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August 27, 2009
10:54 am
Secretary Napolitano speaking to the American Legion Auxilary on preparedness. Yesterday I had the honor of addressing more than a thousand of our nation’s veterans at the American Legion Annual Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

Veterans hold a special place in our country, but they also hold a special place at the Department of Homeland Security. Roughly a quarter of our workforce consists of veterans, including more than 2,100 service-disabled veterans. Every day these men and women, who already have sacrificed so much for our nation, are helping achieve our mission to secure the country.

I told veterans gathered at the conference that we are firmly committed to increasing their ranks at DHS. Indeed, we have set a goal of employing 50,000 veterans at the Department by 2012. We are well on our way to achieve that goal – hiring 3,000 veterans since January of this year.

But our efforts aren’t just about numbers. We are also expanding partnerships and outreach to veterans across the United States. For example, we are creating greater opportunities for Veteran Owned Small Businesses and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses to do business with the Department. Last year, veteran-owned small businesses won more than $931 million in prime contracts from DHS.

And our first-ever job fair for veterans drew more than 750 participants this summer.

Through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, we’ve also continued to grant citizenship to tens of thousands of our men and women in uniform who have become American citizens while at the same time serving in our Armed Forces. We will continue to do even more this year and in the future.

In Louisville, I thanked the American Legion, as well as the American Legion Auxiliary, for their strong support for programs like Citizen Corps, which is creating more prepared communities through service and citizen engagement.

I also called on the Legion to continue to support these and other efforts to help build a culture of preparedness and resiliency in America. That includes taking action to boost personal preparedness and spread the word about important resources like Ready.gov. This is especially important as we prepare for the possibility of an H1N1 outbreak this fall.

We must bring a sense of shared responsibility to this effort. Veterans are in a unique position to help us meet this challenge, as they’ve done throughout our nation’s history. We are proud to have them as members of the Department and critical partners in our nation’s homeland security mission.

Janet Napolitano
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 26, 2009
1:41 pm
The Secretary just wrapped up remarks at the American Legion's 2009 National Convention. She spoke about the Department’s ongoing support and outreach to American veterans, and announced her commitment to employ 50,000 veterans at DHS by 2012. The department currently employs over 46,000 veterans; one quarter of its workforce.
“The men and women of the armed services work tirelessly every day to ensure the safety and security of the American people,” said Secretary Napolitano. “We are honored by the thousands of veterans working at DHS who use their unique experience and extraordinary dedication to help DHS protect our nation from threats and prepare for disasters.”
The 2009 National Convention, in Louisville, KY this year, is the governing body of the American Legion, and brings together the Legion's 55 departments to chart the course forward for the Legion.


After her speech, the Secretary stopped in a meeting of the Women's Auxiliary and discussed her own adolescent experiences at the New Mexico Girls State session. Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion, and provides "hands-on citizenship training" to high school juniors around the country. This year, Girls State is emphasizing "Patriotism, Participation, and Progress." You can visit the American Legion's website for more information.

The Secretary also spoke to the Women's Auxiliary about the importance of preparedness, particularly around the topic of H1N1. She emphasized that we all possess a shared responsibility when it comes to being ready for any kind of national situation; be it H1N1, a natural disaster, or a terrorist incident. She ended her impromptu remarks to a standing ovation, with one member of the women's auxiliary reportedly yelling out, "Yeah, girl!"

You can check out the Secretary's remarks here.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 25, 2009
8:00 am
From the New Orleans Times-Picayune, with an interview with Secretary Napolitano:
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said Monday that it's her department's job to conclude the long-running dispute over how much FEMA owes Louisiana for the damage inflicted on Charity Hospital by Hurricane Katrina, but up to Louisianians to figure out what happens next and how to pay for what FEMA won't.

"They have to make choices and we're not in a position to make choices for communities, " Napolitano said in an interview with The Times-Picayune in advance of Saturday's fourth anniversary of Katrina.

"What we are in the business of is facilitating the recovery of the community -- breaking through some of the bureaucratic entanglements that existed prior to January and moving things through as quickly as possible within the confines of what we're able to provide, " Napolitano said.

