Homeland Security and Compliance with U.S.

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Homeland Security and Compliance with U.S.

  • Joint EU-U.S. statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting

    Release Date: 
    May 23, 2018

    On 22 and 23 May 2018, the EU-U.S. Ministerial Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs was hosted by the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council in Sofia, Bulgaria. The meeting reaffirmed the long-standing, fruitful cooperation between the United States of America and the European Union in the areas of justice and home affairs, as well as the importance of jointly addressing common security threats.

    The United States was represented by the U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and the Acting Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security, Claire Grady.

    The European Union, hosting the meeting, was represented by the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová, the Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King, as well as Bulgarian Minister of Interior Valentin Radev and Minister of Justice Tsetska Tsacheva, together with Austrian Federal Minister for the Interior Herbert Kickl and Federal Minister for Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice Josef Moser, on behalf of the current and incoming Presidencies of the Council of the European Union.

    The European Union and the United States discussed their shared efforts to combat terrorism, focusing on effective information sharing, preventing radicalization, use of the internet for terrorist purposes, and vigilance with respect to aviation security, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, and explosives, especially in relation to the evolving chemical threats to aviation and in public spaces. With regard to EU-U.S. information sharing on Passenger Name Records (PNR), participants of the meeting emphasized the importance of such sharing, and noted impending developments in the separate EU-Canada PNR discussions. The participants agreed to continue the  discussion of PNR, at the next EU-U.S. Ministerial, which will take place in Washington, D.C., in the second half of 2018.

    Participants also discussed security and law enforcement cooperation in cyber-space, affirming the importance of allowing swift access to electronic evidence by law enforcement and judicial authorities, while also protecting privacy and civil liberties. Similarly, they stressed the need to maintain a safe, open, and secure cyberspace for the promotion of economic and social development, and exchanged views on how to best address this growing challenge.

    The European Union and the United States also exchanged information on developments in the area of migration, border management, and their respective visa policies.  The European Union provided an update on migration trends in Europe and ongoing initiatives to enhance the management of its external borders; the European Union and the United States took stock of the continuing progress by the European Union and the United States, including that of the five concerned EU Member States, towards meeting the statutory requirements of the Visa Waiver Program, in order to be considered for designation. Both sides also acknowledged the need for strengthening operational cooperation to effectively prevent and eradicate migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings, and also discussed the importance of secure and lawful immigration systems.

    Finally, the United States and European Union discussed the importance of ensuring swift exchange of financial information and improving the effectiveness of financial investigations. The European Union and the United States discussed the latest developments in these areas and shared best practices in an effort to step up their common fight against anti-money laundering and terrorism financing.

    Underlining the progress made in these vital areas of common interest, and re-emphasizing the fact that common solutions are necessary in order to address global security threats, the European Union and the United States committed to meet again in the second half of 2018 in Washington, D.C.


  • Joint Statement from DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats

    Release Date: 
    May 22, 2018

    Regarding Today’s Capitol Hill Briefing on Election Security:

    “Securing our nation’s election infrastructure is a vital national interest that requires the commitment of our federal, state, and local partners. This is an issue that the Administration takes seriously and is addressing with urgency. That is why today we sought to enlist Congress’ help in working with state and local election officials back home to raise awareness of the potential threats and urge them to continue to use available resources, either from DHS, the FBI or a private, third party.

    “Following the threats to our democratic process in 2016, DHS, ODNI, and the FBI each prioritized our defined roles in working with state and local election officials to assist them in their threat understanding and risk management practices. In the face of a rapidly evolving threat environment, our collaborative efforts with those on the front lines of administering our elections at the state and local levels are critical to enhancing the security of our nation’s elections. Congress is one of our most critical partners in ensuring the success of this ongoing effort. Today’s briefing provided an opportunity to highlight our individual and collective efforts to protect this critical infrastructure.

    “There is a fundamental link between public trust in our election infrastructure and the confidence the American people place in basic democratic functions. With primaries already underway across the United States, and the general election less than six months away, it is critical—now more than ever—to safeguard and secure our election infrastructure. We are encouraged to see the level of engagement today and hope to continue this ongoing conversation about reducing risks and defending our electoral process.”

