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October 25, 2013
3:56 pm

The Department of Homeland Security is proud to welcome Megan H. Mack as the new Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Karen Neuman as the new Chief Privacy Officer. Both bring a wealth of experience from the public and private sectors, which will serve them well as they advise the Secretary and lead the Department’s efforts to protect privacy and uphold civil rights and civil liberties. The Department is strongly committed to the work of these offices, and has built privacy and civil rights protections into its operations, policies, programs, and technology deployments from the outset of their development.

Megan H. Mack will lead the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), which supports DHS by ensuring individual liberty, fairness, and equality under the law across the Department. CRCL is committed to the idea that core civil rights—liberty, fairness, and equality under the law—are essential American values, and is dedicated to instilling these ideals into the daily work of securing our nation. The office integrates and promotes civil rights and civil liberties in policy creation and implementation and communicates with individuals and communities whose civil rights and civil liberties may be affected by DHS activities.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Mack was the Director of the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration and was previously the Supervisor of Legal Services for Hogar Hispano, Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington in Falls Church, Va. She has also served as a Litigation Associate at Foley Hoag LLP in Boston, and a Law Clerk to Judge Fred I. Parker in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Burlington, Vt. Ms. Mack received an A.B. magna cum laude from Brown University, an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and a J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School.

Karen Neuman will lead the DHS Privacy Office, which is responsible for evaluating Department programs, systems, and initiatives for potential privacy impacts, and providing mitigation strategies to reduce negative privacy impacts. The Privacy Office – the first statutorily required privacy office of any Federal agency –partners with every DHS component to assess policies, programs, systems, technologies, and rulemakings for privacy risks, and recommends privacy protections and methods for handling personally identifiable information. To further integrate privacy and reinforce the headquarters privacy office, a team of privacy officers are embedded into the operational components throughout the Department.

Ms. Neuman was previously a founding partner of St. Ledger-Roty Neuman & Olson LLP where she headed the firm’s privacy and data security practice. She has over two decades of experience in diverse markets of the communications industry, including digital media, telecommunications and cable, and deep expertise in and experience counseling clients on global privacy law and policy. She previously was the Senior Counsel for Policy and Regulatory Affairs for Brandon & Associates, an Associate at Miller and Holbrooke, and an associate another law firm.  Early in her career, Karen worked for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, where she served as a state staff member of the FCC Federal-State Joint Board Staff.

October 24, 2013
5:35 pm

Posted by Maria Odom, Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman

Today, the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman office hosted its third annual conference at the National Archives, a building that reminds us of the contributions that immigrants have made – and continue to make – to the United States. Bringing together nearly 300 participants from across the country, including White House Domestic Policy Council’s Senior Policy Director for Immigration Felicia Escobar, today’s event focused on ways we can work together to improve immigration services at DHS.

From the start of this Administration, the Department has worked to fundamentally change how we approach the challenge of building a stronger, more effective, and more just immigration system.  At DHS, we take our immigration responsibilities seriously and the Ombudsman’s Office plays a key role in assisting thousands of individuals and employers each year who experience challenges in the processing of their immigration case. When it comes to immigration, we are working hard at DHS to strike the right balance between smart enforcement, the sensible use of agency discretion, and a more just and fair immigration system.

Over the past year, we have improved the way we serve the American public. Last June, DHS announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process, allowing young people who meet the guidelines to seek a two year provisional legal status to remain in the United States.  Our office played a key role in this effort by assisting with individual cases, sharing stakeholder feedback with USCIS and suggesting improvements to the application process. Already, more than 580,000 individuals have requested deferred action, and after a thorough review of each of those cases, including a background check, more than 474,000requests have been approved, allowing these young people to continue to contribute to the country they call home. While impactful and necessary, these efforts are not a permanent fix, which is why we’ve also continued to be a strong advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.

I’ve heard from stakeholders all over the country about how our current immigration system isn’t working for businesses, workers, immigrants, or our economy—and I think we all agree that it is time to fix it. DHS stands ready to work with leaders and advocates to ensure that our nation remains a land of opportunity for those seeking to contribute to our nation’s prosperity.

As these efforts continue, it is vital that both government and the public collaborate to address existing issues that impact individuals and employers navigating our current immigration system.  

For more information about the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, visit here.

