnetic);
  • Contraband/weapons delivery that by-passes security screening; and
  • Introduction of chemical/biological/radiological/toxic industrial chemicals into elevated building air intakes.

The Department has been working with critical infrastructure owners and operators to better understand the security risk associated with UAS. In 2018, the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) formed a joint public-private sector working group under the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council framework to better define the risks to critical infrastructure posed by malicious UAS operations. Working group members will consider the effective use of UAS technology to enhance security around the perimeter of a fixed asset and help inform UAS security and resilience priorities. The working group kick-off meeting was conducted in March 2018, in Arlington, VA.

To ensure the working group maintains an active approach, sub-groups will be established to execute various projects, including UAS incident baseline and reporting, nefarious UAS indicators, best practices, and methods for UAS tracking, as well as emergency action plans to address improper use of UASs near a facility or event.

NPPD also informs critical infrastructure owners and operators of the evolving risks associated with UAS through the following resources:

  • UAS Website: A website is available for resources on UAS security and response strategies ( and a community of interest is maintained on the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN-CI).
  • Countering-UAS Pocket Card: Provides information on current, non-kinetic actions that security and operations officers can take if a UAS is seen near an infrastructure site. It also contains information regarding the different types of UASs and their respective flight ranges and payload capabilities, along with quick tips on how to properly report UAS-related incidents (
  • Counter-UAS Video Provides information on the threats posed by the nefarious use of UAS, potential implications to critical infrastructure operations, and options for risk mitigation. The video leverages subject matter experts and senior security officials to stress the importance of mitigating the risks associated with this evolving threat (
National Capital Region Airspace

Mitigating threats from malicious small UAS operations is a challenge across the entire NAS, but even when the airspace is tightly controlled or heavily restricted, we still face potential threats and are constrained by the same limitations outlined above. One unique challenge is protecting the airspace in the National Capital Region, which is some of the most restricted airspace in the country and is home to the White House, the U.S. Capitol, Congressional office buildings, and a multitude of iconic monuments. This building, your offices, and the safety of millions of visitors to the Capitol Complex are all here. Within this region, the DHS-hosted interagency National Capital Region Coordination Center is the main center for providing coordination across the interagency security enterprise and was created after September 11th to provide real-time information sharing and tactical coordination to address potential airborne threats. The Center has representatives from the military, the FAA, and certain federal civilian law enforcement agencies on duty at all times to speed communication and coordination in the event of an unknown or hostile airborne track of interest.

Following September 11th, the dimensions of the restricted flight zones over the National Capital Region changed. The FAA implemented the Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA), which includes within its boundaries the Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ) and Prohibited Area 56 (P-56). The White House and the Vice President’s residence are located in the P-56. The United States Secret Service is the DHS agency responsible for approving operations within the P-56 and works closely with FAA, Capitol Police, and U.S. Park Police to enable and protect operations in that airspace. In order to enter the SFRA or the FRZ, an aircraft must have approval from the FAA, and the FRZ remains off limits to UAS operators. Despite this layered security approach, we are still experiencing UAS incidents within the NCR that require an appropriate response— even if they are nuisance or non-compliant operators who disregard the rules. The legislation would help DHS provide detection and mitigation capabilities within the NCR to help identify and isolate UAS threats for appropriate mitigation actions.

1 Zetter, K. (2015). “Hacking Wireless Printers With Phones and Drones.” Wired Accessed January 2, 2018.

Cyber Defense Magazine. (2015). “Hacking enterprise wireless printers with a drone or a vacuum cleaner.” with-a-drone-or-a-vacuum-cleaner/. Accessed January 2, 2018.

2 AMOC partners include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Defense (including the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)), and the governments of Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas.


CUAS Technology / Limitations

Legal uncertainty also impedes the Department’s ability to research, develop and test CUAS technologies for eventual CUAS operations by our authorized users. Under current legal constraints, only a very small number of technologies can be employed to detect and track UAS and none can be employed to disable/mitigate UAS in our homeland. Examples of legal CUAS measures include RADAR, electro-optical/infrared, acoustic, and non-transmitting radio frequency sensors. While these technologies will continue to improve, they currently have shortfalls in both range and accuracy, especially in urban settings, and we are still unable to even test those systems due to the current legal restrictions. An example of a currently illegal, but highly effective technology is the ability to access signals being transmitted between a nefarious UAS and its ground controller to accurately geolocate and track both without false alarms, and potentially take over the control of the UAS and/or stop its ground operator without the use of kinetic measures.

While there is a wide variety of commercially available CUAS solutions, most were developed for the military and we have not been able to determine their performance and suitability for homeland security missions due to legal restrictions. This authority will enhance our ability to test and evaluate promising technologies in realistic operating conditions, to guide industries and inform our development of regulations governing their deployment, especially as it relates to potential mitigation measures.

DHS CUAS Mission Space / Component Perspectives

With approval of this authority, Congress would reduce risks to public safety and national security, which will help to accelerate the safe integration of UAS into the NAS and ensure that the United States remains a global leader in UAS innovation.