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  • DHS Announces Funding Opportunity for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Preparedness Grants

    Release Date: 
    May 21, 2018

    Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen today announced the release of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Notices of Funding Opportunity for eight DHS preparedness grant programs totaling more than $1.6 billion. The grant programs provide funding to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector, to improve the nation’s readiness in preventing, protecting against, responding to, recovering from and mitigating terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. The grants reflect the Department’s focus on funding for programs that address our nation’s immediate security needs and ensure public safety in our communities.

    “The administration remains committed to strengthening the security and resilience of our state and local communities,” said Secretary Nielsen. “The DHS grant programs are flexible by design and will be used to help address evolving threats.  They will go toward building and sustaining capabilities across all levels of government and the whole community to maximize preparedness.”

    The FY 2018 grant guidance will continue to focus on the nation’s highest risk areas, including urban areas that face the most significant threats.  For FY 2018, the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) will enhance regional preparedness and capabilities by funding 32 high-threat, high-density urban areas. This represents Congressional intent to limit FY 2018 UASI funding to those Urban Areas that represent up to 85 percent of the nationwide risk, as stated in the Explanatory Statement accompanying the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2018 (Pub. L. No. 115-141).

    Consistent with previous grant guidance, dedicated funding is provided for law enforcement and terrorism prevention throughout the country to prepare for, prevent and respond to pre-operational activity and other crimes that are precursors or indicators of terrorist activity.

    Grant recipients are encouraged to use grant funding to maintain and sustain current critical core capabilities through investments in training and exercises, updates to current planning and procedures, and lifecycle replacement of equipment. New capabilities that are built using homeland security grant funding must be deployable if needed to support regional and national efforts. All capabilities being built or sustained must have a clear linkage to the core capabilities articulated in the National Preparedness Goal.

    Preparedness Grant Program Allocations for Fiscal Year 2018:

    Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG)—provides more than $350 million to assist state, local, tribal, territorial governments in enhancing and sustaining all-hazards emergency management capabilities.

    Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP)—provides more than $1 billion for states and urban areas to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other threats.

    • State Homeland Security Program (SHSP)—provides $402 million to support the implementation of risk-driven, capabilities-based State Homeland Security Strategies to address capability targets. States are required to dedicate 25 percent of SHSP funds to law enforcement terrorism prevention activities.
    • Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)—provides $580 million to enhance regional preparedness and capabilities in 32 high-threat, high-density areas. States and Urban Areas are required to dedicate 25 percent of UASI funds to law enforcement terrorism prevention activities.
    • Operation Stonegarden (OPSG)—provides $85 million to enhance cooperation and coordination among local, tribal, territorial, state and federal law enforcement agencies to jointly enhance security along the United States land and water borders.

    Since the enactment of the 9/11 Act, FEMA has required states to ensure that at least 25 percent of the total funds awarded to them under SHSP and UASI are dedicated toward law enforcement terrorism prevention activities (LETPA).  The total LETPA allocation can be satisfied from SHSP, UASI or both. In addition, states must obligate at least 80 percent of the funds awarded under SHSP and UASI to local or tribal units of government within 45 days of receipt of the funds.

    Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program (THSGP)—provides $10 million to eligible tribal nations to implement preparedness initiatives to help strengthen the nation against risk associated with potential terrorist attacks and other hazards.

    Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP)—provides $60 million to support target hardening and other physical security enhancements for nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack. This year, $50 million is provided to nonprofits in UASI-designated urban areas, and $10 million is provided to nonprofits located in any state or territory.

    Intercity Passenger Rail - Amtrak (IPR) Program—provides $10 million to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and increase the resilience of the Amtrak rail system.

    Port Security Grant Program (PSGP)—provides $100 million to help protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism, enhance maritime domain awareness, improve port-wide maritime security risk management, and maintain or reestablish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.

    Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP)—provides $88 million to owners and operators of transit systems to protect critical surface transportation and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.

    Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP)—provides $2 million to owners and operators of intercity bus systems to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.

    All preparedness Notices of Funding Opportunities can be found at www.grants.gov. Final submissions must be made through the Non-Disaster (ND) Grants system located at https://portal.fema.gov.

    Further information on DHS’s preparedness grant programs is available at www.dhs.gov and http://www.fema.gov/grants.

