tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-17233001847446257592008-09-15T18:54:46.045-04:00Leadership JournalThis journal is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide a forum to talk about our work protecting the American people, building an effective emergency preparedness and response capability, enforcing immigration laws, and promoting economic prosperity.DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comBlogger113125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-79809453970515776072008-09-11T13:48:00.005-04:002008-09-11T18:25:57.215-04:009/11 Anniversary<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/photos/chertoff-nyc-sept112008-memorial-ceremony-hi-res.jpg"><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px;" src="http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/photos/chertoff-nyc-sept112008-memorial-ceremony-hi-res.jpg" border="0" alt="Secretary Chertoff at the September 11 Memorial Service in New York City on September 11, 2008" /></a><br />It's been a year since we launched the leadership journal, and I'd like to thank our readers for keeping up with our posts and sharing your thoughts. The journal has been a valuable way to get information out to you and to receive your feedback; and it's been a useful medium to share some personal insights about what we see and do on a daily basis. I've learned from our exchanges, and I hope you have as well.<br /><br />In my initial post, I asked readers whether they thought 9/11 was fading. Perhaps a partial answer to that question can be found in Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times, which again referred to the "fading memory" of 9/11 in an article that recounted the stories of several individuals who were injured in the attacks but managed to survive against overwhelming odds.<br /><br />I can tell you from my own perspective that while the memory of 9/11 has aged another year, it has certainly not faded. This was reinforced today when I visited Ground Zero in New York City to participate in the annual 9/11 memorial ceremony. Thousands of people – friends, family members, government officials, and ordinary citizens – came together to pay their respects, honor the victims, and read their names aloud. It was an important reminder of the horrors of that day, but also the tremendous valor and sacrifice of the first responders and ordinary citizens who gave their lives trying to save their fellow citizens. <br /><br />We have now gone seven years without another major attack on our own soil. Few would have thought that possible in 2001. It is a testament to the men and women who work every day to protect our country and who have not allowed the memory of 9/11 to fade. By remembering that day, it helps us recommit ourselves to our present purpose. <br /><br />It also reminds us that we must strike a balance between fear and hysteria on the one hand and a dangerous complacency on the other. That is a balance we try to achieve every day at the Department of Homeland Security. I'd like to thank you for your interest in our perspective and for sharing your views on our efforts. We look forward to hearing more in the future.<br /><br />Michael Chertoff<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-14759971429376303592008-09-10T22:32:00.006-04:002008-09-11T08:53:54.333-04:00A Missed Opportunity<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/Picture-2-752583.png"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0pt 0pt 10px 10px; CURSOR: pointer" alt="" src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/Picture-2-752161.png" border="0" /></a><br />Tomorrow our nation will mark the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Since that time, there have been no successful attacks on our homeland. Common sense suggests that the terrorists did not suddenly and inexplicably lose interest in striking us again. Indeed, our government has helped disrupt a number of plots including the one uncovered two summers ago to hijack transatlantic airliners in London.<br /><br />Yet in a just-released <a href="http://homeland.house.gov/">report</a> on our progress since 9/11, the House’s Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs Committees paint an unrecognizable portrait of where we stand today. Contrary to the report’s assertions, the Department’s employees have worked tirelessly to implement over 250 distinct requirements in the ‘9/11 Recommendations Act,’ as well as hundreds of requirements in other laws.<br /><br />Just over a year after enactment, the Department has made substantial progress implementing the legislative requirements, and often in the face of inconsistent or unclear congressional priorities. The report is littered with a host of egregious and embarrassing errors. To cite but a few examples:<br /><ul><li>The report states that the Department has made “no progress” with respect to section 1701, which mandates scanning in foreign ports for U.S.-bound cargo. In fact, DHS has deployed scanning systems in multiple foreign ports and thus far has met every obligation and deadline in section 1701. The numerous businesses, foreign governments, and departmental components involved in and affected by the deployed scanning systems strongly rebut the claim of “no progress.”</li><li>The report states that there has been “little progress” with respect to Section 1101, which requires an operational National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC) by September 30, 2008. In fact, NBIC is now operational, fully satisfies the statutory requirements, and recently disseminated a report on a salmonella outbreak.</li><li>The report states that regarding Section 711, which modernizes the Visa Waiver Program, “initial steps have been taken but significant implementation challenges remain.” In fact, virtually all of the major implementation challenges have been addressed, and DHS has not missed any statutory deadlines. Moreover, DHS already has realized substantial security gains – in particular, increased information-sharing with foreign partners – as a result of efforts undertaken in accordance with section 711. (<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1221078411384.shtm">More on the work of our Department and its people</a>.)<br /></li></ul>In addition to the numerous errors in the report, of which the examples above are merely illustrative, many of the statements in the report actually rebut the report’s assertion that the “Administration has ignored the law.”<br /><br />With respect to Section 1001, which requires the establishment and use of a prioritized list of critical infrastructure, the report acknowledges that “…DHS provided Congress with the list of prioritized critical infrastructure and, thus, fulfilled that requirement of Section 1001.” The report goes on to assert, illogically and incorrectly, that DHS does not use this list.<br /><br />Finally, it is unfortunate that the report ignores Congress’s failure to implement one of the most important recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. That bipartisan body recommended that Congress “create a single, principal point of oversight and review for homeland security.” With more than 80 committees and subcommittees often imposing inconsistent obligations on DHS, Congress has made it exceedingly difficult to prioritize tasks in a manner that best reduces overall risk to the country. While the Department’s employees work to implement the 250+ requirements of the 9/11 Recommendations Act, on top of the hundreds of pre-existing legal obligations, Congress would do well to heed the one recommendation directed toward reducing the fragmented congressional oversight.<br /><br />On this solemn anniversary, the Committee has squandered a genuine opportunity to commend the brave men and women of this Department, the intelligence community, first responders, and law enforcement nationwide, for their outstanding job in protecting the homeland. In sum, the 218,000 dedicated members of this Department will continue to serve this nation with honor and distinction, and we who are privileged to lead them will continue our efforts to work with Congress on behalf of our homeland and its people.<br /><br />Paul A. Schneider<br />Deputy Secretary<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-24487209924859755632008-09-05T10:00:00.006-04:002008-09-05T11:38:44.176-04:00Information Sharing: Vital Building Block Toward a Safer and More Secure NationWe all know how catastrophic the results can be when the right people do not get the right information at the right time. That is why we have made information sharing a national priority, and here at the Department of Homeland Security, a critical part of our mission. <br /><br />Virtually everyone at DHS has a role in information sharing, which is an essential weapon against threats to the homeland. As those who want to do harm to the nation become more sophisticated, we, too, must be more creative and develop innovative ways to thwart potential attacks. We must continue working to develop coherent policies, create effective governance structures and break down any barriers that prevent us from building sustainable networks and relationships that will secure the nation -- not only now, but in the years to come.. <br /><br />The recently released <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xinfoshare/publications/gc_1212068752872.shtm">DHS Information Sharing Strategy</a> exemplifies the Department’s commitment to doing exactly that. A first-of-its-kind document for DHS, the strategy provides direction and guidance for all of the Department’s information-sharing initiatives. It describes how we can transform DHS into an organization that promotes an environment where information is shared in a strategic, efficient manner. <br /><br />The Strategy is based on a set of five guiding principles:<ol><li>Fostering information sharing is a core Department mission.</li><li>The Department must use the established governance structure to make decisions regarding information-sharing issues.</li><li>The Department must commit sufficient resources to information sharing.</li><li>The Department must measure progress toward information sharing goals.</li><li>The Department must maintain information and data security and protect privacy and civil liberties.</li></ol>The DHS Information Sharing Strategy is more than a piece of paper. By articulating our priorities in such a fashion, we are sending a clear message: information sharing is no longer optional; it is a vital building block toward a safer and more secure nation. <br /><br />While our Information Sharing Strategy is a huge step forward, it is only one of a number of ways DHS is moving ahead. One of our most notable accomplishments to date has been the creation of a set of high-level governance structures that will ensure the Department continues to advance with information-sharing initiatives in a unified, coherent fashion. <br /><br />The Information Sharing Governance Board is an executive-level body that drives Department-wide information sharing initiatives to completion. The Information Sharing Coordinating Council is a working-group made up of action officers from across all DHS Components, ensuring every sector of the Department is represented in information-sharing efforts. <br /><br />But strategies, policies and governance structures are not enough. We must also work to address cultural barriers that exist across the Department. As the Secretary has said, “We are One DHS.” In order to achieve this vision, we are blending the many tactical missions of the Department. This led us to develop a set of Shared Mission Communities that will cut across the Department and build relationships based around common missions and not organizational structures. <br /><br />Beyond DHS, we must share information with all federal, State, local, tribal, private sector and international partners as well. That is one reason our Strategy is not only consistent with, but complementary to the President’s National Strategy for Information Sharing, as well as the United States Intelligence Community Information Sharing Strategy. <br /><br />To sustain a robust federal information sharing environment, we maintain close relationships with the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and its Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to name just a few. However, our responsibility to protect the homeland requires successful partnerships which extend beyond the federal government. We wholeheartedly support the state and local fusion centers across the country with personnel, training and funding. The centers provide deployed DHS analysts the opportunity to work side-by-side and exchange information with their state, local and tribal counterparts, and law enforcement and public safety officers. To date, the Department has deployed 25 intelligence officers to fusion centers across the country with plans to have a total of 35 in the field by the end of the year. <br /><br />To foster collaboration and share best practices and lessons learned within the fusion center network, DHS sponsors the Homeland Security State and Local Intelligence Community of Interest (HS SLIC), a virtual community of intelligence analysts. Its membership has grown significantly in the past year with members now representing 45 states, the District of Columbia, and seven federal departments. We have also established a HS SLIC Advisory Board, which includes state and local leaders of the HS SLIC to advise the Office of Intelligence and Analysis leadership on issues relating to intelligence collaboration with our non-federal partners. Through the HS SLIC, members are able to post intelligence products so that there is effective vertical information sharing between the states and the national Intelligence Community and horizontally between the states. Fusion center analysts across the country meet via teleconference weekly with their DHS counterparts to discuss homeland security threat issues. Through these activities, DHS is making the HS SLIC a significant contributor to the National Strategy for Information Sharing.<br /><br />Another initiative in which we are contributing significant leadership is with the <a href="http://www.ise.gov/pages/partner-itacg.html">Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG)</a>, which was established at the direction of the President and the 9/11 Commission Act to facilitate increased sharing of terrorism-related information between the national Intelligence Community and our state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners. By pulling together in one place state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal homeland security, law enforcement, and intelligence officers at the National Counterterrorism Center, the ITACG now serves as a focal point to guide the development and dissemination of federal terrorism-related intelligence products through DHS and the FBI to our State, local, tribal territorial, and private sector partners.