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Secretary Kelly to Travel to Canada

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 18:20
Release Date: June 23, 2017

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

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly will travel to Ottawa, Canada from June 26 – 27 to attend the annual Five Country Ministerial. This meeting of domestic security and immigration ministers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States is an opportunity to enhance our strong multilateral partnership and strengthen our cooperation on key security challenges, such as counterterrorism, violent extremism, screening and border security, transnational criminal organizations, and cyber issues.   

During his visit, he will also lay a wreath at the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa on Tuesday, 27 June at 0830.



Topics:  Border Security, Countering Violent Extremism, Cybersecurity Keywords:  countering terrorism, countering violent extremism, Border Security, Cyber, Canada, Secretary Kelly

DHS Conducts Major Hurricane Preparation Exercise with Cabinet Officials and Senior Administration Leaders

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 16:04
Release Date: June 23, 2017

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

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) hosted a national exercise for Cabinet members and senior administration officials whose agencies are involved in hurricane preparedness and response.

The exercise, Principals Level Exercise 17-3, was conducted at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and focused on the federal government’s roles and responsibilities to support survivors and state and local governments, recover from infrastructure failures, and overcome communication, logistics, and coordination challenges. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly is the principal federal official for leading federal incident management efforts.

“I invited my counterparts to come together today for this exercise to ensure we are all on the same page and ready for hurricane season,” said Secretary Kelly, who chaired the exercise. “The President has made it clear to me personally and to the entire Cabinet that the American people expect us to be ready to act quickly, efficiently, and effectively when a disaster occurs. DHS and FEMA take this sacred responsibility seriously and work closely with our partners at all levels of government to deliver a coordinated and effective response, in order to provide our citizens relief from natural disasters.”

"This hurricane season is expected to see above normal activity, and coordination among federal partners is critical to supporting state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as they prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate any hazard,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “Businesses and individuals also have a role to play. It’s a shared responsibility and now is the time to get prepared."

The exercise examined federal agencies’ ability to meet core capabilities described in the National Preparedness Goal. Discussions focused on operational priorities and the coordination structures within the National Response Framework, which organizes federal response resources in support of state, local, tribal, and territorial partners.

Exercise participants included:

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price

Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry

U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon

Deputy Secretary of Transportation Jeffrey Rosen

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva

Other Senior Administration Officials




For more information on these exercises, visit https://www.fema.gov/national-exercise-program. Learn more about hurricane preparedness at http://www.Ready.gov/hurricanes.

Additional photos can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/dhsgov

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Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disasters Keywords:  dhs, Secretary Kelly, FEMA, Hurricane, National preparedness, response and recovery, Exercise

Legal Immigration and Adjustment of Status Quarterly Report

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 15:43
Release Date: June 23, 2017

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

WASHINGTON – As directed by the March 6 Memorandum from President Trump on Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and Other Immigration Benefits, Ensuring Enforcement of All Laws for Entry into the United States, and Increasing Transparency among Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government and for the American People, the Department of Homeland Security has issued its first quarterly report detailing the number of adjustments of immigration status that occurred during the reporting period, disaggregated by type of adjustment, type and detailed class of admission, and country of nationality.  This report has been prepared by the Department’s Office of Immigration Statistics to comply with the President’s directive.

The report may be found here: https://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/special-reports




Topics:  Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  immigration statistics

DHS Awards Grants to Counter Terrorist Recruitment and Radicalization in U.S.

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 09:08
Release Date: June 23, 2017

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

WASHINGTON (June 23, 2017) – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the award recipients for the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Grant Program. These grants support community-led initiatives across the country to combat all forms of violent extremism, including the rising threat from Islamist terrorism.

“We are witnessing a global surge in terrorist activity, and in many ways our own backyard has become the battleground,” said Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly. “That is why DHS is focused on stepping up efforts to counter terrorist recruitment and radicalization, including through close collaboration with state and local partners. Shortly, after starting at DHS, I requested a thorough policy review of the CVE Grant Program to ensure taxpayer dollars go to programs with the highest likelihood of success, that support the men and women on the front lines of this fight, and that can be self-sustaining into the future. We will closely monitor these efforts to identify and amplify promising approaches to prevent terrorism.”

DHS awarded $10 million to 26 local law enforcement and community organizations. A list of the grant recipients can be found here: https://www.dhs.gov/cvegrants

The Department’s efforts to partner with communities are a part of its terrorism prevention mission. These grants will help communities identify and counter terrorist recruitment and radicalization, including deterring individuals before they engage in criminal behavior or terrorist plotting.  Among other activities, these DHS investments will help foster counter narratives to push back against terrorist messaging and will assist local law enforcement in building the trust needed to intervene in time to keep young people from going down the path toward violence.

The grant program was created by Congress in December 2015, and it will be executed by the DHS Office for Community Partnerships, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will ensure the public funds are used appropriately.

For more information on the CVE Grant Program, visit https://www.dhs.gov/countering-violent-extremism.


Topics:  Countering Violent Extremism Keywords:  cve, countering terrorism, Grant Funding, countering violent extremism, FEMA

Written testimony of ICE for a House Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance hearing titled “The Exploitation of Cultural Property: Examining Illicit Activity in the Antiquities and Art Trade”

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: June 23, 2017

2128 Rayburn House Office Building

Chairman Pearce, Ranking Member Perlmutter, and distinguished Members:

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to protect cultural property, religious items, art, and antiquities, and to mitigate their illicit trafficking both into and outside of the United States.

Cultural Property, Art and Antiquities Program

As the largest investigative agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE investigates a wide range of domestic and international activities arising from the illegal movement of people, goods, and money with a nexus to the borders of the United States. Federal customs laws regarding smuggling, trafficking, and border search authority provide ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the authority and responsibility to take a lead role in investigating crimes involving the import, export, and distribution of stolen or looted cultural property; HSI also works with the Department of Justice to prosecute the individuals and organizations responsible for these crimes.

To conduct its complex investigations, ICE may collaborate with tribal, federal, state and local law enforcement; private institutions; intergovernmental organizations; and foreign governments. ICE works directly with cultural property practitioners to support these collaborative investigations.

ICE established the Cultural Property, Art and Antiquities (CPAA) program with a three-part mission: to conduct training on the preservation, protection, and investigation of cultural heritage and property; to coordinate and support investigations involving the illicit trafficking of cultural property from countries around the world; and to facilitate the repatriation of illicit cultural items seized as a result of HSI investigations to the objects’ and artifacts’ lawful and rightful owners.

Education and Training

With funding provided by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and support from the Smithsonian Institution, ICE continues to train law enforcement officers on the handling, investigation, and seizure of items that are another nation’s cultural property.

Since 2007, approximately 400 ICE special agents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, prosecutors, and representatives of foreign law enforcement have been trained by subject-matter experts in the fields of cultural property law, targeting, intelligence, archeology, and museum conservation. Our goal is to train as many law enforcement officers as possible in order to broaden the base of expertise in cultural property investigations. Today, ICE is working more closely than ever with CBP to ensure the efforts of our agents and officers are integrated throughout the lifecycle of a case.

In the last two years, the CPAA program has also participated in conferences and workshops in Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Tunisia, and the program is working with several federal government and international agencies to develop additional training and capacity-building workshops for future delivery.

In these workshops, we raise awareness of the threats facing cultural property, especially in conflict zones. Unfortunately, these threats are not new, and criminals have, for many years, taken advantage of civil unrest to loot and pillage artifacts and objects that make up a culture’s history.

Education extends beyond the classroom. In January 2017, CBP, a key partner in stopping the trafficking of art and antiquities, issued its first-ever Cultural Property Alert regarding the looting of an ancient Iraqi tablet, located in terrorist-held territory and at high-risk of being trafficked by terrorist or criminal organizations. The alert was issued to CBP targeting offices, to provide awareness and enhance their capability to prevent the illicit importation of cultural objects from Iraq. Furthermore, CBP continues to create detailed alerts and informational documents to build awareness among its field personnel regarding the illicit import and export of cultural property.

Education is not limited to law enforcement personnel directly involved in investigations and prosecutions. ICE continues to educate brokers and potential purchasers of cultural property on the importance of provenance (history of ownership) through its website, personal outreach, and participation in cultural property symposia, and encourages individuals to report any encounters with individuals seeking to sell illicit artifacts to the HSI Tip Line.


Investigations into cultural property trafficking can result from a variety of leads, including: a routine border search or interdiction by CBP; foreign-country notification of an auction house or online sale; the CPAA program; ICE Attachés; or a line of inquiry during various investigations generated by ICE special agents.

The CPAA program plays a supporting role in cultural property investigations by identifying subject-matter experts to authenticate items that may have cultural and religious significance, by coordinating leads with other offices, and by acting as a liaison to INTERPOL and other law enforcement agencies. The program supports ICE’s more than 6,000 special agents in more than 200 domestic offices throughout the United States. We also have a robust international presence through our network of Attachés at 67 U.S. embassies and consulates, where agents work closely with partners–such as Rome’s Carabinieri Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale, the Italian force responsible for combatting art and antiquities crimes–and for apprehending thieves, looters, and traffickers.

While any ICE special agent may work a cultural property case at some point in his or her career, HSI New York has a team of special agents that works exclusively on cultural property cases. HSI Los Angeles has also recently established its own specialized team whose focus will include cultural property investigations.

Preventing cultural property in jeopardy from pillage from entering the U.S. market reduces the incentive to destroy cultural heritage sites through illicit excavation targeting marketable objects, or through removal of architectural sculpture or murals to be sold as art. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforces the cultural property import restrictions agreed to in bilateral agreements the United States has concluded with 16 countries (Belize, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Egypt, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Mali, Nicaragua, and Peru). These bilateral agreements protect cultural property by restricting U.S. import of certain categories of archeological and/or ethnological material. In times of conflict, a foreign government may not be in a position to request a bilateral agreement under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) of 1983. In two such instances – the conflicts in Iraq and Syria – Congress passed special laws authorizing imposition of emergency import restrictions on their respective cultural property.

However, even with import restrictions in place, a single cultural property investigation can result in complex cases involving multiple domestic and international ICE offices, as well as other law enforcement agencies, and can last for years. For example, one of ICE’s largest, ongoing cultural property investigations, Hidden Idols, began in 2007 and has resulted in the seizure of more than $150 million in artifacts. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, ICE worked 238 domestic and 79 international cultural property investigations.

The criminal networks and individuals that trade in illicitly obtained antiquities, and cultural, and religious items, tend to also trade in other illicit commodities such as drugs and illegal weapons. We see this tendency manifest in cases in which ICE investigations of smuggled drugs end up revealing cultural items that are also part of the criminals’ cache of illegal items.

Cultural Repatriation

Naturally, our cultural property investigations often result in the physical seizure of cultural property, which must be repatriated to its lawful owners through a legal forfeiture process. After this process is completed, the CPAA program oversees these cultural repatriations, which can be a simple exchange, or a grand ceremony that commemorates the items’ return held at the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. or even within the country itself. These ceremonies highlight the investigations and the stories behind the objects themselves that were smuggled or stolen, as well as the women and men who brought the criminals to justice.

Whatever the venue, returning a piece of a country’s history and heritage to its people is a celebration, and an event in which ICE is particularly proud to participate.