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  • Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Claire Grady to Travel to the U.S.- EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial

    Release Date: 
    May 21, 2018

    Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Claire Grady will travel to Sofia, Bulgaria to participate in the U.S. - EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial on Tuesday, May 22 and Wednesday, May 23. There, Acting Deputy Secretary Grady will meet with international partners to discuss joint counterterrorism efforts as well as aviation security, cybersecurity and improved vetting measures. Acting Deputy Secretary Grady will discuss threats currently facing the United States and our foreign counterparts and how joint efforts are necessary to properly address them.

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  • Readout of Meetings Between DHS, DOS, and Mexican Officials

    Release Date: 
    May 18, 2018

    As part of the ongoing dialogue between both governments over the last two days, officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of State (DOS), the Ministry of Interior (SEGOB), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) discussed regional immigration trends, including the significant increase in the number of asylum claims that both countries have experienced recently; each country’s migration-related legal and policy frameworks; and progress on joint initiatives which support prosperity and security with Central America, following up from the meeting co-convened by the United States and Mexico in June of 2017.

    DHS, DOS, SEGOB and SRE remain committed to continuing the dialogue on these and other matters of mutual interest. To that end, they agreed to carry out the 21st Century Border Technical Working Group meeting on May 22th, in which they will address border security, trade enforcement, and border infrastructure issues.

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  • DHS Honors Fallen Law Enforcement Officers During Police Week

    Release Date: 
    May 18, 2018

    Throughout the 2018 National Police Week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) honored law enforcement officers and their families for their service and sacrifice. In Washington and around the country, DHS has been involved in memorializing these heroes throughout the week.

    Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen attended memorials that focused on the important work that DHS law enforcement officers and agents do every day, and honored those killed in the line of duty:

    “Every year, in honor of Police Week, we pay tribute to the law enforcement community,” said Secretary Nielsen. “We lay a wreath in memory of those who put on a badge, went to work, and never came home again. We take time —one week out of the year—to say ‘thank you,’ and ‘I miss you.’ We reflect on those who’ve gone before us. We remember their sacrifice, and we comfort those they’ve left behind.

    “It is a remarkable privilege to lead the men and women of this Department, particularly the members of our law enforcement family. I am grateful for every one of you who has answered the call to stand up for our homeland.”

    DHS is the largest employer of federal law enforcement agents. Approximately one-third of our employees serve as law enforcement officers, and nearly 70 percent perform law enforcement functions. The Department’s law enforcement family includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Federal Protective Service (FPS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

    DHS also plays an important role in training law enforcement across the country through the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), which provides vital training to more than 90 federal partner organizations, as well as many state and local officers. Since its inception in 1970, FLETC has trained more than one million law enforcement professionals nationwide.

    DHS is proud to participate in Police Week to pay tribute to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty and honor all law enforcement officers and their families for their service to our country.

    CBP Wreath Laying Ceremony

    (DHS Official Photo/Jetta Disco)

    CBP Wreath Laying Ceremony

    (DHS Official Photo/Jetta Disco)

    USSS Wall of Honor Ceremony

    (DHS Official Photo/Jetta Disco)


  • Department of Homeland Security Unveils Strategy to Guide Cybersecurity Efforts

    Release Date: 
    May 15, 2018

    On May 15, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a strategy outlining the Department’s approach to identifying and managing national cybersecurity risk. The DHS strategy details a Department-wide approach to address the evolving threats to our nation’s cyber and critical infrastructure security.

    Directed by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, this strategy addresses strategic and operational goals and priorities to successfully execute the full range of the DHS Secretary’s cybersecurity responsibilities. The intent is for this strategy to enable the harmonization and prioritization of DHS planning, programming, budgeting, and operational activities across all DHS cybersecurity mission areas. It will focus on coordinating departmental cybersecurity activities to ensure a unity of effort.

    “The cyber threat landscape is shifting in real-time, and we have reached a historic turning point,” said Secretary Nielsen. “Digital security is now converging with personal and physical security, and it is clear that our cyber adversaries can now threaten the very fabric of our republic itself. That is why DHS is rethinking its approach by adopting a more comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. In an age of brand-name breaches, we must think beyond the defense of specific assets—and confront systemic risks that affect everyone from tech giants to homeowners. Our strategy outlines how DHS will leverage its unique capabilities on the digital battlefield to defend American networks and get ahead of emerging cyber threats.”

    The Department’s strategy sets forth a five-part approach to manage national cyber risk aimed at ensuring the availability of critical national functions and fostering efficiency, innovation, trustworthy communication, and economic prosperity in ways consistent with our national values and that protect privacy and civil liberties.