<br /><br />Through these and other efforts, I envision an environment where all of those vested in the protection of the nation are working in concert. I am pleased with how far we have come to develop effective technological solutions as well as reduce the cultural barriers that once impeded the flow of information--much progress has already been made. <br /><br />Building trusted relationships takes dedication and patience. Creating a cohesive environment within an organization as vast as DHS and the federal government at large takes commitment and perseverance. Protecting our nation from the myriad of threats that we face takes courage and resolve. We are and must be up to the task.<br /><br />Charlie Allen<br />Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis and Chief Intelligence Officer<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-27574061030359218122008-09-04T16:31:00.003-04:002008-09-04T16:56:15.045-04:00Gustav Response and Recovery<p>Late yesterday I returned from Louisiana with President Bush, after having spent the past several days with Governor Jindal and his team as we monitored Gustav's arrival and initiated response and recovery efforts. I met with several parish presidents and first responders while I was there, and toured many of the communities that were hit hard by this storm. I can tell you that the men and women on the ground who are ensuring the safe return of millions of evacuees are going on little sleep and are working in difficult conditions, but are forging ahead with remarkable determination.</p><p>There is still flooding in some areas, and several downed trees and debris-littered roads; but the biggest challenge we're facing right now is downed power lines. State officials are working with FEMA and local power companies to repair these lines as quickly as possible, but it will clearly take several days until power is restored across the region.</p><p>I want to take a moment to specifically thank the parish presidents, state officials, and first responders who had a hand in coordinating an enormously successful evacuation prior to Gustav's landfall. As a result of their efforts, our search and rescue operations have been relatively minimal because most of the people in harm's way evacuated well before Gustav's arrival. I also want to thank everyone who assisted with what Governor Jindal described as the largest medical evacuation in their history. It was a true testament to the benefits of pre-planning and coordination, and is a model that should be repeated as we prepare for the oncoming storms currently gaining strength in the Atlantic.</p><p>As we identify additional challenges and focus on priorities such as medical needs, power restoration, and debris removal, it's important to recognize that this will be a long-term effort. While the initial planning, preparedness, and evacuation measures were well coordinated, we still have a great deal of work ahead of us. I encourage everyone along the Gulf Coast that is involved in this effort to apply the same vigor and focus on response and recovery as they did for pre-hurricane preparations.</p><p>Of course, we must also remain flexible and nimble – Hanna, Ike, and Josephine will present their own sets of challenges in the coming days, as will additional weather systems during this busy period of the 2008 hurricane season.</p><p>I encourage residents in Hanna's likely impact area to emulate what Louisianans have done by listening to local officials' instructions and preparing to sustain themselves for at least three days (please visit <a href="http://www.ready.gov">www.ready.gov</a> for more information). I also encourage everyone to keep up the good work as we roll up our sleeves and continue to respond to this storm and prepare for those ahead.</p><p>Michael Chertoff</p><div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-35886629798561793252008-09-01T11:52:00.003-04:002008-09-01T12:00:11.430-04:00Gustav PreparationsAs we closely monitor Gustav's landfall from Baton Rouge's Emergency Operations Center and remain poised to begin response efforts, I want to briefly update you with some of what I saw on the ground as we finalized our preparations yesterday. <br /><br />People are taking this storm seriously. More than a million residents have evacuated well ahead of landfall, and those with special needs have been moved out of harm's way. <br /><br />I've been spending time with Governor Jindal and Mayor Nagin and have been in close communication with Governor Barbour, as well as other state and local officials. I can tell you that preparations for this storm were well coordinated at every level, and everyone is now focused on responding as quickly as possible. <br /><br />FEMA has pre-positioned assets and personnel in strategic locations and is poised to move in as soon as it's safe to assist with response and recovery operations. Other DHS personnel including ICE, CBP, TSA and Coast Guard teams have been deployed to assist with evacuations and are standing by to begin search and rescue operations as needed. Additional federal partners, including the Department of Defense and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have also deployed assets and personnel to the region and are preparing for response activities. <br /><br />This will be a severe hurricane and is having a major impact as it continues to move ashore. While the levees around New Orleans have been strengthened since Katrina, there is a still a real risk of flooding because of possible overtopping and rain. <br /><br />For those who must shelter in place, I hope that you heeded advice to be prepared to sustain yourself for at least 72 hours. This means having enough food, water, and medicine to last for three days. <br /><br />I'll continue monitoring the storm from Louisiana and will update you as time and circumstances allow. I encourage you to visit <a href="http://www.ready.gov/">www.ready.gov</a> for additional preparedness information. <br /><br />Michael Chertoff<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-18003392232991865012008-08-29T08:42:00.003-04:002008-08-29T09:04:36.127-04:00Hope Restored<a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/images/corps-1.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; WIDTH: 200px; CURSOR: hand" alt="A Army Corps emergency operations employee looks on while a fellow employee operates a backhoe to remove debris from a roadway after Hurricane Katrina.(Photo White House)" src="http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/images/corps-1.jpg" border="0" /></a><br /><div>In his <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/08/20080820-4.html">remarks</a> at the Jackson Barracks in New Orleans last week, President Bush said that “hope is being restored” throughout the Gulf Coast. As we pause to reflect on the third anniversary of Hurricanes <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xprepresp/programs/editorial_0822.shtm">Katrina</a> and Rita, and remember the lives that were lost and the heroism that ensued, I think it’s important to acknowledge the progress that has taken place in the wake of one of our nation’s worst natural disasters.<br /><br />Of course, it’s also important to apply the lessons we’ve learned along the way, and to that end, we’re working closely with our federal, state, and local partners to prepare for Hurricane Gustav’s potential impact. But I want to take just a moment to share some stories of progress along the Gulf Coast.<br /><br />The hope that President Bush was referring to can be found in places like <a href="http://www.1.ppsb.org/schools/bvhs/index.htm">Boothville/Venice High School</a>, which endured tremendous damage due to Katrina’s storm surge. But thanks to more than $8 million in repairs made possible by <a href="http://www.fema.gov/government/grant/pa/index.shtm">FEMA Public Assistance grants</a>, the school now serves more than 200 students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.<br /><br />Additional signs of progress can be seen at St. Margaret’s Daughters Nursing Home in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, where flood waters rendered the health care facility uninhabitable. With the help of an initial $5.59 million payment for a temporary facility, and an additional $3.7 million, <a href="http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=40372">St. Margaret’s was able to reopen</a> in a newly renovated facility last September. All told, FEMA has committed more than $15.9 million in Public Assistance funds for this project.<br /><br />And to ensure that the city’s law enforcement operations are efficiently coordinated, the <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-01-17-NOPD_N.htm">New Orleans Police Department moved into its remodeled headquarters</a> earlier this year, thanks in large part to repairs from $6.8 million in FEMA funding. This, of course, is just a portion of the $21.8 million granted to restore the justice complex.<br /><br />But our goals are not just short-term fixes. We’re focused on rebuilding the region and making structures safer and stronger. For example, just last month FEMA approved the use of more than $96.9 million in <a href="http://www.fema.gov/government/grant/hmgp/">Hazard Mitigation Grant Program</a> (HMGP) funds to elevate nearly 3,000 homes in Louisiana. This was one of the largest single HMGP project obligations to date, and represents successful collaboration at the federal, state, and local levels.<br /><br />We also recognize that the road to recovery involves flexibility and innovation. To that end, we fully supported President Bush’s decision to grant Governor Bobby Jindal’s request that Louisiana be allowed to pay their share of levee improvement costs over 30 years instead of just three.<br /><br />These examples are just a fraction of the work that is being done and the decisions that are being made on a daily basis in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast. To be sure, there is much work ahead. But by focusing on priorities such as education, health care, public safety, and housing, we’re helping rebuild lives and communities – and the results are beginning to show. All told, FEMA has provided $11 billion for debris removal, reconstruction, and protective measures, in addition to more than $6 billion in individual assistance grants. (Of course, it is ultimately up to state, parish, and local leaders to decide where and what to rebuild).<br /><br />But our progress three years after Katrina goes beyond dollars spent and structures restored. We’ve learned invaluable lessons from the storm’s devastation, and as a result, have vastly strengthened our nation’s preparedness and response capabilities. FEMA now is a forward-leaning agency, with 21st century tools capable of handling any type of disaster. Following Katrina, we placed a greater emphasis on building stronger partnerships, preparing for emergencies before they happen, and responding quickly and efficiently when they do occur. As I mentioned, this forward-leaning approach is guiding our <a href="http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=45566">preparations for Hurricane Gustav</a>.<br /><br />So as we mark Katrina’s third anniversary and acknowledge the progress we’ve made (as well as how much work remains), I encourage everyone involved in this endeavor to continue their efforts and recommit themselves to rebuilding this vital region of our country.<br /><br />The daily work of our <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xprepresp/programs/editorial_0816.shtm">Office for Gulf Coast Recovery</a> in Baton Rouge is indicative of our long-term commitment to work side-by-side with the people of the Gulf Coast as they rebuild their homes and communities.<br /><br />Through the strong partnerships we’ve forged during the past three years, I’m confident that our progress will continue full steam ahead.<br /><br />General Douglas O’Dell, USMC (Ret.)<br />Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding </div><div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-76375915278036103952008-08-22T09:18:00.014-04:002008-08-26T11:55:23.845-04:00Stay Healthy in a Crisis<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/firstaidkitimage-770261.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; CURSOR: hand" alt="first aid kit" src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/firstaidkitimage-770252.jpg" border="0" /></a><br /><div>This week, Tropical Storm Fay has been a reminder to us all that we are in the heart of hurricane season. But, even as it lingers in the Gulf <a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2007-releases/press07242007.html">many Americans do not believe</a> that a disaster can really happen to them. Unfortunately, too often, people learn the hard way that they could have done more to prepare.<br /><br />From the wildfires in the West, to the floods across the Midwest, to tornadoes that tear through the center of the country, Americans often find themselves thrust into an emergency. September is <a href="http://www.ready.gov/america/npm08/intro.html">National Preparedness Month</a>, a time when we highlight the simple steps we can take now to prepare for the unexpected.<br /><br />As many Americans can attest, such planning can make recovering from a disaster a bit easier. Still, many don't spend enough time getting ready.<br /><br />This kind of planning is particularly important when it comes to staying healthy in a crisis. As the Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, part of my job is to provide guidance about how our employees can protect themselves in an emergency.<br /><br />Our advice goes out to everyone, from TSA security officers to the federal agents who protect our borders, even to our Secretary. Each of my coworkers must feel confident that they are prepared and that their families are weathering a crisis, so they can focus on performing their core duties. This same kind of preparedness goes on in many of the homes of first responders, law enforcement and government officials at all levels.<br /><br />In a crisis, doctors, nurses, paramedics and other first responders rush to help their neighbors. A community's resilience – the nation's resilience -- depends largely on the individual preparedness of all of our vital workers and many others. Utility crews who get the power back on, truck drivers who keep food and other supplies moving, and the heroic people who look after their neighbors who have special needs all mitigate suffering and speed the recovery – if their own family is safe.<br /><br />As we are told during our safety briefing before every airline flight, we must take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. I encourage you to go to <a href="http://www.ready.gov/">http://www.ready.gov/</a> for information on getting an emergency supply kit, making a family emergency plan and being informed about the different types of disasters and their appropriate responses. But don't forget the medical issues that are individual to every family and every family member. In addition to water, food, etc., these are my "medical must haves:"<br /><ol><br /><li>An extra supply of prescription drugs; don't forget the over the counter medications that you may need such as analgesics, antacids, anti-diarrheal, etc.