We are requesting a narrow grant of authority to protect our highest priority mission space (covered facilities/assets), including:

  • Security operations, including securing facilities, aircraft and vessels by the U.S. Coast Guard and CBP;
  • Protection operations by the U.S. Secret Service;
  • Protection of certain federal facilities by the Federal Protective Service
  • Security for Special Events
  • Active federal law enforcement investigations, emergency responses, or security operations; and
  • Reacting to a known national security threat that could involve unlawful use of a drone.

We also strongly support the additional provision in Chairman Johnson’s bill that would allow a state governor or attorney general to request assistance for a mass gathering event that would not otherwise fall into the security for special event category above.

State and local law enforcement are generally responsible for protection of these local events, but neither has authority to use CUAS technologies to counter potential threats. This provision will allow DHS or DOJ to provide assistance, within available resources, when requested by the State Governor or Attorney General. We believe this is an important aspect of our continued coordination with state and local law enforcement partners.

The Administration’s proposal, as well as the Chairman’s bill, also contains robust measures designed to protect privacy and civil liberties. Specifically, the legislation makes clear that CUAS activities conducted pursuant to the statute will comply with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and applicable federal laws. In addition, the proposal limits the collection and retention of communications to and from the drone and only for the purpose of mitigating the threat caused by the UAS. We recognize that deployment of UAS authority could, in certain circumstances, present First Amendment concerns, such as the chilling of protected expression or association. We believe that proper respect for these constitutional limitations can be developed through policy implementing the statutory authority. The DHS Privacy Office and the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will work with CUAS practitioners, as appropriate, to ensure compliance and oversight of any CUAS activities.

Both the Administration’s proposal and S. 2836 also identify the need for robust coordination and collaborative risk analysis with the FAA to ensure any deployment of CUAS technologies in the NAS is conducted safely and includes fair warning to UAS operators. We have committed to working closely with the FAA to balance our operational security needs with requirements for safe and efficient NAS operations.


Growth in the UAS market will continue and its adoption for commercial and recreational purposes results in increased UAS encounters over critical infrastructure facilities and large public venues – and those are the non-nefarious actors. UAS technology continues to advance with increased ranges and payload capabilities for a variety of legitimate applications of benefit to the public – and will continue to evolve toward fully autonomous UAS operations. If we do not want to hinder the positive economic outcome of this technological development, we must advance security measures in parallel.

Although there is no single physical countermeasure to deter or prevent unauthorized UAS encounters, effective deterrence will always include sustained outreach, education, development of safety and training standards, deliberate planning, as well as the integration of technical detection and mitigation capabilities. But right now, we can’t test mitigation methods, determine the full scope of the threat, or develop counter measures because of outdated legal restrictions that were not created to cover this issue.

DHS is eager to take the next steps, continue to secure our country against all threats, and prudently act to protect the homeland while respecting privacy and civil liberties. Our dedicated professionals at DHS are on watch 24 hours per day, 365 days per year protecting Americans from threats by land, sea, air, and in cyberspace, while also promoting our Nation’s economic prosperity. They take decisive action to protect us all from terrorists, TCOs, rogue nation states, natural disasters, and more. Let us show them we have their backs by working together to secure the authorities and resources they need to do their jobs.

Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member McCaskill, and distinguished Senators of the Committee, thank you again for your attention to this important issue and for the opportunity to discuss our counter UAS efforts.

We look forward to answering your questions.

Topics:  Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  airspace, CUAS, FAA, Legislation, NAS, UAS, unmanned aircraft systems
Categories: Homeland Security