ICE has returned a wide variety of items, including paintings, pottery, sculptures, fossils, and sarcophagi. In FY 2016 alone, we repatriated a first-edition of Charles Darwin’s book, Origin of the Species, to Canada; terra cotta figures, jade implements, and a 115–million-year-old microraptor fossil to China; a dinosaur skull to Mongolia; imperial decrees to Russia; and several million dollars in statuary and sculptures of cultural and historical significance to the Prime Minister of India during his official visit to the United States. In FY 2017, ICE has repatriated property to the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Italy, and Peru, and ICE has several other repatriations planned before the end of the year. Since 2007, we have returned more than 8,000 items to more than 30 countries.

Trafficking of Cultural Property and Funding of Transnational Criminal Organizations

Illicit trade in antiquities likely predates the illegal trade in drugs and weapons, two of the major revenue streams for transnational criminal organizations. This trade is part of a global pattern that includes looting and destruction of archeological sites, smuggling of cultural property, and the sale of illicit antiquities that often benefits international terrorist and transnational criminal organizations. To further understand this issue, ICE developed an Illicit Pathways Attack Strategy (IPAS): a coordinated approach with other federal partners to identify this illegal activity and combat transnational organized crime.

In September 2015, ICE Office of Intelligence (Intel) completed an analysis of geographic nodes that have been exploited for trafficking in cultural property, artifacts and antiquities. This analysis was conducted with subject matter experts from DOS’s Cultural Heritage Center, ICE, and CBP who focus on mitigating the illicit trade of cultural heritage and transnational organized crime. IPAS supports larger efforts to dismantle smuggling and trafficking routes by: attacking criminal networks within and beyond our borders; prioritizing networks and pathways that pose the greatest threats; participating in and facilitating robust interagency engagement; and pursuing a coordinated, regional approach that leverages foreign partners.

ICE’s findings support the assessment that cultural property and antiquities trafficking is likely to remain attractive to transnational criminal organizations due to international demand for cultural property, its profitability, and lower relative risk to other illicit goods, such as narcotics. Selling cultural property is seen by the perpetrators as one more way to fund their criminal activities, or one more way to launder the profits they have made from other illegal efforts. Further, the transnational nature of illicit cultural property movement is likely beyond any one law enforcement agency’s capacity to detect and deter, since some cultural property can be somewhat easily obtained and transported. Certain countries, such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Egypt are source countries that are of greatest concern to ICE, due to the advent of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Follow-on analysis performed by ICE Intel has characterized ISIS’s role as institutionalizing efforts to profit from the looting and trafficking of cultural property in Iraq and Syria. The findings, which were based in part on documents recovered from the May 2015 Abu Sayyaf raid in Syria, identified ISIS as having established systematic procedures to extort illegal excavation operations to generate revenue.

ICE Intel conducted an analysis of trends in cultural property and antiquities trafficking observed between FY 2015 and FY 2016. Reporting identified Middle Eastern countries–including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Turkey–as countries of origin in slightly more than ten percent of CPAA program investigations opened during that time frame. A body of reporting identified several of these countries as source and transit countries of illicit cultural property and antiquities looted and trafficked by terrorist groups, such as ISIS, to finance their activities.

However, while there is clearly a connection between terrorism and cultural property trafficking, the connection between an individual piece of cultural property and terrorists is rarely clear. The nature of trafficking and limits to the data available–such as long delays before illicit items enter the market and ambiguous sourcing of illicit goods–complicate any attempt to directly link individual artifacts to specific terrorist groups.


Thank you again for the opportunity to testify and for your continued support of ICE and its law enforcement mission. ICE remains committed to working with this committee and to continuing our strong relationship to help prevent and combat the trafficking of cultural property, regardless of the source.

I would be pleased to answer any questions.

Topics:  International Keywords:  Cultural Repatriation, Trafficking of Cultural Property, TCO, Transnational Crime Organizations, Transnational Crime

Written testimony of ICE for a Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing titled “The MS-13 Problem: Investigating Gang Membership As Well As Its Nexus to Illegal Immigration, and Assessing Federal Efforts to End the Threat”

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: June 21, 2017

226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and distinguished members:

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the mission of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), its efforts to disrupt, dismantle and investigate violent gang activity within the United States, and its role in addressing issues related to unaccompanied alien children (UAC) arriving in the United States.

ICE enforces approximately 400 federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety. With more than 20,000 employees and more than 400 offices across the United States and in 46 foreign countries, the men and women of ICE execute our mission humanely, professionally, and always in accordance with the law.

Enforcing Immigration Laws

Our immigration enforcement efforts are led by the more than 6,000 law enforcement officers of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). These dedicated officers enforce our Nation’s immigration laws by identifying, arresting, detaining, and removing removable aliens. To ensure the national security and public safety of the United States, and the faithful execution of the immigration laws, our officers may take enforcement action against any removable alien encountered in the course of their duties who is present in the United States in violation of immigration law.

During his first two weeks in office, President Trump signed a series of Executive Orders (EOs) that laid the policy groundwork for the Department and ICE to carry out the critical work of securing our borders, enforcing our immigration laws, and ensuring that individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety cannot enter or remain in the United States. These EOs establish the Administration’s policy of effective border security and immigration enforcement through the faithful execution of the laws passed by Congress. The orders implement new policies designed to stem illegal immigration and facilitate the identification, apprehension, detention, and removal of removable aliens.

The heightened enforcement of our Nation’s immigration laws in the interior of the United States is critically important to the national security and public safety of the United States. Aliens who illegally enter the United States, or even those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas, have violated our nation’s laws and can pose a threat to national security and public safety. This is particularly true for aliens who engage in criminal conduct in the United States.

ICE arrests are up 37 percent since the same time period last year, charging documents issued are up 47 percent, and detainers issued are up 75 percent. Thus far in this fiscal year, through June 3, 2017, ICE has removed 155,338 aliens from the United States and repatriated them to 181 countries around the world; these are aliens who posed a danger to our national security, public safety, or the integrity of the immigration system. Of those removed, 55 percent (85,474) had criminal convictions. ICE has also issued 87,288 detainers and 71,021 charging documents; maintained an average daily population of 39,102 in detention; and monitored an average of 69,933 participants daily under the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program III contract or Alternatives to Detention program, as of June 5, 2017.

Combatting Transnational Criminal Organizations

ICE investigators protect the United States against terrorists and other criminal organizations through criminal and civil enforcement of Federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration. As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) utilizes its broad legal authorities to investigate immigration and customs violations, including those related to export control, human rights abuses, narcotics, weapons and contraband smuggling, financial crimes, cybercrime, human trafficking and smuggling, child exploitation, intellectual property thefts, transnational gangs, immigration document and benefit fraud, and worksite enforcement. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget maintains ICE’s critical operations at home and abroad and increases our efforts to target and combat dangerous transnational gangs and other criminal organizations.

Last year, ICE investigations led to the disruption or dismantlement of of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs). ICE made more than 32,709 criminal arrests, including arrests of more than 4,606 transnational gang members. ICE also seized 1.5 million pounds of narcotics, made 2,203 seizures for violations of U.S. export laws and regulations, and seized nearly $541 million in currency and monetary instruments. Additionally, ICE identified and assisted more than 2,000 crime victims, including 435 human trafficking victims and more than 820 child exploitation victims.

During the last two decades, transnational organized crime has expanded dramatically in size, scope, and impact, which poses a significant threat to national and international security. ICE takes very seriously the threat to national security that transnational organized crime represents, and ICE targets TCOs at every critical location in the cycle: internationally, in cooperation with foreign counterparts, where transnational criminal and terrorist organizations operate; at our nation’s physical border and ports of entry, in coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), where the transportation cells attempt to exploit America's legitimate trade, travel, and transportation systems; and in cities throughout the United States, where criminal organizations earn substantial profits off the smuggling of aliens and illicit goods.

As directed by the President’s Executive Order 13773, Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking, ICE will continue to give a high priority and devote sufficient resources to dismantling TCOs and subsidiary organizations. ICE will continue to focus on cooperative work and data sharing with other Federal agencies, as well as work with foreign counterparts by sharing intelligence and law enforcement information when appropriate and permitted by law.

Gang Enforcement

The key to ICE’s success against gangs is our ability to use a multifaceted approach to attacking violent crime by applying appropriate investigative strategies and law enforcement authority. Working in accordance with President Trump’s January 25, 2017, Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, ICE is committed to ensuring the safety of the American people in communities across the United States by faithfully enforcing our Nation's immigration laws.

Transnational gangs, specifically the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, perpetrate numerous violations within ICE’s purview, including human smuggling and trafficking, narcotics smuggling and distribution, identity theft and benefit fraud, money laundering, weapons smuggling and arms trafficking, cyber-crimes, kidnapping, extortion, and export violations. MS-13 is a TCO that includes members in the United States and El Salvador, where gang leadership directs and controls cells, often referred to as “cliques”, in the United States. In October 2012, as a result of evidence supplied by ICE and other input by U.S. interagency partners, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated MS-13 as a TCO, the first time a gang has been designated.

Operation Community Shield

In 2005, ICE initiated Operation Community Shield (OCS), an international law enforcement initiative that combines the expansive statutory criminal and civil enforcement authorities of ICE to combat the growth and proliferation of gangs throughout the United States. Through our longstanding working relationships with our state, local, tribal and foreign law enforcement partners, this initiative helps ICE locate, investigate, prosecute, and where applicable, immediately remove gang members from our neighborhoods and ultimately from the United States.

OCS is the primary platform through which ICE executes its anti-gang initiatives, including Specialized Urban Response – Gang Enforcement (SURGE) operations. On an annual basis, ICE initiates SURGE operations, during which ICE special agents, working with our federal, state, local, tribal and international anti-gang law enforcement partners, collaboratively address gang problems within their jurisdictions by utilizing our unique enforcement authorities and intelligence.

Since the inception of OCS, ICE and its partner agencies have made over 57,000 criminal and administrative immigration arrests of gang leaders, members, and associates, including more than 7,000 MS-13 gang leaders, members and associates.

From Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 to FY 2017 (as of June 4, 2017), ICE has made more than 8,000 criminal arrests of gang leaders, members, and associates that resulted in more than 2,600 convictions so far. Additionally, during this same time period, ICE made 1,117 administrative immigration arrests of gang members.

Project New Dawn

From March 26 to May 6, 2017, ICE and our law enforcement partners executed the most recent SURGE operation, Project New Dawn, which resulted in 1,378 arrests. Of those 1,378 arrests, 1,098 were criminal arrests and the remaining 280 were administrative immigration arrests. As a result of this effort, 238 firearms, close to $500,000 in currency, and more than 271 kilograms of illicit narcotics were seized. This surge was designed to identify and investigate the membership of and criminal activities committed by transnational criminal street gangs throughout the United States. Most of the individuals arrested during Project New Dawn were U.S. citizens, but 445 foreign nationals from 21 countries in Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean were also arrested. Of the 1,378 individuals arrested, 1,095 were gang members or gang associates (762 gang members and 333 associates of gang members). 903 were charged with criminal offenses and 192 were arrested administratively for immigration violations. The remaining 283 individuals arrested claimed no gang involvement. The majority of arrestees were affiliated with MS-13 (104), Sureños (118), Bloods (137), and Crips (104). Enforcement actions occurred around the country, with the greatest activity taking place in the Houston, Newark, Atlanta, and New York areas.