</li><br /><li>A good medical record for each family member that includes medications they take, allergies to medications, past surgeries and other key medical information a doctor might need to treat them in an emergency.</li><br /><li>Key contact names and phone numbers on a laminated card that includes relatives, friends, personal physician and emergency work and school contacts.</li><br /><li>For those with special medical needs, extra oxygen and batteries for equipment might be needed to survive away from home for a few days. An extra wheelchair, walker or cane might be needed to evacuate. Simple repair equipment, such as a bicycle repair kit, help keep a wheelchair rolling.</li><br /><li>A basic first aid kit.</li></ol>A more detailed checklist for people with disabilities and other special needs <a href="http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/disabled.html">is available</a>.<br /><br />As an emergency physician, I have seen firsthand how important being prepared is and how the American spirit is strongest when we come together to weather an unforeseen challenge. We're proud to help prepare the nation to react with strength and compassion.<br /><br />Thanks for reading. I look forward to your comments.<br /><br />Dr. Jon Krohmer,<br />Assistant Secretary (acting), Office of Health Affairs, and Chief Medical Officer </div><div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-91471143740451839332008-08-21T15:32:00.006-04:002008-08-21T15:49:56.763-04:00Targeting PredatorsThe newspaper articles appear with heartbreaking regularity in every community across the country—stories about men and women committing sexual crimes against children. By the time we read about it the damage is already done, even though the perpetrator may be behind bars.<br /><br />However, law enforcement agencies at every level have taken an increasingly aggressive stance against these crimes, and we're seeing real results.<br /><br />We saw an example of those results earlier this week in California, where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), along with our partners at the FBI's Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Team and the U.S. Attorney's Office for Los Angeles, announced that a <a href="http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0808/080819losangeles1.htm">major investigation</a> led to the arrest of seven men on charges of possessing and/or distributing images depicting the sexual abuse of children. The arrests were part of a larger investigation that has led to criminal charges against a total of 55 defendants.<br /><br />In this case, the suspects were accessing peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks over the Internet to trade graphic images and videos of children being victimized. Thanks to coordinated efforts using sophisticated software that tracks the computers where these images are being stored, investigators were able to identify and target the predators.<br /><br />The suspects may have thought the use of P2P technology would allow them to make their exchanges undetected. However, that is not the case—today's announcement shows that law enforcement is paying close attention to those who exploit and abuse children, and that the Internet is not an anonymous playground where they can commit their crimes in secret.<br /><br />Among the defendants:<ul><li>Gary Samuel Cochran, a 50-year-old man previously convicted of child molestation and possession of obscene materials depicting minors engaged in sex acts. Earlier this year, investigators found evidence that Cochran was not only sharing child pornography, but that some of the images were pictures he had taken of a young girl; </li><br /><li>Eric David Lacey, a 48-year-old man who was living above a child day care facility in Hollywood, California, while being sought in a North Dakota child pornography case featured on "America’s Most Wanted";</li><br /><li>Evan Craig Stephens, 36, a registered sex offender with a previous conviction for child molestation; and</li><br /><li>George Tyler Farmer, 39, who was previously convicted of molesting a 6-year-old girl.</li></ul>Targeting sexual predators who exploit children has been an important part of the ICE mission for more than five years. ICE launched <a href="http://www.ice.gov/pi/childexploitation/index.htm">Operation Predator</a> in 2003 as a nationwide initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. Since Operation Predator's inception, ICE agents have made more than 11,000 arrests under the program.<br /><br />This case ensures that dozens of will face justice for their crimes, and it is a positive step toward ensuring the safety of children. Just as importantly, these arrests send a clear message to sexual predators that they will be identified, they will be apprehended and they will face consequences.<br /><br />Julie L. Myers,<br />Assistant Secretary, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-24175185839956608262008-08-20T09:28:00.000-04:002008-08-20T09:28:44.721-04:00H-2B Proposed Rule Changes: Your Feedback WelcomeIn my most recent entry, I discussed steps that USCIS has been taking to upgrade our capacity to process naturalization applications. Today, I'd like to address proposed rule changes to existing H-2B regulations designed to streamline that important program.<br /><br />Since its inception in 1986, the H-2B program has proven popular among businesses in non-agricultural industries such as landscaping, hospitality and construction. Little about the program has changed to accommodate employers' needs or improve worker protections. In order to better serve those participating in the program, we are proposing measures to remove unnecessary limitations, prevent fraud and abuse, and protect workers. <br /><br />Beyond this general announcement, I would also like to share the specifics of the <a href="http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-19306.htm">proposed rule changes</a> and ask that you provide your feedback by <a href="http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=09000064806cf0ae">submitting comments</a> to the proposed rule.<br /><br />Our proposed modifications would:<br /><ul><li>Relax the current limitations on the ability of U.S. employers to petition for unnamed workers;</li><li>Reduce from six months to three months the amount of time an H-2B worker whose status has expired must wait outside the United States before he or she is eligible to again obtain status under the H or L classifications;</li><li>Require employer attestations on the scope of the H-2B employment and on the use of recruiters to locate beneficiaries and provide for denial or revocation of an H-2B petition if an H-2B worker was charged a fee in connection with the employment either (a) by the petitioner, or (b) by a recruiter where the petitioner knew or reasonably should have known that the recruiter was charging such fees;</li><li>Eliminate the ability of employers to file an H-2B petition without an approved temporary labor certification;</li><li>Preclude changing the employment start date after the temporary labor certification is certified by the Department of Labor;</li><li>Require employer notifications to the Department of Homeland Security when H-2B workers fail to show up for work, are terminated, or abscond from the worksite;</li><li>Change the definition of "temporary employment" to clearly define that employment is of a temporary nature when the need for the employee will end in the near, definable future and to eliminate the requirement that employers show "extraordinary circumstances" to be eligible to hire H-2B workers where a one-time need for the workers is longer than one year but shorter than three years;</li><li>Prohibit the approval of H-2B petitions for nationals of countries determined to be consistently refusing or unreasonably delaying repatriation of their nationals; and </li><li>Establish a land-border exit system pilot program under which H-2B workers admitted through a port of entry participating in the program must also depart through a port of entry participating in the program. Upon departure, they must present designated biographical information, possibly including biometric identifiers. </li></ul><br />It is important to note that these proposals are not yet in effect and that the current rules governing the H-2B program remain in place. In the meantime, there will be a 30-day <a href="http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=09000064806cf0ae">comment period</a>. Once public comments are received and reviewed, we will finalize and publish the rule with an effective date. <br /><br />With that in mind, I look forward to your comments and feedback and appreciate your interest in the Leadership Journal. <br /><br />Jonathan Scharfen, <br />Acting Director, US Citizenship &amp; Immigration Services<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-61482554115287601462008-08-08T10:52:00.005-04:002008-08-08T13:06:47.412-04:00Identity of the Guardian<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/CoastGuardEthos-769901.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; CURSOR: hand" alt="Pictures of members of the US Coast guard. Text: I will protect them. I will defend them. I will save them." src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/CoastGuardEthos-769890.jpg" border="0" /></a><br />Last week I formally introduced the <a href="http://www.uscg.mil/hq/capemay/recruit/Ethos.asp">Guardian Ethos</a> to all the men and women of the Coast Guard. As the Coast Guard modernizes, the Guardian Ethos will assist the Coast Guard in tying our military, maritime, multi-mission character to a more tangible identity; an identity that will resonate with our people, our external partners, and customers alike.<br /><br />About a year ago, our training center at Cape May was charged with refining their curriculum to support the development of a more physically fit apprentice who had internalized the Coast Guard’s culture, character, and core values as depicted in <a href="http://www.uscg.mil/TOP/ABOUT/PUB1.ASP">Publication Number One</a> – the Coast Guard’s capstone doctrine. During this process, the Guardian Ethos was created.<br /><br /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/J1K7zDImxjk&amp;hl=" width="425" height="349" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" fs="1&amp;rel=" color1="0x234900&amp;color2=" border="1" allowfullscreen="true"></embed><br /><br />The Guardian Ethos is not intended to replace the <a href="http://www.uscg.mil/history/faqs/creed.asp">Coast Guard Creed</a>. The Creed is a contract an individual makes with the Coast Guard; the Ethos is different – it defines the essence of the Coast Guard and could be viewed as the contract the Coast Guard and its members make with the nation and its citizens.<br /><br />The Coast Guard has served the American public for over 200 years. The surge capabilities inherent in a military organization combined with multiple authorities/competencies due to our multi-mission nature make us unique in government and of great value to our nation. However, because we are so multi-faceted, from time to time we are not well understood.<br /><br />The Guardian Ethos is the essence of our service – it is who we are. Dating <a href="http://www.uscg.mil/history/articles/h_USCGhistory.asp">back to the days</a> of the Steamboat Inspection Service, The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, the U.S. Life Saving Service, and the U.S Lighthouse Service, we have a proud history of serving the citizens of the United States in the maritime domain, providing safety, security and stewardship. As America’s maritime guardians, we protect them, we defend them, and we save them. We are their shield, and we stand always ready for the call to duty. We live the Coast Guard Core Values. Individually, we are each guardians, who have sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution and who adhere to the Coast Guardsman’s Creed. Together we are the United States Coast Guard.<br /><br />The adoption of the Guardian Ethos provides us with a consistent service-wide term for our people. We also know that guardians honor the past but must continually look to the future and adapt. To protect, defend, and save today and tomorrow, we must understand that change and modernization are consistent with our Guardian Ethos. As guardians, we will continually change and improve our Coast Guard.<br /><br />We are Guardians.<br /><br />Admiral Thad Allen<br />Commandant, United States Coast Guard<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-89773998562363459422008-08-07T10:30:00.004-04:002008-08-07T10:48:23.799-04:00Arabic Speakers Graduate from Innovative Internship<div>Attracting Arabic speakers is one of the federal government’s most <a href="http://federaltimes.com/index.php?S=2508323">pressing needs</a>. Since 9/11, senior leaders in the Administration, Congressional committees, blue ribbon panels such as the 9/11 Commission and media reports have emphasized that there is an unacceptable shortage of federal employees who speak Arabic. The Department decided to tackle this problem in a very practical way – in partnership with the FBI and the George Washington University, we created the “<a href="http://www.nationalsecurityinternship.com/">National Security Internship</a>” program. Today, August 7, we graduate our first class of 21 students.<br /><br />The National Security Internship program is not just another typical summer program for young people looking to get experience in Washington. It is an intensive, nine week, full-immersion program that combines studies in Arabic, homeland security, and intelligence with on-the-job training at the <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/">Department of Homeland Security</a> and the <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/">FBI</a>. The students earned twelve college credits through George Washington University through this demanding program.<br /><br />To even qualify for the program, students had to pass rigorous language tests and demonstrate a basic proficiency in the language. The National Security Internship was also restricted to applicants who were able to qualify for a top-secret clearance, which was investigated and adjudicated by the FBI.<br /><br />Every morning, the students took language and security courses at the university. Every afternoon, the students worked at either the FBI’s intelligence division or DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (two students worked at TSA headquarters).<br /><br />The objective of the program is to create a direct career path for these students, and others like them who will follow in upcoming years, into DHS and the FBI. With their language skills, academic studies, work experience, and security clearances, these students are prepared to make major contributions immediately upon their graduation.<br /><br />It is important to note that it is not just the language skills that we need – there is also a great need for the cultural competencies that “heritage speakers” bring. This program does not seek to create a cadre of linguists. Rather, it aims to increase the pool of young people entering federal service who are culturally proficient, speak a foreign language, and have a demonstrated interest in public service.