Napolitano's comments on Charity track those made last week by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. All expect Louisiana to use a new binding arbitration process established for resolving disputes between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local officials.
From the Newark Star Ledger, on Global Entry:
For $100 and a fingerprinting session, frequent international travelers can now shave a few minutes off their wait time after landing at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Starting today, pre-approved U.S. citizens and permanent residents re-entering the country can skip passport-checking lines and pass through an automated kiosk instead.

"For frequent business travelers, it's a great program," said John Saleh, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in New York. "They come off the plane with their carry-on, they go up to the kiosk, and they're out the door within a couple minutes."
From the Associated Press, on CBP's repatriation program:
Immigration authorities are flying illegal immigrants deep into their native Mexico from Southern Arizona to discourage dangerous crossings in triple-digit desert heat.

The twice-daily flights from Tucson to Mexico City are intended to keep immigrants away from border towns where they would likely run into smugglers who want to sneak them back into the U.S.

"This is where the probability of losing their lives can really increase. We offer that opportunity for them to get out of that cycle," John Torres, a special adviser to the assistant secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Monday in Tucson.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security flights began Saturday for the sixth straight summer and will end Sept. 28.

Tucson is the only spot in this country where the flights depart. Arizona is the busiest illegal entry point into the U.S.

Since 2004, more than 82,000 Mexicans have been returned as part of the repatriation program. The number, however, represents just a small portion of illegal immigrants in this country.

Public Events

8 AM EDT

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will deliver remarks about Coast Guard Diversity initiatives at the Coast Guard Training Forum of the Blacks in Government National Training Convention
Baltimore Hilton Hotel
1 West Pratt Street
Baltimore, Md.

8:30 AM EDT
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Gregory Schaffer will deliver opening remarks at the GFIRST Conference
Omni Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
Atlanta, Ga.

10:30 AM EDT
NPPD Critical Infrastructure Protection Cybersecurity Program Director Patrick Beggs will deliver remarks at the GFIRST Conference about information technology sector risk
Omni Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
Atlanta, Ga.

1 PM CDT
Office of Health Affairs (OHA) Acting Director for Food, Agriculture and Veterinary Defense Doug Meckes, D.V.M., will participate in a panel discussion about animal identification needs related to homeland security issues at the ID Info Expo 2009
Westin Crown Center Hotel
One Pershing Road
Kansas City, Mo.

3:45 PM EDT
NPPD Cyber Exercise Program Director Brett Lambo will deliver remarks about cyber exercises at the GFIRST Conference
Omni Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
Atlanta, Ga.

3:45 PM EDT
NPPD National Cyber Security Division Acting Director Dr. Peter Fonash will participate in a panel discussion about raising cybersecurity awareness at the GFIRST Conference
Omni Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
Atlanta, Ga.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 24, 2009
9:02 am
From HS Today, on the Coast Guard's arctic presence:
One of the final presidential policy directives issued by the Bush administration, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25 (HSPD- 25) , issued on January 9 2009 declared that the "United States is an Arctic nation", with varied and critical security interests in the Arctic region.

Since taking office the Obama administration and new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary Janet Napolitano have reiterated the call for deeper focus on the Arctic, citing in particular the global security implications of climate change in the region, which by melting summer sea ice is fast accelerating maritime activity and the flow of goods, oil, gas and other resources.

Last Thursday at a special "field hearing" held in Anchorage, Alaska by US Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, US Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, discussed how the Coast Guard was stepping up its Arctic Presence to address the challenges emerging in that fast changing region.
From ABC, on the Border Patrol's efforts to disrupt smuggling in Nogales:
Maria Elena Leyva cannot see the problem that has recently made her hometown notorious along the US-Mexican border.

It is beneath her feet -- hidden in the earth below hills speckled with mesquites, pines, and oaks.

In the words of the county sheriff, Nogales is becoming "the drug-tunnel capital of the world."

Since 1990, the US Border Patrol has found 109 tunnels along the border with Mexico, all in California and Arizona. Sixty-five -- or 60 percent -- have been found in Nogales, with 16 of those discovered in the past nine months.