MS-13 Activity in the United States

MS-13 is a transnational criminal street gang comprised primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador. Although the gang’s domestic roots can be traced to Los Angeles, California, the group has migrated to cities throughout the country, and has become one of the largest and most violent street gangs in the United States.

From FY 2016 to FY 2017 (as of June 4, 2017), ICE HSI has made 602 criminal arrests of MS-13 gang leaders, members, and associates that resulted in 153 convictions so far. Additionally, during this same time period, ICE HSI made 170 administrative immigration arrests of MS-13 members.

The National Gang Unit oversees ICE’s expansive transnational gang portfolio and enables special agents to bring the fight to these criminal enterprises through the development of uniform enforcement and intelligence-sharing strategies.

Through ICE’s investigations into MS-13, we have research and investigated MS-13’s sophisticated communication and financial network and determined that its primary source of income is generated through extortion and prostitution. They also generate money through drugs, weapons and human trafficking.

One of the primary strengths of ICE’s anti-gang efforts is our ability to work across the DHS enterprise to harness information and data that allows us to navigate through the targets within each clique, gain visibility into territories in which they operate, and formulate an interactive investigative strategy to dismantle their operations.

Currently, ICE has 87 domestic and international gang investigations targeting MS-13 members and networks in Long Island, New York; New York City; New Jersey; Boston, Massachusetts; Maryland; Northern Virginia/DC; Norfolk, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; Colorado; Detroit, Michigan; Nashville, Tennessee; Dallas, Texas; Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Los Angeles; Fresno County, California; San Jose, California; San Francisco, California; Honduras; and El Salvador.

Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Partnerships

ICE ERO also plays a significant role in combatting the MS-13 gang through the identification, arrest, and removal of gang members who are in the country illegally. Because ICE ERO also focuses its arrests on U.S. Code Title 8 (Aliens and Nationality), ICE ERO may target MS-13 and other gang members on the basis of their immigration status, without the need to establish additional criminality. ICE ERO accomplishes this aspect of its public safety mission, in part, through its partnerships with international, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. As an example, this month, ICE ERO worked with the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force to arrest an MS-13 gang member who posed a threat to the community, and last month, worked with Salvadoran,state, and local authorities to arrest an MS-13 gang member in Houston, Texas, wanted in El Salvador for aggravated homicide.

In November 2016, a body was discovered in a shallow grave in Montgomery County, Maryland. ICE HSI Baltimore and the Montgomery County Police Department, with assistance from ICE HSI Newark, concluded that this was an MS-13-related homicide. The subsequent investigation revealed that the victim was lured online by MS-13 members. In March 2017, three MS-13 members were indicted on federal kidnapping charges. This is an ICE HSI Baltimore-led investigation worked in conjunction with Montgomery County Police Department.

Since December 2015, ICE HSI Baltimore has been investigating several other violent MS-13 cliques in Maryland, including one responsible for the murder of a rival gang member. ICE HSI Baltimore, working in conjunction with Montgomery County Police Department, obtained evidence of the murder and other criminal activity committed by MS-13 members, leading to the indictment of eight MS-13 members for various federal charges, including Murder in Aid of Racketeering.

In March 2015, ICE HSI Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) began investigating several MS-13 members of a notoriously violent MS-13 clique that was believed to be responsible for multiple unsolved homicides in Los Angeles, California. During this investigation, ICE HSI Los Angeles and LAPD identified the nationwide and international MS-13 network and obtained evidence that linked them to the unsolved homicides. In December 2015 and January 2016, ICE HSI Los Angeles and LAPD, with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration, arrested more than two dozen MS-13 members and associates for homicide, attempted homicide, extortion, narcotics trafficking, and gang conspiracy offenses. In October 2013, ICE HSI Charlotte and partner law enforcement agencies began investigating a violent MS-13 clique operating in Charlotte, North Carolina that was responsible for three homicides and multiple attempted homicides. In May 2015, 37 MS-13 members and associates were indicted and arrested for Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO), Murder in Aid of Racketeering, narcotics, and firearms violations. As of February 2017, 34 MS-13 members and associates have been convicted and sentenced with three of the indicted MS-13 members remaining fugitives. This investigation was worked in conjunction with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Charlotte Field Office.

In February 2014, ICE HSI New York received information that four MS-13 members kidnapped and murdered a fellow MS-13 member, whose body was discovered on a Long Island beach with a single gunshot to the back of the head. The investigation revealed that the suspects mistakenly believed that the victim was cooperating with law enforcement. Subsequently, ICE HSI New York obtained an indictment for the four MS-13 members that committed the homicide. The four MS-13 members were later convicted for the crime. This investigation was worked in conjunction with the New York Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Beginning in 2013, ICE HSI Baltimore has been investigating several MS-13 cliques that were believed to be responsible for several unsolved murders in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, Maryland. Of the 16 indicted MS-13 members, 15 were convicted for eight (8) homicides, six (6) attempted homicides, kidnappings, assaults, extortions, and witness tampering and intimidation that took place between 2010 and 2013. The lone fugitive is awaiting extradition from Guatemala. This investigation was worked in conjunction with Montgomery County Police Department and Prince George’s County Police Department.

Unaccompanied Alien Children

As you know, in 2014, an unprecedented surge of families and unaccompanied alien children from Central America tried to enter the United States along the the southwest border. Among the reasons for this increase were push and pull factors such as violence in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Hondras (e.g. violent street gangs and drug cartels); better economic and educational opportunities in the United States; and the desire to be with family members who were already present in the United States. Reaction to U.S. immigration policy at the time—real or perceived—is also one of the pull factors that led to the surge. Through the whole of government, we continue to address this humanitarian and border security issue in a manner that is comprehensive, coordinated, and humane. ICE, as one of several Federal agencies involved in the processing of unaccompanied alien children, plays a critical role by quickly and safely transporting unaccompanied alien children to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody after encounters at the border or in the interior. ICE also effectuates removal orders, as appropriate, following the conclusion of immigration proceedings.

Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), an unaccompanied alien child encountered at the border who is a national of Canada or Mexico may be permitted to withdraw his or her application for admission and be returned to the child’s country of nationality or of last habitual residence if there are no human trafficking indicators or claims of fear, and the child is able to make an independent decision to withdraw his or her application for admission. Pursuant to other provisions of the TVPRA, UAC who are nationals of noncontiguous countries, such as Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador, are placed in removal proceedings before an immigration court if the Department is seeking to remove them. The vast majority of UAC encountered along the U.S. southwest border in 2014 came from these three countries and were placed in removal proceedings. Under the TVPRA, while immigration judges maintain jurisdiction over removal proceedings, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has initial jurisdiction over any asylum claim filed by UAC. Thus, UAC may file asylum applications directly with USCIS while they are in removal proceedings. This provision allows UAC to have their asylum claims initially heard in a non-adversarial setting by a specially-trained USCIS asylum officer. If relief is not granted, UAC may renew his or her application before the immigration judge in removal proceedings.

Once a child is determined to be a UAC, the TVPRA requires DHS to transfer the UAC to HHS/ORR, which is responsible for temporary careof the child and his or her release to suitable sponsors pending the outcome of their immigration proceedings. It is generally ICE’s responsibility to quickly and safely transport UAC to HHS/ORR. In FY 2016, DHS transferred 57,040 UAC to HHS/ORR. In FY 2017 (through June 3, 2017), DHS has transferred 29,537 UAC to HHS/ORR.

Transfer of Unaccompanied Alien Children

Consistent with the TVPRA, except in exceptional circumstances, DHS is required to transfer the custody of a UAC to HHS/ORR within 72 hours after determining that such child is unaccompanied. In accordance with the Flores Settlement Agreement, and as required under TVPRA, HHS/ORR places UAC in the least restrictive setting, subject to considerations such as danger to self, danger to others/the community, and risk of flight. Once HHS notifies DHS that a shelter bed is available, it is DHS’s responsibility to quickly and safely transport the UAC from CBP custody to a shelter funded by HHS/ORR for this purpose. ICE transports UAC via ground, commercial air, and ICE charter flights.

All 24 ICE ERO field offices have primary and back-up juvenile coordinators, each of whom receive annual, specialized training with respect to the unique vulnerabilities of children. These Field Office Juvenile Coordinators serve as local subject matter experts on the proper processing, transportation, and placement of UAC; monitor operational practices for compliance with regulations, standards, and policy; and are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

During the limited time ICE maintains physical custody of a UAC for transport, and pending his or her transfer to HHS/ORR, such children are separated from adult detainees for their safety. During this time, these unaccompanied children are also provided with regular access to snacks, milk, juice, consular officials, telephones, and other resources.

Removal of Unaccompanied Alien Children

For UAC ordered removed by an immigration judge, ICE takes appropriate enforcement actions to remove them from the United States. Under the TVPRA, ICE must ensure that each removal is fully coordinated with host government authorities. Coordination with foreign officials includes: providing the unaccompanied child an opportunity to communicate with a consular official prior to departure, repatriating at a designated port of entry, and ensuring that a receiving government official or designee signs for custody to record the transfer, in addition to other requirements specific to each country, such as certain hours during which repatriations can be conducted. The majority of UAC repatriations conducted by ICE occur via commercial air or charter flight and, during transport, children must be accompanied by appropriate personnel. Between FY 2012 and FY 2016, ICE removed a total of 10,188 UAC from the United States, including 1,005 to El Salvador, 3,408 to Guatemala, and 2,413 to Honduras.1

1 Note that these removal counts are based on designation of unaccompanied alien children at time of initial book in and individual aliens may no longer be under the age of 18 at the time of removal.



Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of ICE and its law enforcement mission. ICE is committed to investigating MS-13 gang violence, disrupting the MS-13 pipeline, and dismantling their criminal enterprises.

We would be pleased to answer any questions.

Topics:  Immigration Enforcement, Law Enforcement Partnerships Keywords:  UAC, Unaccompanied Alien Children, TCO, Transnational Crime Organizations, Executive Order 13773, EO 13773, MS-13, TVPRA

Written testimony of CBP for a Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing titled “The MS-13 Problem: Investigating Gang Membership As Well As Its Nexus to Illegal Immigration, and Assessing Federal Efforts to End the Threat”

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: June 21, 2017

226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and distinguished Members of the Committee: thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the role of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to protect the homeland and secure our Nation’s borders while facilitating lawful international travel and trade. As a Nation, control of our borders is paramount. Thanks to the support of Congress, during the past decade CBP has deployed more personnel, resources, technology, and tactical infrastructure to secure our borders than at any other time in history. And thanks to the hard work of the men and women of CBP, and the leadership of the President, the Secretary, and the Acting Commissioner, we are making significant progress towards securing our borders against the threats posed by transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

Executive Actions

This Administration has taken early and important steps, in conjunction with Secretary Kelly and other leadership within the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, to adjust federal policies and refocus federal law enforcement and homeland security resources on domestic and international threats. Since taking office, the President has issued Executive Orders to secure our borders and enforce immigration laws- including with respect to TCOs- and preventing international trafficking. The purpose of these orders are to direct executive departments and agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure our Southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States, and to keep Americans safe.