<br /><br />We need more people in the federal workforce who have a deep knowledge of the culture, the history and the traditions of people who speak Arabic. For example, a <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/">CBP</a> officer who speaks Arabic and implicitly understands the culture will be more effective in screening travelers who have just arrived on a flight from Riyadh. An <a href="http://www.ice.gov/">ICE</a> officer who speaks Arabic and understands the commercial life in that region of the world will be more effective in investigating the flow of money to terrorist networks.<br /><br />In future years, we can expand the program to students who will study Farsi, Mandarin, Urdu, and other specialized languages that are in short supply within the federal workforce.<br /><br />One of the most satisfying elements of the program has been our close partnership with the FBI. Working with Assistant Director John Raucci and his extraordinary team has been a pleasure. By collaborating, we have seen the increased efficiencies that come from pooling our recruiting, community relations, procurement and security clearance efforts. There is no doubt that this joint project has deepened the working relationships between our two agencies.<br /><br />In addition to their studies, the interns have met with Cong. Darrell Issa, FBI Director Mueller, DHS Undersecretary for Intelligence Charlie Allen, DHS Chief of Staff Chad Sweet, and others who have cast a vision for the need for government professionals with their backgrounds, skills and experiences.<br /><br />We expect that many of the 21 students who participated this summer will, in the upcoming years, begin careers in the federal government. If we are able to retain even 10 new Arabic speakers each year, we will make a major impact on both DHS and FBI. Within only a few years we will have doubled the size of the entire Arabic speaking workforce in these agencies. Seeing the success of this innovative program will no doubt be a catalyst for other efforts like it.<br /><br />We are already beginning to recruit for next year, and information on the program is available at <a href="http://www.nationalsecurityinternship.com/">www.nationalsecurityinternship.com</a>. We pass along our congratulations to the graduating students for a job well done through a very hectic summer, and look forward to future classes of students who will help make our country more secure.<br /><br />Daniel W. Sutherland<br />Office of Civil Rights &amp; Civil Liberties </div><div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-51429413125370710602008-08-05T17:40:00.007-04:002008-08-06T10:29:22.284-04:00Answering Questions on Border Laptop Searches<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/Laptop_keyboard-711635.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; CURSOR: hand" alt="Computer keyboard close-up." src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/Laptop_keyboard-711633.jpg" border="0" /></a><br />We’ve received several comments from readers regarding <a href="http://www.blogger.com/journal/leadership/2008/06/cbp-laptop-searches.html">my recent post</a> about laptop searches at the border. I’d like to take a few minutes to try to answer some of your questions and set straight some misinformation that is circulating with regard to this long-standing policy.<br /><br />First, it’s important to note that <a href="http://www.customs.gov/xp/cgov/about/history/history2.xml">for more than 200 years, the federal government has been granted the authority to prevent dangerous people and things from entering the United States</a>. Our security measures at the border are rooted in this fundamental fact, and our ability to achieve our border mission would be hampered if we did not apply the same search authorities to electronic media that we have long-applied to physical objects--including documents, photographs, film and other graphic material. Indeed, there are numerous laws that apply to such material at the border including laws regarding intellectual property rights, technical data that can be imported or exported only under state department license and child pornography.<br /><br />In the 21st century, terrorists and criminals increasingly use laptops and other electronic media to transport illicit materials that were traditionally concealed in bags, containers, notebooks and paper documents. Making full use of our search authorities with respect to items like notebooks and backpacks, while failing to do so with respect to laptops and other devices, would ensure that terrorists and criminals receive less scrutiny at our borders just as their use of technology is becoming more sophisticated.<br /><br />This result would be ironic given that this same technology actually enables terrorists and criminals to move large amounts of information across the border via laptops and other electronic devices. At the end of the day, we have a responsibility to search items — electronic or otherwise — that are being transported across our borders and that could potentially be used to harm our nation’s citizens or that are otherwise contrary to law.<br /><br />Second, this is not a new policy. We’ve been searching laptops of those who warrant a closer inspection for years. In fact, we’ve taken the unprecedented step of <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/travel/admissability/search_authority.ctt/search_authority.pdf">posting online</a> <em><span style="font-size:85%;">(PDF 5 pages - 161 KB)</span></em> a policy that would typically be reserved for internal purposes. This information is not new and has been publicly debated countless times. Indeed, the <a href="http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/ABF5C42AFF3A5CB688257481007EC203/$file/0650581.pdf?openelement">9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently confirmed the constitutionality</a> of suspicionless laptop searches at the border.<br /><br />This brings me to my third point, which is that travelers whose laptops are searched represent a very small number of people. As Secretary Chertoff noted in a recent <a href="http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/07/opposing-view-s.html">op-ed</a>,<br /><br /><blockquote>"Of the approximately 400 million travelers who entered the country last year, only a tiny percentage were referred to secondary baggage inspection…[and] of those, only a fraction had electronic devices that may have been checked.”</blockquote>This number is less than one percent of people entering the United States. Contrary to some media accounts, we’re not rolling out a new strategy and screening an exorbitant number of travelers. We’re simply following a common sense border policy that has been in place for years, and has been reaffirmed by the courts.<br /><br />And finally, to allay any concerns the business community or others may have that their personal or trade information might be put at risk by traveling with their laptops, I urge you to look at our track record. Every day, thousands of commercial entry documents, shipping manifests, container content lists, and detailed pieces of company information are transmitted to CBP so we can effectively process entries and screen cargo shipments bound for the United States. This information is closely guarded and governed by strict privacy procedures. Information from passenger laptops or other electronic devices is treated no differently.<br /><br />Our <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/about/">Customs and Border Protection officers</a> are trained professionals with a defined mission, and they have neither the time nor the desire to search travelers’ personal belongings for any reason other than to ensure compliance with our customs and related laws and to protect the United States. As the policy’s provisions make abundantly clear, officers are subject to numerous policy restrictions regarding the retention, sharing, and scrutiny of travelers’ documents and information.<br /><br />I hope this has helped answer some of your questions. One of the lessons 9/11 taught us was that we must adapt to 21st century risks and anticipate rather than react to new threats. Our CBP officers are on the front lines every day ensuring that these lessons are heeded. We trust that travelers understand the need for these sensible security measures.<br /><br />Jayson Ahern<br />Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-35421389812058437012008-08-01T08:59:00.000-04:002008-08-01T10:30:48.362-04:00Travel Authorization Via Computer<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/computer-757954.jpg"><img style="margin: 0px 0px 10px 10px; float: right;" alt="" src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/computer-757952.jpg" border="0" /></a><br />You may recall that in June <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1212498186436.shtm">we announced</a> a program that would bring an antiquated aspect of international travel into the 21st century and at the same time improve our security. I’m pleased to say that starting August 1st, this new program, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, will be up and running for use on a voluntary basis. This means that foreign travelers from <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xtrvlsec/programs/content_multi_image_0021.shtm#4">Visa Waiver Program countries</a> will be able to apply for travel authorization to the U.S. using a simple, secure website.<br /><br />Let me explain some of the details and benefits of this system.<br /><br />Currently, there are 27 countries in the Visa Waiver Program, which means that citizens from places such as Austria, Italy, and Japan do not need to apply for visas to travel to the United States. In lieu of a visa, they currently fill out a paper I-94W form en route to the U.S. These forms ask for basic biographic, travel, and eligibility information, and provide our <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/">Customs and Border Protection</a> (CBP) officers an opportunity to ensure that travelers do not pose a threat before they’re admitted to our country.<br /><br />With ESTA, we’re simply automating this process so passengers can complete these forms online before they even depart for the U.S. This is clearly a win-win for all involved.<br /><br />First, it’s convenient for travelers. <ul><li>They can complete the forms online at their leisure whenever they begin making travel plans. (We recommend this be done at least 72 hours before departure but the system can accommodate last minute travel).<br /></li><li>Most travelers will receive a response within seconds, notifying them of their eligibility or that their request is pending.<br /></li><li>An approved ESTA authorization is valid for up to two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first.<br /></li><li>And ESTA authorizations are valid for multiple entries into the U.S. </li></ul>Second, and more importantly, it provides significant security enhancements. <ul><li>CBP will know who is traveling to our country before they arrive, and can determine if they pose a threat earlier in the process.<br /></li><li>It helps us assess risk based on individuals, rather than groups or countries. We know that just being from a stable country with a friendly government doesn’t automatically exclude one from being a threat (for example, <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1731568.stm">Richard Reid</a> from Britain or <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/03/AR2006050300324.html">Zacharias Moussaoui</a> from France).<br /></li><li>And by increasing the convenience on our end (we will no longer have to decipher handwriting or manually transfer information from paper forms to electronic files), we can focus more time and resources on security matters.<br /></li><li>ESTA will also help us meet a legislative requirement that will allow us to expand the Visa Waiver Program to additional allies. An expanded, more secure VWP will provide an opportunity for millions of foreign citizens to travel to the U.S. to learn firsthand what a great country we have. </li></ul>As I mentioned, ESTA applications will be accepted on a voluntary basis starting August 1st and will be mandatory for all individuals traveling under the VWP on January 12, 2009. I invite you to <a href="https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/">see this system for yourself</a> and view a great example of how 21st century technology can improve security for Americans and enhance the travel experience for our international allies.<br /><br />Thanks for reading.<br /><br />Kathleen Kraninger<br />Director, Screening Coordination Office<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-42185973934889899162008-07-31T10:46:00.003-04:002008-07-31T11:25:46.759-04:00A Wake Up Call<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/CAearthquake-783646.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; CURSOR: hand" alt="Greater Los Angeles Area earthquake location, July 29. 2008. Magnitude 5.4. (USGS)" src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/CAearthquake-783049.jpg" border="0" /></a><br /><a href="http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/eqinthenews/2008/ci14383980/">Tuesday’s earthquake</a> in California was yet another reminder for Americans that mother- nature can strike an instant leaving little time for citizens who aren’t prepared to get prepared. Fortunately, there were only a handful of injuries and <a href="http://gov.ca.gov/index.php?/speech/10324/">California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger</a> said it best “this earthquake reminds us to be prepared.”<br /><br />Since early spring, Americans have been faced with an onslaught of severe weather from tornadoes, wildfires, flooding, a hurricane and now an earthquake all of which have put Americans on the front lines to face mother-nature. But despite the news coverage of these disasters Americans still seem to remain complacent when it comes to personal preparedness. Many believe that it won’t happen to them or if it does there isn’t anything they can do to protect themselves or their homes. This is simply untrue.<br /><br />By having an emergency supply kit, an emergency plan, and being informed about the different types of emergencies that can happen and the appropriate responses, you will be able to make better choices when faced with an emergency in which you have only seconds to respond. Also, you are the first line of defense to any emergency or disaster and by taking steps to prepare you will not only be able to sustain yourself and your family for up to 72 hours or 3 days; but you will be freeing up valuable resources and allowing first responders to get to those who can’t take care of themselves first. Therefore, personal preparedness also becomes a civic responsibility.