Until the 1990s, the international line here was just a chain-link fence that allowed Americans and Mexicans to look each other in the eye, Ms. Leyva recalls, sitting on a porch only two blocks from the border. But during the past few years in particular, an arsenal of manpower, physical barriers, and electronic surveillance has made the border a virtual fortress.

This has forced drug smugglers to look for alternate means of moving marijuana, heroine, and cocaine into the US. "We've increased our enforcement on the ground, so they have to compensate for it and that's why they're developing tunnels," Border Patrol spokesman Michael Scioli says.
Public Events
9 AM PDT
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air & Marine Operations personnel will participate in a media availability and demonstration of the newly acquired Advanced Concept Demonstrator Vessel
Squallicum Harbor Boat Ramp
Roeder Avenue and Bellwether Way
Bellingham, Wash.

3 PM MST
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Advisor to the Assistant Secretary John P. Torres will participate in a media availability about the beginning of the 2009 Mexican Interior Repatriation Program (MIRP)
Tucson International Airport
Executive Flight Terminal
Tucson, Ariz.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 21, 2009
6:09 pm

The Secretary, along with 25 senior officials at the Department, were instructed by Red Cross officials today on CPR and basic first aid.

Watch the video below for the Secretary's remarks from today's training.

Then check our ready.gov for more information on how you can be prepared at home and at work.

August 21, 2009
11:48 am
The Atlantic is calmer today than it was the beginning of the week. Both Ana and Claudette have dissipated completely, and Hurricane Bill is becoming less organized, though still a large storm.

Here's the current situation as reported by the National Hurricane Center (NHC):

Hurricane Bill

Currently Hurricane Bill is located 695 miles Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Bill is traveling 18 MPH and is gradually turning north-northwest. If you live on the coast of New England you should be monitoring the forecast in your area.

Bill has been lowered to a category two hurricane. The maximum sustained winds are currently 110 MPH, though the National Hurricane Center cautions that there could be fluctuations in intensity over the next two days.

Click here for the latest public advisory on Bill.

All information in the above posted was drawn from the National Hurricane Center
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 20, 2009
10:17 am
From the Associated Press, on yesterday's H1N1 guidance:

Government officials are calling on U.S. businesses to help manage swine flu this fall by getting vaccines to vulnerable workers and encouraging employees with symptoms to stay home.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said Wednesday that employers should develop plans for managing both seasonal and swine flu. Businesses should encourage employees who are at-risk for swine flu to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available. First in line are pregnant women, health care workers and younger adults with conditions such as asthma.

The government is trying to prepare for the possibility of a widespread outbreak this fall, which could hurt businesses along with the broader economy by keeping workers home. Unlike regular seasonal flu, the H1N1 virus which causes swine flu has not retreated during the hot and humid summer months, and so far has infected more than 1 million Americans.

Locke briefed reporters on recommendations for U.S. businesses at a press conference alongside Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.


From the North County Times in California, on ICE Assistant Secretary Morton's visit to San Diego yesterday:

A top-level official with the Department of Homeland Security said in San Diego on Wednesday that the agency would more strictly focus its enforcement efforts on arresting illegal immigrants with criminal histories.

In recent years, the agency has been criticized by immigrant rights activists for using raids ostensibly aimed at targeted individuals who were a threat to national security or community safety, but also arresting illegal immigrants nearby, known as collateral arrests.

John Morton, the assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who was in San Diego on Wednesday, said that the agency would more tightly focus the program on criminal immigrants but would not give a "free pass" to those who have been ordered to leave the country by an immigration judge.

"If we're going to have any kind of system that works and has credibility, there's got to be enforcement," Morton said.


Public Events
2:30 PM Local
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will testify before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security about the Coast Guard’s Arctic Presence
University of Alaska Anchorage
Consortium Library Lew Haines Memorial Room (Room 307)
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, Alaska
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 19, 2009
4:50 pm
Secretary Napolitano joined Secretaries Gary Locke of the Department of Commerce and Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services this morning to announce new guidelines for businesses in preparation for flu season. The guidelines were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Secretary Napolitano stated, “Ensuring business continuity is important to our cooperative efforts to keep Americans safe.”
The guidelines stress the importance of frequent hand washing and routine cleaning of common areas. The guidelines also strongly suggest that employers be flexible with sick leave policies, understanding that employees may have to stay home with a sick family member. They also recommend that employers take time to review current sick leave policies with their employees.

