One of the top priorities for this Administration, and for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is to facilitate the travel, tourism, and lawful trade essential to our economy while maintaining the highest standards of security. That’s why today President Obama is announcing a major initiative to improve service levels and reduce wait times at our major international airports.
President Obama has directed DHS and the Department of Commerce to lead an effort to develop a national goal for improving the experience of international arrivals – in collaboration with our partners in the private sector – as well as airport-specific action plans.
DHS is committed to making America more welcoming for international visitors. We understand that security and trade are mutually reinforcing, which is good for security and the economy. And we also understand that we cannot achieve our goal of a safe, secure, and welcoming Nation for international visitors without the assistance of our partners in the private sector.
In addition to our work on the President’s directive, we have recently been taking action to improve international experiences for travel and tourism in a number of ways at the Department-level and in coordination with our stakeholders and partners. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have been tremendous leaders in this respect.
In fact, just yesterday I was in San Antonio, Texas, where I spoke at the 86th Annual American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Conference and Exposition and highlighted some of the steps the Department is taking to help bolster efforts to protect the aviation system while facilitating travel and tourism. I also had the opportunity to meet with AAAE members to hear firsthand their perspectives on the Department’s efforts to support economic growth and improve service levels. We discussed the importance of Trusted Traveler programs, like TSA Pre✓™ and CBP Global Entry, which are demonstrative of our continued work to improve the customer experience while enhancing security – and are also incredibly popular among the traveling public.
And earlier this month, we announced new openings for the Loaned Executive Program to provide top executive-level and subject matter experts from the private sector an opportunity to share their expertise with the Department. This is an important program, and DHS will continue to partner with the nation’s top executives and industry experts to solve problems, improve processes, and fully realize its mission.
As we work to fulfill the President’s directive, DHS will identify actionable steps to improve the international entry experience for travelers at airports and seaports across this country. We will build on the outstanding innovation and commitment to risk-based security that TSA and CBP have so ably carried forward to date.
It is a distinct privilege of mine as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security to welcome international travelers and new U.S. citizens to our great nation, and this effort will ensure that continues as we remain a top destination for travel and tourism from abroad and a continued generator of jobs and growth at home.
Yesterday, I addressed the Group of Latin American Ambassadors in Washington (GRULA) at the Embassy of Peru to discuss our important security partnership in the Americas and joint efforts to facilitate trade and travel.
Today, more than ever, our relationship with Latin America is focused on partnership. The Department of Homeland Security is committed to collaborating with our Latin American partners to enhance the security of not only the United States, but that of the entire Western hemisphere, while facilitating the movement of goods and people through trusted shipper and trusted traveler programs.
Chile became the 38th participant in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) on February 28, 2014. Following Chile’s designation, several Latin American countries have expressed interest in joining the program. DHS views the VWP as much as a security and law enforcement partnership with like-minded countries as well as an opportunity to facilitate travel.
Among these countries is Peru, which DHS has been working with extensively, both bilaterally and through multilateral organizations, to reaffirm our shared interest in facilitating the flow of people and goods between our two countries while protecting our citizens from the threats posed by terrorism and transnational crime. Recognizing Peru’s desire to be designated as a participant in the VWP and the complexity of the qualifying process and the many requirements, DHS and the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Relations intend to consult closely and to take the necessary steps that would enable Peru to meet the requirements for VWP designation.
As our Nation celebrated National Police Week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) honored the men and women of the law enforcement community and remembered those who have given their lives in the line of duty.
“Our lost colleagues and many other sons and daughters of our nation who chose the hazardous profession of law enforcement represent the best of our country and the true spirit of service to others before self,” Secretary Johnson said. “We offer our condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of those who we have lost in the line of duty.”
Throughout National Police Week, leadership from across the Department commemorated the occasion by participated in a number of events to honor the service and sacrifice of law enforcement professionals who lost their lives in the line of duty.
On Monday, Secretary Jeh Johnson and Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, joined by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Winkowski, participated in the ICE Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Later in the day, Secretary Johnson joined President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House to honor the 2014 National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) TOP COPS award winners - some of our nation's best law enforcement officials – to the White House to honor their remarkable service and sacrifice. The TOP COPS are chosen each year by the National Association of Police Organizations, after being nominated by their fellow officers for their notable service during the previous calendar year.
On Tuesday, Secretary Johnson and Deputy Secretary Mayorkas, joined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, participated in the CBP Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony at Woodrow Wilson Plaza. CBP Officer Darrel Windhaus, who passed away in 2013 after years of dedicated service to our Department, was recognized and his name was unveiled on the Valor Memorial during the ceremony.
The names of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty were read aloud to a crowd of thousands during a candlelight vigil on Tuesday evening at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Secretary Johnson had the honor of participating in the 26th Annual Candlelight Vigil to honor the law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, as was joined by Department leadership from across the Components. The names of the crew of U.S. Coast Guard CG-328 and U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Obendorf were added to the Memorial this year in memoriam.