    • Risk Identification: Assess the evolving national cybersecurity risk posture to inform and prioritize risk management activities.
    • Vulnerability Reduction: Protect federal government information systems by reducing the vulnerabilities of federal agencies to ensure they achieve an adequate level of cybersecurity.
    • Threat Reduction: Reduce national cyber threats by countering transnational criminal organizations and sophisticated cyber criminals.
    • Consequence Mitigation: Respond effectively to cyber incidents to thereby minimize consequences from potentially significant cyber incidents through coordinated community-wide response efforts.
    • Enable Cybersecurity Outcomes: Strengthen the security and reliability of the cyber ecosystem by supporting policies and activities that enable improved global cybersecurity risk management and execute departmental cybersecurity efforts in an integrated and prioritized way.

    The goals and objectives set forth in this strategy are designed to ensure that DHS maximizes its unique resources to accomplish impactful policy and operational outcomes.  A core guiding principle underlying the DHS strategy approach is collaboration across the cybersecurity community, including with our partners in the federal government, state and local governments, industry, and the international community. By working closely with our partners, the Department believes that cyberspace can be made safe and secure enabling the functioning of government, the delivery of essential services, and the betterment of the lives of the American people.

    Learn more on the strategy here.

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  • Fact Sheet: DHS Cybersecurity Policy

    Release Date: 
    May 15, 2018

    We depend upon cyberspace for daily conveniences, critical services, and economic prosperity. At the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, we believe that cyberspace can be made secure and resilient. DHS works with key partners across the Federal government, State and local governments, industry, and the international community to identify and manage national cybersecurity risks. The DHS Cybersecurity Strategy sets out five pillars of a DHS-wide risk management approach and provides a framework for executing our cybersecurity responsibilities and leveraging the full range of the Department’s capabilities to improve the security and resilience of cyberspace.

    Reducing our national cybersecurity risk requires an innovative approach that fully leverages our collective capabilities across the Department and the entire cybersecurity community. DHS will strive to better understand our national cybersecurity risk posture, and engage with key partners to collectively address cyber vulnerabilities, threats, and consequences. We will build on ongoing efforts to reduce and manage vulnerabilities of federal networks and critical infrastructure to harden them against attackers. We will reduce threats from cyber criminal activity through prioritized law enforcement intervention. We will seek to mitigate the consequences from cybersecurity incidents that do occur. Finally, we will engage with the global cybersecurity community to strengthen the security and resiliency of the overall cyber ecosystems by addressing systemic challenges like increasingly global supply chains; by fostering improvements in international collaboration to deter malicious cyber actors and build capacity; by increasing research and development, and by improving our cyber workforce.

    Through these efforts we seek to create a safe and secure cyberspace for the American people and protect the open, interoperable, secure and resilient Internet.

    DHS Cybersecurity Goals

    Pillar I Risk Identification

    Goal 1: Assess Evolving Cybersecurity Risks

    We will understand the evolving national cybersecurity risk posture to inform and prioritize risk management activities.

    Pillar II Vulnerability Reduction

    Goal 2: Protect Federal Government Information Systems

    We will reduce vulnerabilities of federal agencies to ensure they achieve an adequate level of cybersecurity.

    Goal 3: Protect Critical Infrastructure

    We will partner with key stakeholders to ensure that national cybersecurity risks are adequately managed.

    Pillar III Threat Reduction

    Goal 4: Prevent and Disrupt Criminal Use of Cyberspace

    We will reduce cyber threats by countering transnational criminal organizations and sophisticated cyber criminals.

    Pillar IV Consequence Mitigation

    Goal 5: Respond Effectively to Cyber Incidents

    We will minimize consequences from potentially significant cyber incidents through coordinated community-wide response efforts.

    Pillar V Enable Cybersecurity Outcomes

    Goal 6: Strengthen the Security and Reliability of the Cyber Ecosystem

    We will support policies and activities that enable improved global cybersecurity risk management.

    Goal 7: Improve Management of DHS Cybersecurity Activities

    We will execute our departmental cybersecurity efforts in an integrated and prioritized way.