Mon, 06/04/2018 - 15:18
Podcast Series: myDHS

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Date Added: June 4, 2018

Please welcome to the stage, Acting Deputy Assistant Director Scott Santoro, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Secretary Nielsen, Deputy Secretary Duke, distinguished guests. It's my honor to be here today. Good morning, my name is Scott Santoro and I'm with FLETC. I want to start by going back to 2001. I was actually a contract instructor with FLETC, back when we were under the Department of the Treasury. And at that time, I was a prosecuting attorney up in Seattle, Washington leading a domestic violence prosecution unit and I was brought in to help instruct their state and local law enforcement training on domestic violence. I officially joined FLETC in 2005 after they have fallen back in as is now with the Department of Homeland Security and I've seen firsthand the maturity of not only the Department, but also my own agency as well. Today FLETC is the premier training facility. We train 60,000 students a year. We have over 90 partner organizations. If I could sum up my career with DHS, it would be one word, opportunities. Early on, when I was brought on, I managed the course that was instructor for our domestic violence course. I then pushed and received the opportunity to expand that into a training for state and local law enforcement related to elder abuse because we saw a huge need that our law enforcement officers were seeing a lot more cases of financial exploitation in nursing home crimes and so FLETC led the charge in developing that course. However in 2009, my life changed dramatically because at that time, FLETC asked me to go from our headquarters in Georgia on a temporary assignment up here in Washington to work on this new initiative called human trafficking. What an incredible opportunity. FLETC led the way by creating training products before the Department even formed their current campaign to combat trafficking known as the Blue Campaign. I worked with a talented group of individuals from the department from HSI, CBP, TSA, USCIS and others to combat human trafficking and I'm proud to say that in essence, I'm basically legacy Treasury, and legacy Blue Campaign. I grew to become the senior training advisor for this campaign. And as I grew in that role, FLETC grew in that role behind me – they supported the campaign by producing over 30 scenario-based training videos on human trafficking to train law enforcement. We've created online courses, live delivery courses. Today, both the White House and the Department have prioritized combating human trafficking as a serious threat to our country both from a transnational perspective and domestic perspective and FLETC is right there with us. In fact, just this week, I was working on a brand new course with FLETC to bring instructor training to not only state and local but also federal law enforcement to deliver the DHS approved human trafficking curriculum everywhere in this country. My experience with DHS has been filled with opportunities. I just briefly wish to thank my leadership. Deputy Director Fallon is in the room. I want to thank the Secretary. I want to thank all of you for the work you're doing combating this crime, allowing FLETC to assist you in providing training on this. At the end of the day I'm just a prosecutor from Seattle who gets to work on a national level, not only training law enforcement but in essence saving lives. Thank you and thank you for the opportunities. [Applause]

Scott Santoro, Acting Deputy Assistant Director – Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), Washington, D.C. Office, discusses the many great opportunities to not just train law enforcement but to save lives.

Topics:  Law Enforcement Partnerships Keywords:  FLETC, law enforcement partnerships
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen Meets with Canadian Minister Ahmed Hussen

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 14:41
Release Date: June 4, 2018

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen today met with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship for Canada Ahmed Hussen in Washington, D.C to reaffirm their commitment to working together on immigration and border security issues. She was joined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna and representatives from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

As part of ongoing dialogue between both governments, Secretary Nielsen and Minister Hussen discussed bilateral collaboration on immigration, visa, and traveler screening policies, as well as migration challenges faced by each country.

During the meeting, Secretary Nielsen and Minister Hussen agreed that the integrity of our countries’ immigration systems and asylum processes is of shared importance. More specifically, the Secretary and Minister expressed their shared interest in mitigating misuse of visas, or visa exempt processes, to gain entry into the other country. Secretary Nielsen noted that if you enter the United States on a valid visa and apply for asylum in Canada, you are likely to find your U.S. visa revoked and your ability to travel impeded.

Secretary Nielsen also reaffirmed the Department’s commitment to working with Canada to monitor and analyze the cross-border migration flows along the shared border.

(DHS Official Photo/Tara Molle)


Topics:  International Engagement Keywords:  Canada, immigration
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Announces Additional Visas for Foreign Workers to Assist American Businesses at Risk of Failing

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 11:37
Release Date: May 31, 2018

On May 25, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced that an additional 15,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas will be available for Fiscal Year 2018. This allocation is in addition to the 66,000 visas already issued this year. Secretary Nielsen made this decision after consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, members of Congress, and business owners.

“The limitations on H-2B visas were originally meant to protect American workers, but when we enter a situation where the program unintentionally harms American businesses it needs to be reformed,” said Secretary Nielsen. “I call on Congress to pass much needed reforms of the program and to expressly set the number of H-2B visas in statute.  We are once again in a situation where Congress has passed the buck and turned a decision over to DHS that would be better situated with Congress, who knows the needs of the program.  As Secretary, I remain committed to protecting U.S. workers and strengthening the integrity of our lawful immigration system and look forward to working with Congress to do so.”

The H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program was designed to serve U.S. businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified U.S. workers to perform nonagricultural work of a temporary nature. Congress set the annual H-2B visa cap at 66,000. A maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas are available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder, including any unused H-2B visas from the first half of that fiscal year, is available starting April 1 through September 30.

On February 27, 2018, USCIS determined that it had received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full FY 2018 statutory cap of 66,000.

In the FY 2018 Omnibus, Congress delegated its authority to the Secretary to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural worker visas available to U.S. employers through September 30, just as it did in the FY 2017 Omnibus. In the intervening time since enactment of the FY 2018 Omnibus, the Secretary consulted with the Secretary of Labor on the issue, in accordance with Congressional requirements, and developed this rule.

Starting this week, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.  Eligible petitioners must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA-2 with their petition.

Details on eligibility and filing requirements will be available in the final temporary rule and on the Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2018 webpage to be published on when the final temporary rule is posted for public inspection.

DHS is committed to ensuring that our immigration system is implemented lawfully and that American workers are protected. If members of the public have information that a participating employer may be abusing this program, DHS invites them to submit information to and include information identifying the H-2B petitioning employer and relevant information that leads them to believe that the H-2B petitioning employer is abusing the H-2B program.


Topics:  Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  visas
Categories: Homeland Security