<br /><br />But what does “being prepared” mean? The Department of Homeland Security’s <a href="http://www.ready.gov/">Ready Campaign</a> encourages everyone to have an emergency supply kit with basic essentials like food and water <em>and</em> unique family needs such as medication; to make an emergency plan that allows you and your family to establish meeting places, key contact information as well as plan ahead for an evacuation--you can find an emergency plan at <a href="http://www.ready.gov/">www.ready.gov</a>; and to be informed about the different types of emergencies that can happen in your area and learn the appropriate responses to them.<br /><br />For example, earthquakes are sometimes believed to be a West Coast phenomenon, but there are actually 45 states and territories throughout the United States that are at moderate to high risk for earthquakes including the <a href="http://quake.usgs.gov/prepare/factsheets/NewMadrid/">New Madrid fault line</a> in the central U.S.<br /><br />The federal government has taken many steps to improve our coordination with state and local authorities in times of emergencies and disasters. But it is also up to our citizens to take responsibility and make sure they and their families are prepared to deal with everything from power outages to large scale events such as <a href="http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=45210">Hurricane Dolly</a>.<br /><br />So let yesterday’s earthquake serve as a wake up call to you – visit <a href="http://www.ready.gov/">www.ready.gov</a> and make sure you are protecting yourself and your family for the unexpected.<br /><br />David Paulison<br />FEMA Administrator<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-35364526012602198742008-07-29T10:29:00.005-04:002008-07-29T10:45:56.065-04:00Domestic Off-shoring<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/elpollorico-704095.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; CURSOR: hand" alt="El Pollo Rico restaurant in Wheaton, Md" src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/elpollorico-704079.jpg" border="0" /></a><br />To the casual observer, the El Pollo Rico restaurant in Wheaton, Md., may have seemed like any successful restaurant found in communities around the nation-—a popular hang out where locals gathered to enjoy good food and friendly company.<br /><br />But as it happens, El Pollo Rico’s success was anything but deserved. While it may have enjoyed an edge over local competitors, El Pollo Rico and its owners were at the center of a multi-million dollar criminal conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States. For El Pollo Rico, the smuggling, employing, and housing of illegal aliens was likely much more profitable than paying lawful wages to American workers.<br /><br />This week, the<a href="http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr//0807/080724greenbelt1.htm"> restaurant's owners, Franciso C. Solano and his wife, Ines Hoyos-Solano, pleaded guilty to federal charges and agreed to forfeit $8.7 million in illicit proceeds</a> they had realized from the scheme over the years. Mr. Solano pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor aliens, conspiracy to commit money laundering and structuring bank transactions to evade reporting requirements in connection with the operation of the restaurant. His wife also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.<br /><br />The Solanos employed an elaborate and corrupt business model to evade and circumvent federal immigration laws in a way that allowed them to gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace. But what is even more disturbing is that these individuals are not alone. Indeed many corrupt businesses today engage in the illicit practice that we call "domestic off-shoring."<br /><br />The American public has heard numerous accounts of jobs being outsourced to workers offshore who work for less money than do American workers. Policymakers have long debated the supposed merits and alleged drawbacks of this practice. But little attention has been paid to the use of undocumented aliens as part of a domestic off-shoring scheme. This type of outsourcing has no positive benefit to American workers or respectable businesses.<br /><br />Companies that build their workforce using illegal aliens here in the United States take jobs away from law abiding American citizens and residents who are authorized to work. By cutting corners to cut costs, they unfairly acquire market share to the detriment of responsible businesses playing by the rules. The shadiest of these establishments often exploit and abuse their workers because of their illegal status, disregarding worker safety and wage laws simply because they know the workers, fearing arrest and deportation, won't report them to regulators.<br /><br />The good news is that <a href="http://www.ice.gov/">ICE</a>'s comprehensive approach to worksite enforcement is helping turn the tables on domestic off-shoring. Not only are ICE’s efforts against unscrupulous employers working to level the playing field between them and their competitors, but by also targeting the identity thieves and document vendors, ICE is able to protect those American workers whose identities have been used for these nefarious purposes.<br /><br />Julie L. Myers<br />Assistant Secretary, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-44013354310829889582008-07-25T15:41:00.006-04:002008-07-25T16:07:51.603-04:00Diversity and Readiness<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/soldiers_wwII-758805.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; CURSOR: hand" alt="African-American and white soldiers at a base in Italy during World War II. Source: United States Army." src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/soldiers_wwII-758800.jpg" border="0" /></a><br />To the Men and Women of the United States Coast Guard and our Shipmates in the Department of Homeland Security.<br /><br />I was pleased this week to address the Annual National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) in Portsmouth, Va. From their <a href="http://www.nnoa.org/index.php">website</a>, “The National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) actively supports the Sea Services in recruiting, retaining, and developing the careers of minority officers. The NNOA provides professional development and mentoring for its members. The NNOA continues to establish and maintain a positive image of the Sea Services in minority communities and educational institutions.”<br /><br />This year’s conference was particularly meaningful because it coincided with the 60th Anniversary of <a href="http://www.trumanlibrary.org/9981.htm">Executive Order 9981</a> which was signed by President Truman on 26 July 1948. Executive Order 9981 ended segregation in the armed forces and required that “<em>there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin</em>.” Since then, there has been great progress made in the Armed Forces since the end of World War II to remove barriers and ensure equality among all of those who serve our country in uniform.<br /><br />That said challenges still remain to ensure our Coast Guard is an inclusive service that values and promotes diversity. Diversity is a concept that extends far beyond the traditional legal notions of equal opportunity and civil rights. Diversity is really the broad representation of culture, religion, values, ethnicity, gender, education, life experience, professional qualification, and the other many things that make us unique as individuals. <br /><br />As I noted in my remarks at NNOA inclusion of diverse individuals and viewpoints produces better decisions and action in organizations. I really see diversity as a readiness issue that all of our senior leaders and unit commanding officers must consider as one of the keys to effective mission execution.<br /><br />To that end, I believe we must redouble our commitment to creating a more diverse workforce in the Coast Guard. For the last several months I have been working with my diversity advisors, listening to feedback from the Diversity Advisory Council, and talking to our units in the field. Together with the Vice Commandant, VADM Vivien Crea, and with the support of senior leaders, we intend to implement a series of initiatives aimed at improving our diversity at accession points and increasing retention through improved career development and management.<br /><br />I outlined the initial steps we intend to take in <a href="http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=332220">my remarks at the NNOA Conference</a>. <br /><ul><li>We will enhance senior leader participation with Minority Serving Institutions including <a href="http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/list/whhbcu/edlite-list.html">Historically Black Colleges and Universities</a>, those institutions affiliated with the <a href="http://www.hacu.net/hacu/Default_EN.asp">Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities</a> and <a href="http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/list/whtc/edlite-tclist.html">Tribal Council Institutions</a>. </li><br /><li>We will increase attendance by senior leaders and commanding officers at national conferences of affinity groups such as NNOA, the Association of Naval Services Officers, Coast Guard Women’s Leadership Association and Blacks in Government. </li><br /><li>I have directed that Officer Evaluation Reports for junior officers be signed by the reported on officer before the report is forwarded from the command to establish parity with our enlisted evaluation system. </li><br /><li>We will expand the use of Individual Development Plans to all O-4s and E-6s and below. </li><br /><li>We will focus our College Student Pre-commissioning Initiative (CSPI) toward institutions with more diverse student populations. </li><br /><li>Finally, we will begin a pilot program to promote Coast Guard career opportunities for diverse candidates in the Baltimore, Md area. </li></ul><br />Instituting these changes will take time, but we are committed to moving forward “at best speed.” Our Assistant Commandant for Human Resources will provide updates on these items and future endeavors through a series of messages. Some initiatives, such as the IDP program which have the potential to increase workload will be piloted first to ensure we get it right.<br /><br />There are more changes coming, but as we refine our strategy and deploy it, I want to make sure you have a voice. I want to hear your ideas on how we can develop a diverse workforce to improve mission effectiveness. Please comment on this journal posting so others can see and build on your ideas. I previously asked all Coast Guard personnel to direct our Guardian Ethos towards each other, those who serve beside us. This initiative is in keeping with that Ethos and I ask for your active involvement.<br /><br />Admiral Thad Allen<br />Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-37770683732678344142008-07-21T18:19:00.009-04:002008-07-21T18:49:43.538-04:00Tool Needed to Prosecute Drug Traffickers Using Subs<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/SPSS_HELO2-723388.jpg"><img style="margin: 0pt 0pt 10px 10px; float: right; cursor: pointer;" src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/SPSS_HELO2-723271.jpg" alt="Helicopter hovers above a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel." border="0" /></a><br />I commend the Government of Mexico and the Mexican Navy for their superb <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/255/story/44739.html">interdiction of a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessel carrying more than 10,000 pounds of cocaine</a> last Wednesday. This was a remarkable example of the value of active international cooperation in combating drug smugglers and the great effectiveness of the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South. The professionalism demonstrated by the CBP Marine aircrew, JIATF-South and Mexican Navy was one of the most impressive international interdictions I have seen in my 37-year career and sends a clear signal to drug traffickers and other transnational criminals that there is a unified effort to secure our maritime borders from all hazards.<br /><br /><a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/SPSS_PC-732710.JPG"><img style="margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; float: left; cursor: pointer;" src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/SPSS_PC-732619.JPG" alt="A boat interdicts a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel." border="0" /></a> SPSS vessels represent an increasingly significant threat to our safety and security. These vessels, which can be both manned and operated remotely, can transport multi-ton loads of cocaine and other illicit cargo to the U.S. The use of SPSS vessels has grown in recent years as a means to counter effective interdiction efforts. The SPSS, once perceived as an impractical and risky smuggling tool, has proven successful as an innovative and highly mobile, asymmetrical method of conveyance. After just 23 total SPSS events between 2000 and 2007, drug trafficking organizations conducted at least 45 SPSS transits during the first six months of FY 2008. SPSS now account for 32% of all maritime cocaine flow in the transit zone.<br /><br />Success against this emerging threat requires a multi-faceted approach, including: international cooperation and coordination; a persistent patrol presence in the transit zone; active intelligence gathering and sharing; and effective legislation to facilitate prosecution. As demonstrated by last week’s case, the U.S. and its partners have the ability to aggressively pursue and interdict SPSS vessels, but it is the legislative piece that is currently missing. The Mexican Navy’s interdiction notwithstanding, the overwhelming majority of SPSS interdictions result in the successful scuttling of the vessel with its entombed cargo of cocaine. Absent contraband evidence, there are few practical options under existing U.S. law to pursue prosecution.<br /><br />If operation of and embarkation in an SPSS were illegal, U.S. interdiction forces and U.S. Attorneys would have the necessary legal tools to combat the SPSS threat even in the absence of recovered drugs or other contraband. Criminalizing the operation of stateless SPSS vessels on international voyages would improve officer safety, deter the use of these inherently dangerous vessels, and facilitate effective prosecution of criminals involved in this treacherous and emerging trend. <br /><br />The penalty for any SPSS offense should be sufficiently strong to deter use and encourage cooperation by those interdicted at sea. Because the desired legislation is limited to stateless SPSS and submarines on international voyages, the law would not affect legitimate business users and law abiding hobbyists.<br /><br />We strongly support the legislation introduced in both the House and Senate and urge passage of this legislation to enhance both national and regional security and fully empower our ongoing interdiction efforts.<br /><br />Admiral Thad W. Allen<br />Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>Ownerhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09025302694449095642noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-5686422370497076742008-07-16T13:47:00.004-04:002008-07-16T16:45:22.544-04:00Clear Benefit<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/truckradiationportalmonitor-773958.