The men and women of CBP work hard every day to secure our borders. By supporting CBP’s dedicated men and women who are responsible for securing the border--to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism--these executive orders have significantly enhanced our capacity to secure our borders.

Stemming the Flow of Illegal Aliens

The Southwest border 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. One of the biggest challenges we face are TCOs such as the international criminal organization known as Mara Salvatrucha 13, more commonly known as MS-13. While MS-13 has had a presence in the United States and been a regional threat for many years, it has proliferated both throughout the United States and the region more recently, as our partners at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Justice have reported.

CBP has faced many challenges in recent years, including large-scale flows of foreign nationals from Central America and Mexico. MS-13 took full advantage of these flows of foreign nationals into the United States by hiding in these populations to enter our country. As a result, American citizens have died, and domestic law enforcement across the nation has had to deal with the burden of MS-13 violence and drug-dealing on American streets on a daily basis.

As a result of the Executive Orders issued by the President, implementing policies issued by the Secretary, as well as earlier policy changes and the significant investments we have made in border enforcement personnel, technology, and infrastructure, we are seeing a historic shift in illegal crossings along the Southwest border. Since January 2017, the number of illegal aliens we have apprehended on the Southwest border has drastically decreased, indicating a significant decrease in the number of aliens attempting to illegally enter the country. The number of illegal aliens apprehended in March 2017 was 30 percent lower than February apprehensions and 64 percent lower than the same time last year. This decline also extends to unaccompanied alien children (UAC).1 The U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) apprehended 1,493 UACs in the entire month of May of 2017. By contrast, in May of 2016 USBP apprehended 5,594 UACs.2

1 As defined by 6 USC § 279(g) (2), an “unaccompanied alien child” means a child who (A) has no lawful immigration status in the United States; (B) has not attained 18 years of age; and (C) with respect to whom (i) there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States; or (ii) no parent or legal guardian in the United States is available to provide care and physical custody.
2 Per https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2016-Dec/CBP-fy2016-border-security-report.pdf


Operational Coordination and Information Sharing

When CBP encounters known gang members or aliens who admit to having a gang affiliation, including international gangs like MS-13, biographic information is collected and recorded in the electronic systems of record. This system enables the capture, organization, and presentation of data collected during processing. Biometric information is also collected for all aliens over 14 years of age apprehended by the USBP. This includes known gang members or aliens who admit to having a gang affiliation. The electronic system collects fingerprint information as well as runs records checks on detainees, helping ensure criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. CBP coordinates and shares law enforcement information with our federal partners at DHS and across government. In addition, CBP supports its local, state and tribal partners through the sharing of information and participation in various task-forces.

UACs with suspected TCO affiliations such as MS-13 present unique challenges. UAC – the majority of whom are males between the ages of 14 and 17, and from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras – are processed in accordance with all applicable law, regulation, court orders, and policy. Processing guidelines are derived from the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA); the Flores v Reno Stipulated Settlement Agreement; CBP Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Sexual Abuse and Assault in Holding Facilities; CBP Transport, Escort, Detention and Search National Standards; and the USBP Hold Rooms and Short Term Custody Policy. Pursuant to the TVPRA, once a child is determined to meet the definition of a UAC, CBP is required to transfer the UAC into the care and custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 72-hours, except in exceptional circumstances.3

CBP continues to implement enhancements to our automated systems to provide better documentation of agent/officer decisions and better coordination with our partners across government and law enforcement. If, for example, a UAC is identified as being a member of a gang or being affiliated with a gang, the information is recorded in the CBP electronic system of record. In addition, the information is conveyed to (HHS/Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and ICE/ Field Office Juvenile Coordinator (FOJC) when a placement request is generated via an HHS intake form. Secure placement will be requested for any UAC who has a known gang affiliation. The decision on placement is made by HHS/ORR based on the information provided by CBP in the placement request. Of the approximately 5,000 individuals apprehended by USBP with confirmed or suspected gang affiliations since FY 2012, 159 were UACs. Of those 159, approximately 56 UACs were suspected or confirmed to be affiliated with MS-13.4

CBP also uses the, Unaccompanied Alien Child Screening Addendum (CBP-93 Form) to screen UAC for human trafficking indicia, including trafficking by TCOs such as MS-13. If a Border Patrol Agent or CBP Officer suspects that any member of the group in which the UAC was travelling is involved or complicit in the trafficking act, they will detain all individuals for further processing and interview by ICE/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

3 An exceptional circumstance may be when a UAC requires medical attention; does not tell the truth about his/her age and is inaccurately classified as an adult, and later found to be a minor; or the UAC is a material witness in a prosecution case. 8 U.S.C. § 1232(b)(3)
4 Unofficial USBP data reports that between FY 2012 and 06/16/2017, approximately 4,939 aliens have been apprehended with suspected or confirmed gang affiliations, including 1,972 suspected of being affiliated with MS-13.


Next Steps

The Department’s Unity of Effort initiative has put new and strengthened management processes in place to enable more effective DHS component operations to address TCOs, including MS-13; human- and drug-trafficking; and other cross-border threats. DHS-wide border security activities along the Southern border are guided by the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan and coordinated through the Department’s Joint Task Forces (JTFs) to coordinate the efforts of the combined resources of DHS component agencies.

In addition to prioritizing enforcement of Federal law in order to thwart TCOs such as MS-13 per the President’s EOs, per Secretary Kelly’s February 20, 2017 implementation memo,5 JTF-West will plan and implement enhanced counter-network operations directed at disrupting TCOs. In FY 2017, JTF-W achieved operational alignment across the Southwest border through the implementation of “CX/17”. CX/17 symbolizes the integrated efforts of the Southwest border Corridors and impacted Components, aimed at enhancing Departmental Unity of Effort and CX operations focused on TCOs. JTF-W is currently executing over 40 integrated operations against TCOs and illicit networks.

The ability to leverage the full spectrum of DHS intelligence, interdiction and investigative efforts has maximized consequence application to TCO and illicit network members exploiting our operational seams, prosecutorial thresholds, and immigration systems. In addition to the disruption of certain TCOs and illicit networks’ infrastructure and capabilities, CX operations achieve a secondary effect by mitigating a number of threats to public safety, which represents an immediate positive impact on communities. Those positive public safety impacts include the arrest of gang members as convicted felons and sex offenders, the seizure of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, and the seizure of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin associated with the gang’s illicit narcotics trafficking activities.

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. These include 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. 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. CBP remains committed to securing our borders and keeping Americans safe by responding to any and all challenges in the dynamic border environments in which we operate.

Additionally, CBP’s Office of Intelligence (OI), Intelligence Operations Directorate (IOD) recently established an MS-13 Working Group that will also be collaborating with ICE/HSI's National Gang Unit (NGU) to identify, target, and arrest and/or remove MS-13 members from the United States and address MS-13 from a single DHS Enterprise. CBP and ICE will lead this combined effort that includes law enforcement and analytical participation from a variety of CBP components, as well as several other federal offices, agencies and departments.

5 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.



With the support of Congress, CBP continues to work closely with our DHS, federal, and international partners to combat the threats posed by TCOs, including MS-13. Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify today on this important issue. I look forward to answering your questions.

Topics:  Border Security, Information Sharing Keywords:  TCO, transnational criminal organizations, MS-13, UAC, Unaccompanied Alien Children, TVPRA

Written testimony of I&A Cyber Division Acting Director Dr. Samuel Liles, and NPPD Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Jeanette Manfra for a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing titled “Russian Interference in the

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: June 21, 2017

216 Hart Senate Office Building

Chairman Burr, Vice Chairman Warner, members of this Committee, thank you for the invitation to be here and to represent the men and women that serve in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD).

Given the vital role that elections play in a free and democratic society, on January 6, 2017, the Secretary of Homeland Security determined that election infrastructure should be designated as a critical infrastructure subsector. With the establishment of an Election Infrastructure subsector within the existing Government Facilities sector, DHS and its Federal partners have been formalizing the prioritization of cybersecurity assistance and protections for owners and operators of election infrastructure similar to those provided to a range of other critical infrastructure entities, such as financial institutions and electric utilities. Participation in the subsector is voluntary, and the establishment of a subsector does not create federal regulatory authority. Elections continue to be governed by state and local officials, but with additional prioritized effort by the Federal Government to provide voluntary security assistance.

As the Secretary noted to Congress last month, “we know that our Nation’s cyber systems are under constant attack.” Our testimony today will provide DHS’s unclassified assessment of cyber operations directed against the U.S. election infrastructure and political entities during the 2016 elections, but not the overall Russian influence campaign covered in the January 2017 declassified Intelligence Community (IC) Assessment. Our testimony will also outline DHS’s efforts to help enhance the security of election infrastructure operated by state and local jurisdictions around the country.

Assessing the Threat

Throughout spring and early summer 2016, the U.S. IC warned that the Russian government was responsible for the compromises and leaks of emails from U.S. political figures and institutions. This activity was part of a decade-long campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. Government and its citizens. As awareness of these activities grew, DHS began in August 2016 to receive reports of cyber-enabled scanning and probing of election-related infrastructure in some states. Some of this activity appeared to originate from servers operated by a Russian company. In addition to these reports and other classified information obtained during the period, DHS also received an unclassified Federal Bureau of Investigation bulletin that described a July 2016 compromise of a State Board of Elections website. The bulletin identified specific tactics and indicators and asked recipients to check their systems for similar activity. It also provided mitigation recommendations for state and local governments. DHS and its partners shared this unclassified information—specifically information regarding targeting of voter registration systems—with state and local governments to further increase awareness of the threat.

Within the Federal Government, DHS, through its Office of Intelligence and Analysis and NPPD’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), began coordinating robustly with the Election Assistance Commission, the IC, and law enforcement partners. Among non-Federal partners, NPPD and the Office of Intelligence and Analysis engaged state and local officials, as well as relevant private sector entities, to assess the scale and scope of malicious cyber activity potentially targeting the U.S. election infrastructure. In addition to working directly with state and local officials, we partnered with stakeholders like the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) to analyze relevant cyber data, the National Association of Secretaries of State, and the National Association of State Election Directors. We also leveraged our field personnel deployed around the country, inclusive of Intelligence Officers deployed in state and major urban area fusion centers, Cybersecurity Advisors and Protective Security Advisors located across the country, and Department of Justice field personnel, to help further facilitate information sharing and enhance outreach. Throughout September, that engagement paid off in terms of identifying suspicious and malicious cyber activity targeting the U.S. election infrastructure. A body of knowledge grew throughout the summer and fall about suspected Russian government cyber activities, indicators, and understanding that helped drive collection, investigations, and incident response activities.

One comprehensive intelligence report published by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis in early October, cataloged suspicious activity we observed on state government networks across the country. This initial look, largely based on suspected malicious tactics and infrastructure, helped inform a body of reporting directly related to election infrastructure. While not a definitive source in identifying individual activity attributed to Russian government cyber actors, it established that Internet-connected election-related networks, including websites, in 21 states were potentially targeted by Russian government cyber actors. Although we’ve refined our understanding of individual targeted networks, supported by classified reporting, the scale and scope noted in that October 2016 report still generally characterizes our observations: a small number of networks were successfully compromised, there were a larger number of states where attempts to compromise networks were unsuccessful, and there were an even greater number of states where only preparatory activity like scanning was observed.

