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Remarks By Secretary Kelly in San Diego

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 14:07
Release Date: April 21, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

SAN DIEGO - Today, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivered brief remarks during a media availability in San Diego:

"In our system of government, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice enforce the laws passed by the United States Congress.  That includes our immigration laws.  These laws exist to keep our people safe and our nation sovereign.    

Both the Attorney General and I are serious about border security and enforcing our immigration laws.  In accordance with the Executive Orders signed earlier this year, we have ended dangerous “catch and release” enforcement policies.  We have significantly increased detainers for deportation.  And we have arrested more criminal aliens. 

We will continue to expand our approach to deterring illegal migration.  That includes constructing a physical barrier, supporting it with technology, and patrolling it with a dedicated and professional workforce. 

It also includes our approach of prosecuting anyone who pays traffickers to smuggle people into the country—especially those who smuggle in children, including family members here.  Human smuggling across our border puts individuals – especially children - at great risk of assault, abuse and even death at the hands of smuggler and coyotes.  There is nothing the Attorney General and I want more than to put human smugglers out of business, and we will do everything in our power—and within the law—to end the flow of illegal migration. 

Our efforts are working.  As I reported back in March, we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in illegal migration across the southwest border. In fact, March apprehensions were 30 percent lower than February apprehensions—and 64 percent lower than the same time last year.

These numbers are lower because DHS and DOJ have shown that we’re serious about border security and enforcing our immigration laws.  The dedicated and selfless men and women who do this important work have the knowledge, the training, and the resources, and—and this is a big one—they know that they have an Administration and a Department that “has their back.

I am honored to serve with the men and women of DHS, who do so much every day to keep our country safe and strong."

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Topics:  Border Security, Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Border Protections, Border Security, immigration, immigration enforcement, Secretary Kelly, Secretary John Kelly

DHS Unveils Trusted Traveler Comparison Tool

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 13:02
Release Date: April 21, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

The tool helps prospective applicants find the best DHS Trusted Traveler Program for them according to their travel preferences and citizenship

WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security unveiled today a new Trusted Traveler comparison tool. The tool helps prospective applicants find the DHS Trusted Traveler Program that best matches their citizenship and travel preferences.  More than 10 million low-risk travelers currently receive expedited clearance as members of one of the five Trusted Traveler Programs: TSA Pre✓™, Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration manage these programs, which are customized to fit a variety of travel needs. The tool can be accessed on DHS.gov.

“CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs have successfully improved the international arrivals process—reducing wait times at airports across the country while maintaining our primary mission of security,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “Using this new tool, prospective Trusted Travelers will be better able to decide which program best suits their travel needs, so they can apply and, if approved, begin enjoying the benefits of expedited clearance that millions people currently do.”

Membership in DHS Trusted Traveler Programs has grown by 169 percent since FY14 from more than 4 million members to more than 10.8 million members. During that same time period, Global Entry membership, the largest DHS Trusted Traveler Program, grew approximately 141 percent—from more than 1.6 million members to more than 4 million members.

"We’re pleased with the launch of the DHS Trusted Traveler Programs interactive tool that ultimately will help travelers feel confident about their decision regarding which program is right for them,” said TSA Acting Deputy Administrator Gary Rasicot. “We will continue to focus on increasing participation in TSA Pre✓®, with the goal of providing expedited screening to a majority of the traveling public."

Global Entry kiosks are located in 52 U.S airports and 15 Preclearance airports where members are processed in about a minute. U.S. citizens and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents may apply for Global Entry as well as citizens of certain countries with which CBP has trusted traveler arrangements, including Colombia, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Global Entry members also receive the added benefit of being pre-eligible to participate in TSA Pre✓™.

NEXUS was launched in 2000 as a joint effort between CBP and the Canada Border Services Agency. NEXUS members experience expedited clearance into both the United States and Canada. NEXUS members enjoy the benefits of Global Entry at no additional cost by using the automated kiosks for entry at participating airports and also receive TSA Pre✓™ benefits.

With SENTRI, the first Trusted Traveler Program, members may enter the United States by using dedicated primary lanes into the United States at Southern land border ports of entry. U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents also receive Global Entry and TSA Pre✓™ benefits.

The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program is a commercial clearance program for known low-risk shipments entering the United States from Canada and Mexico. FAST enrollment is open to truck drivers from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

TSA Pre✓™ enables Trusted Travelers to enjoy a secure and efficient screening experience at more than 180 U.S. airports with 30 participating airlines nationwide. TSA Pre✓™ travelers do not need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts or light jackets. Last month, 97 percent of TSA Pre✓™ passengers got through an expedited screening lane in less than 5 minutes.

For all of the programs, prospective applicants have to submit an initial application online. Once conditionally approved, the applicant must schedule and attend an in-person interview to finalize their enrollment. Trusted Traveler memberships are valid for 5 years.

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Topics:  Transportation Security, Trusted Traveler Programs Keywords:  TSA, cbp, international travel, travel security, Trusted Traveler, Trusted Traveler Comparison Tool

Remarks By Secretary Kelly in El Paso

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 13:20
Release Date: April 20, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivered brief remarks during a media availability in El Paso:

“In our system of government, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice enforce the laws passed by the United States Congress.  That includes our immigration laws.  These laws exist to keep our people safe and our nation sovereign.   

Both the Attorney General and I are serious about border security and enforcing our immigration laws.  In accordance with the Executive Orders signed earlier this year, we have ended dangerous “catch and release” enforcement policies.  We have significantly increased detainers for deportation.  And we have arrested more criminal aliens. 

We will continue to expand our approach to deterring illegal migration.  That includes our approach of prosecuting anyone who pays traffickers to smuggle people into the country—especially those who smuggle in children. 

People who illegally cross our borders do not respect the laws of our nation. We want to get the law breakers off our streets, and out of the country, for the good of our communities.

Under the laws of our nation, migrants get a ruling from an immigration judge, who determines if someone is subject to removal.  Historically, it was a slow process with a massive backlog.  That meant overcrowded detention facilities, and long waits before justice could be served. 

DHS and DOJ are working together to improve this process.  At DHS, we’re working to expand our detention capacity, and process immigration cases as close to the southern border as possible. 

DOJ has already deployed additional immigration judges from the interior of the country to handle border-related cases. 

This means detained immigrants aren’t biding their time in the United States, using our government’s resources.  It means we can move them through our system more efficiently—less bed space, shorter waits, and faster repatriation, if that’s what the law requires. 

We at DHS support the Department of Justice’s efforts to hire additional immigration judges, and their commitment to holding those judges accountable for docket management. 

It’s on us to enforce the law.  And I’m proud to say we’re doing our part.  I am honored to serve with the men and women of DHS, who do so much every day to keep our country safe and strong.” 

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Topics:  Border Security Keywords:  Border Security, Secretary Kelly, Secretary John Kelly

DHS Statement on Former Daca Recipient Juan Manuel Montes- Bojorquez

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 18:03
Release Date: April 19, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTONAfter a detailed records search, it was determined that Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez was approved for DACA starting in 2014 and had a DACA expiration date of Jan. 25, 2018. However, Mr. Montes-Bojorquez lost his DACA status when he left the United States without advance parole on an unknown date prior to his arrest by the U.S. Border Patrol on Feb. 19, 2017.  According to his interview with the Border Patrol, conducted in Spanish, he entered the United States on February 19, 2017, and he acknowledged that he understood the questions that he was being asked.  Departing the country without advance parole terminates the protections Montes-Bojorquez was granted under DACA.

The U.S. Border Patrol has no record of encountering Mr. Montes-Bojorquez in the days before his detention and subsequent arrest for immigration violations on February 19, 2017.  There are no records or evidence to support Montes-Bojorquez’s claim that he was detained or taken to the Calexico Port of Entry on February 18, 2017.  Prior to his arrest by the United States Border Patrol on February 19, 2017, Montes-Bojorquez's last documented encounter with any United States immigration law enforcement official was in August of 2010, where he was permitted to withdraw his application of admission in lieu of receiving an Expedited Removal.

During Mr. Montes-Bojorquez’s detention and arrest by the United States Border Patrol on February 19, he admitted to agents that he had illegally entered the United States and was arrested.  He later admitted the same under oath.  All of the arrest documents from February 19, 2017, bear Montes-Bojorquez’s signature.  During his arrest interview, he never mentioned that he had received DACA status.  However, even if Montes-Bojorquez had informed agents of his DACA status, he had violated the conditions of his status by breaking continuous residency in the United States by leaving and then reentering the U.S. illegally.  Montes-Bojorquez’s Employment Authorization Document is only for employment and is not valid for entry or admission into the United States. 

According to our records, Mr. Montes-Bojorquez was repatriated to Mexico on February 20, 2017, shortly after 3:20 p.m.

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Topics:  Border Security Keywords:  Customs and Border Protection

Secretary Kelly Delivers Remarks on Threats to the Homeland and DHS’ Response

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 14:21
Release Date: April 18, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly delivered remarks today entitled, “Home & Away: Threats to America and the DHS Response,” at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University.  Secretary Kelly discussed the threats our country faces from transnational criminal organizations, terrorism, and risks in cyberspace before highlighting the steps DHS is taking to keep the American people safe and secure.

Following his remarks, Secretary Kelly participated in a moderated discussion with Director of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security Frank J. Cilluffo.

Video of both Secretary Kelly’s remarks and the moderated discussion is available here.

The text of Secretary Kelly’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, is available here.

Secretary Kelly delivers remarks on the threat to the homeland and the Department of Homeland Security’s response.

Secretary Kelly answers questions about DHS’ mission and role in the safety and security of the American public.

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Topics:  DHS Enterprise Keywords:  Secretary John Kelly, Secretary Kelly, dhs

Statement from Secretary Kelly on Arrest of Cartel Member Suspected of Murdering U.S. Border Patrol Agent

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 14:13
Release Date: April 13, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, I want to express my gratitude to our counterparts in Mexico on the arrest of Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, a cartel member suspected of shooting and killing U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry on December 14, 2010.  Brian A. Terry was killed in a gunfight between U.S. Border Patrol agents and members of a cartel “rip crew” that regularly patrolled the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border looking for drug dealers to rob. Four members of the “rip crew” have already been sentenced to jail time in the U.S. The last remaining member of the “rip crew” is believed to still be at large.

Under the Trump administration, we have renewed our cooperation with Mexico to better secure our border and address cross-border crime.  This latest arrest illustrates the commitment of the Administration to seek justice for the brave law enforcement personnel who risk their lives every day to protect the border.

I also want to commend the dedicated professionals of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Marshals who provided critical support to our Mexican counterparts. I am grateful for the dedication and collaborative efforts of the law enforcement community in both Mexico and the U.S. in bringing this arrest to fruition.

My hope is that this arrest will mark a significant step in bringing closure to Agent Terry’s family and his colleagues and friends at DHS.  The thoughts and prayers of the entire DHS family continue to be with the Terrys.   

 

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Topics:  Border Security Keywords:  Customs and Border Protection, U. S. Border Patrol, cbp, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Mexico, Border Security, border violence

Elaine C. Duke Sworn In As Deputy Secretary For The Department Of Homeland Security

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 14:17
Release Date: April 10, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Elaine C. Duke was sworn in today as the seventh Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  In this capacity, she will serve as the chief operating officer for the Department.

“I want to congratulate Elaine on her confirmation as the Department’s new Deputy Secretary,” said Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly.  “I look forward to working closely with her as the Department continues to move forward in protecting our nation.”

“It’s an honor to return to public service and, in particular, return to the Department of Homeland Security,” said Deputy Secretary Duke.  “I look forward to meeting new colleagues and reconnecting with former colleagues as we strive to further the Department’s vital mission.”

An accomplished leader and a civil servant for most of her career, Deputy Secretary Duke has served in the federal government for nearly three decades, most recently serving in government as the Department’s Senate-confirmed Under Secretary for Management, a position she held until April 1, 2010.  As the Under Secretary, she was responsible for managing the Department's business lines and corresponding $47 billion budget. Prior to her appointment, she served both as the Department’s Deputy Under Secretary for Management and Chief Procurement Officer. She also served as Deputy Assistant Administrator for Acquisition at the Transportation Security Administration, delivering an acquisition program that met the post 9/11 legislative mandate to federalize passenger and baggage screening at U.S. airports. Previously, Deputy Secretary Duke held various positions with the U.S. Department of Defense.

Prior to Deputy Secretary Duke’s swearing in, Chip Fulghum, the Deputy Under Secretary for Management, was serving as the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary. “I would also like to thank Chip for his support during this period of transition,” added Secretary Kelly.  “His leadership has been instrumental in providing continuity during this time.”  Mr. Fulghum will continue to act as the Under Secretary for Management.

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Topics:  DHS Enterprise, Homeland Security Enterprise Keywords:  Appointments, deputy secretary

Written testimony of MGMT for a House on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing titled “The Best and Worst Places to Work in Government”

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: April 6, 2017

2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Chairman Meadows, Ranking Member Connolly, and Members of the Subcommittee; thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to address our efforts at the Department of Homeland Security to enhance employee morale and engagement.

I am Angela Bailey, the Department’s Chief Human Capital Officer. I joined DHS in 2016 as a career federal executive with nearly 36 years of service, 30 of those in human resources.

I am responsible for the Department’s human capital program, which includes human resources policies and programs, strategic workforce planning, recruitment and hiring, pay and leave, performance management, executive resources, labor relations, diversity and inclusion, and strategic learning, development and engagement, as well as human resources operations for DHS Headquarters employees.

DHS is a large, complex organization. Each of our Components has its own mission, its own history, and its own culture. However, we all come together with one overarching vision: “With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.”

Our employees keep our airplanes safe, help us recover from natural disasters, protect our President, secure federal facilities and their employees and visitors, deport criminals, counter violent extremism, combat cyber-crime, train law enforcement personnel from all across the globe, patrol our waters, and welcome new citizens to become part of our Nation.

Our employees are committed to doing excellent work every day. They deserve a Department that invests in their success so that they can support our mission. They deserve great leaders and they deserve excellent work environments.

Engagement was a top priority for the former Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Under Secretary for Management, and I believe this top leadership commitment was one of the driving forces behind the three percent increase we saw from 2015 to 2016 in our Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) Employee Engagement Index scores. Secretary Kelly has not missed a beat in setting employee engagement as one of his top priorities as well. Within two weeks of his confirmation, the Secretary was already out in the field visiting employees at their workplaces and conducting town hall meetings. During one of the first town hall events, Secretary Kelly told employees, “You do a tremendous job,” he told employees at one such event, “Keep doing what you’re doing…I will always have your back.”

