Originally posted on the USCIS blog, "The Beacon"
On Friday, I had the privilege of administering the Oath of Allegiance to 50 new U.S. citizens on the 281st birthday of our first president, George Washington. The ceremony took place at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens in Alexandria, Va. The event was the high point of a week-long celebration of special ceremonies in recognition of Presidents’ Day. From Feb. 15-22, USCIS welcomed more than 19,000 new citizens in 135 ceremonies across the country.
Felicia Escobar, Senior Policy Advisor for Immigration at the White House Domestic Policy Council, joined me and led the new citizens in reciting the pledge of allegiance. Ms. Escobar quoted President Washington in the beginning of her remarks, saying: “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges.” More than 200 years later, these words ring true.
Critical infrastructure is the backbone of our country’s national and economic security. It includes everything from power plants, chemical facilities and cyber networks, to bridges and highways, stadiums and shopping malls, as well as the federal buildings where millions of Americans work and visit each day. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the Federal Government’s lead agency for coordinating the national protection, prevention, mitigation, and recovery from cyber incidents and works regularly with critical infrastructure owners and operators to take steps to strengthen their facilities and communities. The Department also conducts onsite risk assessments of critical infrastructure and shares risk and threat information with state, local and private sector partners.
Tuesday, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order (EO) on cybersecurity and a Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on critical infrastructure security and resilience. These two actions will strengthen the security and resilience of critical infrastructure against all hazards through an updated and overarching national framework that acknowledges the increased role of cybersecurity in securing physical assets. This is a key step forward in evolving how we approach the risks we face in this new environment.
A cornerstone of this effort will be enhanced information sharing programs that will facilitate the flow of critical infrastructure information among key stakeholders. The EO expands a voluntary, cyber threat information sharing program between government and the private sector that automates the use of law enforcement and intelligence derived threat information to assist critical infrastructure owners and operators in their cybersecurity efforts. This information sharing process helps critical infrastructure entities to protect against cyber threats that could otherwise harm the systems upon which so many Americans rely. The PPD directs the executive branch to address information sharing priorities with critical infrastructure by strengthening our capability to understand and efficiently share information about how well their infrastructure systems are functioning and the consequences of potential failures.
In developing the EO and PPD, the Obama Administration sought input from industry, Congress, the privacy and civil liberties advocacy community, and others and worked to incorporate their ideas. We have also continued our engagement with the privacy and civil liberties community and remain committed to preserving citizens’ right to privacy online. We continue to believe that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. Together, the EO and PPD create an opportunity to reinforce the need for holistic thinking about the cyber and physical security of critical infrastructure.
The American people expect us to lead in securing the country from the growing danger of cyber threats and partner with owners and operators to strengthen the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure. The cyber threats we face are real, they are serious, and they are urgent. Today’s actions are a key step towards improved security and resilience. We will continue to work with Congress to achieve this goal, and hope that these steps will lay a foundation for future discussions on how to keep our nation safe and secure for generations to come.
For more information about the Cybersecurity Executive Order and Critical Infrastructure Presidential Policy Directive, please visit here.
Earlier today at the White House, I met with law enforcement leaders from across the country to discuss the need for comprehensive immigration reform— the single best step we can take to enhance border security, and enable our officers and agents along the border to spend the bulk of their time focused on public safety and national security threats.
Over the past four years, we have dedicated historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to the Southwest border, and undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform our nation's immigration enforcement system into one that focuses on public safety, border security, and the integrity of the immigration system. We have matched our success at the border with smart, effective immigration enforcement, with a focus on identifying and removing criminal aliens and other public safety threats, recent border crossers, repeat violators, and employers who break the law. We have also increased funding to our state and local law enforcement partners to make sure they have the resources they need.
The results of these efforts are clear. Attempts to cross the border illegally are down nearly 80 percent from their peak, seizures of illegal drugs, weapons and other contraband are up, and some of the safest communities in America are found in our border states.
Earlier this week, I traveled to San Diego, Calif. and Clint and El Paso, Texas, where I saw first hand the need for more modernized immigration laws that make it harder for criminals and transnational criminal organizations to operate, while encouraging immigrants to choose to pursue a pathway to legal immigration rather than breaking the law.
Our immigration system has been broken for too long and Congress must act. State, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement remain critical partners in this effort, and we look forward to working with them to advance reforms that will help us keep our communities safe and secure.
