The way this country detains illegal immigrants is about to change dramatically - at least if the Obama administration follows through on a proposed overhaul unveiled this week. The man responsible for making it happen: John Morton, the assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security. He tells host Guy Raz that the system has exploded in size and become too dependent on private contractors.
GUY RAZ, host: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz. This hour, stories of immigrants and the debate over how those who come in illegally are treated when they're caught.
This week, the Obama administration announced its intention to overhaul the way illegal immigrants are detained in our nation's prison system. About 400,000 people are detained each year for violating immigration law; many of them nonviolent offenders. The Department of Homeland Security released a report this week that describes a costly and wasteful penal system filled with people who pose little or no risk to the general population.
Well, the man charged with fixing that system is John Morton. He is assistant secretary for immigration and customs enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security.
Secretary Morton, welcome.
From the Los Angeles Times, on a visit to the Transportation Security Laboratory:
Eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the front line in America's war on terrorism runs through a little-known federal laboratory where engineer Nelson
Carey holds what appears to be a bratwurst in a bun.
"This is a Semtex sausage," said Carey, as he pinched the pink plastic explosive long favored by terrorist groups.
On his table lies a green Teletubby doll stuffed with C-4 military explosives, a leather sandal with a high-explosive shoe insert, an Entenmann's cake covered in an explosive compound that looks like white frosting, and other deadly devices Carey and his colleagues have built. None have detonators, so they are safe.
"We let our imaginations go wild," Carey said. "The types of improvised explosive devices are endless."So are possible solutions, at least in theory. That's where the Transportation Security Laboratory comes in. Scientists here dream up ways an enemy might slip a weapon or a bomb onto a plane, and then try to build defenses to detect or counter the danger.
The work is part cutting-edge science, part Maxwell Smart.
Staffers have experimented by exploding more than 200 bombs on junked jetliners. They also have filled a warehouse with nearly 10,000 lost or abandoned suitcases and other packed luggage.
From the Los Angeles Times, on the challenges faced by the Coast Guard in the arctic:
Most days in Nome, you're not likely to run into anybody you didn't see at the Breakers Bar on Friday night. More than 500 roadless miles from Anchorage, rugged tundra and frigid Bering Sea waters have a way of discouraging visitors.
So it was a big deal when the World, a 644-foot residential cruise ship with condos costing several million dollars apiece, dropped anchor during the summer for a two-day look-see.
"We never had a ship anywhere near this size before," Chamber of Commerce director Mitch Erickson said. "My guess is they've probably been everywhere else in the world, and now they're going to the places most people haven't seen yet."
That's about to change.
The record shrinking of the polar ice cap is turning the forbidding waters at the top of the world into important new shipping routes.
Four other cruise ships also docked in Nome recently. The Coast Guard deployed its first small Arctic patrol vessels last year. Fleets of research vessels steamed north all summer, while ships surveying the vast oil and gas deposits under the Arctic seabed have talked of using Nome as a base.
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National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) National Communications System Regional Communications Coordinator Stephen Weinert will deliver remarks at the Michigan Emergency Management Conference
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