Our Employee Engagement Steering Committee (EESC), chaired by the Under Secretary for Management, has continued to serve as a forum for sharing ideas and best practices, and for ensuring Component accountability. Members are updating their engagement action plans twice per year, and those plans are signed by Component leadership. Through this mechanism, we empowered Components to act and created a loop of accountability with them so that we know they are taking action, and we are assisting them in their efforts as needed. A few examples of some of the great work occurring in our Components include:

  • TSA does “Local Action Planning” at sites with lowest levels of employee satisfaction to identify root causes of challenges and solutions for local implementation. They send expert teams onsite to conduct focus groups, make recommendations, and guide groups through implementation of identified actions. FEVS ratings in those targeted locations improved an average of 24 percent from 2015 to 2016.
  • CBP redesigned its first- and second-line supervisor training curricula to enhance performance management. Some of the topics include how to guide employees in setting performance goals and providing feedback on performance to employees. In FY16, they also graduated 116 GS-15 senior leaders from the CBP Leadership Institute, which includes sessions on workplace climate, culture, building trust, and coaching skills.
  • USCIS strives to empower employees and local offices to help make the agency a better place to work by organizing local champions for engagement initiatives; seeking feedback from the workforce through brief pulse polls targeting salient issues; and facilitating action planning at the local level.
  • ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which historically scores low on the FEVS, is undertaking a transformation effort called ERO 2.0. This effort includes a broad array of initiatives, including site-specific functional and operational adjustments within areas of responsibility; a new hiring plan that increases speed and quality of hiring; and creation of an effective mechanism for employees to search for and access critical ICE and ERO policies. The goal is to enable ERO to more effectively enforce current immigration policies, as well as identify avenues to improve the morale, career growth, and development of ERO’s workforce.
  • The Secret Service created an agency wide Inclusion and Engagement Council (IEC) to build, foster, create and inspire a workforce where inclusive diversity is not just “talked about” but demonstrated by every employee through “Every Action, Every Day.” The Secret Service identified an IEC Executive Champion and proactively enlisted the support of employees throughout the agency to serve as IEC Game Changers. Their primary objective is to help create and sustain a culture that encourages collaboration, flexibility and fairness. The IEC’s collective goal is to focus their efforts on creating and fostering a more “inclusive and engaged” Secret Service workplace.
  • FLETC senior leadership is actively promoting transparency and engaging directly with staff. Last year, senior leaders attended and interacted with staff on at least 148 training activities, 95 program openings, and 97 program graduations.

When you look at the DHS results of the FEVS, it is important to take into account just how large and diverse we are. For example, looking through the lens of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government ranking (BPTW), which as you know uses FEVS data: the ranking of large agencies places DHS at the bottom, but some of the DHS Components are larger than the “large agencies” on the list.

  • USCIS is slightly smaller than the top-ranked NASA yet its index score is almost as high as NASA’s.
  • USCG, USCIS, and FLETC all have BPTW index scores above the second-ranked large agency, the Department of Commerce.
  • In the BPTW mission-area rankings, USCG and USCIS are ranked #1 and #2 for the Law Enforcement and Border Protection category.
  • Our lower-ranked Components, like the Secret Service, CBP, and TSA, all have extremely difficult jobs that place them squarely in the public eye, often under challenging circumstances. These Components also have populations with limited access to computers, making it difficult for these employees to complete the FEVS.

This is not an excuse, but it serves as context. We are focused on these high-need Components, and are working with them and our EESC to continue the upward trend that we started last year. Our EESC members and the internal communications community are sharing best practices on how they are reaching out to the field. We are using our communications channels, including messaging from the Secretary and leader alerts to supervisors and executives, to ensure leaders at all levels act as a force multiplier for us to reach the workforce throughout the year, and we are currently focusing on the 2017 FEVS administration, which begins next month.

Every day, the men and women of DHS carry out difficult and frequently dangerous work that often is unseen by the American public. They do an outstanding job and have a deep commitment to the mission. Through our efforts dedicated to employee engagement, we are determined to enhance their work experience and honor the contributions of our hard-working and dedicated workforce.

Thank you again for supporting our employees who protect us and our great Nation. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.

Topics:  Homeland Security Enterprise Keywords:  employee morale, Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, FEVS

Written testimony of DHS Secretary Kelly for a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing titled “Improving Border Security and Public Safety”

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: April 5, 2017

342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member McCaskill, and distinguished Members of the Committee:

It is a great honor and privilege to appear before you today to discuss the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) crucial missions of protecting the homeland and securing our nation’s borders. During the past 45 years, I have been privileged to serve this nation as both an enlisted Marine and an officer. I am humbled to once again answer the call to serve, this time with the men and women of DHS.

We face diverse challenges and adversaries that do not respect our rule of law or our borders. As Secretary, you have my commitment to tirelessly protect our country from threats, secure our borders, and enforce our laws—all while facilitating lawful trade and travel, and balancing the security of our nation with the protection of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

I come before you today to discuss this Administration’s focus on border security, its dedication to the safety and security of the American people, and the hard work of the men and women of DHS to secure our borders.

The Department’s Border Security Mission

Along nearly 7,000 miles of land border, approximately 95,000 miles of shoreline, and at 328 ports of entry and numerous locations abroad, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has a critical role in preventing the illegal entry of people and goods into the United States.

Across the wide expanses of our nation’s land, air, and maritime environments, CBP has worked to address the changing demographics of attempted border crossers and to maintain border security through significant investments in enforcement resources, technology, infrastructure, and enhanced operational tactics and strategy.

Through advances in detection capabilities, such as fixed, mobile, and agent-portable surveillance systems; tethered and tactical aerostats; unmanned aircraft systems; and ground sensors; all working in conjunction with tactical border infrastructure and agent deployment, CBP is enhancing its ability to quickly detect, identify, and respond to illegal border crossings.

At our nation’s air, land, and sea ports of entry, more travelers and cargo are arriving than ever before. To maintain the security of growing volumes of international travelers, CBP performs a full range of inspection activities and continues to enhance its pre-departure traveler vetting systems and integrate biometric technologies. CBP has also made significant developments in its intelligence and targeting capabilities to segment shipments and individuals by potential level of risk to identify and stop potentially dangerous travelers or cargo before boarding an aircraft or conveyance bound for the United States.

Beyond managing the influx of people and cargo arriving in the United States, CBP works with other DHS components to strengthen its capabilities to identify foreign nationals who have violated our immigration laws, as well as to track suspect persons and cargo exiting the country. CBP is also using its newly-established Counter Network Program, which focuses on detecting, disrupting, and dismantling transnational criminal organizations by expanding information sharing, increasing partnerships and collaboration that enhance border security, conducting joint exploitation of intelligence, and co-management of operations with interagency and international partners. These efforts are working toward a safer and more secure border environment, one that supports the safety and success of each agent and officer in the field.

In the maritime environment, CBP and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) utilize a multi-faceted, layered approach to interdict threats far from the borders of our nation to combat the efforts of transnational criminal organizations. Successful CBP and USCG interdictions in the maritime transit zones feed a cycle of success—subsequent prosecutions lead to actionable intelligence on future events, which produce follow-on seizures and additional intelligence. Suspects from these cases divulge information during prosecution and sentencing that is critical to indicting, extraditing, and convicting drug cartel leadership and dismantling their sophisticated networks.

Thousands of aliens attempt to enter this country illegally every year using maritime routes, many via smuggling operations. Interdicting these aliens at sea reduces the safety risks involved in such transits. CBP and USCG help secure our maritime domain by conducting patrols and coordinating with other federal agencies and foreign countries to interdict them at sea. USCG can quickly return them to their countries of origin, avoiding the lengthy and costlier processes required if they successfully enter the United States.

Finally, we augment our border security initiatives with vigorous interior enforcement and the administration of our immigration laws in a manner that serves the national interest. This effort includes greater cooperation and coordination among DHS’s operational components, such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which are responsible for administering immigration benefits and enforcing our nation’s existing immigration laws.

The President’s Immigration Executive Orders

After decades of unfulfilled promises by the federal government to secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws, President Trump—in the days immediately after his inauguration—issued several executive orders to secure our borders, enforce our immigration laws, and protect the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States. In so doing, the President and DHS immediately began working on behalf of American families and workers.

As President Trump has stated, “Homeland Security is in the business of saving lives, and that mandate will guide our actions.” These Executive Orders further that goal by enhancing border security, promoting public safety, and minimizing the threat of terrorist attacks by foreign nationals in the United States.

Executive Order 13767, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” directs executive departments and agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure the nation’s southern border, prevent further illegal immigration into the United States, and repatriate aliens with final orders of removal swiftly, consistently, and humanely.

This Executive Order establishes the foundation for securing our southern border by providing the tools, resources, and policy direction for DHS’s dedicated men and women who are responsible for preventing illegal immigration, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and acts of terrorism. In accordance with existing law, DHS has already begun to take all appropriate steps to plan, design, and construct a physical wall, using the materials and technology that will most effectively achieve operational control of the southern border. DHS is also taking appropriate action to ensure that the parole and asylum provisions of Federal immigration law are applied consistent with the requirements of the law—and not exploited by otherwise removable aliens.

Executive Order 13768, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” provides DHS with the tools it needs to enforce federal immigration laws within the United States. It removes obstacles that had been making it more difficult for the dedicated men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to carry out their mission, which includes arresting, detaining, and removing illegal aliens from the United States.

Executive Order 13773, “Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking,” ensures that Federal agencies prioritize and devote sufficient resources to efforts to identify, interdict, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and their subsidiaries, which drive crime, corruption, violence, and misery. By maximizing information sharing, coordination, and cooperation with our partners at home and abroad, DHS will lead the way in the battle against TCOs and international traffickers.

Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” explicitly revokes and replaces Executive Order 13769—an executive order that shared the same name. Section 2(c) of EO 13780 temporarily suspends the entry into the United States of certain nationals of Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya, and Yemen for 90 days, subject to the limitations, waivers, and exceptions set forth in Sections 3 and 12. Section 6(a) of EO 13780 suspends travel of refugees into the United States under the United States Refugee Admission Program (USRAP), as well as decisions on application for refugee status, for 120 days, subject to waivers pursuant to Section 6(c).

As you know, this Executive Order—including its sections 2 and 6—was scheduled to take effect on March 16, 2017. However, the U.S. District Court of the District of Hawaii issued a preliminary injunction, indefinitely prohibiting the Federal Government from enforcing or implementing all of sections 2 and 6 of the Executive Order. Separately, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland enjoined enforcement of Section 2(c) of the Executive Order. The Federal government is complying with these injunctions while it continues to litigate and vigorously oppose them.

Notably, the remainder of Executive Order 13780 is not affected by the injunctions, nor is the Presidential Memorandum issued the same day, and we will continue to enhance the security of this nation accordingly.

The United States has worked hard in the years since the 9/11 attacks to develop rigorous vetting and screening policies, and to build the intelligence-based, automated tools required to more effectively screen an ever-expanding population of travelers. We must continue to update and refine these policies and procedures, and coordinate more efficiently across departments and agencies to develop a comprehensive, uniform immigrant and traveler vetting program to prevent terrorists, criminals and others posing a threat to national security from entering the county.

We know that our country has admitted some foreign nationals without an adequate understanding of their allegiances and intentions, and we continue to apprehend special interest aliens who make their way into our country illegally each year. DHS continues to partner with the Intelligence Community and the State Department to develop a strategy and program that will allow for the sharing of intelligence and law enforcement data to ensure a robust screening process to keep America safe. We confront sophisticated and adaptable adversaries, and we are dedicated to maintaining our vigilance as we work to counter these threats to our national security.

Early Indications of Success from the Implementation of the President’s Executive Orders

Thanks to the continued and successful efforts of our men and women at the border, as well as the support of our leadership in the White House, Customs and Border Protection has seen a sharp decline in apprehensions along the Southwest Border since the beginning of the year; this March will the lowest with less than 17,000. March marks the fifth straight month of decline and is estimated to be approximately 71% lower than the December 2016 total—58,478. Of the nearly 17,000 apprehensions, approximately 73% were apprehended between ports of entry by the U.S. Border Patrol and 27% apprehended by the Office of Field Operations (OFO) at ports of entry.

In particular, U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions for the last two months have decreased dramatically; typically this is the time of year that the agency observes marked increases. This March, the Border Patrol apprehended just over 1,100 individuals in a family unit (FMUA) and approximately 1,000 unaccompanied alien children (UAC). Compare this to over 16,000 FMUA and over 7,000 UAC in December.

This decrease in apprehensions is no accident. But while this recent decline in illegal migration is good news, we must ensure that the security of our southern border remains a priority to protect the nation from terrorists and other criminals.

The President’s Budget Demonstrates a Continued Commitment to Border Security

The President demonstrated his commitment to this effort through submission of a $3 billion border security and immigration enforcement Budget Amendment in Fiscal Year 2017. As Congress considers this request, it is important to acknowledge the long-standing operational needs of the U.S. Border Patrol.

This includes 28 miles of new levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley sector—the Border Patrol's busiest and highest-risk area of operations—as well as 20 miles of a new wall system, the design of which will be informed by the prototype process currently underway. Understanding that effective risk mitigation requires a layered approach, the Budget Amendment also requests funds for upgrading existing sub-par fencing, constructing and maintaining border access roads, and deploying border security technology and equipment.

The Administration will request the next increment of border wall funding in the FY 2018 Budget. The FY 2018 Budget Blueprint, released on February 16th, highlighted $2.6 billion for high priority border security technology and tactical infrastructure, including funding to plan, design, and construct the border wall. Specific details will accompany the release of the complete Budget in mid-May. I plan to use these funds to make sizable investments in:

  • New border barriers;
  • Replacing sub-standard existing fence;
  • Constructing or improving hundreds of miles of border roads; and,
  • Border security technology and equipment in the highest risk areas of operation.

Executive Order 13767 required, and United States Border Patrol has already commenced, a study of the border. The needs identified through this process will inform investments going forward. And I would add that, while physical barriers and technology are essential, they must be bolstered by persistent patrol, and the vigilance of the dedicated men and women of DHS.

Through the recently released FY 2017 Budget Amendment and the FY 2018 President’s Budget currently under development, DHS is seeking to take immediate steps to implement a full complement of solutions to meet border security requirements. These investments extend beyond physical barriers we think of as wall or fence to include advanced detection capabilities such as surveillance systems, tethered and tactical aerostats, unmanned aircraft systems and ground sensors, all which work in conjunction with improvements to tactical border infrastructure and increased manpower. By using these tools together as an integrated border security system, CBP is enhancing its ability to quickly detect, identify, and respond to illegal border crossings.

Specifically, within the FY 2017 Amendment, approximately two-thirds of the requested funding, or $1 billion, supports the full range of activities related to initial wall investment, to include design, real estate planning, environmental planning, acquisition, construction, and oversight. Nearly one-third, or $550 million, supports critical investments in technology, infrastructure and roads, as well as improving CBP’s hiring and retention capabilities. The FY 2018 Budget Request, which the Budget Blueprint signaled would include $2.6 billion in investments, will employ a similar balanced approach to ensure that CBP can leverage a diverse toolkit to secure the border.