On Thursday, Secretary Johnson, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas, U.S. Secret Service Director Pierson, ICE Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Winkowski, CBP Commissioner Kerlikowske and Deputy Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, joined Vice President Biden and participated in the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol. The Memorial Service, which began in 1982 with approximately 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement, has become the centerpiece of National Police Week attracting tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world to our nation’s capital.
Since the first recorded police death in 1791 more than 20,000 peace officers have paid the ultimate price for our safety, including members of our own Department. In addition to CBP Officer Windhaus and Coast Guard Petty Officer Obendorf, we also recognize and remember Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez, who was killed in the line of duty in November 2013.
Throughout National Police Week, we respect, honor and remember those we have lost, and we ask you to join with Secretary Johnson and the entire Department as we thank all of our dedicated DHS law enforcement officers for their devoted service, sacrifice and commitment to keep our communities safe and our nation secure.
Posted by Chief Privacy Officer Karen Neuman
Deputy Secretary Mayorkas delivers remarks during an event commemorating the tenth anniversary of the DHS Privacy Office. Official DHS photo.
Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security commemorated the tenth anniversary of the DHS Privacy Office by hosting an event held at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Headquarters in Washington.
During the event, DHS leadership, current and former DHS privacy and FOIA staff, former Chief Privacy Officers, representatives from the White House, the DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and stakeholders gathered to recognize the many achievements of the Privacy Office, as well as the important work of their counterparts at the Components.
Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas delivered congratulatory remarks during the ceremony, recognizing the Privacy Office’s work over the past 10 years to ensure that robust privacy protections are firmly embedded into the lifecycle of Homeland Security programs and systems from the onset. Deputy Secretary Mayorkas also expressed his gratitude for the contributions of the Privacy Office to the Department’s , and underscoring that the nation is stronger because of our hard work.
In addition to thanking and recognizing past and present DHS privacy and FOIA professionals, I discussed the challenges the office currently faces as it looks forward to its next decade, and our priorities and vision for the future.
The threats we face are ever-evolving, and technology and how we use it may be part of the solution to countering those threats. It is crucial for the Department to develop effective uses of information while being mindful of any potential privacy impact; cultivate new relationships while considering how notions of privacy might evolve; and take affirmative measures to protect privacy while explaining those protections to the public – all of which will make privacy and FOIA professionals essential to the missions of DHS.
It is my hope and expectation that in the course of decades to come, the Privacy Office and the Department as a whole will continue to be recognized for these efforts to preserve our values as well as we protect the homeland.
Learn more about the DHS Privacy Office by visiting www.dhs.gov/privacy.
Secretary Jeh Johnson, Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Winkowski joined with leaders from ICE and across law enforcement to participate in the ICE Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial yesterday.
The ICE Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony paid tribute to fallen law enforcement officers from ICE’s legacy agencies, the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, as well as losses endured since ICE’s creation in 2003.
During the ceremony, Secretary Johnson spoke of his gratitude for the service and commitment of those who have died while serving ICE and its legacy agencies, and offered his deepest condolences for the losses that their families and friends have endured.
The Secretary laid a wreath on the memorial to honor those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety and security of others. Secretary Johnson also met with the family and friends of those honored and remembered during today’s ceremony as he viewed the Memorial Wall.
The ICE Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony is part of National Police Week, held annually to honor the service and sacrifice of law enforcement professionals, including members of the Department of Homeland Security, who lost their lives in the line of duty. Throughout the week, Secretary Johnson and Deputy Secretary Mayorkas will participate in various events to mark the occasion and remember the law enforcement officers whom we have lost.
Secretary Johnson participates in the fourth annual Public Service Town Hall this morning beginning at 9:00 AM. This Town Hall event is part of Public Service Recognition Week, a weeklong celebration of the service and contributions that public servants make to our country every day.
Watch the video here.
America’s PrepareAthon! National Day of Action is being held today, April 30, to provide a national focus for individuals, organizations, and communities to participate through drills, group discussions, and exercises to practice for relevant local hazards.
Across the nation, over five million people are participating in events to increase emergency preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions and exercises. Secretary Johnson and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Fugate encourage you to take part in America’s PrepareAthon!, a nationwide, community-based campaign for action to increase local preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions, and exercises.
The goal of this new campaign is to increase the number of individuals who understand which disasters could happen in their community, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, take action to increase their preparedness, and participate in community resilience planning.
Research shows that communities are better prepared to withstand a disaster and can recover more quickly if the entire community is involved.
The America's PrepareAthon! campaign offers easy steps that you can take to get prepared now so you are able to take immediate action and recover more quickly during and after a disaster. These actions include:
- Practicing going to your protective location if you live in tornado-prone areas
- Signing up for local text alerts/warnings and downloading hazard-related apps to your smartphone
- Gathering all of your important documents and keeping them in a safe place
- Creating a family communications plan so that everyone knows how to reach each other and meet each other if separated during an emergency
While participating in PrepareAthon! events today, we encourage you to share information about your PrepareAthon! events by using #PrepareAthon in your social media postings. We’re proud of you for taking action; it shows the spirit of individual and community preparedness is continuing to reach new heights.