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; CURSOR: hand" alt="A truck passes through a radiation portal monitor at the port of Newark, New Jersey. (Photo/Whitehouse" src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/truckradiationportalmonitor-773936.jpg" border="0" /></a><br /><div>As <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/15/AR2008071502874.html">reported</a> in today’s <em>Washington Post</em>, two recent Congressional reports claim that our Department lacks a comprehensive strategy to protect the American people from the threat of nuclear and radiological weapons and materials, and that our efforts to guard against biological threats are poorly coordinated and have “unclear benefit.”<br /><br />While we welcome Congressional oversight and thoughtful, balanced recommendations and even criticism, these reports and comments widely miss the mark. They are based on outdated and incomplete information.<br /><br />Far from lacking a strategic plan or clear goals, the Department, in cooperation with federal, state, local, and international partners, has developed and is implementing a comprehensive Global Nuclear Detection Architecture to prevent the entry of radiological and nuclear weapons or materials into the United States. This architecture is intelligence-driven, and built around a multi-layered strategy that starts overseas, continues at our borders, and is maintained within the U.S. interior.<br /><br />It begins with securing the international supply chain and working with our partners overseas to prevent illicit nuclear or radiological material from being smuggled into the country. Through programs such as the <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/cargo_security/secure_freight_initiative/">Secure Freight Initiative</a>, our officers are working with their foreign counterparts overseas to scan U.S.-bound containers for radiation as they move through international ports.<br /><br />At home, we are scanning cargo at the ports of entry and closing gaps along the land, air, and sea borders. We now scan almost all incoming containerized cargo for radiation at our major seaports. We also scan 100 percent of truck cargo entering the United States from Mexico and more than 90 percent of the truck cargo entering the United States from Canada. Just a few years ago, we didn’t scan any of this cargo for radiation.<br /><br />But our efforts do not end here. To counter the threat of terrorists attempting to smuggle material aboard small planes, last year we launched an initiative to begin scanning trans-oceanic general aviation aircraft arriving in the United States for radiological and nuclear material. We also recently completed a <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xprevprot/programs/gc_1199394950818.shtm">Small Vessel Security Strategy</a> to address the risk of small boats smuggling dangerous material, and we have been testing radiological and nuclear detection equipment in various maritime locations on the West Coast. This is in addition to equipping every Coast Guard boarding team with radiation detection equipment.<br /><br />To protect the interior of the country, our “Securing the Cities” initiative is integrating radiation detection capabilities within the New York City urban area, and we are testing fixed and mobile radiation detection systems for commercial trucks traveling on U.S. highways.<br /><br />Finally, we working with the Department of Energy, industry partners, and others to enhance security for licensed, high-risk radioactive sources, and we are promoting the design and production of non-nuclear alternatives for industrial devices that currently use radioactive sources.<br /><br />To be sure, these efforts are not complete. But they do reflect a balanced and strategic defense designed to identify and address remaining gaps and vulnerabilities in our detection capabilities and make wise investments of taxpayer resources to draw down the risk of WMD.<br /><br />Beyond radiological and nuclear threats, we also have made strides to improve our detection of dangerous biological agents. Our <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/structure/gc_1205180907841.shtm">BioWatch</a> program is now deployed in more than 30 major cities nationwide to monitor the air for harmful biological agents, giving us a robust detection capability. BioWatch works hand-in-hand with our new National Biosurveillance Integration Center, which analyzes data to quickly determine potential health and security threats.<br /><br />Under BioWatch – which did not exist before 2001 – the Department has provided guidance to all participating jurisdictions on preparedness, response, and environmental sampling so that they can build their own concept of operations and operational plans around BioWatch. We have specific cooperative agreements with each of the participating laboratories to use their space, but we pay for our staff, test equipment, and chemicals used to analyze the BioWatch samples. And we are now beginning to deploy our next generation of quicker, less expensive BioWatch detectors.<br /><br />Perhaps those who say that BioWatch has “unclear benefit” need reminding that our nation already suffered an anthrax attack in 2001. Our ability to quickly detect and characterize these kinds of biological agents is critical to saving lives and minimizing the impact. I think most Americans would agree the benefits of such a system are indeed clear. </div><br /><div></div><br /><div>Michael Chertoff</div><div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-74208277579324260362008-07-15T11:15:00.005-04:002008-07-15T13:07:49.732-04:00Why the Country Needs the National Applications Office<a href="http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/images/big-sur-fire.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; WIDTH: 200px; CURSOR: hand" alt="Big Sur fire, June 29, 2008. The satellite image combines a natural color portrayal of the landscape, with thermal infrared data showing the active burning areas in red. The dark area in the lower right is a previous forest fire." src="http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/images/big-sur-fire.jpg" border="0" /></a><br />It is unfortunate that recent articles and blog postings have chosen to spend so much time complaining about the past instead of the critical and substantive benefits the National Applications Office (NAO) will provide the American people in the future. We need to move forward, get the NAO fully operational, and demonstrate how this 21st century capability will greatly aid the work of our scientists, our nation’s first responders, and others charged with protecting the United States.<br /><br />The NAO will act as a clearinghouse for available technologies such as overhead imagery to better serve the scientific, homeland security and, eventually, law enforcement communities, with a solid framework to protect privacy, civil rights and civil liberties. It is a good-government solution to assist those users, and there is nothing secretive or mysterious about its mission. In fact, the scientific work of the NAO has been done for more than 30 years by the Civil Applications Committee (CAC), which itself will become part of the NAO. But the CAC model is 30 years old, and the world we live in is far different and, in many ways, more complex than when the CAC was first formed.<br /><br />In 2005, the <a href="http://www.dni.gov/">Office of the Director of National Intelligence</a> and the <a href="http://www.usgs.gov/">U.S. Geological Survey</a>, which chairs the CAC, chartered a blue-ribbon commission to review how the CAC facilitated, managed and oversaw capabilities and resources of the Intelligence Community for appropriate domestic applications. The commission concluded that there is “an urgent need for action because opportunities to better protect the nation are being missed.” It recommended the creation of an entity “to provide a focal point and act as a facilitator to [overhead imagery and other resources] on behalf of civil, homeland security and law enforcement users.” The Commission’s report is available in its entirety to the public. This was quite a public birth of the NAO.<br /><br />The NAO will provide an excellent tool to help keep all Americans secure. Examples of how NAO will use overhead imagery for appropriate domestic purposes include:<br /><br /><br /><ul><li>Saving lives through support to forest firefighters, as we saw with the wild fires in California last year and again this year</li><li>Preparing for National Special Security Events such as this year’s political party conventions</li><li>Assisting preparedness, response and recovery efforts of catastrophic flooding</li><li>Helping to secure our nation’s borders</li><li>Supporting the U.S. Coast Guard in its search and rescue operations and oil spill response</li><li>Assessing the readiness in advance of a natural disaster</li><li>Assessing damage following natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods</li><li>Geospatial mapping</li><li>Preparing environmental studies relating to geologic features, forestation, studies of wildlife, and other environmental research.</li></ul><br />NAO will facilitate access only to geospatial intelligence (e.g., overhead imagery and mapping), measurement and signature intelligence (e.g., seismic acoustic sensors used to identify seismic activity such as earthquakes and tsunamis), and electronic intelligence (e.g., using emitters to rescue ships at sea during Hurricane Katrina). NAO will not accept requests to use capabilities to intercept verbal communications, whether written or oral.<br /><br />I am not sure what some commentators meant when they said the NAO lacks for champions. All they needed to do was ask a homeowner whose home was saved by the kind of overhead imagery NAO will be able to provide firefighters. Or they could have spoken to me, who has served this country as an intelligence officer for 50 years, or to my bosses, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell. The homeowner or any one of us in government service would have been happy to explain how the NAO will benefit the American people.<br /><br />The Department of Homeland Security, with the assistance of a number of partner agencies, has designed the NAO with an extraordinary amount of scrutiny and oversight to ensure that the civil liberties, civil rights and privacy of Americans are protected. A National Applications Executive Council will oversee the NAO. It will be chaired by the Deputy Secretary of <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/">DHS</a>, the Deputy Secretary of <a href="http://www.doi.gov/">Interior</a>, and the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and aided by their policy, legal, privacy, and civil liberties and civil rights advisers.<br /><br />Both the <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/testimony/testimony_1205162508385.shtm">Privacy and Civil Rights and Civil Liberties offices of DHS thoroughly reviewed the NAO Charter</a> and other plans, and completed privacy and civil liberties impact assessments. In addition, <a href="http://www.blogger.com/www.dhs.gov/xoig/assets/mgmtrpts/OIGr_08-35_Apr08.pdf">DHS’ Inspector General reviewed the NAO’s privacy stewardship</a> and issued a very favorable report. <span style="font-size:78%;">(<em><a href="http://www.adobe.com/products/reader/">download PDF reader</a></em>)<br /></span><br />The NAO will safeguard privacy, civil rights and civil liberties by ensuring that its procedures are in accordance with laws, policies and procedures that protect privacy, civil rights and civil liberties, including:<br /><ul><li>The U.S. Constitution </li><li>Executive Order 12333 and the procedures for intelligence community members under that order that have been approved by the Attorney General</li><li>The Posse Comitatus Act </li><li>The Privacy Act of 1974, as amended </li><li>The E-Government Act of 2002, Section 208 </li><li>Any other applicable laws, policies or procedures that have the purpose or effect of safeguarding privacy, civil rights, or civil liberties </li></ul>Because it is a part of DHS, the NAO is subject to compliance oversight by the DHS Inspector General, Chief Privacy Officer, and the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Additional oversight will be provided by the Civil Liberties Protection Officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.<br /><br />Secretary Chertoff and I have fully and frequently briefed all the relevant committees of Congress, and remain committed to answering any further questions they may have. We look forward to the completion of the Government Accountability Office’s review of the Secretary’s certification that privacy and civil rights/civil liberties are addressed by NAO, so that the NAO can begin its civilian and homeland security applications.<br /><br />I work every day to help keep the homeland safe. The NAO, with the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties built in as described above, is not only good government but needed now to help the nation respond and recover from all disasters – natural or man-made.<br /><br />Charlie Allen<br />Under Secretary for Intelligence &amp; Analysis<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-45160323788358681432008-07-11T16:18:00.003-04:002008-07-11T16:28:27.750-04:00Exactly What Do They Want?<p>I’ve been in Washington a while, and I thought I’d seen everything. But the <a href="http://www.shrm.org/">Society for Human Resource Management</a> (SHRM) has taught me a new trick.<br /><br />SHRM lobbies for the HR execs who do corporate hiring. It also opposes <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xprevprot/programs/gc_1185221678150.shtm">E-Verify</a>. I suppose corporate hiring is easier if you can hire illegal workers, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that SHRM wants to kill a program that makes it harder to hire illegal workers.<br /><br />But SHRM has taken Washington arts to a new level. SHRM says it doesn’t want to kill E-Verify. SHRM says it wants to replace E-Verify with a new, better program to prevent illegal hiring. A closer look shows that the SHRM alternative is doomed to fail – and will take years to do so. So for a decade, while the SHRM alternative is failing, no one will have a good tool to actually prevent illegal hires. Which may be precisely what SHRM wants.<br /><br />Why do I think that’s the name of this game? For starters, because SHRM proposes to turn immigration enforcement over to an agency that has no immigration enforcement mission. SHRM wants a verification tool that is run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), with no role for DHS, the department that funds and runs E-Verify today. Under the SHRM proposal, SSA would be responsible for making sure that everyone in the U.S. is eligible to work. But SSA and its data systems are set up to administer a vast benefit trust fund, not to enforce the immigration laws. It is hard for SSA to justify using its trust fund dollars for missions that don’t directly benefit the fund and its beneficiaries, and aggressive enforcement of the immigration laws certainly doesn’t fit that description. So any enforcement system run by Social Security would be underfunded and run by people who are not experienced in enforcing the laws against hiring illegal immigrants. Which may be exactly what SHRM wants.