These initial investments will be in sectors with known operational needs: in the Rio Grande Valley where apprehensions are the highest along the Southwest Border; in El Paso or Tucson where a border barrier system will deny access to drug trafficking organizations; and in San Diego where the legacy barrier is outdated and frequently breached. In preparation for the next phase of investment, CBP is currently working closely with frontline agents to identify the highest priorities and threats, develop requirements, and tailor an acquisition strategy specific to the terrain, risks, and threats in different areas along the border. Until this requirements analysis is completed, appropriate solutions are identified, and other variables like land acquisition are addressed, the Department cannot prepare an all-inclusive cost estimate related to longer term border security initiatives.

Interagency and International Cooperation

As Secretary, I will advocate for expanding cooperation within the U.S. government and with partner nations, particularly Canada and Mexico. Interagency relationships and bilateral cooperation are critical to identifying, monitoring, and countering threats to U.S. national security and regional stability. While DHS possesses unique authorities and capabilities, we must also enhance our coordination with State, local, tribal, and regional partners.

DHS’s Joint Task Forces, which link the authorities and capabilities of multiple DHS components, multiply our efforts to secure our nation and institutionalize a unified approach to addressing emerging and priority threats to the nation. The magnitude, scope, and complexity of the challenges we face— including illegal immigration, transnational crime, human smuggling and trafficking, and terrorism—demand an integrated counter-network approach.

Regionally, we must continue to build partner capacity. Illegal immigration and transnational crime threaten not only our own security, but also the stability and prosperity of our Latin American neighbors. In Colombia, for example, we learned that the key principles for defeating large cartels and insurgents are the same as defeating criminal networks: a strong, accountable government that protects its citizens, upholds the rule of law, and expands economic opportunity for all. It taught us that countering illicit trafficking and preventing terrorism often go hand-in-hand, and that U.S. interagency cooperation, coupled with a committed international partner, can help bring a country back from the brink. I believe DHS can apply these lessons across our many international partnerships.

Presently, we have a great opportunity in Central America to capitalize on the region’s growing political will to combat criminal networks and control hemispheric migration. Leaders in many of our partner nations recognize the magnitude of the tasks ahead and are prepared to address them, but they need our support. As we learned in Colombia, sustained engagement by the United States can make a real and lasting difference.

Conclusion

The border security challenges facing DHS and our nation are considerable, particularly along the southern border. We have the laws in place to secure our borders. We also have outstanding men and women working at DHS, and in other federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, who are committed to the border security mission. Finally, we now have a clear mission objective and the will to complete that mission successfully. We must accelerate our collective efforts and dedicate additional resources to enforce the laws on the books and support those sworn to uphold the law. You have my commitment to work tirelessly to ensure that the men and women of DHS are empowered to do their jobs.

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of DHS. I am confident that we will continue to build upon the momentum generated as a result of our previous operational achievements around the world. I remain committed to working with this Committee to forge a strong and productive relationship going forward to secure our borders and help prevent and combat threats to our nation.

I am pleased to answer any questions.

Topics:  Immigration Enforcement, International, Law Enforcement Partnerships, Maritime Keywords:  Executive Orders, southwest border, Joint Task Forces

Written testimony of FEMA Acting Administrator Fenton for a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing titled “Oversight of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Response to the Baton Rouge Flood Disaster: Part II”

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: April 5, 2017

2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Good morning, Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and Members of the Committee. I am Bob Fenton, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Thank you for this opportunity to testify today regarding FEMA’s response to the August 2016 flood disaster in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Impacts of the Storm Event in Louisiana

In 2016, Louisiana had two historic flood events – occurring in the months of March and August – that resulted in 56 of the state’s 64 parishes receiving a federal disaster declaration. Nearly 22,000 households sustained flood damage during the March event, alone, forcing more than 13,000 evacuations and 2,780 rescues. Furthermore, the March floods caused extensive damage to infrastructure and businesses; estimates for damages to roads and bridges totaled more than $20 million.

In August 2016, an unprecedented seven-trillion gallons of rainwater fell in what the National Weather Service categorized as a once in a millennia event; which does not mean that this rain only happens once every 1,000 years, but rather statistically means that a flood of this magnitude had only a 0.1 percent chance of happening in any given year. The total amount of rainwater was more than four times the amount of water contained in Lake Pontchartrain and resulted in the flooding of more than 91,000 households.

In addition, there were approximately 30,000 search and rescues performed in the month of August, with nearly 11,000 citizens sheltered at the peak of the flood. An estimated thirty (30) state roads washed out and 1,400 bridges required inspection, along with more than 200 highways that closed during the event – sections of Interstates 10 and 12 were closed for several days. All told, the August storm claimed thirteen (13) lives.

FEMA provided leadership and the situational awareness our federal partners needed to anticipate and plan for the short-term, intermediate, and long-term needs of residents and the communities that support them. Expedited damage assessments resulted in a Presidential Disaster declaration on the same day as the Governor’s request. The first Individual Assistance grant received approval within two days of the disaster declaration, and within the first week FEMA approved more than $1 million in National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) advance payments.

Although FEMA’s proactive stance hastened the response, the storm created unique challenges that strained the combined resources of the state, local and federal government agencies supporting the response and recovery efforts.

Whole Community Assistance Provided

Hundreds of volunteers and local responders provided short-term shelter to more than 10,500 displaced survivors at the peak of the flooding, and hundreds more helped to clean up debris and muck from flood-damaged homes. FEMA and the State of Louisiana supplemented sheltering needs by placing thousands of survivors in hotels and motels. An additional 10,853 households returned to their homes with minimal repairs provided through the state-run shelter-at-home program. Roughly $1.2 billion in low-interest, SBA loans and $751 million in grants were provided to survivors to aid with home repairs, rental assistance and other disaster-related needs. To date, FEMA paid $2.4 billion in National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claims.

The severity of the incident proved to be beyond these short- to intermediate-term solutions, and available rental options in and around the affected communities were quickly depleted. The utmost priority is to ensure survivors have a safe, clean and secure place to live. FEMA implemented the Multi-Family Lease and Repair Program to make available additional rental units in the affected areas and approved the state’s request for manufactured housing. The disaster situation proved challenging for this housing mission because of the lack of available space for suitable group sites, and FEMA made every effort to keep people with their families and in their communities, resulting in an unprecedented number of manufactured housing units placed directly on disaster survivors’ properties.

FEMA Housing Authorities

Legislation resulting from lessons learned has enabled FEMA and the federal government to expand the universe of housing options available to survivors in the wake of a disaster.

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA conducted the largest housing operation in our country’s history. In addition, the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA) provided FEMA with new authorities that have improved outcomes for countless disaster survivors since Hurricane Katrina.

PKEMRA provided clarity to Public Assistance authorities by allowing them to fund temporary housing options that cover the gap between sheltering and the return of survivors to more permanent housing solutions. These expanded authorities included the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program allowing survivors to stay in a hotel or motel temporarily; housing survivors in repaired existing rental units; and, providing a mechanism to perform minimal emergency repairs to enable survivors’ homes to serve as shelters until more permanent repairs could be made.

In 2012, FEMA published the Catastrophic Housing Annex to the 2012 Federal Interagency Operations Plan - Hurricane, identifying considerations necessary to implement large scale sheltering and temporary housing options in the most efficient and effective manner possible in the event of a catastrophic disaster.

Hurricane Sandy was the first major use of PKEMRA housing authorities and led to the passage of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act in 2013 (SRIA). FEMA utilized SRIA’s authority during the August floods to lease multifamily rental units and provide them to individuals or households for use as direct temporary housing where cost effective.

FEMA continues to build on lessons learned from recent disasters, such as Hurricanes Sandy. In particular, leveraging new partnerships and collaborations that help build capabilities to meet disaster housing needs.

Housing and Sheltering Solutions

In the aftermath of the 2016 flooding in Louisiana, FEMA has continuously worked with the State of Louisiana to ensure flood survivors get back into their homes or have a safe place to stay while they are repairing and rebuilding. As you know, FEMA disaster assistance is not the primary recovery tool. Survivors rely on insurance and low-interest disaster loans to fully recover. For those individuals and families who are not insured, or who are underinsured, the collective resources of our private-sector, non-profit, faith- based, local and federal assistance programs assist them in getting on the road to recovery. FEMA supports various options available to survivors whose homes were flooded and are now uninhabitable.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP): Flood insurance is the best financial protection against the impacts of flooding. FEMA authorizes advance payments to provide expedited relief to insured survivors. Providing early payment of up to 50% of the estimated covered loss allows the policyholder the ability to proceed with recovery efforts while negotiating the proof of loss with the adjuster. To date, the NFIP provided advanced flood insurance payments of more than $361 million to expedite home repairs for survivors, with $300 million of these payouts occurring in the first 30 days of the response to the Louisiana floods in August 2016.

FEMA continues to transform the NFIP customer experience through efforts such as simplifying the claims process through improved Proof of Loss and other forms; and, modernizing the underwriting process by building a new risk rating process that will advance our actuarial and underwriting practices.

Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) Program: Under this sheltering initiative, disaster survivors may be eligible to stay in a hotel or motel for a limited period of time and have the cost of the room covered by FEMA under the Public Assistance program. The hotels/motels are directly funded by FEMA. This initiative is intended to provide short-term lodging for eligible disaster survivors whose homes are either uninhabitable or inaccessible due to disaster-related damages. At its peak on August 18, 2016 this form of assistance provided more than 2,800 families with lodging as a short-term sheltering alternative to congregate sheltering.

Shelter at Home Program: This is a State of Louisiana-run program with costs reimbursable as emergency sheltering costs through the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Pilot, which was authorized for the August flooding under the Public Assistance program. Shelter at Home allows the state to contract for short- term repairs to ensure survivors can shelter in their home safely while completing more permanent repairs to their home. This program has kept residents in their communities and near work, schools, and other local services. As of March 12, 2017, 10,853 survivors have had emergency repairs completed on their homes through the Shelter at Home program in Louisiana.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: Through the SBA, homeowners in declared disaster areas were able to borrow up to $200,000 at an interest rate as low as 1.56 % for a term of up to 30 years, to repair or replace their primary residence, and up to a $40,000 loan is available for renters/homeowners to replace their contents. To date, the SBA has approved low-interest disaster loans of more than $1.2 billion to help businesses, private nonprofits and homeowners and renters recover from property and economic losses due to the March and August 2016 flooding in Louisiana.

Financial Housing Assistance: FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program offers financial assistance to pay for housing solutions for eligible homeowners and renters.

  • Rental Assistance: This form of assistance under the Individuals and Households Program provides financial assistance to pay for short-term rentals for eligible homeowners and renters whose homes are deemed by an inspector to be un-livable or inaccessible due to the disaster. As of March 18th of this year, FEMA has approved more than $137,979,828 in Rental Assistance for 66,851 disaster survivors in Louisiana. While FEMA’s initial payment to the survivor is for two months of rental assistance, FEMA can continue providing rental assistance if still needed for up to 18 months. For the August flooding in Louisiana, FEMA increased the rental assistance rate to 150% of the HUD Fair Market Rent (FMR) to make additional rental housing available to survivors.
  • Financial housing assistance includes Home Repair Assistance for homeowners provided through the Individuals and Households Program. Financial assistance, provided directly to the homeowner, enables them to make a damaged home safe, sanitary, and functional. The repairs could include replacing drywall, repairing a damaged roof, or replacing a damaged furnace. FEMA has approved more than $457 million to help more than 34,858 survivors make repairs to their home.

Multi-Family Lease and Repair (MLRP): This program allows FEMA to enter into lease agreements with owners of multi-family rental properties located in disaster areas and make repairs or improvements to provide temporary housing to disaster survivors. In order to qualify, the properties must be have been previously used as multi-family housing and must be located in an area included in a major disaster or emergency declaration. Furthermore, the value of the repairs and improvements cannot exceed the value of the lease, and must be cost effective compared to other types of temporary housing.

Manufactured Housing Unit (MHU): MHUs are manufactured homes constructed in accordance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations and FEMA contract requirements for ruggedness and weather. This is used when other resources have been exhausted or have been determined to be infeasible. FEMA may provide this form of direct temporary housing assistance in the form of MHUs on sites with utility access that meet the needs of the household, and comply with applicable state, local, territorial, and tribal government ordinances. Approved sites must also meet federal floodplain management and Environmental and Historic Preservation requirements. FEMA selects locations based on the cost-effectiveness, timeliness, and suitability of each potential site. Sites may include private, commercial, and group sites. FEMA sends inspectors to the property to determine if it is feasible for placement. The decision depends, in part, on appropriate permits from local/parish governments and available utilities. Inspectors then complete site assessments. If the location is feasible, a work order is issued to haul and install a unit at the site. Local officials provide permits before MHUs are installed. Availability and connection of utilities (power, sewer, and water) are secured. If the location is in a Special Flood Hazard Area, the MHUs must be elevated to the fullest extent practicable up to the base flood elevation and adequately anchored. Furnished MHUs, ranging from one to three bedroom units, are provided based on the applicant’s pre-disaster household composition.

As survivors in Louisiana seek to address their longer term housing needs, FEMA is working with its federal, state, local, tribal, private sector, and voluntary agency partners to coordinate resources that the federal government may make available to meet those needs.

Long- term recovery support for communities impacted by disasters, such as those in the Louisiana floods, was initially addressed in 2011’s National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF). The NDRF defines the overall process by which communities can capitalize on opportunities to rebuild stronger, smarter, and safer. The NDRF identifies core capabilities and new Recovery Support Functions, which are the federal coordinating structures for delivering those core capabilities.

HUD serves as the lead agency for the Housing Recovery Support Function. HUD serves as the housing expert for the federal government and is tasked by Congress with the responsibility of establishing national housing standards. HUD coordinates and facilitates the delivery of Federal resources to implement housing solutions that effectively support the needs of the whole community. FEMA has strengthened its partnership with HUD to identify housing solutions to meet the needs of states and tribes with residents displaced by disasters.

Manufactured Housing Units

While every disaster is unique, common threads and lessons are learned from previous disasters. In the aftermath of a major disaster where numerous residential dwellings are damaged or destroyed, FEMA works closely with partners across the whole community to assist disaster survivors in finding ways to meet their disaster-related housing needs. In rare circumstances, this may include providing temporary housing with FEMA purchased manufactured housing units. These units comply with HUD standards and provide a place for families to live until permanent repairs are made or permanent housing is acquired. MHUs are designed to support the needs of survivors after a disaster and are equipped to promote safety and accessibility, including residential sprinklers and features for survivors with access and functional needs.