    Our Cybersecurity Strategy in Action

    • In October 2017, DHS issued Binding Operational Directive 18-01, mandating that Federal agencies take specific steps to enhance email and web security, including the deployment of DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance).
    • During the 2017 WannaCry worldwide malware attack, the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) partnered with other agencies and industry to assist U.S. hospitals to ensure their systems were not vulnerable, and issued a public technical alert to assist defenders with defeating this malware.
    • In January 2018, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Department of Justice in Las Vegas indicted 36 individuals for their roles in the Infraud Organization, an internet-based criminal enterprise engaged in the large scale acquisition and sale of stolen credit card data and identity documents. This organization was responsible for the loss in excess of $530 million. The HSI investigation has led to the recovery of over 4.3 million compromised credit card account numbers.
    • In July 2017, the United States Secret Service, through a synchronized international law enforcement operation, affected the arrest of a Russian national alleged to have operated BTC-e. From 2011 to 2017, BTC-e is alleged with facilitating over $4 billion worth of bitcoin transactions worldwide for cyber criminals engaging in computer hacking, identity theft, ransomware, public corruption, and narcotics distribution. Researchers estimate approximately 95% of ransomware payments were laundered through BTC-e.
    • In October 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) stood up the Office of Cyberspace Forces, to organize, man, train, and equip the USCG cyberspace operational workforce and develop cyberspace operational policy to operate, maintain, defend, and secure USCG systems and networks, enable USCG operations through cyberspace capabilities, and protect the Maritime Transportation System from cyber threats.
  • Written testimony of DHS Secretary Nielsen for a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing titled “Authorities and Resources Needed to Protect and Secure the United States”

    Release Date: 
    May 15, 2018

    342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

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

    It is a privilege to appear before you today to discuss the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) crucial missions and how the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget request for the Department will help secure our homeland. Today I want to cover two main subjects: (1) certain authorities we need in order to close security gaps; and (2) the resources required to execute our missions.

    Authorities Needed to Protect and Secure the United States

    First, I’d like to thank the Committee for its efforts in reporting out an authorization bill for the Department in March. We need this legislation. It includes vital provisions for protecting our country, and it will update our authorities. I cannot stress enough how important this is. The Department was established 15 years ago—before smart phones were a part of everyday life, and our authorities have not kept pace with evolving threats, adaptive enemies, and emboldened adversaries. I applaud this Committee for championing a DHS reauthorization, alongside the House Homeland Security Committee. Now we need quick passage.

    The Committee’s bill establishes the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which will replace the National Protection and Programs Directorate as the focal point for defending civilian Federal networks, protecting critical infrastructure, and interfacing with state, local, private sector, and other partners to advance collective defense in cyberspace. We need CISA urgently. The authorization of the Agency will allow DHS to better engage with stakeholders to guard against threats from nation states, cyber criminals, and other nefarious actors in the digital battlespace. This includes enhancing election security nationwide, which is one of the primary reasons we need Congress to pass this bill as soon as possible.

    The bill also establishes the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD) at DHS. Let me be clear: WMD threats are real and on the rise. Nation states continue to advance their chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear programs. And as we’ve seen in recent months, they are not afraid to use such deadly weapons. At the same time, terrorists continue to pursue WMD agents for use in attacks, and groups like ISIS have already used chemical weapons on foreign battlefields. CWMD is the Department’s nerve center for protecting our country against these dangers, and the reauthorization bill would make sure CWMD is made permanent and can keep pace with today’s dynamic threat landscape.

    In addition, the bill includes important provisions for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help reduce disaster costs through pre-disaster mitigation, which the Administration supports when paired with reductions to other Federal spending. The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to ensure that FEMA can best help disaster survivors while simultaneously protecting American taxpayers from escalating federal spending on disasters. As we head into hurricane season, it is important we get these measures put in place.

    Going forward, a regular authorization process will enable Congress and DHS to more quickly address emerging challenges. Senate passage will go a long way in continuing to improve morale by demonstrating Congress’s commitment to the men and women of our Department and their mission.

    We also hope to work with you in the coming weeks to advance the Administration’s legislative proposal seeking authority to counter the growing threat posed by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). We have already seen transnational criminals adopt this technology to move drugs across the border. Terrorist groups overseas have used drones to conduct attacks on the battlefield and have plotted to use them in terrorist attacks elsewhere. This is a very serious, looming threat that we are unprepared to confront. We are currently unable to effectively counter malicious use of drones because we are hampered by federal laws enacted long before UAS technology was available for commercial and consumer use.