With respect to our processes, the IC has noted before, that, the nature of cyberspace makes attribution of cyber operations difficult but not impossible. In partnership with members of the IC, DHS applied IC analytic tradecraft techniques to reach a series of judgments about whether these events were isolated incidents, who was the likely perpetrator, that perpetrator’s possible motivations, and whether a foreign government had a role in ordering or leading the operation. Using the Department’s distinctive view of domestic information and intelligence reporting, our final assessment is based on an evaluation of each incident by the capabilities and tactics employed, the infrastructure used by malicious cyber actors, characteristics of the victimized networks, and adversary capability and intent.

In September, our products at the classified and unclassified levels reported that we had no indication that adversaries or criminals were planning cyber operations against the U.S. election infrastructure that would change the outcome of the coming U.S. election. Further, we assessed that multiple checks and redundancies in U.S. election infrastructure—including diversity of systems, non-Internet connected voting machines, pre-election testing, and processes for media, campaign, and election officials to check, audit, and validate results—make it likely that cyber manipulation of U.S. election systems intended to change the outcome of a national election would be detected.

During that period, we assessed that cyber operations targeting election infrastructure could be intended or used to undermine public confidence in electoral processes and potentially the outcome. This analysis supported an October 7, 2016, statement from then Secretary of Homeland Security and Director of National Intelligence that highlighted Russian cyber activities. This triggered further outreach to share threat information and offer voluntary services to assess cybersecurity of election infrastructure and processes.

The declassified January 2017 IC Assessment, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” captured our assessment of the Russian activity, identifying that “Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards.” Additionally, “DHS assesse[d] that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.”1 As we continue to judge any and all newly available information, DHS has not altered any of those prior assessments.

Looking ahead to future election cycles, with a recognition that the work to enhance election infrastructure security and resiliency is already under way, we assess that multiple elements of election infrastructure remain potentially vulnerable to cyber intrusions, and that multiple cyber actors may have an interest in targeting such infrastructure. The risk to U.S. computer-enabled election systems varies from county to county, between types of devices used, and among processes used by polling stations.

We continue to assess that mounting widespread cyber operations against U.S. voting machines at a level sufficient to affect a national election would require a multiyear effort with significant human and information technology resources available only to a nation-state. The level of effort and scale required to change the outcome of a national election, however, would make it nearly impossible to avoid detection.

As with other developments in the overall cyber environment, the propagation of disruptive technologies has the ability to disrupt electoral processes. For example, targeted intrusions against individual voter registration databases remain possible. With illicit access, manipulation of voter data or disruptions to their availability may impact a voter’s ability to vote on Election Day. Most but not all jurisdictions, however, still rely on paper voter rolls or electronic poll books that are not connected in real-time to voter registration databases, which limited the possible impacts in 2016.

Whether a cyber operation intended to disrupt or alter the vote is successful or not, DHS remains concerned that cyber operations targeting election infrastructure could be intended to undermine public confidence. For instance, although we assess the impact of an intrusion into a vote tabulation system would likely be contained to the manipulation of unofficial Election Night reporting results and not impact the certified outcome, such an operation could undermine public confidence in the results.

Three major elements of DHS’s intelligence operations were key to enhancing our awareness and understanding of the threat: integration of intelligence with operational DHS components, collaboration with IC members, and partnership with state and local governments. I&A’s co-location of intelligence personnel with the NCCIC was key to enhancing the quality of information shared with customers and partners. Robust collaboration with other members of the IC helped appropriately coalesce domestic and foreign intelligence issues – a collaboration that continues to pay dividends across analysis of threats to U.S. critical infrastructure. Finally, the ability to use deployed field staff to leverage already established relationships, aided in gathering key information that shaped I&A’s understanding of the threat environment.

1 (U) National Intelligence Council, ICA 2017-01, 5 January 2017, (U) Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.


Enhancing Security for Future Elections

Based on our assessment of activity observed, DHS is engaged with stakeholders across the spectrum to increase awareness of potential vulnerabilities and enhance security of U.S. election infrastructure. DHS continues to work with a diverse set of stakeholders to plan, prepare, and mitigate risk to the election infrastructure. Our election process is governed and administered by state and local election officials in thousands of jurisdictions across the country. These officials manage election infrastructure and ensure its security on a day-to-day basis. State and local election officials across the country have a long-standing history of working both individually and collectively to reduce risks and ensure the integrity of their elections. In partnering with these officials through both new and existing, ongoing engagements, DHS is working to enhance efforts to secure their election systems.

Increasingly, the nation’s election infrastructure leverages information technology for efficiency and convenience. Like other systems, reliance on digital technologies introduces new cybersecurity risks. DHS’s NCCIC helps stakeholders in federal departments and agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector to manage their cybersecurity risks. Consistent with our long-standing partnerships with state and local governments, we have been working with election officials to share information about cybersecurity risks, and to provide voluntary resources and technical assistance.

Addressing cybersecurity challenges and helping our customers assess their cybersecurity risk is not new for DHS. We have three sets of cybersecurity customers: federal civilian agencies; state local, tribal, and territorial governments; and the private sector. Assistance includes three lines of business to support these customers: information sharing, best practices, and technical assistance. Support to state and local customers, such as election officials, is part of our daily operations.

NPPD shared actionable information about electoral infrastructure incidents through direct outreach to state and local governments and through the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) to enhance situational awareness and provide election officials with the information needed to protect themselves from similar incidents.

The NCCIC works with the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) to provide threat and vulnerability information to state and local officials. The MS-ISAC was created by DHS over a decade ago and is partially grant-funded by NPPD. The MS-ISAC composition is restricted to state and local government entities. It has representatives co-located with the NCCIC to enable regular collaboration and access to information and services for state chief information officers. All states are members of the MS-ISAC.

During the 2016 election cycle, and in future elections, NPPD offered and will continue to offer voluntary assistance from the NCCIC to state and local election officials and authorities interested in securing their infrastructure. The NCCIC provides this same assistance on an ongoing basis to public and private sector partners upon request.

Establishment of coordinating councils for election infrastructure owners and operators: DHS is working collaboratively with election officials and vendors of election infrastructure to establish coordinating councils that will be used to develop a physical and cyber security and resilience strategy for the Election Infrastructure subsector and define how the Federal government will work with election officials and vendors going forward. The coordinating councils will also be used to regularly share information on relevant threats and vulnerabilities quickly and efficiently so that owners and operators can manage their risk. Historically, DHS has not had active engagement directly with the state and local election community, so we’re working on broadening and deepening those relationships, identifying requirements, and educating on our capabilities.

Through engagements with state and local election officials, including working through the Sector Coordinating Council, DHS actively promotes a range of services to include:

Cyber hygiene service for Internet-facing systems: This voluntary service is conducted remotely, after which DHS can provide state and local officials with a report identifying vulnerabilities and mitigation recommendations to improve the cybersecurity of systems connected to the Internet, such as online voter registration systems, election night reporting systems, and other Internet-connected election management systems.

Risk and vulnerability assessments: These assessments are more thorough and done on-site by DHS cybersecurity experts. They typically require two to three weeks and include a wide range of vulnerability testing services, focused on both internal and external systems. When DHS conducts these assessments, we provide a full report of vulnerabilities and recommended mitigations following the testing. These assessments are available on a limited, first-come, first-served basis.

Incident Response Assistance: We encourage state and local election officials to report suspected malicious cyber activity to the NCCIC. On request, the NCCIC can provide on-site assistance in identifying and remediating a cyber incident. Information reported to the NCCIC is also critical to the federal government’s ability to broadly assess malicious attempts to infiltrate election systems. This technical information will also be shared with other states to assist their ability to defend their own systems from similar malicious activity.

Information sharing: DHS will continue to share relevant information on cyber incidents through multiple means. The NCCIC works with the MS-ISAC. Election officials can connect with their state Chief Information Officer or the MS-ISAC directly as one way to benefit from this partnership and rapidly receive information they can use to protect their systems. State election officials may also receive incident information directly from the NCCIC.

Classified information sharing: DHS provides classified briefings to cleared stakeholders upon request, and as appropriate and necessary.

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

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

In closing, we want to reiterate that the fundamental right of all citizens to be heard by having their vote accurately counted is at the core of our American values. Ensuring the integrity of our electoral process is a vital national interest and one of our highest priorities as citizens in a democratic society. We have confidence in the overall integrity of our electoral system. Our voting infrastructure is diverse, subject to local control, and has many checks and balances built in. As the threat environment evolves, the Department will continue to work with state and local partners to enhance our understanding of the threat and make essential physical and cybersecurity tools and resources available to the public and private sectors to increase security and resiliency.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify, and we look forward to your questions.

Topics:  Critical Infrastructure Security Keywords:  Russia, Election infrastructure, Election security

Readout of Secretary Kelly's Meeting with Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 18:33
Release Date: June 20, 2017

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

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly met today with President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama to reaffirm the strong relationship between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Panama on migration, law enforcement, and air, land, and maritime border security priorities.

Secretary Kelly highlighted during the meeting that the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America provides the framework for our engagement not just with the Northern Triangle countries, but for all of Central America.  He also expressed appreciation for Panama’s leadership as a regional partner and an effective and enthusiastic counterpart in efforts to interdict narcotics and combat transnational criminal organizations.

Secretary Kelly congratulated President Varela on his efforts to reform and professionalize the Panamanian security services, to include the roughly 6,000 officers engaged in counter narcotics operations, and offered to provide training and other general support to Panama’s law enforcement agencies.



Topics:  Air, Land, Law Enforcement Partnerships, Maritime Keywords:  Secretary Kelly, Maritime, law enforcement

Written testimony of ICE for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence field hearing titled “Combating Gang Violence on Long Island: Shutting Down the MS-13 Pipeline”

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: June 20, 2017

Central Islip, New York

Chairman King, Ranking Member Rice, and distinguished members:

As Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss our efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and investigate violent gang activity within the United States. The official statement I have submitted and my oral testimony today will focus specifically on HSI’s focus on combatting transnational gang violence by the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, on Long Island.

ICE has the most expansive investigative authority and largest force of criminal investigators in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ICE’s national and global footprint enables us to leverage our broad statutory authority to uphold public safety and support border enforcement. And the key to our success against gangs like MS-13 is our multifaceted approach to attacking violent crime with our state, local, tribal, and foreign law enforcement partners.

During his first two weeks in office, President Trump signed a series of Executive Orders (EOs) that laid the policy groundwork for the Department and ICE to carry out the critical work of securing our borders, enforcing our immigration laws, and ensuring that individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety cannot enter or remain in the United States. These EOs establish the Administration’s policy of effective border security and immigration enforcement through the faithful execution of the laws passed by Congress.

The heightened enforcement of our Nation’s immigration laws in the interior of the United States is critically important to the national security and public safety of the United States. Aliens who illegally enter the United States, or even those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas, have violated our nation’s laws and can pose a threat to national security and public safety. This is particularly true for aliens who engage in criminal conduct in the United States.