More durable construction, higher standards, more built-in safety and accessibility features, and a variety of sizes based on the household’s needs contribute to the increased cost of a manufactured housing unit. However, FEMA’s top priority is to provide survivors with safe, clean, and durable temporary housing.

In Louisiana, FEMA worked closely with the Governor and his Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) to discuss the range of housing assistance FEMA could make available to the State of Louisiana to speed recovery. Early on, the State identified a need for MHUs to meet the needs of survivors. As a result of the State request, FEMA began relocating MHUs from Cumberland, Maryland and Selma, Alabama to staging areas near the impacted communities.

Once a survivor is determined eligible for a MHU, FEMA works to: find a suitable location for the MHU; ensure that placing an MHU is consistent with local zoning laws and ordinances; deliver the MHU to the agreed upon location from the staging site; and ensure proper site preparation. When the survivor moves into the unit, FEMA provides a maintenance hotline and initiates a monthly maintenance schedule to ensure the MHU continues to be a safe place to live.

On October 25, 2016, FEMA was notified of a fatality that occurred in an overheated MHU and that the heat in that MHU was running uncontrolled despite the thermostat being in the “off” position. FEMA immediately assembled a team, including contracted engineers to begin an investigation. The team identified the thermostat as the probable cause of the uncontrolled performance of the heater. On November 3, FEMA engaged the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and began gathering information from all ongoing housing missions to identify if there were similar failures. This effort took about two weeks.

Simultaneously, FEMA directed the replacement of all pre-2016 thermostats because of the uncertain cause and potential contributing factors such as manufacturing defect or damage. FEMA also continued a review of maintenance records across all active disaster housing missions to determine the possibility of a systemic problem. This review found no systematic issue which could have provided FEMA advanced warning of the thermostat issue.

The CPSC investigation issued its final report on November 17, 2016 that came to the same conclusion our contracted engineers found in the field. First, the thermostat in question was configured incorrectly for a heat pump system. Second, this configuration caused the heating strip to heat continuously independent of the thermostat settings.

The investigation performed by FEMA’s advisory and assistance service contractor surmised that if the thermostat would have been programmed to a conventional system, and not a heat pump system, the electric heat would not have stayed on continuously.

With these conclusions, FEMA undertook a series of mitigation activities:

  • Disaster survivors were (and continue to be) advised to immediately report HVAC problems. HVAC problems are dealt with as emergency work requests and the FEMA MHU maintenance contractor is required to respond within two hours.
  • The pre-2016 thermostat replacement effort initiated on November 1, 2016 ensured that new, properly configured thermostats were installed and operated the HVAC systems correctly.
  • FEMA contacted all MHU manufacturers reinforcing the requirements to configure thermostats to match the supported HVAC unit.
  • FEMA’s advisory and assistance contractor (the Institute for Building Technology and Safety), which conducts quality assurance oversight in the MHU manufacturing facilities directed its field inspectors to ensure that thermostats are being installed consistent with manufacturer instructions.

Additionally, FEMA will issue a technical bulletin to the MHU manufacturers to require non-configurable thermostats, designed for their units, in order to remove the possibility of misconfiguration.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the flooding disaster that impacted Louisiana was a historic disaster event displacing thousands of survivors from their homes. FEMA, working closely with our partners in the State of Louisiana, moved quickly to deploy all the tools available to address the sheltering and housing needs of survivors. While MHU’s are one form of temporary housing provided, many survivors’ needs were met through their insurance, SBA loans, or a combination of federal, state, and partner assistance. FEMA is always looking at the effectiveness of our programs and taking steps to continuously improve coordination and ensure that survivors affected by disasters are returned to safe, secure, and functional housing options as soon as possible following a declared disaster.

Thank you.

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery Keywords:  Baton Rouge

Written testimony of USCG Commandant for a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hearing titled “Authorization of Coast Guard And Maritime Transportation Programs”

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: April 4, 2017

2253 Rayburn House Office Building

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to testify today and thank you for your enduring support of the United States Coast Guard.

As the world’s premier, multi-mission, maritime service, the Coast Guard offers a unique and enduring value to the Nation. The only branch of the U.S. Armed Forces within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a federal law enforcement agency, a regulatory body, a first responder, and a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community – the Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to help secure the border, combat transnational criminal organizations (TCO), and safeguard America’s economic prosperity.

Indeed, the Coast Guard’s combination of broad authorities and complementary capabilities squarely align with the Administration’s priorities, and I am proud of the return on investment your Coast Guard delivers on an annual basis.

I appreciate the unwavering support of this Subcommittee to address our most pressing needs. I will continue working with Secretary Kelly, the Administration, and this Congress to preserve momentum for our existing acquisition programs and employ risk-based decisions to balance readiness, modernization, and force structure with the evolving demands of the 21st century.

Appropriately positioned in DHS, the Coast Guard is a military Service and a branch of the Armed Forces of the United States at all times.1 We are also an important part of the modern Joint Force,2 and a force multiplier for the Department of Defense (DoD). I am proud of our enduring defense contributions to Combatant Commanders around the globe.

In addition to the six cutters operating as part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) since 2003, other defense operations include:

  • Port Security Units (PSUs) support Combatant Commanders with 24-hour protection of vessels, waterways, and port facilities. These specialized teams have deployed almost continuously to strategic ports in Kuwait and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002.
  • Deployable Specialized Forces Advanced Interdiction Teams support U. S. Central Command (CENTCOM) vessel board, search, and seizure operations.
  • Aircrews perform rotary-wing air intercept operations in support of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Specially trained aviators intercept aircraft that enter restricted airspace in the National Capital Region and during National Security Special Events around the country.
  • Assets and personnel deploy worldwide in support of defense operations and fully participate in major international exercises. As the Coast Guard is similar in size, composition, and missions to most of the world’s navies, we are a frequent engagement partner of choice to support Combatant Commander goals.

Like the other military Services, the Coast Guard supports all efforts to rebuild the Armed Forces.

Secretary Kelly leads the Department’s efforts to secure our borders, and the Administration’s strategy “to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation’s southern border…”3 relies on the Coast Guard supporting a comprehensive security strategy. The Coast Guard protects the maritime border – not just here at home, but also off the coast of South and Central America. As Secretary Kelly has stated, “…the defense of the southwest border really starts about 1,500 miles south…”4

We continue to face a significant threat from TCOs, and the Coast Guard is positioned to attack these criminal networks where they are most vulnerable, at sea. We leverage over 40 international maritime law enforcement bilateral agreements to enable partner nation interdictions and prosecutions, and employ a robust interdiction package to seize multi-ton loads of drugs at sea before they can be broken down into small quantities ashore.

In close collaboration with partner Nations and agencies, the Coast Guard works to engage threats as far from U.S. shores as possible. In 2016, Coast Guard and partner agencies interdicted more cocaine at sea than was removed at the land border and across the entire nation by all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies – combined. A service record 201.3 metric tons of cocaine (7.1% of estimated flow)5 was removed from the western transit zone, 585 smugglers were detained, and 156 cases were referred for prosecution.

Coast Guard readiness relies on the ability to simultaneously execute our full suite of missions and sustain support to Combatant Commanders, while also being ready to respond to contingencies. Your Coast Guard prides itself on being Semper Paratus – Always Ready, and predictable and sufficient funding is necessary to maintain this readiness in the future. Prudence also demands we continue investing in a modernized Coast Guard. Indeed, recapitalization remains my highest priority, and today’s activities will shape our Coast Guard and impact national security for decades. Your support has helped us make tremendous progress, and it is critical we build upon our successes to field assets that meet cost, performance, and schedule milestones. I am encouraged by our progress to date.

In 2016, we awarded a contract to complete build out of our fleet of 58 Fast Response Cutters – at an affordable price – and the last four ships (numbers 19 through 22) were delivered by Bollinger Shipyards with zero discrepancies. In September, we achieved a monumental goal with the award of a contract for Detail Design and Construction of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). These cutters will eventually comprise 70 percent of Coast Guard surface presence in the offshore zone. OPCs will provide the tools to more effectively enforce federal laws, secure our maritime borders by interdicting threats before they arrive on our shores, disrupt TCOs, and respond to 21st century threats. With the continued support of the Administration and Congress, we anticipate ordering long lead time material for the first OPC later this year, and plan for its delivery in 2021.

We also generated momentum to build new polar icebreakers. In July of last year, we made a commitment to partner with the Navy to establish an Integrated Program Office to acquire new heavy icebreakers. This approach leverages the expertise of both organizations and is delivering results. The recent award of multiple Industry Studies contracts – a concept the Navy has utilized in previous shipbuilding acquisitions to drive affordability and reduce schedule and technical risk – is an example of the positive results of this partnership. We will continue refining the system specification and prepare to release a request for proposal for Detail Design and Construction in FY 2018.

We are also making progress with unmanned aerial systems. A recent small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) proof of concept aboard a National Security Cutter (NSC) validated this capability and will enhance the effectiveness of these cutters. In its inaugural month underway, STRATTON's sUAS flew 191 flight hours, providing real-time surveillance and detection imagery for the cutter, and assisting the embarked helicopter and law enforcement teams with the interdiction or disruption of four go-fast vessels carrying more than 5,000 pounds of contraband. In addition, we are exploring options to build a land-based UAS program that will improve domain awareness and increase the cued intelligence our surface assets rely upon to close illicit pathways in the maritime transit zone. While long-term requirements are being finalized, I can fully employ a squadron of six platforms outfitted with marine-capable sensors now and am moving out to field this much-needed capability.

In addition to the focus on recapitalizing our surface and aviation fleets, we are also mindful of the condition of our shore infrastructure. Investments in shore infrastructure are also critical to modernizing the Coast Guard and equipping our workforce with the facilities they require to meet mission.

America’s economic prosperity is reliant on the safe, secure, and efficient flow of cargo through the Maritime Transportation System (MTS), which sees $4.5 trillion of economic activity annually. The Nation’s maritime industry and the MTS face many challenges, including growing demands, a global industry-driven need to reduce shipping’s environmental footprint, and the ever-increasing complexity of systems and technology.

Coast Guard marine safety programs employ our unique capabilities to ensure a safe, secure, and environmentally sound MTS. We do this by developing risk-based standards, training and employing a specialized workforce, and conducting investigations into accidents and violations of laws so standards can be improved. We are mindful of the need to facilitate commerce, not impede it, and remain committed to our prevention missions.

While readiness and modernization investments will improve current mission performance, the right force is central to success. I am incredibly proud of our 88,000 active duty, reserve, civil service, and auxiliary members. I am working aggressively to validate a transparent and repeatable model to identify the appropriate force structure required for the Coast Guard to simultaneously respond to global, national, and regional events.

Funding 21st century Coast Guard platforms and people is a smart investment, even in this challenging fiscal environment. Modern assets bring exceptional capability, but our greatest strength will always be our people. Coast Guard operations require a capable, proficient, and resilient workforce that draws upon the broad range of skills, talents, and experiences found in the American population. Together, modern platforms and a strong, resilient workforce will maximize the Coast Guard’s capacity to meet future challenges.

History has proven that a responsive, capable, and agile Coast Guard is an indispensable instrument of national security. With the continued support of the Administration and Congress, the Coast Guard will continue to live up to our motto. We will be Semper Paratus – Always Ready. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today and for all you do for the men and women of the Coast Guard. I look forward to your questions.

1 14 USC § 1.
2 In addition to the Coast Guard’s status as an Armed Force (10 U.S.C. § 101), see also Memorandum of Agreement Between the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security on the Use of Coast Guard Capabilities and Resources in Support of the National Military Strategy, 02 May 2008, as amended 18 May 2010.
3 Executive Order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, 25 January 2017.
4 Secretary Kelly Hearing Testimony, “Ending the Crisis: America’s Borders and the Path to Security” before the House Homeland Security Full Committee and Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security Joint Hearing on America’s Borders, Panel 1, 07 February 2017.
5 [US Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Review of U.S. Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2016 Drug Control Performance Summary, OIG Report, OIG-17-33, February 1, 2017. ]

 

Topics:  Air, Maritime Keywords:  Mission

Written testimony of DHS JTF-West Director for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing titled “Defeating a Sophisticated and Dangerous Adversary: Are the New Border Security Task Forces the Right Approach?”

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: April 4, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairwoman McSally, Ranking Member Vela, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear today on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS or the Department), to discuss how the Joint Task Force-West (JTF-W) — one of three Joint Task Forces established under the DHS Southern Border and Approaches Campaign (SBAC) — is working to address the threats posed by Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) to the safety and security of the United States.

Although I officially assumed my duties as Director of JTF-W in December 2016, I reported to JTF-W Headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, on March 5, 2017. I look forward to working closely with my counterparts, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Vice-Admiral Karl Schultz, Director of the Joint Task Force–East, and Janice Ayala, Director of the Joint Task Force–Investigations, from U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Thanks to the support of Congress, during the past decade DHS has deployed more personnel, resources, technology, and tactical infrastructure to secure our borders than at any other time in history. DHS has harnessed this support to expand the whole-of-government approach to border security – one that leverages the authorities and capabilities of multiple departments and agencies and extends international partnerships – to multiply our efforts to counter the dynamic and sophisticated tactics and techniques that TCOs use to penetrate our border.

The Southwest Border (SWB) of the United States is a highly diverse environment with equally diverse threats to the security and safety of our border communities and communities throughout the United States. TCOs operating along the SWB are engaged in the smuggling and trafficking of aliens, narcotics, weapons, currency, and other illicit goods. The nearly unlimited financial resources generated by TCOs’ criminal activities afford them a freedom of action that challenges traditional law enforcement strategies. TCOs are also highly mobile and maintain sophisticated cross-border networks, operating throughout the SWB environments including at and between ports of entry (POE), and in the land, air, and maritime domains.

JTF-W History and Structure

JTF-W, which became fully operational in July 2015, was established as a pilot program as part of the SBAC. The SBAC leverages the range of unique Department authorities, responsibilities, and capabilities to enhance and unify our operational approach to address comprehensive threat environments and complements the biennial national Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy. JTF-W, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) serving as its executive agent, supports the Department’s Unity of Effort initiative, through the integrated Corridor structure, by identifying, disrupting, and dismantling threats posed by TCOs to the SWB of the United States. We coordinate and support integrated counter-network operations against priority TCOs engaged in criminal cross-border activity, employing a whole-of-government approach to deliver the greatest possible consequences against these prioritized TCOs. What is different today is that JTF-W leads the coordination of these efforts in a joint environment. We build on the collective capabilities of the DHS Components to plan and coordinate operations using the collective strength of the Department, in support of DHS goals. It is in a joint environment such as JTF-W where the full capabilities of DHS can be leveraged and focused to address emerging and priority threats to the Homeland.