October 22, 2013
1:09 pm

Yesterday, Acting Secretary Beers was in New York City where he participated in several events and discussed the Department’s work with the private sector to increase cybersecurity, protect critical infrastructure and make the public less vulnerable to cyber crimes.

Acting Secretary Beers' visit to New York

Acting Secretary Beers began his day with a visit to the NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square where he rang the Opening Bell alongside private sector partners.

Acting Secretary Beers' visit to New York


Acting Secretary Beers' visit to New York

Acting Secretary Beers and National Protection and Programs Directorate Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity Phyllis Schneck also delivered remarks and participated in a discussion with business leaders on cybersecurity as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Acting Secretary Beers' visit to New York

National Cyber Security Awareness Month engages public and private sector stakeholders – especially the general public – to create a safe, secure, and resilient cyber environment. This year marks the tenth anniversary of National Cyber Security Awareness Month sponsored by DHS in cooperation with the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month engages public and private sector stakeholders – especially the general public – to create a safe, secure, and resilient cyber environment. This year marks the tenth anniversary of National Cyber Security Awareness Month sponsored by DHS in cooperation with the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

For more information about DHS’ efforts to increase cybersecurity, visit here. And to read more about Acting Secretary Beers’ trip to New York, visit here.

(Photos by NASDAQ)

October 18, 2013
1:33 pm

The world is a much different place than it was a decade ago. Today, nearly every part of our lives are connected to the Internet.  We can take pictures with our smartphones and upload them instantaneously to social media networks, use GPS navigation to find our desired destinations, and pay our bills and manage our finances online.  This year marks the tenth anniversary of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. As Americans become more reliant on modern technology, we also become more vulnerable to cyber exploits such as corporate security breaches, social media fraud, and spear phishing, which targets employees through emails that appear to be from colleagues, allowing cyber criminals to steal personal and business information. Given the stakes we cannot afford to only think about the next year, we must remain focused on meeting the challenges of the next ten years.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and each of us has a role to play. It only takes a single infected computer to potentially infect thousands and perhaps millions of others. Everyone should take basic cybersecurity measures that can improve both individual and our collective safety online. Some steps you can take to ensure you and your family are safe online include:

  • Don’t open emails or attachments that look suspicious
  • Set strong passwords, and don’t share them with anyone
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by checking for and installing updates
  • Limit the amount of personal information you post online, and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widel 

Cybersecurity has emerged as a top priority for the Department of Homeland Security in our efforts to secure federal civilian government networks, work with critical infrastructure owners and operators, combat cyber crime, build a national capacity to promote responsible cyber behavior and cultivate the next generation of frontline cybersecurity professionals—while keeping a steady focus on safeguarding the public’s civil rights and civil liberties. In an effort to raise public awareness and empower Americans to practice and promote safe cyber practices, DHS and our partners have recognized National Cyber Security Awareness Month as an opportunity to help equip everyone with the tools they need to stay safe online. 

During October, DHS and our partners are holding various events and outreach efforts across the country to raise awareness and educate Americans about topics including mobile device security, growing the cyber workforce, combating cyber crime, and the cybersecurity of our nation’s critical infrastructure.

Find out more about DHS and our partners’ work during National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

October 1, 2013
10:03 am

Lapse in Federal Funding: Impact on DHS Web and Social Media Operations

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s website and social media networks will not be actively managed during the lapse in funding. This website was last updated on September 30, 2013 and will not be updated until after funding is enacted. As such, information on this website may not be up to date.  Transactions submitted via this website might not be processed and we will not be able to respond to inquiries until after appropriations are enacted. We will not be able to respond or update social media until after funding is enacted.


Aviso del impacto de la interrupción de fondos federales en las operaciones de las redes sociales del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés)

El sitio de web y las redes sociales de DHS no serán administrados activamente durante la interrupción de fondos federales.   La última actualización a este sitio web se realizó el 30 de septiembre de 2013 y no se harán más actualizaciones hasta que el gobierno reanude operaciones; por ende, puede que el sitio web no refleje la información más reciente.  Es posible que no podamos procesar transacciones ni responder a preguntas o actualizar nuestras redes sociales hasta que se reanuden operaciones.