As directed by the President’s Executive Order 13773, Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking, ICE will continue to give a high priority and devote sufficient resources to dismantling TCOs and subsidiary organizations. ICE will continue to focus on cooperative work and data sharing with other Federal agencies, as well as work with foreign counterparts by sharing intelligence and law enforcement information when appropriate and permitted by law.

MS-13 Activity in New York

MS-13 are primarily immigrants or descendants of immigrants from the Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Through kidnappings, murders, and other violent crime, MS-13 terrorizes communities. Since the beginning of 2017, New York has seen an uptick in gang violence, with 11 murders attributed to MS-13 alone. The gruesome murders of four Long Island teenagers at the hands of MS-13 just this April shocked our nation.

HSI does not take this lightly. To disrupt the MS-13 threat, HSI has uncovered and pieced together MS-13’s sophisticated communication and financial network. As we have learned, MS-13’s primary source of income is generated through extortion, prostitution, membership dues, and illicit trafficking. Targeting MS-13’s assets, HSI was pivotal in having MS-13 designated as a transnational criminal organization by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Disrupting the MS-13 Pipeline

HSI’s ever-evolving strategy to investigate and disrupt MS-13 is informed by how the gang operates. Let me touch on three critical points:

First, Illicit Pathways.

MS-13 exploits illicit pathways throughout Central and South America to further its mission to “rape, control, and kill.”

HSI, through its unique border authorities and vast international footprint, is targeting these illicit pathways. HSI New York established an Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force, which, in partnership with Department of Justice (DOJ), investigates foreign-based Human Smuggling Networks that pose a threat to the United States. Just this May, ICE implemented a three-phase plan to target the human smuggling organizations that MS-13 exploits to bring unaccompanied alien children into the United States.

Second, Recruitment.

Illicit pathways go hand-in-hand with MS-13 increasing its membership. Once these children are smuggled into the United States, they become prime targets for enlistment into the gang. Since the beginning of fiscal year 2015, more than 5,000 unaccompanied alien children have resettled in Long Island. MS-13 preys on their vulnerability; some of these children may lack familial relationships or community ties. In fact, reports suggest that MS-13 attempts to recruit in some schools and pressures children into joining with the threat of retribution.

With the invaluable partnership of local law enforcement, HSI has kept its proverbial finger on the pulse of MS-13 activity across Long Island.

Third, Financing.

MS-13 cannot survive without money. Investigations have revealed that MS-13 maintains a sophisticated communication and financial network that supports its nefarious activities. As we have learned, MS-13 generates illicit income through extortion, prostitution, membership dues, and illicit trafficking.

Operation Community Shield

In 2005, ICE initiated Operation Community Shield (OCS), a cross-border effort to combat transnational criminal organizations. HSI locates, investigates, and arrests gang members to get them off our streets. Whenever possible, ICE will pursue and effectuate removal orders to remove gang members from the United States.

OCS is the primary platform through which HSI executes its anti-gang initiatives, including Specialized Urban Response – Gang Enforcement (SURGE) operations. From March 26, 2017 to May 6, 2017, a nationwide SURGE operation led to 1,098 criminal arrests and 280 administrative immigration arrests. In the course of those operations, HSI seized 238 firearms, nearly $500,000 in currency, and over 271 kilograms of illicit narcotics.

Since this operation started in 2005, HSI and its partner agencies have made over 57,000 gang-related criminal and administrative immigration arrests. 7,000 of these arrests were affiliated with MS-13.

From FY 2016 to FY 2017 (as of June 4, 2017), HSI has made over 8,000 gang-related criminal arrests, leading to over 2,600 convictions. During this same time period, HSI made 1,117 administrative immigration arrests of gang members.

Much of this enforcement activity targets MS-13. From FY 2016 to FY 2017 (as of June 4, 2017), HSI made 602 criminal arrests of MS-13 gang leaders, members, and associates that resulted so far in 153 convictions. And during this same time period, HSI made 170 administrative immigration arrests of MS-13 members. HSI has 87 domestic and international gang investigations targeting MS-13 in Long Island and throughout the country.

Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Partnerships

In response to the recent spate of extreme violence perpetrated by MS-13, HSI New York initiated Operation Matador (OPMAT). This interagency DHS endeavor is designed to combat the proliferation of MS-13 recruitment, membership, and criminal activity.

The framework underlying OPMAT integrates various missions – enforcement, interdiction, intelligence, border security, and ultimately, public safety.

OPMAT is able to disrupt MS-13 through five key attributes:

  1. Intelligence gathering;
  2. Actionable lead development;
  3. Targeted enforcement;
  4. Criminal and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) investigation development; and
  5. Community outreach to at-risk youth in the affected cities.

As a result of this ongoing operation, to date, HSI has made 35 criminal and administrative arrests; 30 of them are known or suspected MS-13 members. It bears repeating that our law enforcement partners are crucial to OPMAT’s success, including the Nassau County Police Department, Suffolk County Police Department, and the New York Police Department (NYPD).

Operation Matador

In response to the recent uptick of extreme violence perpetrated by MS-13, HSI-NY’s latest endeavor is Operation Matador. It brings together our DHS partners in a unified approach to combatting MS-13’s growth by integrating key missions – enforcement, interdiction, intelligence, border security, and ultimately, public safety. As a result of this ongoing operation, to date. HSI has made 35 criminal and administrative arrests; 30 of them are known or suspected MS-13 members.


Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of ICE and its law enforcement mission. ICE is committed to investigating MS-13 gang violence and disrupting the MS-13 pipeline.

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

Topics:  Immigration Enforcement, Law Enforcement Partnerships Keywords:  MS-13

Statement on Attack in London

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 11:56
Release Date: June 19, 2017

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

The Department of Homeland Security is closely monitoring the attack near a mosque in London in addition to early reports of the attack in Paris this morning. DHS stands with our European allies in fighting back against all forms of terrorism, and we will continue to work together to keep our communities safe against violent extremists who target any of our people.

The Secretary has been fully briefed on both incidents and will continue to monitor the situations.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected by these violent and reprehensible attacks.



Topics:  Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  Secretary Kelly, countering violent extremism, countering terrorism

Building Capacity to Fight Corruption and Impunity

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 17:04
Release Date: June 16, 2017

This afternoon, delegates from the United States, Mexico, Central America and other international partners discussed the key to ensuring security in the region: strong judicial systems that prosecute crime thus deterring illegal behavior. The U.S. commended regional governments' fight against corruption at all levels of society, which demonstrates a commitment to governance, transparency, and strong institutions.

Strong governance leads to a more secure and stable Central America while promoting the free flow of goods and services north and south and combatting the illicit movement of people and contraband.

Northern Triangle government officials committed to expanding and modernizing legal and financial instruments to combat money laundering and capitalize on asset forfeiture. Discussion also focused on law enforcement and prosecutorial best practices like support for attorneys general, strengthening court and penal systems, and the role of civil society and investigative journalism.

Global financial networks have changed the way we combat not only transnational criminal organizations but also everyday criminals. Delegates discussed increasing training for agents on how to follow money flows across borders and how to facilitate information sharing. The delegates also agreed international regulations are needed regarding crypto-currencies.

Additionally, having extradition policies in place among the United States and Central American and Mexican partners deters crime across the entire region.


Topics:  Economic Security Keywords:  #CentAm2017

United States Key Deliverables for the June 15-16, 2017 Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 16:48
Release Date: June 16, 2017

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin co-hosted the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America in Miami, Florida on June 15-16, 2017 with Mexican Foreign Secretary Videgaray Caso, Interior Secretary Osorio Chong, and Secretary of Finance José Antonio Meade Kuribeña, and attended by President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala, President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, and Vice President Oscar Ortiz of El Salvador.  Other meeting participants included U.S. and Latin American private sector leaders, senior government representatives from Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union, Nicaragua, Panama, and Spain, and leaders from the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

Conference participants discussed policies to promote investment in the region, facilitate sustainable growth, and improve conditions for U.S. and other companies.  They also discussed tangible ways to combat organized crime and promote regional security cooperation, improve citizen security, and enhance the rule of law.  In addition, conference participants reaffirmed their support for the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity, an initiative led by the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

A secure and stable Central America contributes to a safer and more prosperous United States by helping to secure U.S. borders, protect U.S. citizens, and increase opportunities for U.S. businesses.  U.S. engagement in Central America aims to destroy transnational criminal organizations, combat drug trafficking and deter illegal migration, and increase private sector investment to create employment and economic opportunity in the region.  The United States also recognizes its responsibility to address the demand for illegal drugs which creates the market for transnational criminal organizations.

Throughout the conference, the United States highlighted its support for the Alliance for Prosperity and its efforts to address the economic, security, and governance challenges in the region.  Since the launch of the Alliance for Prosperity in 2014, the United States has allocated $1.3 billion to Central America.  The U.S. Congress included $655 million in Fiscal Year 2017 to continue U.S. support for the region.  The U.S. Administration’s FY 2018 budget request includes $460 million to further advance these goals.  The United States is committed to continue to improve the delivery of U.S. foreign assistance to the region.  The United States also recognizes the efforts of the Northern Triangle countries to mobilize their domestic resources to implement the Alliance for Prosperity.

Promoting Investment, Economic Growth, and Job Creation

Northern Triangle governments committed to enact reforms to improve their business climates, including eliminating red tape, improving transparency, and streamlining business formalization processes.

Northern Triangle governments agreed to macroeconomic stability and fund their development, including ongoing efforts to raise revenues efficiently while improving the investment environment.  These changes will help companies, including U.S. firms, expand their businesses in the Northern Triangle markets.

The United States, Mexican, and Northern Triangle governments reaffirmed the importance of trade between our countries and identified obstacles preventing the facilitation of trade and the ease of doing business.  Northern Triangle governments committed to further develop the roadmap to enhance economic integration and streamline import and export systems and procedures employed by government agencies.  They also agreed to continue to work on improving the flow of commercial traffic at border crossings to strengthen customs and other trade-related procedures, reducing the time and cost of trade, and boosting overall economic competitiveness of the Northern Triangle countries.

To further integrate energy markets, participating governments, which require national transmission upgrades, confirmed financing for upgrades that will maximize use of the Central American Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC) transmission line.  The IDB also announced it will organize a Ministerial meeting by April 2018 and encourage members of Mexico’s SIEPAC Interconnection Commission to present legal, technical, regulatory, and infrastructure proposals to develop a general market design between Mexico and Central America’s regional electricity market and transmission infrastructure to connect Mexico and SIEPAC.  In addition, the United States announced technical assistance to support integration and investment in Central America.

Representatives of the private sector and international financial institutions identified solutions to simplify and improve transparency in trade and customs procedures, strengthen energy security, develop infrastructure, and create jobs.  The United States welcomes the agreement for the Americas Business Dialogue to establish a working group to address these issues in the Northern Triangle countries.

Enhancing Regional Security

The United States agreed to support regional governments in combatting organized crime, enhancing citizen security, improving the secure flow of goods and people, increasing transparency, and promoting regional security cooperation.  These steps will contribute to the safety and security of the United States and the region by addressing transnational criminal organizations responsible for illegal migration and illicit trafficking, as well as improving conditions for investment and economic growth.