The JTF-W Joint Operating Area (JOA), established by the SBAC, includes the land border with Mexico from California to Texas, the land approaches through Mexico to this border, the littorals in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas and in the Pacific Ocean off California, and the airspace spanning U.S. territorial land and waters. JTF-W and JTF-E share Central America as part of their respective JOAs. JTF-W activities are coordinated and conducted through four operational Corridors pursuant to the CBP Commissioner’s Integrated Corridor Operations Model memorandum: the South Texas Corridor; the New Mexico/West Texas Corridor; the Arizona Corridor; and the California Corridor. This Integrated Corridor Operations Model facilitates cross-Component coordination, enabling the DHS Components in these Corridors to execute targeted border security operations across the JTF-W JOA against prioritized TCOs in a manner and scope that previously did not exist. Corridor leadership is comprised of senior representatives from each DHS Component within the geographic region, including CBP, ICE, and USCG. By drawing leadership from each DHS Component, JTF-W coordinates through existing command and control structures to synchronize Component efforts, specifically to:

  • Integrate and align Component intelligence capabilities to achieve the JTF-W mission;
  • Prioritize investigative efforts to disrupt, degrade, and dismantle TCOs and illicit networks;
  • Institutionalize and standardize integrated counter-network operations to identify and target TCOs and illicit networks;
  • Strengthen international, prosecutorial, and deterrent efforts against TCO enterprises and significant activity impacting the JTF-W JOA; and
  • Advance the JTF-W mission through unified communication and messaging efforts.

Since its inception, JTF-W has employed and continues to refine a standardized, DHS-wide counter-network strategy throughout its JOA. JTF-W works to ensure that intelligence is shared, threats and targets are prioritized, and operations are planned and executed jointly by facilitating the coordination and collaboration of the operational Components across DHS, specifically CBP, ICE, USCIS, and USCG. To achieve maximum operational flexibility, JTF-W is currently staffed with not-to-exceed (NTE) and temporary duty (TDY) personnel from these Components. All employed equipment and assets are temporarily realigned from the Components to support JTF-W activities. JTF-W staff from the represented Components coordinate efforts related to intelligence, operations, logistics, administration, and external engagement. JTF-W further supports the efforts of DHS in external outreach and engagement with other federal partners such as Department of Justice, Department of State, and Department of Defense.

JTF-W Efforts to Counter TCOs

The dynamic threats posed by TCOs necessitate a united, comprehensive strategy and an aggressive approach by multiple entities across all levels of government. To combat the challenges posed by TCOs, JTF-W is focused on both long-term investigative operations against priority TCOs, as well as short-term operations against other associated networks, operatives, and affiliates.

For example, the Threat and Intelligence Priorities Assessment (TIPA) is component-neutral assessment tool that provides a thorough analysis of the threats facing each unique operating environment. This approach enables multiple agencies to examine the same set of threats within and across mission and geographic areas of responsibility. It provides the ability to individually and collectively identify and understand the highest priority threats in the region. This is the first time that these DHS entities along the SWB have utilized one process to produce a joint threat assessment.

JTF-W led the initiative to implement a standardized operational planning process across the SWB Corridors. This process was aligned with the overarching DHS Operational Planning Guidance and the DHS Campaign Plan for Securing the U.S. Southern Border and Approaches. Through this process, JTF-W is able to articulate how strategic goals are being implemented tactically, through named operations, targeting prioritized TCOs. An example of this collaboration was Operation OPTAR. In Arizona this past year, DHS Components from the JTF-W Arizona Corridor jointly planned and executed an operation targeting heroin smuggling through the POE. This joint effort resulted in the seizure of almost 5,000 kilograms of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines bound for the United States and12,000 rounds of ammunition and approximately $80,000 bound for Mexico.

JTF-W is uniquely situated to centralize mission requirements to expand information sharing and Information Technology systems across the Department. While the mission requirements are not new, JTF-W has served as a catalyst for inter-agency information sharing. For example, JTF-W expanded access to traditional Component-centric systems by establishing a true joint environment where enforcement personnel could leverage the breadth of information and authorities of the Department to target every level of these criminal networks. JTF-W will continue to coordinate expanded information sharing capabilities, enhancing operational capabilities and more efficiently leveraging DHS and our partners’ resources.

In Fiscal Year 2016, JTF-W and JTF-I identified 19 TCOs prioritized for disruption or dismantlement, using a standardized inter-agency process that did not exist prior to the creation of this task force. This prioritization allowed DHS to focus its enforcement efforts on permanently dismantling these TCOs. JTF-W monitored and evaluated enforcement actions (i.e., civil penalties, arrests, removals, and seizures) to evaluate its effectiveness based on existing DHS performance measures. Of these original 19 TCOs, JTF-W has dismantled four. JTF-W and the JTF-I continue to coordinate with DHS Components to disrupt and dismantle the remaining TCOs that are still active. For Fiscal Year 2017, these processes are being refined, standardized, and institutionalized.

In addition to these longer-term efforts, JTF-W led the coordination and execution of Operation All In. This Secretary-approved operation, the first of its kind within the Department, synchronized intelligence-gathering, investigation, and interdiction cross-Component efforts against known human-smuggling facilitators across the SWB and parts of the interior United States. As a result of Operation All In, 204 targets with extensive ties to human smuggling networks, who had been operating up to that point with impunity and profiting financially from this criminal enterprise, were identified and encountered. Based on the initial success of Operation All In, the DHS Secretary approved this operational concept as an open-ended, steady-state enforcement effort.

Recognizing that DHS is not alone in the fight against TCOs, JTF-W, through the integrated Corridor structure, actively partners with numerous other federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, as well as international partners. These partnerships are critical to JTF-W’s ability to coordinate operations to disrupt and dismantle TCOs engaged in illicit smuggling activities across the JOA. Of note, prosecutors accepted 97% of the Operation All In targets that were presented for criminal prosecution at either the federal or state level, demonstrating the high-degree of external coordination between law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys.

In the international arena, JTF-W prioritizes its efforts to advance border and regional security in alignment with DHS’s International Engagement Strategy, and supporting the binational programs with the government of Mexico, and in the near future, Central America. These initiatives, which are coordinated through existing mechanisms at the attaché, component, and Department level, advance border security through binational partnerships, foreign country capacity building, and enhanced international engagement.

In addition to these enforcement efforts, JTF-W has leveraged internal and external relationships as part of a public messaging campaign. For example, JTF-W has created an ongoing series of short videos as a cost-neutral effort to deter illegal migration and raise awareness of the atrocities, abuses, extortion, and natural hazards migrants will encounter on their journey. These videos, which are produced internally using organic resources and personnel, received extensive distribution both domestically and abroad. To date, three videos have been viewed 555,000 times via multiple social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and have been broadcast by Univision, Telemundo, and other Spanish-language television outlets.

Next Steps

President Trump recently issued two executive orders1 that direct additional tools and resources for securing the southern border – to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism. The executive orders also prioritize enforcement of Federal law in order to thwart TCOs and other groups engaged in illicit activities that present a threat to public safety and national security. Specifically, per Secretary Kelly’s February 20, 2017, implementation memo,2 JTF-W will plan and implement enhanced counter-network operations directed at disrupting TCOs, particularly those involved in human smuggling. Working with our Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, the JTF-W will target individuals and organizations whose criminal conduct undermines border security or the integrity of the immigration system, including offenses related to alien smuggling or trafficking, drug trafficking, illegal entry and reentry, visa fraud, identity theft, unlawful possession or use of official documents, and acts of violence committed against persons or property at or near the border. We will take all appropriate steps to implement the provisions of the President’s executive orders, which support the Department’s efforts to disrupt and dismantle TCOs that are fortifying their illicit networks in the border region.

Moving forward, JTF-W, through its coordination and collaboration efforts, will support DHS Secretary Kelly’s vision for the Joint Task Forces to enhance counter-network operations directed at disrupting TCOs impacting the SWB. Our efforts will remain focused on human smuggling TCOs and illicit networks, while additionally targeting those involved in drug trafficking, currency smuggling, and other related cross-border crimes. Through integration, collaboration, and coordination efforts, JTF-W will prioritize efforts to disrupt and dismantle TCOs and illicit networks presenting the greatest risk to the Homeland.

JTF-W will continue to evaluate, refine, and institutionalize processes and procedures to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. We will expand investigative and operational reach by leveraging domestic and international partners to increase intelligence and information sharing and coordinate law enforcement actions beyond the SWB region. This same approach will be instrumental in enhancing domestic relationships with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to effectively share information and optimize enforcement actions against those illicit organizations that threaten the security of the SWB and its approaches. This whole of government approach will enable DHS and its partners to attack TCOs and illicit networks at their most vulnerable points, regardless of where they reside.

1 Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, January 25, 2017. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/executive-order-border-security-and-immigration-enforcement-improvements; and Executive Order 13773: Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking,https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/09/presidential-executive-order-enforcing-federal-law-respect-transnational
2 Memo: Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies. February 20, 2017. https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/17_0220_S1_Implementing-the-Presidents-Border-Security-Immigration-Enforcement-Improvement-Policies.pdf.

 

Conclusion

DHS is committed to mitigating the threats posed by TCOs operating along the SWB. With continued support from Congress, JTF-W will support Component efforts to disrupt and dismantle TCOs by improving the coordination and collaboration with all partners, foreign and domestic. The JTF-W counter-network strategy will expand the enforcement zone from point-of-origin to point-of-destination; including transit zones, the southern border, and the approaches, harnessing the collective capabilities of DHS and its partners through a Unity of Effort.

Chairwoman McSally, Ranking Member Vela, and distinguished Members of Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. As I mentioned earlier, DHS is embarking on a new era of joint operational planning and operations. TCOs recognize no borders or authorities. The only way to attack an enemy of this nature is to leverage the collective capabilities of DHS, partner agencies, and governments. JTF-W will continue to employ its counter-network strategy against TCOs and illicit networks to enhance the safety, security, and prosperity of the Homeland. I look forward to your questions.

Topics:  Information Sharing, International, Law Enforcement Partnerships Keywords:  Joint Task Force-West, JTF-W, Transnational Crime Organizations, TCO, southwest border, SWB

Written testimony of DHS JTF-East Director for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border & Maritime Security hearing titled “Defeating a Sophisticated and Dangerous Adversary: Are the New Border Security Task Forces the Right Approach?”

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: April 4, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Good morning Madam Chairwoman, Ranking Member Vela, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. It is a pleasure to be here today on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to discuss how Joint Task Force-East (JTF-E) – one of three Joint Task Forces established under the DHS Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan (SBACP) – is working to address the threats posed by Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) to the safety and security of the United States.

I assumed the duties as Director of Joint Task Force-East in August 2016 and look forward to continued strong partnership and collaboration with my counterparts, U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) Chief Paul Beeson, Director of the Joint Task Force-West; and Janice Ayala, Director of the Joint Task Force-Investigations, from U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

JTF-East Background

Before the creation of the DHS Joint Task Forces (JTFs), DHS agencies in the field regularly worked together to achieve significant enforcement results; however, these results frequently relied upon a network of informal personal relationships and overlapping agency priorities, versus a clear framework that directed regional efforts. The JTF construct formalizes operational processes between regional and national level DHS components, and establishes enduring functional relationships between DHS agencies. JTF-E’s organization provides a platform for operational continuity at the national level and optimizes a complex network of relationships with other non-DHS law enforcement and inter-agency partners.

Joint Task Forces were established to enhance unity of effort, build regional cooperation, and define operational priorities. The SBACP gave the JTFs a wide mandate to achieve effective enforcement and interdiction across land, sea and air domains; and to degrade TCOs while facilitating the flow of lawful trade, travel and commerce across borders. As the JTF-E Director, I thank the Committee for its role supporting the authorization that enabled the DHS Secretary to formally establish JTFs.

Today I am pleased to report, under the JTF construct, DHS components in the field are working in close collaboration to develop standard operational plans supporting regional operations to defeat these criminal networks. We leverage existing DHS facilities and capabilities to stand-up Joint Information Operations Centers to best coordinate information sharing and asset utilization. The enhanced coordination and sharing of resources and information is improving our ability to more comprehensively target and dismantle TCOs through a “whole of department/unity of effort” approach. While still nascent in our development at JTF-E, the benefits to DHS mission accomplishment are very promising.

JTF-E geographic responsibility includes the international waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the Eastern Pacific Ocean – southward to the north coast of South America, the airspace spanning U.S. territorial lands and waters; also, the international airspace in the approaches to Central America is shared with JTF-West.

My dual-hatted status as a member of the Armed Forces responsible for Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains, and as the JTF-E Director, positions me well to coordinate and collaborate across DHS agencies and with Department of Defense (DoD) Geographic Combatant Commands, including U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). This positioning enhances information sharing and assists in identifying DoD resources that could be requested to support DHS Component-led operations. JTF-E’s two Deputy Directors are Senior Executive Service (SES) representatives from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) - Air and Marine Operations; and ICE-HSI, with additional members from CBP’s Office of Field Operations and the USBP. The JTF-E staff of just over 40 detailees provide key touch points and experience essential to building relationships and processes crucial to JTF-E’s performance.

Current Status of JTF-East

JTF-E’s task is to lead the coordination of DHS component enforcement efforts to plan and implement enhanced counter-network operations directed at disrupting TCOs across its Joint Operating Area (JOA). Secretary Kelly has directed the JTFs to target individuals and organizations whose criminal conduct undermines border security or the integrity of the immigration system, including alien smuggling or trafficking, drug trafficking, illegal entry and reentry, visa fraud, identity theft, unlawful possession or use of official documents, and acts of violence committed against persons or property at or near the border. The broad responsibilitiesmake the JTFs distinct from other DHS task forces which have more specific functional roles .

Given the geographic size and complexity of our JOA, coordinating efforts among the hundreds of individual component operational entities with distinct missions, chains of command, responsibilities, and operating areas remains a challenge. JTF-E has focused its efforts on coordinating operations within our newly created Regional Integrating Groups (RIGs), beginning with the Eastern Caribbean RIG. JTF-E has also conducted initial planning meetings with the Central Caribbean and Gulf Coast RIGs.

The JTFs seek to harmonize DHS-wide operational priorities with the priorities of local front line component offices working at the tactical level. Through a repeatable, deliberate planning process that best aligns available resources against both regional and national department-level threats, JTF-E enhances enforcement at the field level.