Originally posted by The White House
The American public increasingly relies on the Internet for socializing, business transactions, gathering information, entertainment, and creating and sharing content. The rapid growth of the Internet has brought opportunities but also risks, and the Federal Government is committed to empowering members of the public to protect themselves against the full range of online threats, including online radicalization to violence.
Violent extremist groups ─ like al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents, violent supremacist groups, and violent “sovereign citizens” ─ are leveraging online tools and resources to propagate messages of violence and division. These groups use the Internet to disseminate propaganda, identify and groom potential recruits, and supplement their real-world recruitment efforts. Some members and supporters of these groups visit mainstream fora to see whether individuals might be recruited or encouraged to commit acts of violence, look for opportunities to draw targets into private exchanges, and exploit popular media like music videos and online video games. Although the Internet offers countless opportunities for Americans to connect, it has also provided violent extremists with access to new audiences and instruments for radicalization.
As a starting point to prevent online radicalization to violence in the homeland, the Federal Government initially will focus on raising awareness about the threat and providing communities with practical information and tools for staying safe online. In this process, we will work closely with the technology industry to consider policies, technologies, and tools that can help counter violent extremism online. Companies already have developed voluntary measures to promote Internet safety ─ such as fraud warnings, identity protection, and Internet safety tips ─ and we will collaborate with industry to explore how we might counter online violent extremism without interfering with lawful Internet use or the privacy and civil liberties of individual users.
This approach is consistent with Internet safety principles that have helped keep communities safe from a range of online threats, such as cyber bullies, scammers, gangs, and sexual predators. While each of these threats is unique, experience has shown that a well-informed public, armed with tools and resources to stay safe online, is critical to protecting communities. Pursuing such an approach is also consistent with the community-based framework we outlined in Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States and the Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.
A New Interagency Working Group
To more effectively organize our efforts, the Administration is establishing a new Interagency Working Group to Counter Online Radicalization to Violence, chaired by the National Security Staff at the White House and involving specialists in countering violent extremism, Internet safety experts, and civil liberties and privacy practitioners from across the United States Government. This Working Group will be responsible for developing plans to implement an Internet safety approach to address online violent extremism, coordinating the Federal Government’s activities and assessing our progress against these plans, and identifying additional activities to pursue for countering online radicalization to violence.
Raising Awareness through Existing Initiatives
In the coming months, the Working Group will coordinate with Federal departments and agencies to raise awareness and disseminate tools for staying safe from online violent extremism primarily through three means.
First, information about online violent extremism will be incorporated into existing Federal Government Internet safety initiatives. Internet safety initiatives at the Department of Education, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies provide platforms that already reach millions of Americans, and relevant departments and agencies will work to add materials related to online radicalization.
The primary government platform for raising awareness about Internet safety is OnGuard Online, managed by the Federal Trade Commission and involving 16 departments and agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education. OnGuard Online─ in addition to other Federal Government Internet safety platforms like Stop.Think.Connect and Safe Online Surfing─ will begin including information about online violent extremism. This information also will be posted on the Countering Violent Extremism homepage on the Department of Homeland Security’s website and updated to reflect new best practices and research.
Second, the Federal Government will work with local organizations throughout the country to disseminate information about the threat. One reason for the success of Federal Government Internet safety awareness efforts is that they work closely with local organizations — such as school districts, Parent Teacher Associations, local government, and law enforcement — to communicate to communities. Law enforcement is a particularly important partner in raising awareness about radicalization to violence and is already developing materials with support from the Department of Justice. Law enforcement departments and agencies have established Internet safety programs and relationships with community members and local organizations that can reach multiple audiences with critical information about the threat of online violent extremism and recruitment. Departments and agencies will provide the latest assessments of this threat to our local partners and encourage them to incorporate this information into their programs and initiatives.
Third, departments and agencies will use our preexisting engagement with communities to provide information about Internet safety and details about how violent extremists are using the Internet to target and exploit communities. U.S. Attorneys throughout the country, who historically have engaged with communities on a range of public safety issues, are coordinating these Federal engagement efforts at the local level, with support from other departments and agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education. U.S. Attorneys and others involved in community engagement will seek to incorporate information about Internet radicalization to violence into their efforts, as appropriate. At the same time, the Federal Government will engage with State, local, and tribal government and law enforcement officials to learn from their experiences in addressing online threats, including violent extremism.