The Northern Triangle countries and the United States agreed to improve information sharing and local capacity building to advance the region’s ability to combat these organizations.  Specific efforts to share biometric data and investigative files will improve the governments’ ability to dismantle transnational criminal organizations and eliminate the cross-border networks that contribute to violence in Central America, Mexico, and the United States.  Regional governments also agreed to training programs and equipment delivery for targeting transnational criminal organizations.

Northern Triangle leaders committed to support a migration observatory supported by the United States to study and share information on regional migration flows.  They also committed to explore the creation of early warning protocols regarding the movement of drugs, weapons, money, and other illicit goods.

The United States will continue to work with the Northern Triangle governments to support the commitments made through the U.S.-Northern Triangle Transnational Crime Roundtable.  These commitments include: recognizing that transnational criminal organizations and their illicit activities pose a common threat to the region; implementing policies and domestic legislation to increase the effectiveness and capacity of law enforcement and prosecuting agencies; and improving coordination and information sharing to more effectively dismantle transnational criminal organizations and their financial networks.

Regional governments agreed to explore enhancements to border security – both maritime and terrestrial – through cross-border cooperation, and to target drug trafficking organizations and human smuggling networks working in Central America.  Northern Triangle governments also agreed to increase internal coordination between national institutions at key ports of entry to improve efforts to detect and seize contraband, deter human smuggling and trafficking, and improve regional security.

In partnership with the United States, the Northern Triangle governments agreed to expand support for comprehensive violence reduction, focus on creating opportunities for youth, at the local level and identify the priority areas that require additional strengthening.  Collaboration between the United States and Northern Triangle countries to address violence on a local level has already reduced violent crime rates in some of the most vulnerable communities in the region.

Continued Engagement

The United States, Mexican, and Northern Triangle governments agreed to use existing mechanisms to review and follow up on the conference commitments.

Topics:  Economic Security Keywords:  #CentAm2017

Improving Citizen Security Session

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 15:37
Release Date: June 16, 2017

Citizens deserve the right to live free of violence, and free of the threat of violence in times of peace. With this in mind, this afternoon featured a session on improving public safety in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Panelists discussed this topic in the context of regional security and cooperation, building upon earlier discussions about combating organized crime and transnational criminal networks and enhancing border security.

USAID noted that violence concentrates geographically and demographically due to common root causes like social exclusion, poverty, and unemployment.  USAID recommended treating violence the same as public health—by targeting key drivers and root causes. 

Law enforcement was also identified as a key to reducing violence, which is why strategies to professionalize police forces and root out corruption were a frequent topic of conversation, as was community policing. 

Delegates from Mexico, Columbia, Honduras and the United States shared lessons learned through their anti-violence campaigns. For example, Mexico stressed the need to collect and analyze data, such as which streets are more likely to have car thefts, in order to in order to effectively target criminal activities.

The panelists concluded that cooperation and consensus—between the community, law enforcement, community leaders, government, and the private sector—strengthened citizen security.  More secure citizens lead to stronger communities, and safer nations, in Central America and beyond. 

Topics:  Economic Security Keywords:  #CentAm2017

Summary of the Opening Remarks for Day Two of the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 14:29
Release Date: June 16, 2017

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly, along with representatives from Mexico and Central America, delivered opening remarks on the second day of The Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America at U.S. Southern Command Center in Miami, Florida.

The second day of the conference focus is on security issues of Central American countries and addressing tangible ways for the United States, Mexico, and Central American countries to combat organized crime, enhance citizen security, increase transparency, and promote regional security cooperation.  Security and prosperity go hand in hand; you cannot do one without the other.

Official DHS Photo by Jetta Disco / Office of Public Affairs.


Topics:  Economic Security Keywords:  #CentAm2017

Combating Organized Crime and Regional Security Cooperation Readout

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 14:25
Release Date: June 16, 2017

One of the greatest threats to security in the Western Hemisphere is Transnational Criminal Organizations, or TCOs. With no regard for human life, TCOs move anything and everything through their dark networks—including weapons, counterfeit goods, and smuggled and trafficked persons. They play a large role in the North American drug epidemic—a crisis that claimed more than 60,000 lives in 2016, the highest level in history. 

Together, the United States, Mexico, and the Northern Triangle countries are fighting back.  During the first session of the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America Security Day, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly held a discussion with President Morales of Guatemala; President Hernandez of Honduras; Vice President Oscar Ortiz of El Salvador; Secretary Osorio Chong of Mexico; Minister Bethancourt Yau of Panama; Minister Villegas of Colombia; and Minister Mata Vega of Costa Rica.  

They discussed ways their countries can support regional efforts on counter-narcotics, dismantling TCOs, and ending human trafficking and smuggling.  They emphasized that individual countries cannot fight these battles alone. Whether it’s combatting TCOs, terrorism, or trafficking, the leadership agreed on the need to work together in forming multi-government partnerships to share information, conduct seizures, and share resources. They also agreed that each nation must commit their own resources as part of a larger, comprehensive strategy to target these threats to the region.

This dialogue is an important step in working together to make the Western Hemisphere more secure.

Topics:  Economic Security Keywords:  #CentAm2017

Rescission of Memorandum Providing for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (“DAPA”)

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 20:07
Release Date: June 15, 2017

On June 15, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, after consulting with the Attorney General, signed a memorandum rescinding the November 20, 2014 memorandum that created the program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (“DAPA”) because there is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy. 

The rescinded memo purported to provide a path for illegal aliens with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child to be considered for deferred action.  To be considered for deferred action, an alien was required to satisfy six criteria:

(1) as of November 20, 2014, be the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;

(2) have continuously resided here since before January 1, 2010;

(3) have been physically present here on November 20, 2014, and when applying for relief;

(4) have no lawful immigration status on that date;

(5) not fall within the Secretary’s enforcement priorities; and

(6) “present no other factors that, in the exercise of discretion, make [ ] the grant of deferred action inappropriate.”

Prior to implementation of DAPA, twenty-six states challenged the policies established in the DAPA memorandum in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The district court enjoined implementation of the DAPA memorandum, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision, and the Supreme Court allowed the district court’s injunction to remain in place.

The rescinded policy also provided expanded work authorization for recipients under the DACA program for three years versus two years.  This policy was also enjoined nationwide and has now been rescinded. 

The June 15, 2012 memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in effect. 

For more information, see our frequently asked questions.

# # #

Topics:  Immigration and Citizenship Services, Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  DAPA

Frequently Asked Questions: Rescission of Memorandum Providing for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (“DAPA”)

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 20:03
Release Date: June 15, 2017Q. Why is DHS rescinding the policy?

A. Secretary Kelly considered a number of factors, including the nationwide injunction of the DAPA memorandum, the ongoing litigation, the fact that DAPA never took effect, and our new immigration enforcement priorities.

Q: Why was DAPA never implemented?

A: Federal courts halted the policy before it was implemented. 

Q. What were the factors to be considered for DAPA?
  1. To request consideration for deferred action under DAPA, the alien must have satisfied the following criteria: 
    • as of November 20, 2014, be the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
    • have continuously resided here since before January 1, 2010;
    • have been physically present here on November 20, 2014, and when applying for relief;
    • have no lawful immigration status on that date;
    • not fall within the Secretary’s enforcement priorities; and
    • “present no other factors that, in the exercise of discretion, make[ ] the grant of deferred action inappropriate.” 
    • The Memorandum also directed USCIS to expand the coverage criteria under the 2012 DACA policy to encompass aliens with a wider range of ages and arrival dates, and to lengthen the period of deferred action and work authorization from two years to three (“Expanded DACA”).
Q. Will this affect DACA?

A. This rescission will not affect the terms of the original DACA program as outlined in the June 15, 2012 memorandum.

Q. Does this mean that DACA recipients will not be able to apply for a three-year work authorization, as established in the DAPA memorandum?

A. DACA recipients will continue to be eligible as outlined in the June 15, 2012 memorandum. DACA recipients who were issued three-year extensions before the district court’s injunction will not be affected, and will be eligible to seek a two-year extension upon their expiration. No work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates. 


Topics:  Immigration and Citizenship Services, Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  undefined

Opening Plenary Session of the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 17:38
Release Date: June 15, 2017

This morning U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly kicked-off the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America in Miami, Florida with Mexican Foreign Secretary Videgaray and Mexican Interior Secretary Osorio Chong. The open plenary session was also attended by Vice President Óscar Ortiz of El Salvador, President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala, and President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, as well as U.S. and Latin American private sector leaders and other international partners.

During the session, the leaders’ broad remarks addressed the economic, security, and governance challenges in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Sec. Tillerson noted that strong infrastructure is a key component to economic growth, as well as improving the business climate by removing excessive regulations and rooting out corruption. It is estimated that 25 million new urban dwellers will reside in Central America in the coming years, and Sec. Tillerson urged the private sector to consider ways they could partner with the Northern Triangle governments to provide goods and services to these people.

Sec. Videgaray reiterated Mexico’s desire to come together to solve the problems hindering economic growth in Central America, saying that increasing trade amongst nations is one way to achieve prosperity. He said Mexico intends to invest over two billion into their ports as one way Mexico is making it easier to move goods in and out of the region.  

U.S. and Mexican engagement in Central America also aims to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, combat drug trafficking and deter illegal migration, and increase private sector investment to create employment and economic opportunity.

This conference is mobilizing international partners to positively impact the region.  President Morales urged the private sector to help Guatemala build and rebuild their roads, their ports, and their hospitals.

Together, the Western Hemisphere countries at this conference are targeting the root causes of illicit activities that threaten regional stability.  Together, they are removing obstacles to economic growth, including barriers to trade and investment for American businesses. As Vice President Ortiz stated, ‘It is important for us to become better coordinated on social, economic, and security issues.’

The remarks during the opening session set the tone for the next two days of meetings, when conference participants will discuss policies to address the underlying drivers of illegal migration and illicit trafficking affecting the region, as well as tangible ways to combat organized crime, promote regional security cooperation, improve citizen security, and build the capacity to fight corruption and impunity. These actions would spark investment in the region, promote sustainable growth, and improve conditions for U.S. and other international businesses. 

Topics:  DHS Enterprise Keywords:  #CentAm2017

Remarks By Vice President Mike Pence At The Northern Triangle Conference

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 17:17
Release Date: June 15, 2017

Florida International University
Miami, Florida

1:18 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  And thank you all, I’m truly honored to be with you at this important gathering.

But before I begin, allow me to address the attack that took place yesterday in our Nation’s Capital.

President Trump and I were deeply saddened when we were informed yesterday morning that a gunman had opened fire on the Republican congressional baseball team, injuring five people as they practiced for tonight’s annual charity baseball game.

I served with many of these congressmen.  They're my friends, including Representative Steve Scalise, who was seriously wounded.  But I can say with confidence that he continues to receive the best possible medical care at Medstar Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Congressman Scalise is a good man.  He’s a principled leader and a patriot.  And like all those who come to serve in our Nation’s Capital, Steve loves this country, and his service does credit to the people of his state and the people of this nation.

Karen and I join millions across America in praying for Steve, for all the injured, and their families in this difficult time.  But we're especially grateful to the brave police officers who ran into danger without regard to their personal safety.

As I told her and her family this morning at the hospital, the courageous actions of Officer Crystal Griner and that of Officer David Bailey saved lives and prevented an even greater tragedy.  And the American people are grateful for these courageous police officers.  (Applause.)