For example, from November 10 to November 22, 2016, JTF-E, partnering with the Eastern Caribbean RIG, coordinated a push of resources to Puerto Rico in support of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group’s (CBIG) operation “Caribbean Guard,” a standing joint operation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that seeks to deter, disrupt, and dismantle TCOs. JTF-E and regional DHS leadership received and validated resource requests from ICE, CBP, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and other partners, and developed a consolidated, interagency resource request in order to reallocate resources stationed outside of Puerto Rico to meet the joint operational requirements. These resources included additional CBP aircraft, DoD linguist support, and a USCG Maritime Safety and Security Team operating out of the Virgin Islands. Additionally, JTF-E leveraged refined intelligence support from Joint Inter-Agency Task Force-South (JIATF-S). The collaborative effort enabled by JTF-E yielded 13 arrests, 70 migrants intercepted ashore and 18 migrants interdicted at sea, the seizure of more than 500 kilograms of cocaine and 28 kilograms of marijuana, over $77,000 in bulk cash, and two vessels. These actions also disrupted a nationally identified priority TCO. However, these numbers only partially capture the results of the integrated field operations.

Enhancing unity of effort in the pursuit of joint operational priorities is also a key goal of the JTF concepts. JTF-E improves synchronization of cross-component capabilities that provide timely, actionable, fused “all-source” intelligence. Additionally, JTF-E intelligence efforts fill in the intelligence gaps between the maritime and land domains, while also leveraging cross-component personnel to cultivate a comprehensive perspective on emerging threats. Our most recent example includes JTF-E compiling and coordinating existing intelligence prepared by CBP, ICE, USCG, USSOUTHCOM, JIATF-S, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and others, in order to produce an all-inclusive threat overview, termed a Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Operating Environment (JIPOE).

To thwart illegal maritime migration, the recently developed DHS Maritime Migration Contingency Plan identifies JTF-E as the Secretary’s single touch-point in the event of increased or mass maritime migration. JTF-E’s recently clarified roles will enable the Secretary to receive consolidated information and make validated requests for assistance to DoD, thus allowing for more rapid decision making and analysis. JTF-E recently exercised this role in a large scale multi-week USSOUTHCOM exercise and implemented it during the recent termination of the wet-foot/dry-foot policy affecting Cuban maritime migration.

Future JTF-East Engagements

In addition to our responsibility to coordinate within our department, JTF-E supports DHS’s aggressive efforts to counter TCOs at the earliest possible points in their supply chains via increased collaboration with our partners in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. JTF-E leads the Western Hemisphere Illicit Pathways Initiative (WHIP), promoting information sharing and collaboration with our partner nations to fight against TCOs in Central America and Special Interest Aliens transiting through Central America and the Caribbean. Through collaboration with DoD’s Combating Terrorism and Technical Support Office, JTF-E continues to explore technology solutions that enable the law enforcement missions of U.S. and international partners, while illuminating illicit pathways throughout the Western Hemisphere.

JTF-E is actively working with the Eastern Caribbean RIG, the Central Caribbean RIG and the Gulf Coast RIG to facilitate additional near term joint operations. These efforts will build upon the lessons learned from prior joint operations supporting regional DHS components, as well as enhanced collaboration across departmental and interagency lines. Enhanced intelligence sharing and informational analysis will also be incorporated as interagency law enforcement coordination is improved and future operational processes are further refined.

Conclusion

The JTFs are new and reside in a department with a short fourteen-year history that is responsible for the critical and complex task of securing our homeland and our borders. JTF East, JTF West, and JTF Investigations operate collaboratively to unify operations on a daily basis to achieve the objective of the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan. All three Task Forces are enhancing unity of effort, building regional cooperation, and are more clearly defining operational priorities. Continued progress on these fronts is instrumental to defeating TCOs and making America safer. TCOs are adaptive and resilient, investing a significant amount of resources and time in adjusting tactics to subvert our efforts. Combating TCOs will continue to be a priority for the JTFs, as they play a key role in our layered border security strategy. As JTFs mature, they will continue to strengthen cooperation within DHS and improve coordination both internationally and across the whole of government enterprise.

Topics:  Information Sharing, Law Enforcement Partnerships Keywords:  Joint Task Force-East, JTF-E, transnational criminal organizations, TCO, Southern Border and Approaches Campaign

Written testimony of DHS JTF-Investigations Director for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border & Maritime Security hearing titled “Defeating a Sophisticated and Dangerous Adversary: Are the New Border Security Task Forces the Right Approach?”

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: April 4, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairman McSally, Ranking Member Vela, and distinguished members:

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) solutions to threats posed by Drug Cartels and Smugglers, and the efforts of the DHS Joint Task Forces (JTFs). As a Senior Executive of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the primary criminal investigators of DHS, I serve as Director of Joint Task Force – Investigations (JTF-I). ICE has been designated as the executive agent of JTF-I.

Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the Department’s new Unity of Effort Initiative in April of 2014. On May 8, 2014, former Secretary Johnson announced and directed our Department-wide Southern Border and Approaches Campaign (SBAC) Plan. The SBAC is part of a comprehensive security strategy designed to unify efforts across DHS components to address threats specifically associated with terrorism, illicit market-driven flows, and illegal migration across our Southern Border and Approaches. In furtherance of the Department-wide SBAC, former Secretary Johnson commissioned three pilot Joint Task Forces (JTFs) on November 20, 2014. The three Joint Task Forces, JTF-I, JTF-East (JTF-E), and JTF-West (JTF-W), are responsible for establishing operational priorities and synchronizing capabilities in order to achieve SBAC objectives.

Two of the JTFs, JTF East (JTF-E) and JTF West (JTF-W), are geographically focused task forces that concentrate on the southern land and maritime borders of the United States and the approaches to our border—all the way to Central and South America. As a “functional” task force, JTF-I was established to improve the investigative functions within the Department in furtherance of the SBAC Plan. JTF-I uses a Department-wide process that prioritizes and integrates support for criminal investigations along the U.S. Southern Border and Approaches to mitigate the risk of terrorism, dismantle transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), prevent their reconstitution, and reduce illicit flows.

JTF-I operates within the diverse mission space of the SBAC. JTF-I’s ability to facilitate cross-cutting partnerships between components with overlapping mission responsibilities allows the SBAC to operate with a higher level of cooperation, transparency, and effectiveness. By consolidating resources and refining duplicative efforts, the JTF-I leverages unique domestic and international authorities that are integral to the elimination of targeted TCOs. JTF-I’s coordination has led to the successful disruption of several smuggling networks, which I describe in detail below.

We leverage HSI’s broad authority, unique investigative tools, and global footprint to secure our borders, working in close coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Joint Task Forces East and West, and many other domestic and international law enforcement and customs partners to target TCOs. Today, I will provide JTF-I’s perspective on the solutions to the sophisticated smuggling threats that we face on our Southwest Border, the approaches that lead up to our border, and some of what we do to address TCOs and their smuggling activities before contraband arrives at our borders, and even in the interior of the United States.

The Cartels along the Southwest Border

The primary TCOs that threaten the Southwest Border of the United States are Mexican Drug Cartels (the Cartels). Over the last decade, the United States, working with our Mexican law enforcement and military counterparts, has had sustained success in attacking Cartel leaders, as evidenced by the recent extradition of Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka “El Chapo”, to face prosecution in the United States. However, every law enforcement success against the Cartels is countered by the fact that the Cartels are highly networked organizations with built-in redundancies that adapt on a daily basis based on their intelligence of U.S. border security and law enforcement.

While drug smuggling remains the focal point for media and community interest, the threat and crimes associated with human smuggling are prevalent and very much real. Based on investigatory evidence and collected intelligence, we observe that human smuggling enterprises and the Cartels maintain a symbiotic relationship with each other. Certain members of these criminal enterprises control the major U.S. and foreign drug markets and others control the smuggling flow across certain geographic areas of the border on behalf of their cartel. Some/Most Human Smugglers are required to pay taxes and fees to Cartels for access to smuggling routes through specific geographic areas and are subject to physical violence and/or death if proper coordination and compensation are not rendered. In addition, failed coordination between the Cartels and human smuggling enterprises greatly increases the risk of unwanted law enforcement attention and investigative efforts.

The Cartels move illicit proceeds, hide assets, and conduct transactions globally. Among the various methods Cartels use to transfer and launder their illicit proceeds are bulk cash smuggling, trade-based money laundering, funnel accounts, professional money launderers, and the misuse of Money Service Businesses (MSB) and emerging payment systems. The Cartels exploit vulnerabilities in both the U.S. and Mexican financial system and conduct layered financial transactions to circumvent regulatory scrutiny, which presents difficulties for authorities attempting to distinguish between licit and illicit use of the financial system. The U.S. government has refined our ability to target money laundering and financial violations through various techniques, to include interagency investigations, training and capacity-building, targeted financial sanctions, and direct engagement with at-risk financial institutions and jurisdictions.

U.S. Anti-Money Laundering laws and regulations impose customer identification, recordkeeping, and reporting obligations on covered financial institutions that help deter criminals from moving illicit proceeds through the financial system. These preventive measures also create valuable evidentiary trails for law enforcement to employ during an investigation. As such, HSI has an abundance of investigative tools in our arsenal to disrupt and dismantle Cartel money laundering operations as well as to discourage new actors from engaging in illicit activity.

Smuggling Trends along the Southwest Border

The Southwest Border is a diverse environment, including maritime borders in both the Gulf of Mexico and on the Pacific Ocean that transition to vast land border areas that include rivers, rural agricultural lands, and densely populated urban areas along the nearly 2,000 miles of our southern border. In response to these vastly different areas, the Cartels adapt their methods and cargo to the smuggling environment.

Mexico is a major source and transit country for illicit drugs destined for the United States. It is a primary source of marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin, and a key transit area for cocaine.

As a result of Mexico’s dominant role as either a source or transit point for illicit drugs destined for the United States, it has also become a primary destination for the illicit proceeds that the Cartels earn from their distribution networks in the United States. Mexican Cartels use a variety of techniques to repatriate illicit proceeds, from bulk cash smuggling to sophisticated trade-based money laundering schemes. Many of the more complex techniques rely on third party money launderers and corrupt individuals at financial institutions.

Attacking the TCOs

To investigate TCOs impacting Southwest Border security, ICE has assigned more than 1,500 special agents and almost 150 intelligence research specialists to Southwest Border offices, to include the Border Enforcement Security Task Forces (BESTs), which provide a comprehensive regional response to the growing threat to border security, public safety, and national security. This includes border security at land, maritime, and international airports. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, ICE drug smuggling investigations conducted by the five HSI Special Agent in Charge offices along the Southwest border resulted in 5,659 criminal arrests, 3,941 indictments, 3,383 convictions, and 330 administrative immigration arrests.

JTF-I prioritizes these and other DHS Component investigations, to best focus on an integrated approach transcending border centric activities, into broad counter network operations. These networks are comprised of international, border, and domestic elements conspiring together that require a multitude of investigations from a variety of offices.

In addition to leveraging domestic assets, we work closely with Attaché personnel deployed to 66 offices in 49 countries that are uniquely positioned to utilize established relationships with host country law enforcement, to include the engagement of Transnational Criminal Investigative Units (TCIUs). These TCIUs are composed of DHS-trained host country counterparts who have the authority to investigate and enforce violations of law in their respective countries. Since our law enforcement officers working overseas do not possess general law enforcement or investigative authority in most host countries, the use of these TCIUs enables ICE to promote direct action in its investigative leads while respecting the sovereignty of the host country and cultivating international partnerships. These efforts, often thousands of miles from the U.S.-Mexico border in countries like Colombia and Panama, essentially act as an outer layer of security for our Southwest Border.

Mexico has proven to be an outstanding partner in the fight against TCOs, taking down the Cartels’ top leadership and working to dismantle these organizations. ICE’s Attaché Office in Mexico City is the largest ICE presence outside of the United States and has coordinated the establishment of TCIUs in Mexico comprised of Mexican law enforcement officers. ICE Attaché personnel work daily with Mexican authorities to combat these transnational threats. Additionally, ICE—along with other DHS Components—actively works through the Department of State to provide training and technical assistance to our Mexican counterparts. The spirit of collaboration and joint effort between DHS Components and our counterparts in Mexico is unprecedented.

JTF-I is responsible for enhancing and integrating criminal investigations in support of the operational priorities of JTF-East, JTF-West, the Components, and DHS Headquarters. To accomplish this, JTF-I manages the DHS-wide nomination and selection process for Homeland Criminal Organization Targets (HOMECORTs), the top transnational criminal networks impacting homeland security, and then coordinates the dozens of investigations and operations targeting each HOMECORT.

HOMECORT consists of three parts. The first is a nomination and selection process for prioritizing the top transnational criminal networks that are threatening homeland security based on the specific threats prioritized and described in JTF-E and JTF-W operational priorities. The second is the development of comprehensive knowledge about the criminal network (hierarchy, associations, activities, etc.), which is called Comprehensive Criminal Network Analysis (CCNA). The third is National Case Coordination, a term used to describe centralized management and support of complex and priority investigations of entire criminal networks that cross jurisdictions, programs, and interagency and international boundaries. The ultimate goal of a HOMECORT investigation is the complete dismantlement of the criminal network that is the subject of the investigation. Dismantlement is defined as destroying the target organization’s leadership, network, and financial base to the point that the organization is incapable of reconstituting itself.

HOMECORT criminal networks typically cross international boundaries, prosecutorial jurisdictions, agency missions, programs, and operations areas; and, as a result, are linked to scores of U.S. and foreign partner investigations, operations, prosecutions, seizures, and apprehensions. HOMECORT cases are the most serious and complex criminal investigations conducted by the federal government, as they typically involve all functions of federal policing and governance including investigations, patrol, inspections, immigration, citizenship, finance, justice, public integrity, public health and safety, trade, and diplomacy.

JTF-I consists of over 60 interagency investigators, analysts, and operators, primarily from ICE, CBP, and Coast Guard, located in ICE headquarters and embedded in National Capital Regional Centers. As members of an ICE HSI-led Task Force, these detailees have full access to Investigative Case Management systems, analytical tools, and other unique and useful investigative information that they typically would not have at their own agency. JTF-I staff provides over 3,500 hours of monthly analytical support to HOMECORT investigations and SBAC and JTF priorities while developing and improving best practices related to joint investigations, analysis, and targeting.

By filling a gap in the coordination of national level cases and leveraging the broad knowledge, skills and capabilities of its interagency detailees, JTF-I achieved significant successes disrupting several transnational criminal networks (involving hundreds of criminal investigations) that threatened homeland security. Equally important, JTF-I coordination has helped overcome many of the obstacles to information sharing, investigative integration with operational forces, tactical cueing, and intelligence support that previously plagued other task forces, interagency initiatives, and national programs.