    The Administration’s legislative proposal would authorize DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct limited counter-UAS operations to identify, track, and mitigate drone threats. These authorities would apply to a narrow set of important and prioritized missions, and it would allow DHS and DOJ not only to protect Americans against UAS threats but to protect our own personnel who perform law enforcement and protective missions. I am grateful for the cooperation we have received so far from the Chairman and Ranking Member in working to move these authorities forward.

    Our legislation mirrors the existing statutory authority granted to Department of Defense (DOD) in the Fiscal Years (FY) 2017 and 2018 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA). DOD has been able to use these authorities to protect designated facilities and assets here in the United States. The legislative proposal contains robust measures designed to protect privacy and civil liberties. Specifically, the proposal limits the collection and retention of communications to and from the drone and ensures that such collection is undertaken only for the purpose of mitigating the threat caused by the UAS.

    When it comes to critical needs, there is probably no issue more important for DHS right now than border security and immigration. It is my job to protect our borders and enforce our immigration laws. But it is also important for me to tell you when I cannot do my job. So I want to make clear to the Committee today that legal loopholes are preventing me from fully securing our borders and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system. Our laws are outdated. Our system is broken. And our borders are being exploited by illegal aliens, criminals, smugglers, and a range of nefarious actors. We are doing everything we can—within our authorities—to defend our country. But I implore Congress to act by closing dangerous loopholes and addressing this crisis once and for all. Any nation that cannot control its borders ceases to be a sovereign nation.

    DHS will continue to work with Members of Congress to pass critical legislation to eliminate the loopholes that undermine border security and place our communities at risk. This includes terminating the Flores Settlement Agreement, amending the TVPRA, clarifying the statutory definitions of “unaccompanied alien children” and “special immigrant juvenile,” passing legislation that clearly defines an “aggravated felony,” and allowing DHS to promptly remove violent criminal aliens from our nation. These solutions will provide the essential tools that the men and women of DHS need to secure our borders and defend our communities.

    Resources Needed to Protect and Secure the United States

    On the resources side, the FY 2019 Budget request provides funding to advance all core DHS missions. It sustains and strengthens our most critical programs and capabilities and places emphasis on protecting our nation from terrorism and countering threats; securing and managing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws; preserving and upholding the nation’s prosperity and economic security; securing cyberspace and critical infrastructure; and strengthening homeland security preparedness resilience. Throughout all of these missions, the budget also prioritizes my goal of putting our dedicated employees first—and maturing DHS operations.

    The FY 2019 President’s Budget for DHS requests $47.5 billion in net discretionary funding and an additional $6.7 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) for response and recovery from major disasters.

    This Budget would make crucial investments needed to secure our borders against threats and illegal entry. The request includes recruitment, hiring, and training of 750 additional U.S. Border Patrol Agents, 2,000 additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) law enforcement officers, and more than 1,500 support staff needed to more robustly execute the Department’s border security and immigration enforcement missions. It also funds construction and renovations at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers to meet increased training requirements for DHS.

    Investments in our layered defense at the border would include 65 miles of new border wall construction in the highest-traffic zones along the southwest border, as well as priority tactical infrastructure, border security technology improvements, and aircraft acquisition. The Administration also reiterates the importance of addressing the unfunded border wall requests from the FY 2018 Budget in addition to the investments outlined in the FY 2019 Budget. These investments ensure DHS law enforcement personnel are supported with effective surveillance technology and equipment to improve their ability to detect and interdict illegal activity.

    The FY 2019 President’s Budget also includes funding for 52,000 detention beds, including 2,500 beds reserved for family units, to ensure that apprehended aliens who are subject to removal from the United States—such as illegal border crossers, criminal aliens, and national security threats—are detained in safe and secure detention facilities pending their removal. For apprehended aliens who are not considered a threat to our communities, but who may pose a diminished flight risk, the President’s Budget would fund ICE’s Alternatives to Detention Program to provide intensive supervision for up to 82,000 average daily participants through a combination of home visits, office visits, alert response and electronic monitoring. Proposed funding for removal operations will facilitate the complex coordination required to return aliens safely and expeditiously to their home countries and pay for transportation costs.

    Unfortunately, some of these critical missions are impeded by jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with DHS in the enforcement of federal law. This makes it more dangerous for federal agents and officers to do their jobs. And it creates a greater threat to public safety, and results in greater expense to American taxpayers. I hope the Committee will work with DHS to help make sure jurisdictions around the country do not harbor criminal aliens or put the men and women of DHS at risk while they are doing their jobs to protect the public.