While there will always be those who seek to divide, who profit from insult over insight -- tonight, on a baseball field in our Nation’s Capital, the world will see America is better than that.  As President Trump said yesterday, we are strongest when we are unified, when we work together for the common good.

And when a neighbor is hurting or under attack, the American people always come together with generosity, compassion, and prayer.  And we always will.

It’s in that spirit, that I’m honored to stand here with all of you today -- our neighbors, as well, from across North, Central, and South America -- at this historic gathering.

So President Hernandez, President Morales, Vice President Ortiz, Secretary Videgaray, Secretary Osorio, members of the Cabinet, honored guests, it is my privilege as Vice President of the United States to welcome you to this Conference on the Prosperity and Security in Central America.  (Applause.)

I bring greetings today from my friend, and a champion of the strong partnership between the United States and Central America, the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump.

Allow me also to thank Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary John Kelly, and their Departments of State and Homeland Security for their extraordinary efforts in bringing together this historic gathering.

Allow me to also thank the government of Mexico for their full partnership in making this event possible.  Let’s give these departments and let’s give the government of Mexico a vigorous round of applause.  (Applause.)

I am also grateful for the presence of our Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin.  And I want to express my appreciation to the Inter-American Development Bank and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for organizing yesterday’s economic event.

And also let me personally thank all the public- and private-sector leaders who traveled to be here from across the Western Hemisphere and Europe.

Before such a distinguished group of leaders, today it is my privilege, on President Trump’s behalf, to thank President Hernandez, to thank President Morales, and to thank [Vice] President Ortiz for the progress that you have made in the Northern Triangle.  We congratulate you and we commend you.  (Applause.)

Thank you for your leadership.  Thank you for your courage. And thank you for your strong stand and your personal sacrifice to ensure a more secure and prosperous Central America.  We couldn’t be more grateful.

Since the founding of the Alliance for Prosperity in 2014, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador have devoted significant resources toward a brighter future for your people.

You’ve courageously pursued the fight against corruption, crime, and drug trafficking.  You’ve undertaken structural reforms to establish a stronger foundation for economic growth; and you are working in close cooperation with regional partners, your business communities, and multinational institutions to implement long-term solutions to the problems facing Central America.

Your resolve is impressive and know today that you have the great respect of the President of the United States and the American people.  (Applause.)

And on behalf of the President, allow me to assure you the United States of America stands with the nations and people of the Northern Triangle.  We stand with you in your commitment to root out crime and corruption.  We stand with you in your commitment to stop the scourge of drug trafficking once and for all.

And the United States of America stands with you as you build a more secure and prosperous future for the benefit of your people and the benefit of the Western Hemisphere.  (Applause.)

In a word, we're in this together.  As the President has said often, his highest duty as President of the United States is to keep America safe.  But this President knows that your security and your prosperity are directly connected to ours.

This very gathering is a testament to President Trump’s commitment to a stronger, safer, and more prosperous Central America.  I’m pleased to announce, at the President’s direction, that I’ll be traveling to Central and South America later this year to continue to build on the good work being done at this conference.  (Applause.)

The people of the United States have a special place in our hearts for the nations and the people of Central America, especially in the Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Your nations experienced your birth of independence when the United States was still in the youth of our own.  We are bound together by history and geography.  We are bound together by commerce and the nearly $25 billion in goods and services that flow between us every year.

But most of all, we are bound together by friendship, by the rich traditions and contributions that the sons and daughters of the Northern Triangle have made to the fabric of American life and make to this day.

Be assured, the United States is proud of our strong partnership with nations in the Northern Triangle.  We are committed to strengthening that partnership so that we can continue to address the significant problems facing our neighborhood.

You sit at the heart of the Western Hemisphere, where North meets South; and every day, countless people and products pass over your streets, through your airports, your seaports, and across your borders.  By and large, this flow of commerce and crowds benefits us both in the exchange of culture and goods and services.

But as we all know, Central America has been plagued, as well, by vicious gangs and vast criminal organizations that drive illegal immigration and carry illegal drugs on northward their journey to the United States.  These criminal syndicates wreak havoc everywhere their tentacles spread, as your people know all too well.

At this very moment, there is an estimated 85,000 active gang members in the Northern Triangle alone, and they bring untold misery, corruption, and violence to your communities.  One out of every five citizens in this region is a victim of crime every year -- from theft, to extortion, to kidnapping, to human trafficking, or worse.

But the consequences of this rampant crime are not restricted to the Northern Triangle.  They radiate outward, and swiftly reach us here in the United States.  Central America is merely the beginning of a journey for too many migrants fleeing poverty and violence.  It’s merely a stop on the highway as people confront the merchants of death in the region.

Driven by the high demand for narcotics here in the United Stated States, fully 80 percent of documented drug traffic travels through Central America -- 80 percent.  The American people are reminded of the terrible cost of drug trafficking, gang violence, and illegal immigration every day.

We see it in the gangs and violence that plague our streets and cities.  We see it in the news with the names of the victims and their families.  And we see it on the faces of our families and friends who have fallen prey to the scourge of drug addiction.

President Trump has made it clear that this must end, and under his leadership and yours, this will end.  (Applause.)

President Trump has already taken decisive action to protect the American people from the harshest consequences of illegal immigration and the transnational drug trade.

This President has ordered the creation of, in his words, an “aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread all across our nation,” and our administration has wasted no time under the leadership of Secretary Kelly in removing gang members, drug dealers, and criminals off the streets of America.

The President’s leadership is already making a difference. Criminal organizations such as MS-13 are being decimated and going directly into prison.

And thanks to President Donald Trump, illegal crossings at America’s southern border are down nearly 70 percent since the start of this year.  And we are grateful for our partners in Mexico and across the Northern Triangle who have contributed to our progress in this area.

But to further stem the flow of illegal immigration and illegal drugs into the United States, President Trump knows, as do all of you, that we must confront these problems at their source.  We must meet them -- and we must solve them -- in Central and South America.

The United States’ partnership with the Northern Triangle is built to accomplish this vital mission.  It’s what brings us here today.  In terms of security, the United States of America is helping train your police forces.  We’re supporting your attorneys general as they target drug traffickers, gang leaders, and corruption.  We're sharing information to better disrupt the flow of weapons and cash into criminal hands.

The United States is proud to support programs in the Northern Triangle that strengthen civil society, improve education and literacy, and spur economic growth in impoverished areas.

American assistance in business development and agriculture in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras in recent years has created more than 40,000 jobs and lifted tens of thousands of families out of poverty.

Rest assured, under the leadership of President Trump, the United States will continue to work with our partners to support the programs that prove effective.

Even in this time of fiscal challenges, I’m pleased to report that President Trump has made clear our commitment to this region by requesting an additional $460 million for security and prosperity in Central America.  (Applause.)

But as you all know, the most important work throughout the region is to be by the nations and the people who call it home.  A secure and prosperous Central America requires nothing short of national transformation on an ongoing basis from within -- in the economy, in civil society, in the halls of government.  In the Northern Triangle, we ask you with great respect that you maintain and seek to expand your commitment to tackle these problems head on.

Through the Alliance for Prosperity, you have already made sustained annual commitments in recent years exceeding $2.8 billion to stimulate growth, improve safety, root out corruption, end the environment of impunity, and enact other important reforms.  These are vital investments in your future.

Yet continued action is more necessary now than ever before.  On behalf of the President, we urge you to cement the gains that you have made and make renewed progress toward our shared goal of security and prosperity in Central America.

Working together, we will continue to build professional and accountable civilian police forces throughout the region.  We’ll continue to support your campaign against public corruption and to strengthen the rule of law.

And together, we’ll continue to provide more people with a path out of poverty -- to give the citizens of Central America a better path and a brighter future.  But to accomplish these goals, the nations of Central America must continue to work with new partners -- in the business community, in government, and in the faith community -- to foster stronger and more robust civil societies and economies, to stanch the flow of illegal drugs and illegal immigration, and to combat gang violence and organized crime.

A flourishing economy gives people a reason to put down roots in the land of their birth and to grow, rather than fleeing to the north.  Good-paying jobs give people an alternative to a life of poverty, hopelessness, and crime.

By fostering opportunity in the cities and towns of Central America, we’ll keep families together.  We’ll create stronger and more stable communities where your sons and daughters can climb the ladder of success and build a brighter future for themselves, their loved ones, and your nations as a whole.

The surest way to make progress toward opportunity and prosperity is for the nations of the Northern Triangle to continue to break down barriers to job creation and growth, to reform their tax and regulatory systems, and to root out corruption at every level of government.

This room is proof that businesses also see tremendous opportunity in the Northern Triangle and beyond.  Businesses from North and Central America are so well represented here, as are the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

These institutions and industry leaders I can assure you want to partner with your nations to improve the investment climate, to create jobs, to spur the kind of growth that will build a foundation for a brighter future for your nation and for ours.

And on behalf of the President and all the American businesses represented here, I can promise you we want you to grow.  We want to export more goods and services to your countries because your success is our success.

These are the new and stronger partnerships that’ll be necessary for a more prosperous Central America.  And a more prosperous Central America, built on a foundation of democracy and the rule of law, will be an inspiration to other nations in this hemisphere and beyond.

We need only look to the nation of Venezuela to see what happens when democracy is undermined.  That once-rich nation’s collapse into authoritarianism has pushed it into poverty and caused untold suffering for the Venezuelan people.

We must, all of us, raise our voices to condemn the Venezuelan government for its abuse of power and its abuse of its own people, and we must do it now.  (Applause.)

And across the wider region we must show Venezuela and its people that there is a better path -- the path of democracy, of justice, and above all else, we must show Venezuela that freedom is the only path to true prosperity and to a brighter future for their people.

But we must always remember that security is the foundation of prosperity.  In the Northern Triangle, we must pursue new and stronger partnerships in a word to drive out the criminals, the cartels, the gangs, and all who would undermine a future of peace and safety for your people.

It’s vital that that the Northern Triangle expand its security cooperation and integration not just with the United States, but also with the other nations of Central America -- Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama.

So too must we continue to work closely with Mexico to cripple drug traffickers and disrupt criminal organizations as they seek to travel north.  And we cannot overestimate the importance of strong borders.  Under President Donald Trump the United States’ borders will be strong.  But the borders of the United States will always be open to legal immigrants and the lawful flow of commerce.  But we will make sure our borders are closed to those who would do us harm -- and it will be impassable to the drugs that are besetting our families and communities.

Today, we pledge to strengthen the bonds that join the United States, the Northern Triangle, and all the nations of Central America together in this New World.

Let today mark the beginning of a new era here in the New World -- of partnership and progress throughout our neighborhood for the benefit of all our people.

As the Old Book says, let us “encourage one another and build each other up,” just as, in fact, we are doing.

Together, I know we will build on the foundation of friendship between our lands and between our people.  Together, we will reach new heights of safety and security and peace and prosperity.  And together, with the help of all the leaders gathered here, with your determination and renewed commitment to the principles that make security and prosperity possible, with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God’s help, I know we will finish the task before us.  We will step forward together in the Western Hemisphere and meet the glorious future that awaits us.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless Central America and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

 END 1:39 P.M. EDT


Topics:  Economic Security Keywords:  #CentAm2017