Over the last twenty months, JTF-I coordinated and supported the targeting of 14 HOMECORT criminal networks, comprised of several hundred individual criminal investigations. Presently, 11 of these 14 criminal networks have been dismantled to the point they no longer threaten homeland security. The eleven networks include human smugglers, sex traffickers, drug smugglers, money launderers, bulk cash smugglers, weapons smugglers, and smugglers of special interest aliens. The three other HOMECORT criminal networks continue to be the targets of active criminal investigations. Efforts against current and future HOMECORT criminal networks will be enhanced by Executive Order 13773, Enforcing Federal law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking (the EO). Among other things, the EO directs the entire executive branch to strengthen its enforcement of Federal law to thwart TCOs, prioritize and dedicate sufficient resources to disable and dismantle TCOs, develop strategies to counter the crimes committed by TCOs, and otherwise pursue and support efforts to defeat TCOs. Solidifying HOMECORT as the DHS-wide process for identifying and prioritizing the top criminal networks impacting homeland security will help to fulfill all of these objectives. The EO also directs DHS to use HOMECORT to identify and describe homeland security threats to the National Security Council’s Threat Mitigation Working Group. And, the EO supports further JTF-I engagement with foreign partners to build investigative capacities through operations such as HSI’s CITADEL, an investigative surge operation to identify, disrupt and dismantle Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs), Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) and terrorist networks by targeting the mechanisms they use to move people, illicit funds, and contraband through the Central America (CENTAM) corridor. CITADEL integrates each of the JTF-I HOMECORT cases and associated targets with International Operations, as well as other HSI priority cases. Specifically, CITADEL focuses on leveraging HSI and Partner Nation (PN) authorities and subject matter expertise to dismantle priority TCO targets involved in human and bulk cash smuggling, as well as narcotics smuggling. .

Conclusion

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of DHS and its mission. JTF-I is committed to stemming cross-border criminal organizations through the various efforts I have discussed today. I appreciate your interest in these important issues.

I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Topics:  International, Law Enforcement Partnerships Keywords:  JTF-I, Joint Task Force Investigations, Homeland Security investigations, HSI, Transnational Crime Organizations, TCO, southwest border, TCIU, Transnational Criminal Investigative Units

Readout On Secretary Kelly’s Meeting With Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez And President Of The Legislative Assembly Guillermo Galleos

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 20:12
Release Date: April 3, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON - Today, Secretary John F. Kelly met with Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez and President of the Legislative Assembly Guillermo Gallegos to discuss migration and security issues in El Salvador.

During the meeting, Secretary Kelly received updates on Salvadoran migration and security priorities, with Foreign Minister Martinez stressing the work his government has undertaken to reduce violence and diminish other factors that often lead Salvadorans to choose to leave their country.  Secretary Kelly highlighted his concern for the safety of migrants who transit the region and illegally try to enter the United States, asking the Salvadoran officials to help reduce illegal migration by expanding messaging campaigns.

Finally, Minister Martinez and President of the Legislative Assembly Gallegos emphasized their country’s efforts to expand repatriation and reintegration programs, so Salvadorans returning from the United States can receive government services and other support.

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Topics:  International Keywords:  international, International partnerships

Putting American Workers First: USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse Agency Creates Avenue for American Workers to Report Abuse

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 13:54
Release Date: April 3, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced multiple measures to further deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse. The H-1B visa program should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country. Yet, too many American workers who are as qualified, willing and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged. Protecting American workers by combating fraud in our employment-based immigration programs is a priority for USCIS.

Beginning today, USCIS will take a more targeted approach when making site visits across the country to H-1B petitioners and the worksites of H-1B employees. USCIS will focus on:

  • Cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data;
  • H-1B-dependent employers (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers, as defined by statute); and 
  • Employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization’s location.

Targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur, and determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers. USCIS will continue random and unannounced visits nationwide. These site visits are not meant to target nonimmigrant employees for any kind of criminal or administrative action but rather to identify employers who are abusing the system. 

Employers who abuse the H-1B visa program negatively affect U.S. workers, decreasing wages and job opportunities as they import more foreign workers. To further deter and detect abuse, USCIS has established an email address which will allow individuals (including both American workers and H-1B workers who suspect they or others may be the victim of H-1B fraud or abuse) to submit tips, alleged violations and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse. Information submitted to the email address will be used for investigations and referrals to law enforcement agencies for potential prosecution.

Since 2009, USCIS has conducted random administrative site visits to ensure employers and foreign workers are complying with requirements of the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. USCIS refers many cases of suspected fraud or abuse to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further investigation.

Additionally, individuals can report allegations of employer fraud or abuse by submitting Form WH-4 to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division or by completing ICE’s HSI Tip Form.

For more information about the new H-1B visa fraud and abuse detection initiative, visit the Combating Fraud and Abuse in the H-1B Visa Program web page. For information about H-1B petition requirements, visit the USCIS H-1B webpage. For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook(/uscis) and Instagram (@USCIS).

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Topics:  Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  H visa, Visa, fraud

Q&A: Establishing Enhanced Collection and Enforcement of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties and Violations of Trade and Customs Laws

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 15:40
Release Date: March 31, 2017Enforcement for Trade and Suspected Customs Law Violations Q1.  What is Voluntary Abandonment/Methods other than Seizure?

A1.  When a suspected intellectual property rights violation has been detected, there are various options available to the importers of record (IORs).  The IOR is an entity or individual, who is responsible for ensuring that legal goods are imported in accordance with the law.  One option is for the IOR to voluntarily abandon the goods, as defined in section 127.12 of title 19, Code of Federal Regulations, prior to seizure, rather than having the goods proceed through the formal seizure process.  Once an IOR has elected to abandon its goods, the goods may be destroyed.    

Q2.  How do I know there is a suspected violation with my goods?

A2.  CBP will send a detention notice to the IOR, or in the express environment, the carrier sends the notice to the consignee, to notify the IOR of the suspected violation.  The detention notice provides three options: 1) offer documentation evidencing authenticity; 2) consent to voluntarily abandon; or 3) provide no response, at which point CBP proceeds with the voluntary abandonment process.

Q3.  What information can CBP share with rights holders because of the new Executive Order?

A3.  The order highlights CBP’s ability to amend regulations to effectuate the sharing of information.  Regulatory amendments that expand the disclosure of information will enable CBP to share with rights holders information pertinent to the imported goods that have been voluntarily abandoned.

Antidumping and Countervailing Duties Q1. What are antidumping and countervailing duties?

A1.  Antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) are additional duties determined by the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) which offset unfair low prices and foreign government subsidies on certain imported goods.  AD/CVD duties level the playing field and provide fair competition for U.S. industry.

CBP carries out Commerce’s instructions to collect AD/CVD on specified imported products.

Q2. How much AD/CVD does CBP collect on imported goods?

A2. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, $14 billion of imported goods were subject to AD/CVD, and CBP collected $1.5 billion in AD/CVD cash deposits. CBP’s collection of AD/CVD cash deposits increased over 25 percent since FY 2015 and by almost 200 percent since FY 2014. As of the end of FY 2016, $2.8 billion of AD/CVD duties were owed to the U.S. government for imports going back to 2001.

Q3. What type of products are subject to AD/CVD?

A3. There are 376 AD/CVD Orders covering steel, agricultural, chemical, consumer, machinery, and other manufactured goods imported from 40 trading partners. AD/CVD Orders predominantly cover goods imported from China (141 AD/CVD Orders in total) and/or steel mill and pipe products (140 AD/CVD Orders).

Q4. How much AD/CVD duties are owed to the U.S. government?

A4. As of the end of FY 2016, $2.8 billion of AD/CVD duties were owed to the U.S. government for imports going back to 2001.

Q5. What is CBP doing to collect AD/CVD?

A5.  CBP actively pursues collection of AD/CVD duties from importers and sureties (companies which underwrite bonds on all imported goods).  CBP uses all of its legal authority, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice, to collect AD/CVD duties from importers and sureties.  CBP is currently pursuing and defending the collection of over $400 million of AD/CVD in the courts.  CBP takes all actions available to collect the revenue that is owed. 

Q6. Why is it so difficult to collect AD/CVD duties?

A6. CBP collects estimated cash deposits of AD/CVD duties upon importation of the goods. Commerce determines the final AD/CVD duties on these same imports at a later date (two to three years later on average), and instructs CBP to collect the final AD/CVD duties. 

CBP actively works to collect all AD/CVD due to the U.S. government.  By the time Commerce determines the final AD/CVD duties and CBP issues bills for these duties, some importers are unwilling or unable to pay increases in final AD/CVD duties.  For example, some importers are no longer in business or do not have any viable assets when CBP issues bills and attempts to collect final AD/CVD duties.

Bonds Q1. What is a bond?

A1.  All parties that import merchandise into the United States for commercial purposes or transport imported merchandise through the United States must have a CBP bond.  A CBP bond is a contract that is given to CBP to insure the performance of an obligation or obligations imposed by law or regulation.  A bond is like an insurance policy that guarantees payment to CBP if a required act is not performed (such as where duties are not paid to CBP). 

Q2. How are bond amounts determined?

A2. The two basic types of bonds are discussed below:

Continuous Transaction Bond

Most importers have continuous bonds, which generally cover all imports for each importer for a year.  All Continuous Transaction Bond amounts are set by CBP’s Revenue Division in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Please see the Monetary Guidelines For Setting Bond Amounts on the CBP website at https://www.cbp.gov/document/directives/3510-004-monetary-guidelines-set....

The current minimum bond amount for continuous bonds is generally $50,000.  For importers, the minimum continuous bond amount is $50,000 or 10 percent of the total taxes and fees paid in the previous 12-month period, whichever is greater. 

Single Transaction Bond

Single Entry Bond amounts, which cover a single transaction (such as an importation), are set by the port director who accepts the bond. A bond is required when the value of the shipment is greater than $2,500 (formal entry) but may be requested by CBP on other occasions as deemed necessary.  The bond amount for a single entry bond generally is not less than the total entered value plus all duties, taxes, and fees.  If merchandise is subject to other federal agency requirements or is restricted merchandise, the bond amount set is not less than three times the total entered value of the merchandise.

Q3. Why aren’t bonds always sufficient to cover final AD/CVD?

A3. It is impossible to predict what the final AD/CVD liability for entries will be when Commerce issues final liquidation instructions.  This leads to instances where importers are unable or unwilling to pay CBP for merchandise that was imported several years previously and also leaves CBP without adequate bond coverage to cover the increased duties.  For example, when the estimated cash deposit rate of antidumping duties is 22 percent and the final antidumping duty rate is 212 percent, CBP usually would not have enough bond coverage to cover this significant increase.  CBP is in the process of developing an implementation plan to provide increased security through bonding for final AD/CVD duties.

Topics:  Border Security, Economic Security, Trade Keywords:  Border Security, Customs, Customs and Border Protection, trade, Executive Order, Economy

Fact Sheet: Establishing Enhanced Collection and Enforcement of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties and Violations of Trade and Customs Laws

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 14:39
Release Date: March 31, 2017

The Executive Order signed on March 31, 2017, promotes the efficient and effective administration of U.S. customs and trade laws by establishing enhanced measures to collect duties and a heightened enforcement posture for addressing trade violations that threaten the safety and economic security of the United States.

The United States must ensure a level playing field for U.S. industries and to protect against unfair competition and practices from foreign governments when importing goods.  To do this, the United States imposes additional duties, called antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD), determined by the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce), on certain imported goods to offset unfair low prices and foreign government subsidies.  The United States also imposes appropriate bonding requirements on entries of articles subject to AD/CVD when necessary to protect the revenue of the United States.  However, the evasion of AD/CVD on imports into the United States and other trade violations may cause U.S. industries to suffer from unfair import competition and deprive the U.S. government of revenue.  

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, $14 billion of imported goods were subject to AD/CVD, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) collected $1.5 billion in AD/CVD cash deposits.  CBP’s collection of AD/CVD cash deposits increased over 25 percent since FY 2015 and by almost 200 percent since FY 2014.  As of the end of FY 2016, $2.8 billion of AD/CVD duties were owed to the U.S. government for imports going back to 2001.

The executive order aligns with CBP’s operational approach to combating U.S. trade violations by detecting, deterring, and disrupting illicit trade practices, and by enhancing U.S. economic competitiveness and security. 

Authorities

The Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, 19 U.S.C. 1202 et seq., and the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, 19 U.S.C. 4301 et seq., promote the efficient and effective administration of the United States’ international trade laws.

Actions

CBP is leading the Department’s efforts to implement the provisions set forth in the Executive Order, in consultation with Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Commerce, and the United States Trade Representative. 

CBP is currently reviewing the specific requests outlined in the Executive Order, and developing the plans requested.      Within 90 days, CBP will develop implementation plans to provide security for AD/CVD liability through bonds.  In addition, within 90 days, CBP will develop a strategy and implementation plan for enabling the interdiction and disposal of violative goods, with the ability to share information regarding merchandise voluntarily abandoned with intellectual property rights holders.   

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Topics:  Border Security, Economic Security, Trade Keywords:  Border Security, Customs, Customs and Border Protection, trade, Executive Order, Economy

CBP to Implement Executive Order: Establishing Enhanced Collection and Enforcement of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties and Violations of Trade and Customs Laws

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 12:36
Release Date: March 31, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin to implement the Executive Order “Establishing Enhanced Collection and Enforcement of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties and Violations of Trade and Customs Laws.” The Executive Order, signed today, promotes the efficient and effective administration of U.S. customs and trade laws by establishing enhanced measures to collect duties and a heightened enforcement posture for trade violations that threaten the safety and economic security of the United States.

“The men and women of CBP are committed to enforcing the trade laws of the United States to defend the economic competitiveness of domestic industries against unfair trade practices and dangerous counterfeits that could harm consumers,” said Acting Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan. “This Executive Order gives CBP and our partners at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement important and powerful new tools to further level the playing field for critical U.S. industries.”

The Executive Order authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Commissioner of CBP to:

  • Develop implementation plans within 90 days to require importers who CBP has determined pose a risk to the revenue of the United States to provide security for antidumping and countervailing-duty liability through bonds;
  • Develop and implement a strategy and plan for enabling interdiction and disposal of inadmissible goods, including through methods other than seizure.

Additionally, the Executive Order enhances CBP’s authorization to share with rights holders information to determine Intellectual Property Rights infringements or violations, and information regarding merchandise voluntarily abandoned that violates trade laws. The Order also directs the Attorney General to develop prosecution practices and allocate resources to treat significant trade law violations as a high priority.

CBP will lead the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to implement the provisions set forth in the Executive Order, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Commerce, and the United States Trade Representative.

The Executive Order aligns with CBP’s operational approach to enhance U.S. economic competitiveness and security by combating U.S. trade violations through detection, determent and disruption of illicit trade practices.

On a typical day, CBP screens more than 74,000 truck, rail, and sea cargo containers at 328 U.S. ports of entry—with imported goods worth approximately $6.3 billion. In Fiscal Year 2016, CBP seized more than 31,500 of counterfeit shipments and collected more $40 billion in duties, taxes, and fees, making CBP the U.S. government’s second largest source of revenue.

For additional information on the Executive Order, visit www.dhs.gov/executiveorders.