We encourage you to learn more about how you can play a role in your community’s preparedness by visiting www.ready.gov/prepare.
Posted by Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology Daniel Gerstein
Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) marks the tenth anniversary of its first university-based Center of Excellence, the National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), led by the University of Southern California. Today’s anniversary event held at the University of Southern California highlighted the use of science and technology to enhance the safety and security of our nation, the Center of Excellence Program, and the last decade of technology and innovation from CREATE.
The Department depends on the Centers of Excellence for innovative solutions to homeland security challenges, and our centers have become essential for the Department’s overall Research & Development goals. As technology is developed, CREATE and other Centers of Excellence leverage their existing relationships with the DHS component agencies, as well as other state, local, and international partners to address homeland security challenges and further transition their work to an operational environment.
Centers of Excellence also play an essential role in molding and encouraging the scientific workforce of the future. Today’s students will become the next generation of homeland security leaders, taking positions within DHS components, national laboratories, and other agencies with similar security missions.
As CREATE marks one decade of research through our Centers of Excellence program, we recognize the commitment of these centers to both the economic and physical security of the nation. Ongoing research at CREATE will include analyzing current and future catastrophic risks from emerging threat technologies, designing layered defenses against terrorism with risk analysis, and economy-wide modeling for the analysis of disruptive events—establishing CREATE as a leading research facility to provide the tools and information to support counterterrorism efforts.
Unfortunately, Heartbleed has become a familiar term to many people across the country. It is a serious vulnerability, a weakness in the widely-used OpenSSL encryption software that protects the electronic traffic on a large number of websites and in scores of devices. Although new computer “bugs” and malware crop up almost daily, this vulnerability is unusual in how widespread it is, it’s ease of use, the potentially damaging information it allows malicious actors to obtain, and the length of time before it was discovered. As the administration has said, the Federal government was not aware of the vulnerability until it was made public in press reports.
It is important to note that it takes time to address this issue properly. As with the private sector, government agencies must analyze their systems to identify where they have the Heartbleed vulnerability, determine how to implement the appropriate response, and then ensure that they can implement the response without disrupting critical operations. Finally, the scope and scale of this vulnerability may continue to evolve as researchers and companies discover new places or devices that may be susceptible.
This analysis has informed how the Federal government has responded to this vulnerability since its public disclosure, working at an aggressive yet appropriate pace in our response and acting out of an abundance of caution. Working with other agencies, we have:
- Enabled our network defenses across the Executive branch to detect someone trying to use the exploit and in many cases to block those attempts
- Begun scanning government networks for this vulnerability to ensure that we know where it exists
- Issued technical alerts and mitigation steps through the our National Communications and Cybersecurity Integration Center
- Engaged with our industry partners to discuss the threat posed by the vulnerability
As we conduct the scans of government systems and agencies conduct their own reviews, many government websites turn out to have never been vulnerable to Heartbleed because they did not use OpenSSL; in those cases, no further action is needed at this time. However, in those cases where agencies determine that a website or system could have been vulnerable to Heartbleed, they are taking the same steps as the private sector:
- Updating to secure versions of OpenSSL
- Re-issuing certificates for the website
- Requiring or asking users to reset their passwords, if the website permits users to login, and alerting users on a website’s homepage to this fact.
- Reminding users not to use a new password on any site that has not clearly been patched.
We will continue to focus on this issue until government agencies have mitigated the vulnerability in their systems. And we will continue to adapt our response if we learn about additional issues created by the vulnerability. The government remains committed to protecting any personally identifiable information it holds and to upholding high standards of cybersecurity.
Posted by Dr. Phyllis Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Cybersecurity and Communications
To date, tens of millions of passengers have enjoyed shorter screening times as a result of TSA Pre✓™.
Travelers interested in applying for TSA Pre✓™ should go here to begin the pre-enrollment process. All TSA Pre✓™ program applicants must then visit an application center— like the new center at Washington Dulles International Airport— in person to verify their identity and citizenship/immigration status as well as to provide biographical information, (e.g. name, date of birth, address, etc.) and fingerprints. You can find a full listing of the more than 200TSA Pre✓™ applications centers here. TSA Pre✓™ is just one way we are moving away from the one-size fits all security. But don’t just take our word for it.
- Dallas Morning News: Editorial: Making airline security less of a headache
- New York Times: PreCheck Meets Its Goal, and Prepares to Expand
- NJ Star Ledger: A less frustrating way to fly: Editorial
- USA Today: TSA expands Pre-check for the military
- Albuquerque Journal: Faster travel via new ABQ PreCheck office
- CNN: Keep your shoes, jackets on: TSA to expand pre-screening program
- FOX News: Your questions answered: Does TSA Pre✓™ really make security faster?
- Portland Tribune: Efficiency part of PDX flight plan
- WCCO-TV (Minneapolis): Is TSA Pre✓™ Status Worth It?
- Salt Lake Tribune: Salt Lake airport opens faster security line program