September 27, 2013
10:56 am

Posted by Donna Roy, HSIN Program Director

Yesterday, I was joined by DHS colleagues and stakeholders to celebrate the launch of the next generation of the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN). HSIN Release 3 (R3) improves our ability to support law enforcement, emergency managers, and first responders with the tools and resources they need, as we work together to make our nation safer, secure, and more resilient. For example, in support of security operations for Super Bowl XLVII, more than 500 HSIN users visited the site over 20,000 times to share information related to their mission and facilitate coordination between federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, international and homeland security partners.

Over the past year, the HSIN Program Management Office has worked with HSIN users to make important updates to the HSIN platform technology and improve the program’s capabilities and services. New capabilities of HSIN R3 include enhanced security features, as well as GIS mapping that enables users to share geographical information. HSIN is the trusted network for federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, international, and private sector partners to share information critical to homeland security mission operations.

HSIN allows our homeland security partners to manage operations, analyze data, and share information by  receiving breaking news related to their missions, share geographical information, hold secure web conferences, communicate securely through a trusted network.

To learn more about HSIN, visit our web page

September 26, 2013
12:51 pm

Posted by Acting CRCL Officer Tamara Kessler

Today, we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – a foundational piece of civil rights legislation that commits the Federal government to ending discrimination against persons with disabilities in federal employment and in federally-conducted and federally-assisted programs and activities. 

At the Department of Homeland Security, we are committed to continued progress in providing full inclusion and equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.  Whether a person with a disability is traveling through an airport, crossing into our country at a border, becoming a naturalized citizen, or rebuilding their life following a disaster,  DHS has an obligation to ensure nondiscrimination and equal opportunity under the Rehabilitation Act.  Our efforts to meet this obligation are led by the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), which coordinates the Department’s compliance with and enforcement of the Rehabilitation Act. 

To commemorate the anniversary of the law’s passage, CRCL has collaborated across the Department to develop and release a number of products to build on prior achievements:

  • A new Management Directive that establishes policy and implementing mechanisms in DHS for ensuring nondiscrimination for individuals with disabilities served by DHS-conducted programs under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • A video that looks back at the importance of the Rehabilitation Act and looks forward to reinforce the Department’s commitment to strengthening implementation of the Rehabilitation Act throughout DHS.
  • A Guide to Interacting with People Who Have Disabilities to assist DHS personnel, contractors and grantees in their interactions with individuals with disabilities.
  • A dedicated webpage with disability-related information and resources for providing equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in DHS programs and activities.

Earlier this year, CRCL established the DHS Disability Access Working Group to further the Department’s commitment to the principles of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Through this Working Group, DHS components are working together to share strategies for effective communication, program and physical accessibility, and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities.  

You can learn more about the Department’s efforts to provide equal opportunity and full inclusion for individuals with disabilities by visiting our Disability Policy webpage.

September 23, 2013
1:02 pm

On Friday, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers joined Vice President Joe Biden and other U.S. officials in Mexico City, Mexico for the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue.

“Strong international partnerships are critical to our global competitiveness as our countries and societies become more connected and dependent upon shared systems of transportation, commerce, and communications,” said Acting Secretary Beers. “We look forward to our continued partnership with the Mexican government as we work together to facilitate legitimate trade and travel while protecting our citizens."

During the High Level Economic Dialogue, Acting Secretary Beers, Vice President Biden and other U.S. officials met with Mexican officials to advance strategic economic and commercial priorities central to promoting mutual economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness. The United States and Mexico work closely together to ensure a safe and secure border region, which is critical to both nations’ economic competitiveness and national security. 

Read about Acting Secretary Beers’ visited to McAllen, Texas and Mexico City yesterday, here.

September 18, 2013
5:23 pm

Posted by Ron Hewitt and Martha Benson on September 16, 2013 at 02:47 PM EDT

Editor's Note: This was originally posted on the White House blog.