Related Materials:

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Topics:  Border Security, Cargo, DHS Enterprise, Maritime, Trade Keywords:  trade, cbp, Border Security, dhs, department of homeland security, Executive Order

Written testimony of NPPD for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection hearing titled “The Current State of DHS’ Efforts to Secure Federal Networks”

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: March 28, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairman Ratcliffe, Ranking Member Richmond, and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. Cybersecurity remains one of the most significant strategic risks to the United States. The past several years have seen a steady drumbeat of cybersecurity compromises affecting the Federal Government, state and local governments, and the private sector. Working with Congress, we have focused on a range of actions to confront this evolving challenge. By bringing together all levels of government, the private sector, international partners, and the public, we are taking action to protect against cybersecurity risks, improve our whole-of-government incident response capabilities, enhance sharing of information on best practices and cyber threats, and strengthen resilience. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), leads the federal government’s efforts to secure our Nation’s critical infrastructure and protect federal civilian networks from malicious cyber activity.

Over the past few years, the federal government has made significant progress in improving agency cybersecurity, establishing a common baseline of protection, and codifying roles and responsibilities to effectively manage cybersecurity risks and incidents. Through engagements with state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLLT) governments, and the private sector, we have provided technical assistance upon request and expanded information sharing capabilities to improve situational awareness of threats, vulnerabilities, incidents, mitigation, and recovery actions. Today, I will discuss the roles of NPPD in protecting the federal civilian executive branch networks.

Under the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA), agencies have primary responsibility for their own cybersecurity, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) generally develops and oversees agency implementation of information security policies and practices, and DHS administers the implementation of those policies and practices. As part of securing their own systems, agencies must comply with OMB policies, DHS directives, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards and guidelines. DHS, pursuant to its various authorities, provides a common set of security tools across the civilian executive branch and helps agencies manage their cyber risk. NPPD’s assistance to agencies includes (1) providing tools to safeguard civilian executive branch networks through the National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS), which includes EINSTEIN, and Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) programs, (2) measuring and motivating agencies to implement policies, directives, standards, and guidelines, (3) serving as a hub for information sharing and incident reporting, and (4) providing operational and technical assistance, including threat information dissemination and risk and vulnerability assessments, as well as incident response services. DHS’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) is the civilian government’s hub for cybersecurity information sharing, asset incident response, and coordination.

EINSTEIN

EINSTEIN refers to the suite of intrusion detection and prevention capabilities that protects agencies’ unclassified networks at the perimeter of each agency. EINSTEIN provides situational awareness of civilian executive branch network traffic, so threats detected at one agency are shared with all others providing agencies with information and capabilities to more effectively manage their cyber risk. The U.S. Government could not achieve such situational awareness through individual agency efforts alone.

The first two phases of EINSTEIN – EINSTEIN 1 and 2 – allow DHS to identify potentially malicious activity and to conduct critical analysis after an incident occurs, as well as to detect known malicious traffic. In 2015, DHS estimated these capabilities screened over 90 percent of all federal civilian Internet traffic. On a typical day, EINSTEIN 2 intrusion detection sensors generate approximately 30,000 alerts about potential malicious cyber activity. These alerts are evaluated by DHS cybersecurity analysts to determine whether the alert represents an active threat and potential compromise, and if further mitigation or remediation is needed.

EINSTEIN 3 Accelerated (EINSTEIN 3A) is the intrusion prevention capability, which blocks known malicious traffic. Intrusion prevention is provided as a service by Internet service providers (ISPs) serving the federal government. The initial implementation of EINSTEIN 3A involves two intrusion prevention security services by the ISPs: domain name server (DNS) sinkholing and email filtering. DHS is working with the ISPs to add further protections. EINSTEIN 1 and 2 use only unclassified cyber threat indicators, while EINSTEIN 3A uses unclassified and classified indicators. These signature-based capabilities use indicators of compromise to detect and block known malicious traffic.

In the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, Congress directed each executive branch civilian agency to apply available EINSTEIN protections to all information traveling to or from an agency information system by December 18, 2016. Agencies have made significant progress in implementing available EINSTEIN protections. Prior to passage of the Act, EINSTEIN 3A covered approximately 38 percent of federal civilian users. Today, EINSTEIN 3A is protecting a significant percentage of the executive branch civilian workforce at the 23 largest agencies and most agencies have at least one of its two intrusion prevention capabilities. DHS continues to work with all remaining federal civilian agencies to facilitate their full participation in EINSTEIN. At the same time, our NCPS program is also developing new capabilities and conducting a strategic review of the program architecture that will provide even more protections for federal agencies.

Today, EINSTEIN is a signature-based intrusion detection and prevention capability that takes action on known malicious activity. Leveraging existing investments in the ISP infrastructure, our non-signature based pilot efforts to move beyond current reliance on signatures are yielding positive results in the discovery of previously unidentified malicious activity. DHS is demonstrating the ability to capture data that can be rapidly analyzed for anomalous activity using technologies from commercial, government, and open sources. The pilot efforts are also defining the future operational needs for tactics, techniques, and procedures as well as the skill sets and personnel required to operationalize the non-signature based approach to cybersecurity.

SLTT governments are able to access intrusion detection and analysis services through the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC). MS-ISAC’s service, called Albert, closely resembles EINSTEIN 2. While the current version of Albert cannot actively block known cyber threats, it can alert cybersecurity officials to an issue for further investigation. DHS worked closely with MS-ISAC to develop the program and considers MS-ISAC to be the principal conduit for sharing cybersecurity information with state governments.

Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM)

EINSTEIN, our tool to address perimeter security will not block every threat; therefore, it must be complemented with systems and tools working inside agency networks—as effective cybersecurity risk management requires a defense in depth strategy that cannot be achieved through only one type of tool. CDM provides cybersecurity tools and integration services to all participating agencies to enable them to improve their respective security postures by reducing the attack surface of their networks as well as providing DHS with enterprise-wide visibility through a common federal dashboard. CDM is divided into four phases:

  • CDM Phase 1 identifies all computers and software on agency networks and checks for known vulnerabilities.
  • CDM Phase 2 allows agencies to better manage identities, accounts, and privileges for the people and services using their networks.
  • CDM Phase 3 will assess activity happening on agencies’ networks to identify anomalies and alert security personnel.
  • CDM Phase 4 will protect sensitive and high value data within agency networks.

Significant progress has been made in the deployment of CDM. DHS has assessed the needs of the executive branch civilian agencies and has completed the purchasing of most CDM Phase 1 tools. Agencies are now installing the tools across their networks, including six agencies that have fully deployed all Phase 1 tools as well as the agency dashboards, which give network administrators visibility into the current state of their networks to better identify and prioritize areas of cyber risk. DHS has also awarded two CDM Phase 2 contracts, focusing on strong authentication for administrative users as well as general users, making the associated tools available to all participating agencies.

This summer, CDM will begin supplementing the existing CDM agency dashboards by introducing the federal CDM Dashboard, which will provide the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) with greater insight into the federal enterprise cybersecurity posture. The summary data available at the federal level presents a view of the relative risk and network health across the federal government to inform policy decisions and operational guidance, provide timely reporting for addressing critical issues affecting multiple agencies, and enable cost-effective and efficient FISMA reporting.

CDM will help us achieve two major advances for federal cybersecurity. First, agencies will have visibility, often for the first time, into the extent of cybersecurity risks across their entire network and gain the ability to prioritize identified issues based upon their relative importance. Second, the NCCIC will be able to identify systemic risks across the civilian executive branch. An example is illustrative. Currently, when a vendor announces a major vulnerability, the NCCIC tracks government-wide progress in implementing critical patches via agency self-reporting and manual data calls. CDM will allow the NCCIC to immediately view the prevalence of a given device or software type across the federal government so that the NCCIC can provide agencies with timely guidance on their risk exposure. Effective cybersecurity requires a robust measurement regime, and robust measurement requires valid and timely data. CDM will provide this baseline of cybersecurity risk data to drive improvement across the civilian executive branch.

CDM tools are currently available through blanket purchase agreement negotiated by the General Services Administration on DHS’s behalf. This agreement leverages the government-wide volume to provide the best value and cost savings to the Federal Government. For example, by grouping agency requirements in Phases 1 and 2, we have saved the federal government millions of dollars on product purchases. Many SLTT governments are also able to purchase tools from this purchase agreement. By purchasing commercial CDM tools, SLTT governments can take advantage of bulk purchasing cost savings and invest those savings in their own cybersecurity resilience.

Measuring and Motivating Agencies to Improve Cybersecurity

DHS conducts a number of activities to measure agencies’ cybersecurity practices and work with agencies to improve risk management practices.

The Cybersecurity Framework, is voluntary guidance, based on existing standards, guidelines, and practices to help organizations better manage and reduce cybersecurity risk and was developed by NIST through collaboration with diverse parts of industry, academia, and government, including DHS. TDHS promotes the use of NIST standards, guidelines, minimum information security requirements, including the Cybersecurity Framework.

FISMA provided the Secretary of Homeland Security with the authority to develop and oversee implementation of binding operational directives to agencies. In 2016, the Secretary issued a binding operational directive on securing high value assets (HVA), or those assets, federal information systems, information, and data for which unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction could cause a significant impact to the United States’ national security interests, foreign relations, economy, or to the public confidence, civil liberties, or public health and safety of the American people. DHS works with several interagency partners to prioritize HVAs for assessment and remediation activities across the federal government. For instance, DHS conducts security architecture reviews on these HVAs to help agencies assess their network architecture and configurations.

As part of the effort to secure HVAs, DHS conducts in-depth vulnerability assessments of prioritized agency HVAs to determine how an adversary could penetrate a system, move around an agency’s network to access sensitive data, and exfiltrate such data without being detected. These assessments include services such as penetration testing, wireless security analysis, and “phishing” evaluations in which DHS hackers send emails to agency personnel and test whether recipients click on potentially malicious links. DHS has focused these assessments on federal systems that may be of particular interest to adversaries or support uniquely significant data or services. These assessments provide system owners with recommendations to address identified vulnerabilities. DHS provides these same assessments, on a voluntary basis upon request, to private sector and SLTT partners. DHS also works with GSA to ensure our industry partners can provide assessments that align with our HVA initiative to agencies, if necessary.

Another binding operational directive issued by the Secretary directs civilian agencies to promptly patch known vulnerabilities on their Internet-facing devices. The NCCIC conducts Cyber Hygiene scans to identify vulnerabilities in agencies’ internet-accessible devices and provides mitigation recommendations. Agencies have responded quickly in implementing the Secretary’s binding operational directive and have sustained this progress. When the Secretary issued this directive, NPPD identified over 360 “stale” critical vulnerabilities across federal civilian agencies. By “stale” I mean the vulnerabilities had been known for at least 30 days and were still not patched. Since December 2015, DHS has identified an average of less than 40 critical vulnerabilities at any given time, and agencies have addressed those vulnerabilities rapidly once they were identified.

By conducting vulnerability assessments and security architecture reviews, DHS is helping agencies find and fix vulnerabilities, and secure their networks before an incident occurs.

Information Sharing

By sharing information quickly and widely, we help all partners block cyber threats before damaging incidents occur. Equally important, the information we receive from other partners helps us understand emerging risks and develop effective protective measures.

Congress authorized the NCCIC as the civilian hub for sharing cyber threat indicators and defensive measures with and among federal and non-federal entities, including the private sector. As required by the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, we established a capability, known as Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS), to automate our sharing of cyber threat indicators in real-time. AIS protects the privacy and civil liberties of individuals by narrowly tailoring the information shared to that which is necessary to characterize identified cyber threats, consistent with longstanding DHS policy and the requirements of the Act. AIS is a part of the Department’s effort to create an ecosystem in which as soon as a company or federal agency observes an attempted compromise, the indicator is shared in real time with all of our partners, enabling them to protect themselves from that particular threat. This real-time sharing limits the scalability of any attack techniques, which increases the costs for adversaries and should reduce the impact of malicious cyber activity. An ecosystem built around automated sharing and network defense should enable organizations to enhance their defenses against the most common cyber-attacks, freeing their cybersecurity staff to concentrate on the novel and sophisticated attacks. Over 129 agencies and private sector partners have connected to DHS’s AIS capability. Notably, partners such as information sharing and analysis organizations (ISAOs) and computer emergency response teams further share with or protect their customers and stakeholders, significantly expanding the impact of this capability. AIS is still a new capability and we expect the volume of threat indicators shared through this system to substantially increase as the technical standards, software, and hardware supporting the system continue to be refined and put into full production. As more indictors are shared from other federal agencies, SLTT governments, and the private sector, this information sharing environment will become more robust and effective.

Another part of the Department’s overall information sharing effort is to provide federal network defenders with the necessary context regarding cyber threats to prioritize their efforts and inform their decision making. DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) is continuously assessing the specific threats to federal networks using traditional all source methods and indicators of malicious activity observed by NCCIC sensors so that the NCCIC can share with federal network defenders in collaboration with I&A. I&A personnel sit on the NCCIC watch floor.

Incident Response

Cybersecurity is about risk management, and we cannot eliminate all risk. Partners that implement best practices and share information will increase the cost for malicious actors and stop many threats. But ultimately, persistent adversaries will find ways to infiltrate networks in both government and the private sector. In Fiscal Year 2016, the NCCIC received reports of 30,899 impactful incidents across the eight attack vectors at federal agencies, according to the FISMA Annual Report to Congress. When an incident does occur, the NCCIC offers assistance upon request to find the adversary, drive them out, and restore service.

Conclusion

At all levels, the federal government continues to be targeted by a wide range of malicious cyber actors attempting to gain access to sensitive systems. We have made significant progress over the past year: we have provided a baseline of CDM Phase 1 tools, we have expanded the coverage of EINSTEIN 3A, we have expanded risk and vulnerability assessments, we have operationalized the automated indicator sharing capability, and we have established a useful architecture for coordinating the Federal Government’s response to significant cyber incidents. But there is more to be done. This Administration will make significant investments in cybersecurity. In the recently-released budget blueprint, the President requested $1.5 billion for DHS to safeguard cyberspace by protecting federal networks and critical infrastructure from an attack. Through a suite of advanced cybersecurity tools and more assertive defense of government networks, NPPD would share more cybersecurity incident information with other Federal agencies and the private sector, leading to faster responses to cybersecurity attacks.

We must also ensure that DHS is appropriately organized to address today’s and tomorrow’s cybersecurity threats, and we appreciate the Chairman of the Committee’s leadership in working to reauthorize the Department. As the committee considers these issues, we are committed to working with Congress to ensure that this effort is done in a way that ensures a homeland that is more safe, secure, and resilient.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify, and I look forward to any questions you may have.

Topics:  Cybersecurity, Information Sharing Keywords:  EINSTEIN, EINSTEIN 3 Accelerated

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