More guidelines for employers and families are available online at flu.gov.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 19, 2009
12:02 pm
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is issuing multiple daily advisories on Hurricane Bill, this season’s first hurricane. They are also keeping an eye on the remnants of Tropical Depression Ana. Details on both storms below.

Here's the current situation as reported by the National Hurricane Center (NHC):

Hurricane Bill


Hurricane Bill is currently located 380 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands and is moving west-northwest at 18 MPH. It is expected to travel on this trajectory today and Thursday.

Hurricane Bill is a category four hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 135 MPH with higher gusts. The current forecast indicates that Hurricane Bill could strengthen in the next 24 hours.

Large swells caused by Hurricane Bill could begin to affect the Eastern Coast of the United States Friday and Saturday. Check with your local national weather forecast office for possible weather advisories in your area.

Click here for the latest public advisory on Bill.

Ana

The showers and other remnants of Tropical Depression Ana are gradually diminishing. There is a less than 30 percent chance of this system reforming into a tropical cyclone again.

Click here for the latest public advisory on Ana.

All information in the above posted was drawn from the National Hurricane Center
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 19, 2009
9:21 am
From the Times-Picayune, on the Secretary's announcement in New Orleans on Monday:

Southern University at New Orleans, which has clawed its way back to 85 percent of its pre-Hurricane Katrina enrollment, will get $32 million in additional grants to rebuild four academic buildings on its original campus, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday in front of a receptive faculty conclave.

The secretary's announcement ends a long-running dispute between the flood-ravaged school and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the primary source of rebuilding money for state and local government entities.

The grants will bring SUNO's post-storm federal aid to $92 million. And it underscores a federal commitment to rebuild the institution's Pontchartrain Park campus on Press Drive, rather than moving the entire university to the makeshift lakeside campus that opened in temporary buildings after Katrina.

The anticipated construction on the original 17-acre campus -- combined with ongoing projects on the Lake Campus -- should result in a more impressive physical plant for SUNO than the 11-building, 3,600-student campus that flooded almost four years ago. The university already has partially refurbished six buildings, and it has broken ground on a new technology building, a business school and a $44 million residential complex.


From the Yuma Sun, on the Border Patrol's arrest of a wanted gang member:

Two Border Patrol agents nabbed a wanted gang member after spotting him during a bicycle patrol in San Luis, Ariz., Monday evening.

BP said several arrest warrants had been issued for the suspect who had been on the run from the San Luis Police Department for some time.

According to BP, on Aug. 12 agents assigned to the Yuma Station bike patrol unit assisted SLPD with a domestic violence call. The subject fled the scene before agents arrived.

"The Border Patrol agents were asked to help a police officer respond to the domestic violence call because he was alone," said Laura Boston, Border Patrol agent with the Yuma Sector Public Affairs.

The agents were later informed by San Luis police that the subject was a known member of the Plaza Barrio Wild Gang in that city and had several active felony warrants for domestic violence, dangerous drugs and felony flight.


Leadership Events
11 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano will participate in a media availability to announce H1N1 business guidance
Department of Commerce
Main Auditorium
1401 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20230

Public Events
2:15 PM EDT
NPPD Supervisory Program Analyst Ryan Oremland will present an update on the National Emergency Communications Plan at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International Annual Conference and Expo
Hilton Pavilion 6
Las Vegas Hilton
3000 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, Nev.

3:45 PM EDT
NPPD Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) Director Chris Essid will deliver remarks about the OEC and the National Emergency Communications Plan at the APCO International Annual Conference and Expo
Conrad Room
Las Vegas Hilton
3000 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, Nev.

4:40 PM EDT
ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton will be participating in a pen and pad with San Diego-area media
185 West F Street
2nd Floor
San Diego, California
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.

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