As the Federal Government implements this effort in the coming months, we will continue to investigate and prosecute those who use the Internet to recruit others to plan or carry out acts of violence, while ensuring that we also continue to uphold individual privacy and civil liberties. Preventing online radicalization to violence requires both proactive solutions to reduce the likelihood that violent extremists affect their target audiences as well as ensuring that laws are rigorously enforced.
For a fact sheet on Countering Online Radicalization to Violence, click here.
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) hosted its 2nd Annual Industry Day for over 230 attendees from industry, academia, national laboratories and government partner organizations.
During the Industry Day, we highlighted DNDO’s mission to implement domestic nuclear detection efforts for a managed and coordinated response to radiological and nuclear threats, and coordinate the development of the global nuclear detection and reporting architecture (GNDA), with partners from federal, state, local, and international governments and the private sector.
We also discussed DNDO’s continued collaboration with the private sector to enhance existing radiation detection devices, and develop new technologies that will meet the needs of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, through programs such as the Commercial First initiative, and the the Graduated Radiation and Nuclear (Rad/Nuc) Detector Evaluation and Reporting (GRaDER®) program. DNDO is facilitating interaction between industry, stakeholders, and researchers to provide faster development and systems, and streamline the Department’s acquisition processes for important security technologies.
DHS officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as interagency, state and local organizations also discussed their operational needs for current and future radiation detection systems in an operational environment.
We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our partners as we develop the GNDA and enhance our nation’s ability to detect, deter and interdict radiological and nuclear material out of regulatory control.
Posted by Bobbie Stempfley, Acting Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, National Protection and Programs Directorate
January 28th is National Data Privacy Day, a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the importance of taking steps to protect the privacy of your personal and financial data. Increased interconnectivity increases the risk of theft, fraud, and abuse. When was the last time you reviewed the privacy settings on your social media accounts, read the fine print when purchasing an app, or talked to your family about safe online behavior?
At the end of the day, cybersecurity is really about people. If each of us commits to staying informed of cybersecurity risks and takes a few simple steps, we can all make a big difference to stay safe online.
We know it only takes a single infected computer to potentially infect thousands and perhaps millions of others. And it’s our goal to make basic cybersecurity practices as reflexive as putting on a seatbelt – using antivirus software, being careful which websites you visit, not opening emails or attachments that look suspicious. These basic measures can improve both our individual and our collective safety online.
To achieve our shared goal, we invite you to take a few basic steps to be more secure:
- Set strong passwords, and don’t share them with anyone.
- Keep a clean machine - our operating system, browser, and other critical software are optimized by installing regular updates.
- Maintain an open dialogue with your family, friends, and community about Internet safety.
- Limit the amount of personal information you post online, and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
- Be cautious about what you receive or read online – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and we are all called on to ACT or Achieve Cybersecurity Together. For more information, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and it is, for me, an opportunity to reflect on the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center’s (FLETC) leadership in providing training for combating human trafficking nationwide.
At the FLETC, we have developed and delivered video, web-based and in-person human trafficking trainings to provide federal, state, and local law enforcement the tools and strategies they need to identify human trafficking victims and prosecute offenders. The FLETC developed and delivered a web-based training specifically for state and local law enforcement to educate them on how to differentiate human trafficking (compelling another to commit acts of commercial sex or forced labor), from human smuggling (voluntarily agreeing to illegally cross the US border), how to recognize the signs of human trafficking during routine duties, and the immigration relief available to trafficking victims.
Recently, the FLETC partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor to deliver training to specialized task forces called Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams. The FLETC expects to complete training for all six teams by the end of the fiscal year.
Next month, the FLETC will launch a two-part series of training videos to be played during roll-call briefings for law enforcement. The training videos focus on DHS’ immigration relief to trafficking victims, which aids in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers; for example, DHS may allow undocumented victims to remain in the United States to assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.
Successfully combating human trafficking requires coordinated effort from law enforcement, individuals and our public and private sector partners. To that end, the FLETC has also partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, ICE and others to reach beyond the law enforcement audience to provide training to victims’ service providers, emergency medical personnel, and other community groups. Other government agencies and partners—including Department of Transportation, Amtrak and air carriers—have also adapted the FLETC’s materials to train their employees on identifying indicators of human trafficking.