    The Budget gives our frontline operators the tools and resources they need to more aggressively disrupt and dismantle transnational threats. It would advance the Administration’s efforts to block terrorists, criminals, and other nefarious actors from reaching the United States and exploiting our immigration system. It would further integrate intelligence into DHS operations to make sure rapid changes in the threat environment are met with a near-real-time change in our response. And it proposes funding across the Department for initiatives that will help us keep pace with adaptive enemies and new threats.

    For example, the Budget focuses on bolstering DHS activities to counter transnational criminal organizations (TCOs). TCOs are facilitating the illicit flow of opioids and other deadly substances into America. The drugs and violence they import are a threat to our communities and the American people, which is why we are focused on ramping up counter-TCO activities. The Budget bolsters the capacity of ICE/Homeland Security Investigations special agents to conduct transnational criminal investigations, and it provides funding to support law enforcement hiring and workload growth consistent with this mission, including $105 million for critical training, IT, facility support infrastructure, and wiretaps associated with ICE’s proposed increased staffing and workload.

    The Budget proposes essential funding to implement the President’s executive orders to intensify vetting of U.S.-bound travelers and individuals in our immigration system. Since the beginning of last year, DHS has undertaken historic efforts to improve every phase of the vetting process so that we can be more confident in knowing who is coming into our country—and more capable of identifying nefarious actors. This includes making applications more rigorous, deepening background checks, tightening travel and arrival screening, and enforcing foreign government information-sharing requirements. The Budget will facilitate the stand-up of the newly announced National Vetting Center (NVC), which will become a central U.S. Government hub for fusing intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security data to enhance the vetting process. A detailed implementation plan is currently under development to identify NVC capacity and operational needs that will inform future budget requests.

    DHS is seeking to provide critical resources to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to better defend the nation against transnational threats and support the response to natural disasters. USCG secures our maritime borders by operating up to more than 1,500 miles offshore to extend the Nation’s security and to enforce laws. During the 2017 hurricane season, the USCG, working alongside the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was prepared and immediately responded to the needs of our citizens and partner nations. Their unique blend of statutory authorities combines civil law enforcement, response, and prevention with military service capabilities, resulting in an extremely agile force capable of responding to any significant event or emergency.

    The FY 2019 President’s Budget requests $1.9 billion for the recapitalization of USCG assets. This funding provides for a new Offshore Patrol Cutter, four Fast Response Cutters, and the Nation’s first new heavy Polar Icebreaker in more than 40 years, providing an advanced command, control and communications platform capable of operating in the harshest environments. It also provides for timely and necessary sensor and service-life extensions to aircraft and improvements to shore infrastructure. These are the investments we need to be making to defend our territory, and I hope the Committee will support our requests.

    Furthermore, we are also seeking important cybersecurity enhancements. This Committee knows that the dangers we face online are serious, and they emanate from hackers, TCOs, nation-states, and other nefarious actors, as I noted earlier. DHS is on the digital frontlines of this fight and is undertaking historic efforts to safeguard the Federal Government’s civilian information technology systems and to work with all levels of government, international partners, and business sectors to share cybersecurity information and build resilient systems.

    The President’s Budget would continue investments in cybersecurity initiatives that protect federal networks and address identified vulnerabilities. More than $644 million is requested for DHS’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program and the National Cybersecurity Protection System, which provide network monitoring, intrusion prevention, intrusion detection, and analytical capabilities to strengthen the cybersecurity of federal civilian departments and agencies.

    The threat is real, and we know that a sophisticated adversary can put the foundations of our democracy at risk through cyberattacks, which is why our request for FY 2019 would also make sure DHS is positioned to counter malign foreign influence efforts by supporting state and local election officials in defending the integrity of election systems. The Budget also would provide $158 million to secure the Nation’s interoperable emergency communications capabilities that enable first responders and government officials to continue to communicate in the event of natural and man-made disasters.

    Moreover, DHS is seeking to ramp up “soft target” security efforts. From terrorist attacks to school shootings, we have seen public areas continue to be prime targets for violence. Our National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) is helping to lead the charge on soft target security. The President’s Budget would provide almost $12 million for the establishment of the Soft Target Security Program which would expand NPPD’s capabilities to reduce the risks to these locations through a mix of technology integration, targeted threat information sharing, training, and improved standards for security. This program will provide a more comprehensive, innovative, and coordinated approach to address threats to soft targets—including schools, entertainment venues, major events, and public spaces.