Broadband access is essential to the Nation’s global competitiveness. It drives job creation, promotes innovation, expands markets for American businesses, and supports improved education, health care, and public safety. Today, however, too many areas still lack adequate access to this crucial resource.
One way the Administration is working to bolster broadband deployment is by reducing barriers for companies to install broadband infrastructure on Federal properties and roads. The Federal Government owns or manages nearly 30 percent of all land in the United States, including 10,000 buildings nationwide. These properties can provide excellent pathways for deployment of broadband infrastructure. That’s why, last year, President Obama signed an Executive Order to make broadband construction projects along Federal roadways and properties cheaper and more efficient.
Today, we are announcing new steps to build on this progress, including the launch of several new tools and resources to help make it easier for companies to build out high-speed Internet, particularly in underserved communities, and the release of a progress report on implementation of the President’s Executive Order. Both the tools and the report were developed by a Federal Working Group made up of 14 Federal agencies charged with managing Federal properties and roads.
Some of the tools and resources for broadband carriers released today, in response to recommendations from the Working Group, include:
  • An interactive mapping tool that allows carriers and communities to view and identify opportunities to leverage Federal properties for the deployment of high-speed Internet networks. For example this map can help the wireless industry identify Federal rooftops where commercial antennas can be placed to support wireless networks. The national map includes data on broadband availability, environmental or historic information, property locations, and contact information so companies can easily obtain more information. The map was built with open government data, displayed in a new way to make it easier for carriers to take advantage of Federal assets in planning or expanding their networks. 

Broadband Map of Federal Property

This interactive map displays Federally owned buildings and lands, with point of contact information, where a commercial antenna installation might be sited. The map also contains several layers of data useful to broadband deployment. The map layers offers visibility into, for example, the location of National parks, protected wilderness areas, and lands of tribal significance. (Screenshot from 9/16/13)

  • A “Dig Once” guide, which includes best practices and policies to help carriers time their broadband deployment activities to periods when streets are already under construction—an approach that can reduce network deployment costs along Federal roadways by up to 90 percent.

  • A new broadband inventory toolkit that can serve as a one-stop shop for companies to access permitting forms, lease agreements, and other Federal broadband application documents from various agencies. This web page will make it easier for carriers to navigate the process for accessing Federal lands and properties, which can involve multiple Federal and state agencies that have their own processes for granting access to their assets. In addition, the General Services Administration, as directed in the Executive Order, is working to implement common forms and templates across agencies, such as a single master application for deploying broadband on Federal properties, to provide multiple broadband service providers and public-safety entities with streamlined business documents for the deployment of wireline and wireless facilities on Federal property. Going forward, the Department of Agriculture is also working to develop an on-line electronic application form to further streamline the process.

  • In the coming weeks, we will also be launching an online broadband projects platform, located on the Department of Transportation’s Federal Infrastructure Projects Permitting Dashboard , which will allow agencies to identify and expedite key broadband projects and to publicly track their status.

These are just a few examples of advances resulting from the Working Group’s efforts over the past year to identify challenges in deploying broadband infrastructure and develop solutions to improve the process.
While much work remains ahead, the Obama Administration is committed to continued collaboration across all levels of government and with the private sector and general public to help accelerate broadband deployment and drive meaningful community outcomes.
Ron Hewitt is the Director for the Office of Emergency Communications at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Martha Benson is the Public Buildings Service Assistant Commissioner at the General Services Administration’s Office of Real Property Asset Management. Ron Hewitt and Martha Benson are the Co-Chairs of the Broadband Deployment on Federal Property Working Group.


September 17, 2013
6:38 pm

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers today was joined by White House Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to the President Danielle Gray and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas to welcome 25 new U.S. citizens at a special naturalization ceremony held at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

DHS/USCIS Naturalization Ceremony

Acting Secretary Beers administered the Oath of Allegiance to the newest United States citizens.

DHS/USCIS Naturalization Ceremony

The new citizens naturalized during today’s ceremony hailed from: Bolivia, Bulgaria, Egypt, France, Ghana, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Sierra Leone, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

DHS/USCIS Naturalization Ceremony

DHS/USCIS Naturalization Ceremony

This special ceremony is one of more than 180 citizenship events being held across the country to celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. USCIS will welcome more than 18,000 new citizens during these celebrations, from September 16 through September 23. Museums, historic libraries, government landmarks and national park sites will provide the backdrop for this week-long celebration of citizenship and the achievements of our newest citizens.

DHS/USCIS Naturalization Ceremony

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is celebrated each year on Sept. 17 in remembrance of the signing of the Constitution in 1787. Since 1952, Citizenship Day has been celebrated in conjunction with Constitution Day. Congress first underscored the significance of U.S. citizenship in 1940, when it designated the third Sunday in May as “I Am an American Day.” In 2004, Congress changed the designation of this day to "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day."

For more information on this morning’s Naturalization Ceremony, visit here. And to learn more about USCIS’ Constitution Day and Citizenship Day Celebrations, visit here.


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