We continue work with other DHS component agencies and partners to develop and enhance training, because everyone has a role to play in combating human trafficking. The DHS Blue Campaign provides a unified voice for these DHS components to fight human trafficking. This innovative approach will continue to provide the Department with effective training products for years to come. For more information about the Blue Campaign, please visit: www.dhs.gov/humantrafficking
Today, I joined thousands of Americans, including the President and fellow members of the Cabinet, to honor the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in one of the many National Day of Service events taking place across our country.
In 1994, Congress designated this holiday as a National Day of Service - a holiday when we come together to empower individuals and strengthen communities. It’s “a day on, not a day off.” And at this time every year, together, we honor the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and celebrate him through service projects like the one I was at today.
In neighborhoods all over America, volunteers came together to deliver meals, refurbish schools and community centers, collect food and clothing, assemble care packages for veterans and military families, and much more.
This morning at the “Unite America in Service” event at the DC Armory, hosted by the Points of Light Foundation and Target, I joined thousands of volunteers who came together to assemble care kits filled with necessities to help our troops, our wounded warriors and veterans, and our first responders.
Whether at home or abroad, in war zones or disaster zones, our men and women on the frontlines defend our freedoms, protect our communities, and come to our aid in times of need. Today was an opportunity to thank them for their service and to give back to them in a tangible way.
At the Department of Homeland Security, we often say that homeland security begins with hometown securit it begins with engaged individuals working together to make our communities stronger and more resilient. After this weekend, I hope everyone will continue to find ways to serve, just as many people across the nation did today.
Human trafficking exists today in every country and in every state in our nation. It exists in cities, suburbs, and rural areas – hidden in plain sight. Traffickers often lure victims with false promises of a better life only to exploit them through forced labor or commercial sex.
At U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, we contribute to the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to combat human trafficking by providing immigration relief for victims. USCIS helps protect victims by offering visas for them to stay legally in the United States while assisting law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the trafficker. This video shares the stories of two human trafficking victims who were able to rebuild their lives because of this form of immigration relief.
From 2000 to 2012, USCIS processed and approved more than 3,000 T visa applications for victims of human trafficking, and we have seen an increase in the number of these applications in recent years. But we still need your help reaching victims who often are too afraid to step forward and ask for help.
To learn more about immigration relief for victims and how to assist victims and law enforcement, please visit our website. For law enforcement entities or service providers seeking information about training on the forms of immigration relief offered to victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and other crimes, or to register for upcoming community training sessions, please email T-UVAWATraining@dhs.gov.
You can also learn more through the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign. The Blue Campaign unites DHS’s efforts to combat human trafficking through enhanced public awareness, training, victim assistance, and law enforcement investigations.
If you suspect human trafficking, call the Homeland Security Tip Line at 866-DHS-2-ICE or complete our online tip form.
We urge you to join our effort to combat human trafficking.
In December 2012, the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) formally approved nuclear security detection architecture document of guidelines and best practices, as part of its Nuclear Security Series. As the lead agency in coordinating the development of the global nuclear detection and reporting architecture, this marks a milestone for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO).
This is the first time that the concept of national-level nuclear detection architectures has been institutionalized in international guidance. This document provides a framework for member states to develop and enhance their own national radiation/nuclear detection capabilities, in order to increase global supply chain and nuclear security around the world.
For nearly two years, we have been working closely with the IAEA to develop a joint working plan to identify areas for further DHS-IAEA cooperation on nuclear security. In August, I met with the IAEA Office of Nuclear Security Director Khammar Mrabit to sign the DHS-IAEA Practical Arrangements, representing an important step forward in the enhancement of the global nuclear security framework. Additionally, DHS was instrumental in promoting the adoption of the watershed guidelines document, “Implementing Guide on Systems and Measures for the Detection of Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material Out of Regulatory Control.”
DNDO is responsible for coordinating the U.S. government’s interagency efforts to develop the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture (GNDA) — a worldwide network of sensors, telecommunications, and personnel, with the supporting information exchanges, programs, and protocols that serve to detect, analyze, and report on nuclear and radiological materials that are out of regulatory control.
UPDATE: May 29, 2013
In May 2013, IAEA published its nuclear security detection architecture document of guidelines and best practices, as part of its Nuclear Security Series. The publication, “Nuclear Security Systems and Measures for the Detection of Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material out of Regulatory Control” (IAEA Nuclear Security Series #21), provides a framework for all 159 IAEA member states to develop and enhance their own national radiation/nuclear detection capabilities, in order to increase global supply chain and nuclear security around the world.