<br /><br />In fact, SSA’s inability to adapt its database for immigration enforcement was the source of some of the problems E-Verify has been criticized for. The difficulty that naturalized citizens sometimes encountered in correcting their SSA records was finally resolved after DHS redesigned its systems to act as a backstop to SSA’s records. If E-Verify were turned over to SSA and DHS’s backstop systems were scrapped, far more Americans would have to trek to a Social Security office to prove they are entitled to work. That of course would undermine both the program’s effectiveness and its popularity. But that may be exactly what SHRM wants.<br /><br />SHRM’s other solution after scrapping E-Verify is to use a Database of New Hires. That database is run by Health and Human Services (HHS) to catch workers who don’t pay child support. It doesn’t check for employment eligibility (and why would it? That’s not what it’s built to do) and it has no uniform process to resolve a mismatch. Not only would the HHS system be ineffective at employment verification, it would be far too slow. Today, E-Verify provides automatic feedback, on line, 99.5% of the time for authorized workers. Could the HHS system match this performance? No. The HHS system is the reverse of instantaneous. Here’s how it works. First, employers send in a list of the workers they’ve hired. Not to the Federal government. To fifty state agencies. Then the state agencies send the information to HHS. The Federal government never communicates with employers at all. It tells the states about any problems it finds in the records and relies on the states to contact the employer. Imagine how popular employment verification would be if no one in America could get a job until the employer had mailed in the employee’s data, and the state government mailed it to the Federal government, and the Federal government mailed a reply to the state, and the state had then contacted the employer to say everything was fine. A system like that would be repealed before the first reply was delivered. Which, come to think of it, may be exactly what SHRM wants.<br /><br />SHRM also claims that their proposal combats identity theft and document fraud more effectively than E-Verify. We’re always glad to hear good ideas for reducing identity theft. But SHRM’s proposal doesn’t qualify. It relies heavily on matching Social Security Numbers and names, as does E-Verify. But it does away with E-Verify’s tool for displaying the picture that ought to be on the ID the worker presents – a proven deterrent to document fraud. SHRM’s other, vague proposal is to have private companies investigate workers and then issue special IDs. But if the private investigators are hired by SHRM’s members, what incentive do they have to find that a prospective worker is actually using a stolen identity? A skeptic might conclude that the investigators are paid to qualify workers, not to disqualify them. And the investigators won’t work for free. What’s to stop the companies from passing the cost of these investigations on to workers desperate to get hired? Such a system could turn out to be an expensive and much-abused failure, discrediting employer verification for years. Or is that too exactly what SHRM wants?<br /><br />Lots of people in Washington know that the first rule of government is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But the first rule of lobbying in SHRM’s book seems to be, “call it broke and fix it bad.” In fact, <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xprevprot/programs/gc_1185221678150.shtm">E-Verify</a> isn’t broken. It’s the best available tool to verify employment eligibility. </p><p>Stewart Baker<br />Assistant Secretary for Policy</p><div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-91055031162006661162008-07-10T19:19:00.002-04:002008-07-10T19:26:11.118-04:00Protecting Ideas<a href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/lightbulb-735969.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; CURSOR: hand" alt="lightbulb" src="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/uploaded_images/lightbulb-735957.jpg" border="0" /></a><br /><div>Earlier today we officially opened the new home of the <a href="http://www.ice.gov/partners/cornerstone/ipr/">National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center</a> in Arlington, Va.<br /><br />We had the honor of being joined at the launch event by Secretary Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Gutierrez. They each addressed the important role this new facility will play in safeguarding intellectual property rights (IPR). The president and CEO of Underwriters Laboratories, Keith Williams, also shared his perspective on the significance of this new facility to the private sector.<br /><br />The opening of this facility represents a major step forward in the United States’ effort to safeguard intellectual property rights and to target criminals who violate those rights. It gives us the tools we need to build the productive partnerships with both the private sector and with governments and law enforcement agencies here at home and abroad.<br /><br />The violation of IPR is a serious and growing threat to America’s national and economic security. The United States is home to some of the world’s most innovative and creative industries – industries that are consistently leading the way in developing new and better products to meet the demands of consumers around the world.<br /><br />Whether it’s life-saving medicines and vaccines, state of the art technologies, products for the office or the home, or the creative output of American movie and recording studios, the output of American ingenuity is increasingly the target of larger, more sophisticated, and more complex counterfeiting and piracy schemes.<br /><br />The cost to our economy of intellectual property theft is estimated to reach $250 billion a year, robbing as many as 750,000 jobs from American workers. Worldwide, it is estimated that as much as 8 percent of all the goods and merchandise sold is counterfeit.<br /><br />This illegal activity not only poses an economic threat, it also threatens the health and safety of the American people. From tainted toothpaste to adulterated dog food, we’ve seen how substandard or tainted products that illegally carry the name of trusted products put consumers at risk.<br /><br />The challenge we face in turning back the tide is enormous – and this new facility is designed to meet that challenge. The people staffing this facility are committed to building partnerships among all those who share the long-range goal of putting counterfeiters and pirates out of business.<br /><br />We are establishing what I think of as “mission control” for IPR protection, a place designed to foster information sharing, partnership building, and cooperative effort in pursuit of a common goal.<br /><br />Using the highly successful task force model, our new facility will promote close cooperation and coordination among federal agencies and among field offices, clarifying areas of responsibility and lines of authority, eliminating duplication of effort, and promoting best practices.<br /><br />This facility will also give our law enforcement counterparts in state and local governments and internationally a single point of contact for IPR investigations and enforcement. It will serve the same purpose for the private sector, helping us build truly productive partnerships.<br /><br />As the Center’s lead federal agency, ICE is excited about this new facility’s ability to improve and expand the federal government’s effort to protect the intellectual property rights of American business and industry and, by doing so, protect the health and safety of the American people and the strength of the American economy.<br /><br />This Center holds great promise and I am convinced it will meet and likely exceed our expectations for it. As impressive as this new facility is, however, its true potential is in its people. We are fortunate that the people who are staffing the Center are dedicated, capable professionals who see their job as a mission – a mission they will use all of their skill, ability, experience, and expertise to fulfill.<br /><br />I look forward, in the months ahead, to sharing with the readers of this journal some of the many successes I know this new facility will help make possible.<br /><br />Julie L. Myers<br />Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security<br />U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement</div><div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-62266715895693918902008-07-09T14:29:00.004-04:002008-07-09T15:29:07.134-04:00Myth vs. Fact: Worksite EnforcementOpponents of immigration enforcement continue to propagate mythical objections to the Department's enforcement efforts. Some have claimed we are unfairly targeting low-level employees and not the employers who hire them. Others have misstated the facts about our E-Verify system, claiming it is riddled with errors and harms legal workers at the expense of identifying illegal ones.<br /><br />For the benefit of journal readers, I'd like to take a few minutes to separate these myths from the facts.<br /><br /><strong><i>1) Has the Department stepped up its worksite enforcement efforts?</i></strong></li><br /><br />Yes. As you can see in the table below, arrests in worksite cases have jumped from a total of 850 in 2004 to 4,940 last year, including 863 arrests based on criminal charges. We have already exceeded the number of criminal arrests this year and expect that figure to continue to rise.<br /><br /><style type="text/css"><!--.notey {font-size: x-small}.numbers{padding-right:3em; text-align:right}--></style><table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="6" border="1"><tbody><tr><td valign="bottom" bgcolor="#e0e0e0"><p align="center"><strong>Fiscal Year</strong></p></td><td valign="bottom" bgcolor="#e0e0e0"><p align="center"><strong>Worksite<br> Criminal Arrests</strong></p></td><td valign="bottom" bgcolor="#e0e0e0"><p align="center"><strong>Worksite<br> Administrative Arrests</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td><p align="center">2004</p></td><td class="numbers"><p><strong>165 </strong></p></td><td class="numbers"><p><strong>685 </strong></p></td></tr><tr><td><p align="center">2005</p></td><td class="numbers"><p><strong>176 </strong></p></td><td class="numbers"><p><strong>1,116 </strong></p></td></tr><tr><td><p align="center">2006</p></td><td class="numbers"><p><strong>716 </strong></p></td><td class="numbers"><p><strong>3,667 </strong></p></td></tr><tr><td><p align="center">2007</p></td><td class="numbers"><p><strong>863 </strong></p></td><td class="numbers"><p><strong>4,077</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td><p align="center">2008<br><span class="notey">(as of May 31)</span></p></td><td class="numbers"><p><strong>875</strong></p></td><td class="numbers"><p><strong>3,000</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td colspan="3">Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><strong><i>2) Is it true that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is only arresting low-level employees and not managers and supervisors?</i></strong><br /><br />No. Of the 863 criminal arrests in worksite cases last year, 92 were in the company's supervisory chain. Already this year, ICE has arrested 80 individuals in the supervisory chain. This follows the arrests of 389 illegal aliens on administrative immigration violations, the most ever arrested in a single-site worksite enforcement operation. Additionally, 302 of those arrested have been charged with criminal offenses, including identity theft, false use of a Social Security number, illegal re-entry into the United States, and other crimes.<br /><br />Of course, when comparing employer to employee arrests, it's important to keep in mind that in most companies there will be a larger number of employees than employers and top-level managers. Moreover, cases against supervisors and employers are more complex, and often depend on proving knowledge and intent. Therefore, it often takes time to build a criminal case against an employer, but the charges and penalties will likely be more serious as a result.<br /><br /><strong><i>3) Are these worksite enforcement efforts random or do they unfairly target well-established employers, as some have suggested?</i></strong><br /><br />No. Our efforts focus on three priority areas. We target employers who have built their business model on hiring an illegal workforce. We also focus on disrupting the infrastructure that supports illegal immigration, which includes aggressively targeting those who engage in identity theft, document fraud and/or human smuggling. And we want to ensure that our nation's critical infrastructure sites, like our airports, seaports, military bases and nuclear facilities are staffed with individuals authorized to work in the country. The vast majority of ICE's worksite enforcement efforts fall into at least one of these categories.<br /><br /><strong><i>4) Does ICE conduct its worksite operations in cooperation with state and local authorities?</i></strong><br /><br />Yes. When ICE conducts an enforcement action, it coordinates with state and local law enforcement and those responsible for public safety in a manner that will not compromise the operation. ICE goes to great lengths to identify and address any humanitarian concerns of the individuals it encounters. ICE's worksite enforcement operations are the result of long and careful criminal investigations, not random targeting or haphazard planning.<br /><br /><strong><i>5) Is the Department's E-Verify program riddled with errors and does it hurt legal workers at the expense of identifying illegal workers?</i></strong><br /><br />No. E-Verify is a proven tool currently used by more than 73,000 employers nationwide, with another 1,000 employers enrolling every week. I'd venture to say that if the system didn't work or was riddled with errors, very few employers would want to use it.<br /><br />Under E-Verify, almost everyone who is authorized to work in the United States is immediately verified by the system. Only about 0.5 percent of those queried who are ultimately confirmed as legal workers receive what is called a "tentative non-confirmation" and need to correct their records.<br /><br />An employee who receives a tentative non-confirmation has a right to contest it and update his or her information while he or she continues working. E-Verify does <i>not</i> require these workers to be immediately fired.<br /><br />Of course, many non-confirmations relate to employees who are not legally authorized to work in our country – estimated to be around 5 percent of all workers sent through the system. But those who employ illegal workers have no grounds to complain when the system uncovers that illegality.