    Our wider transportation system also faces persistent and emerging threats, as terrorists adapt their tactics to target airlines, airports, and other transportation hubs. The President’s Budget was built to confront these challenges. It would add 717 TSA screeners and 200 additional computed tomography systems in order to stay ahead of our enemies, especially by helping to better detect concealed explosives, threat devices, and suspicious passengers. This budget would also provide an increase of nearly $27 million for CBP’s National Targeting Center to improve our capabilities to identify high-risk individuals and cargo both entering and exiting the United States in the air, land, and sea environments.

    The President’s Budget recognizes that homeland security is central to economic security. It would provide funding to ensure DHS components are able to facilitate lawful trade and travel, mitigate threats, hold violators accountable, counter foreign economic aggression, and advance America’s economic interests. For instance, the Department is focused on maintaining a level playing field for the $2.4 trillion dollars of imports crossing our border each year, which is why the President’s Budget includes funding to enhance the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) and to put more attention on high-risk imports while facilitating the movement of smaller, legitimate shipments more quickly. The request also includes funding for additional attorneys, trade specialists, and financial specialists to provide adequate support for trade facilitation and enforcement activities.

    The men and women of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) also protect our Nation’s financial infrastructure, and the FY 2019 Budget supports the USSS in its use of advanced technologies and task force partnerships to enforce counterfeiting laws and to safeguard the payment and financial systems of the United States from financial and computer-based crimes. The agency also protects our highest elected officials, visiting foreign dignitaries, select Federal facilities, and major events. The request would allow for an additional 450 USSS agents, officers, and professional staff and would fund critical protective infrastructure and technology upgrades.

    Last year our country experienced one of the most costly and damaging seasons for natural disasters in recent history. DHS is committed to helping our communities in the wake of these catastrophic events, and FEMA will devote the resources and attention needed—in cooperation with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments across the country—to ensure we recover. The President’s Budget supports the DRF, which sustains FEMA’s response and recovery efforts and funds a variety of federal assistance programs that enable state and local governments to prevent, protect, respond, and recover from incidents of terrorism and other catastrophic events. The Budget also focuses on other efforts that will help create a “culture of preparedness” nationwide and make our nation more resilient to disasters.

    The 2019 President’s Budget is committed to ensuring that every American dollar is spent wisely, and DHS continues to identify efficiencies to meet this goal. The Budget funds the construction of a new headquarters building for FEMA at the St. Elizabeths campus, which will consolidate a wide range of DHS entities in a common location when complete. This will not only foster integrated decision making and collaboration, but it will provide for more efficient use of shared resources across the Department, while also reducing the Department’s rent costs.


    The DHS workforce is exceptional. Our dedicated professionals are on watch 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year protecting Americans from threats by land, sea, air, and in cyberspace, while also promoting our Nation’s economic prosperity. I have seen their courage and grit firsthand. And I have seen them take decisive action to protect us all from terrorists, transnational criminal organizations, rogue nation states, natural disasters, and more. Let’s show them we have their backs by working together to secure the authorities and resources they need to do their jobs.

    Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of DHS. I remain committed to working with Congress, and I look forward to forging a strong and productive relationship to secure our homeland.

    I am pleased to answer any questions.

  • DHS Reissues the NTAS Bulletin

    Release Date: 
    May 9, 2018

    On May 9, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen reissued the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin pertaining to the terror threat to the U.S. homeland. After carefully considering the current threat environment, as well as input from the Department’s intelligence and law enforcement partners, Secretary Nielsen determined it is necessary to extend the NTAS Bulletin at this time.

    Terrorist groups continue to inspire, enable, and direct their followers to spread chaos using homemade weapons and by striking soft targets and crowded places. They also remain focused on conducting more sophisticated attacks using conventional weapons as well as new technologies and tactics. DHS is committed to staying a step ahead of our enemies, and an informed and vigilant public remains one of the Department’s greatest assets in protecting the homeland.

    This marks the sixth iteration of the Bulletin on the homegrown threat, which has been reissued five times since the first Bulletin was released in December 2015.

    You can read the new NTAS Bulletin here.

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