From the LA Times, on expanded powers for ICE agents:
Reporting from Washington - In an effort to plug a hole in U.S.- Mexico drug enforcement, the U.S. departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced an agreement Thursday that will give designated immigration agents expanded powers to pursue drug investigations.
A key goal is to end the long-standing turf battles between the Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement that many critics believe have hampered investigations.
The agreement will allow an "unlimited" number of ICE agents to be cross-designated as DEA agents, giving them the authority to investigate suspected drug smugglers at the border and internationally -- a prerogative that in the past has been jealously guarded by the DEA.
Both departments also pledged greater information sharing and better coordination of activities.
"Moving past old disputes and ensuring cooperation between all levels of our Departments has been one of our top priorities since taking office," U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement.
The agreement "will strengthen our efforts to combat international narcotics smuggling, streamline operations and bring better intelligence to our frontline personnel," they said.
From the Associated Press, on a local dialogue:
Alan Bersin, the Obama administration's border czar, said Thursday the key to achieving comprehensive immigration reform rests with a secure border.
"The only way we believe we will have immigration reform is if we have strong enforcement," Bersin, assistant Homeland Security secretary for international affairs, told a border communities task force.
Bersin, who is in charge of illegal immigration and border issues, said strong enforcement at the border, in the work place and in the interior is vital "so that the American people come to believe that there are labor markets that work, that there are communities that work and that there's a border that works."
He and other DHS officials held a 90-minute dialogue over immigration-related issues with southern Arizona members of a border task force.
Speakers including several clergymen offered suggestions and criticism in particular of the Border Patrol, from the need for a streamlined complaint process and feedback on complaints to an abrupt manner in which agents sometimes toss food at illegal immigrant detainees in holding cells.
From the Associated Press, on Secure Flight:
Don't be surprised if you're asked to provide your date of birth and gender when booking plane tickets later this summer.
The Transportation Security Administration has launched a new program called "Secure Flight" to improve security and reduce misidentification of passengers who have names similar to individuals on government watch lists.
As part of Secure Flight, airlines will ask passengers buying tickets to provide their name exactly as it appears on the government-issued identification they plan to use when traveling. Later this summer, airlines also will begin asking passengers to provide their birthdates and gender.
From WWTI-TV, on a new addition to CBP's ranks:
Unmanned aircraft deployed at Fort Drum (John Moore, NewsWatch50) A monitor inside an operations trailer shows a close-up view of a boat skimming across the water on Lake Ontario.
The image was taken from an unmanned aircraft more
than three miles away.
A Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has been temporarily based at Fort Drum since early June in an experiment by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office.
The Department of Homeland Security is using the extensive restricted air space over Fort Drum to test whether the drone could be a good fit along this stretch of the northern border.
Video of a boat on Lake Ontario captured from 19,000 feet above (John Moore, NewsWatch50) U.S. Customs and Border Protection has five of the aircraft but so far none of them based permanently in the Northeast.
The Predator will operate out of Fort Drum for about three weeks for testing and training, and to evaluate its use to law enforcement.
John Stanton, director of CPB's Office of Air and Marine, said state, provincial and local law enforcement agencies were quick to take up the offer of added surveillance of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River."So while we were flying, we were asked by our partner law enforcement agencies if we would be kind enough to be on the lookout for suspicious activities," Stanton said.
9 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks at the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast
JW Marriot Hotel, Ballroom
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue
6 PM EDT
U.S. Coast Guard Band will perform
The George Washington University
21st and H Streets NW