<br /><br /><strong><i>6) Can worksite enforcement alone solve our nation's immigration problems?</i></strong><br /><br />An enforcement-only approach will not fix this problem. We must find a way to meet our nation's temporary workforce needs in a legal manner while also securing the border and enforcing the interior. Ultimately, this will require Congress to act on comprehensive reform. Nevertheless, our Department will not turn a blind eye toward illegality. We will continue to meet our obligations to the American people under the law, which includes enforcing the rules at worksites.<br /><br />Michael Chertoff<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-82773210346552012222008-06-30T12:07:00.006-04:002008-07-10T18:36:50.724-04:00CBP Laptop Searches<a href="http://www.tsa.gov/graphics/images/laptop_tip.jpg"><img style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; WIDTH: 200px; CURSOR: hand" alt="" src="http://www.tsa.gov/graphics/images/laptop_tip.jpg" border="0" /></a><br /><div>As the nation’s frontline border agency, <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/">U.S. Customs and Border Protection</a> (CBP) encounters more than one million travelers every day at U.S. ports of entry and is responsible for enforcing more than 600 federal laws at the border, including laws relating to narcotics, intellectual property, child pornography and other contraband, and terrorism.<br /><br />Our ability to inspect what is coming into the United States is central to keeping dangerous people and things from entering the country and harming the American people. One of our most important enforcement tools in this regard is our ability to search information contained in electronic devices, including laptops and other digital devices, for violations of U.S. law, including potential threats.<br /><br />These searches have helped limit the movement of terrorists, individuals who support their activities, and other threats to national security. During border inspections of laptops, CBP officers have found violent jihadist material, information about cyanide and nuclear material, video clips of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), pictures of high-level Al-Qaeda officials, and other material associated with people seeking to do harm to our country. For example:<br /><ul><li>On November 14, 2006, Detroit CBP Officers inspected the baggage of an Ethiopian-born, naturalized U.S. citizen based on a law enforcement tip that he was attempting to smuggle currency into the United States. The inspection revealed approximately $79,000 in unlawful U.S. currency. CBP then reviewed his laptop computer and discovered information about cyanide and nuclear material. The individual pleaded guilty to bulk cash smuggling and making false statements. He was sentenced to twelve months in prison.</li><li>On September 26, 2006, an individual, traveling on an F-1 student visa arrived at Minneapolis St. Paul Airport from Amsterdam. He was selected for secondary screening. A review of his laptop computer revealed numerous video clips of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) being exploded. Another file on the computer showed the individual reading his will and included pictures of high-level Al-Qaida officials. Based on this and further derogatory information uncovered by computer forensics, the individual was refused admission, convicted of visa fraud, and removed from the country.</li><li>On February 22, 2007, an individual arrived at the San Francisco International Airport seeking admission as a U.S. lawful permanent resident. CBP referred him to secondary inspection based on his behavior and questions by CBP officers. During an inspection of the individual’s laptop computer, officers discovered violent jihadist materials. This evidence led to expert testimony in immigration proceedings that identified the individual as a target for a terrorist group recruiting. His laptop was seized as evidence in this case and he is in removal proceedings.</li></ul>CBP border searches also have uncovered intellectual property rights violations and child pornography:<br /><ul><li>On December 6, 2004, a Canadian national suspected of stealing proprietary software programs from a U.S. company and attempting to sell the software to the People’s Republic of China arrived in Orlando, Florida, to attend a defense conference. ICE agents coordinated with CBP to conduct a border search of the individual and his belongings when he entered the United States. A preliminary search of his laptop revealed software belonging to the American company. On June 18, 2008, he was sentenced in the Northern District of California to two years incarceration for violations of the Economic Espionage Act and the Arms Export Control Act. He also received a $10,000 fine and 3 years probation. This joint ICE and FBI investigation was made possible by information gained by the initial CBP border search of the individual’s laptop and portable hard drive. </li><li>And on July 17, 2005, an individual arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on a flight from Manila, Philippines. He was selected for a secondary examination and exhibited nervous behavior when questioned about the purpose of travel to Manila. After failing to provide consistent answers about his occupation and purpose of travel, a declaration was obtained and the individual’s luggage was inspected. Upon inspection of his laptop and CDs found in the individual’s luggage, officers found images of child pornography. </li></ul>It is not our intent to subject legitimate travelers to undue scrutiny, but to ensure the safety of the American public. In conducting these searches, we are fully dedicated to protecting the civil rights of all travelers. Similar to our efforts with respect to vehicles, suitcases, backpacks, hard-copy documents, and conveyances, our examinations of laptops and other digital devices are consistent with longstanding constitutional authorities at the border and have been affirmed by federal courts throughout the country, including most recently the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.<br /><br />Moreover, CBP officers adhere to strict constitutional and statutory requirements, including the Trade Secrets Act, which explicitly forbids federal employees from disclosing, without lawful authority, business confidential information they may access as part of their official duties. We also protect information that may be uncovered during examination as well as private information that is not in violation of any law.<br /><br />We have a responsibility to ensure that any item brought into the country complies with the law and is not a threat to the American public. To treat our inspections of digital media at the border differently from any other documents or conveyances would give terrorists and criminals an advantage they should not have and that our nation cannot afford.<br /><br />Jayson Ahern<br />Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection</div><div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-72683592614805211602008-06-23T10:49:00.004-04:002008-06-30T09:35:27.285-04:00Processing QuestionsI’ve been reading—absorbing the more than 400 comments you left from <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/2008/05/were-listening.html">my last Journal entry</a>. You’ve asked many questions—mostly about our processing times, wait times for visa approvals, and how we’re responding to the record number of applications we received last year.<br /><br />But most of all, you want to know when USCIS will complete your case. Let me try to address some of your concerns.<br /><br />After visiting local USCIS offices around the country and reviewing our current production statistics, I am confident USCIS will beat our projected 13- to 15-month processing estimate for completing naturalization applications filed after June 1, 2007—while we continue to improve processing times for other applications and petitions. Next month, we will provide you with a detailed report with updated processing times for all USCIS offices.<br /><br />Our employees are hard at work every day, including evenings and weekends, processing files and interviewing applicants. The results of their efforts show tremendous productivity. I am optimistic that USCIS will exceed our goal of completing more than 1 million naturalization applications this fiscal year, which ends September 30, compared to last year’s 748,000 naturalization cases. And so far, applications received have been lower than normal this year. If that continues, we’ll bring processing times down further than we projected.<br /><br />Many of you also asked about the processing times displayed at <a href="http://www.uscis.gov/">http://www.uscis.gov/</a>, and why the dates sometimes go backward rather than forward. We estimate those dates based on a formula that calculates, among other things, the number of cases received within a defined period, how many cases we’ve completed during that time period, and how many cases remain in process that are [*] beyond our established processing time goals. Sometimes the flow of cases received and completed changes during a specific period in a way that shifts the date backwards. The processing timeframes shown on our webpage reflect applications just completed. So the page is only a tool for customers to estimate our current processing times.<br /><br />In addition, the average processing times posted on our website do not take into account the many issues that may arise when a particular case is under review. For example, sometimes a USCIS officer may need to ask for additional information before a final decision can be made. If your case has been delayed beyond our posted processing times and you have not been asked for additional information, we encourage you to call our customer service line at 1-800-375-5283 to inquire about the status of your case.<br /><br />Some of you also asked about the long wait for employment-based visas. The law limits how many people can immigrate in these employment based preference categories each year. That determines how many cases we can complete and often establishes how many new cases we can accept. To complicate matters, demand often far exceeds that supply. To assist applicants who are awaiting those visas, we will soon begin to issue Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) that are valid for 2 years for certain applicants who filed an application to adjust their status to permanent resident but are still awaiting an immigrant visa number.<br /><br />Others have asked why petitions for their relatives take so long to process. Usually, it’s because an immigrant visa simply isn’t available. More than 1 million petitions to sponsor a relative are still awaiting visas. USCIS must manage our work based on the number of visas allowed by law. To change that, Congress would have to amend the law. No USCIS employee wants to keep a family apart or withhold proof of eligibility to work, but we must work within the requirements set by law.<br /><br />Our current immigration system challenges us with backlogs on a regular basis. During the past fiscal year, we’ve begun to make improvements that will permanently eliminate future backlogs, including hiring additional employees, instituting new business processes and technology, and creating a new employee culture focused on professional training and development.<br /><br />Will we succeed overnight? No. Making these changes—the right way—will take longer than my tenure as Acting Director. Nonetheless, we’re committed to making them sooner rather than later.<br /><br />Thanks for taking time to read this entry.<br /><br />Jonathan “Jock” Scharfen<br />Acting Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services<br /><br /><span style="font-size:85%;color:#666666;">[* update: Changed "our" to "are."] </span><div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1723300184744625759.post-2114146833249858582008-06-20T16:44:00.004-04:002008-06-20T16:57:45.745-04:00Dollars and SenseToday <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1213973982746.shtm">we announced</a> nearly $80 million in grants that will help states and territories strengthen the security of their driver’s licenses and identification cards. This allocation brings the total amount we’ve provided for <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xprevprot/programs/gc_1200062053842.shtm">REAL ID</a> implementation to more than $361 million; and, if Congress approves our budget request for next year, that number will grow to $511 million. <br /><br />I think you’ll agree that more than half a billion dollars is a significant investment and is indicative of our pledge to help states implement this important security measure. Of course, this is in addition to our regulatory changes that reduced state implementation costs by roughly 73 percent. But, instead of discussing dollars and cents, I want to focus on the big picture and share with you some reasons why secure identification is so imperative in the 21st century.<br /><br />First, I’m sure we can all agree that in our post-9/11 world, it’s vital to keep identity documents out of the hand of terrorists. (In case you’re wondering, 18 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 had U.S. licenses or IDs – many of them easily obtained through fraudulent means). <br /><br />Second, speaking on behalf of identity theft victims, I think we can also agree that there’s a growing need to address the ease with which anyone can obtain a driver’s license or create a fake one, rob someone of their identity, and disrupt their life for years. <br /><br />And third, when you board an airplane, wouldn’t it be comforting to know that your fellow passengers are, in fact, who they say they are, and their actual identities match what is listed on their IDs? <br /><br />Of course. <br /><br />The arguments for having secure identification speak for themselves. That’s why the 9/11 Commission recommended closing this glaring security loophole, and that’s why Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005.<br /><br />Since then, we’ve been working with states to implement these minimum security standards in a balanced, sensible fashion. Part of this involves providing funds, maintaining flexible deadlines, and partnering with states on a host of technical issues that will bring our long-neglected identification system into the 21st century. <br /><br />The bottom line is that this is a shared responsibility--not a federal mandate or a national ID--but a collective response to an obvious problem. Secure identification makes it much more difficult for identity thieves, criminals, and potential terrorists to harm us. At DHS, we’re continuing to work with states and territories to do everything we can to close this gap and protect our citizens.<br /><br />Stewart Baker<br />Assistant Secretary for Policy<div class="blogger-post-footer">Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.</div>DHShttp://www.blogger.com/profile/02207510939887709517noreply@blogger.com