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November 22, 2013
4:47 pm

Posted by DHS Study in the States

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) joined our many partners across government, academia, and the private sector in observing the 14th annual International Education Week to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.

DHS plays an important role in welcoming international students to the United States, and remains committed to ensuring America remains a destination of choice for students from around the world.  Multiple components within the Department are involved in various aspects of the process, and DHS has worked to enhance their coordination and improve the experiences of international students and host schools.  Through DHS’ Office of Academic Engagement, DHS facilitates regular meetings with representatives from across the Department to coordinate international student issues and initiatives. 

We continue to work closely with the academic community to examine our international student policies and processes.  One part of that effort is the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC), a federal advisory committee comprised of prominent university presidents and academic leaders.  The HSAAC advises the Secretary and senior leadership at DHS on matters related to homeland security and the academic community, and has a subcommittee dedicated to international student issues. 

Based on HSAAC recommendations, DHS has taken steps to increase engagement with the academic community and seek input on draft policies.  In 2013, representatives from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) participated in over 100 outreach events, as well as served on interagency panels that addressed key issues affecting international students, schools, and school officials.  To increase public engagement in policy development, ICE SEVP began publishing draft guidance for public comment on the Study in the States website.

This week U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) proposed changes to the requirements governing its Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to allow dependents and spouses of international students with F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status to study at a SEVP-certified school as long as it is less than full-time.  Additionally, the change would provide school officials more flexibility in determining the number of designated school officials to nominate for oversight of campuses.

DHS remains committed to working with our partners across government and in the academic community to continue these initiatives in the coming year, and welcome international students who wish to study here.

For more information on the Study in the States initiative, visit here. You can also visit their Facebook and Twitter accounts.  To learn more about the HSAAC, visit here.

November 20, 2013
5:34 pm

Posted by John Cohen, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis and Counterterrorism Coordinator

Today, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) joined the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento first responder community for a demonstration of the pilot Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) virtual training platform—a system designed to train first responders across multiple agencies, disciplines, and jurisdictions in real time on complex emergency response scenarios.  EDGE allows multiple individuals across the first responder community to to train on a simulated virtual emergency by simply by logging into the secure EDGE system from a personal computer. Today’s demonstration involved an active shooter scenario, and participants from Sacramento law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire, unified command and dispatch  joined in today’s training and demonstration.

The EDGE virtual training platform is a new technology representing one of countless partnership and training efforts between DHS our Federal, State, local and private sector partners—enhancing preparedness efforts for our first responders and ensuring that our nation is more safe and secure.  DHS offers a broad set of tools to help law enforcement and private sector partners prepare for active shooter scenarios. The DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate Office of Infrastructure Protection and FEMA provide active shooter trainings across the nation .  Additionally, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice have expanded access to federal training on active shooter situations for law enforcement and first responders with additional outreach, new online resources, improved training curricula, and exercises with law enforcement at all FBI field offices.

As a part of the Administration’s comprehensive efforts to prevent gun violence, DHS in partnership with the FBI and the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services, has already taken significant steps to improve preparedness.  In January, DHS officials joined FBI and state and local law enforcement officials from around the nation to solicit input regarding prevention and response efforts. This input informed the Administration’s work to create model emergency planning guidance for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education, which were released in June.  The White House progress report and emergency management planning guides are available here. Our efforts are ongoing and we are always working to incorporate new information and mitigate potential threats.

November 18, 2013
1:37 pm

Posted by Mike Kangior, Director of Resilience Policy & Matt Fuchs, Deputy Director of Resilience Policy

A key priority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is to work with our state, local, and private sector partners as we all strive to make our communities more resilient in the face of disasters.

As part of that effort, DHS is undertaking a pilot project designed to promote building design that recognizes best practices that help make buildings more resilient. The initiative, the DHS Resilience STARTM Home Pilot Project, will be a government-led, public-private initiative. Through the pilot project, DHS will work together with the private sector to engage homeowners, builders and contractors in communities at high risk for certain natural disasters to identify proactive steps to enhance the resilience of the homes.

The project will allow the private sector to identify and designate residential homes that are voluntarily built or remodeled that could employ design features that are both affordable and proven to enhance resilience to disasters.

The Resilience STARTM designation, which is modeled after the Environmental Protection Agency’s successful ENERGY STAR campaign, will be given to structures that are built to withstand damage from certain disasters, utilizing the standards and third-party verification process in the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) FORTIFIED programs. The FORTIFIED standards are designed to improve the quality of residential construction and feature practical, meaningful solutions for new and existing homes throughout the United States.

The first pilot project will take place in the next few months along the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast.  DHS is currently soliciting applications from builders, contractors, and homeowners who would like to participate in this project.

Through initiatives like the Resilience STARTM Home Pilot Project, we can continue to increase the readiness and resilience of our communities.

For more information on the Resilience STAR™ Home Pilot Project, and to apply to participate, visit here.


November 15, 2013
1:55 pm

Imagine a power outage that knocks out the electric grid in eight states, affecting 55 million people. Residential areas lose water pressure and sewage pumps stop working. Failures in electronic ticketing and traffic control systems cripple land and air transportation. Fuel is scarce because gas stations lack electricity for their pumps. Cellular communications are disrupted, and telephone lines are overwhelmed with emergency calls. And this happens during a heat wave when the demand and usage of electricity is high.

This is not fiction. This is a brief synopsis of the August 2003 blackout that affected regions from New York City to Ontario. The blackout was caused by an unfortunate convergence of events. While it was an accident, it served as a reminder of our nation’s dependence on critical infrastructure.

In an effort to build awareness and appreciation of the importance of critical infrastructure in our daily lives, President Obama has designated November as Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month.

Critical infrastructure provides the essential services that sustain our way of life, such as the power we use in our homes, the water we drink, the transportation that moves us, the bridges that connect us, and the communication systems we rely on to stay in touch with friends and family.

Every day the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with our partners across the government, works closely with stakeholders in the private sector as well as state and local partners to help mitigate threats against that infrastructure and build capacities.

As we acknowledge the role of critical infrastructure in our everyday lives, we must also work to protect the services and functions that Americans depend upon.  But we cannot do it alone. Promoting security and resilience is a collaborative endeavor requiring effort and investment from government, the private sector, and the public. To get involved in this effort to promote the security and resilience of our nation, visit

November 14, 2013
4:51 pm

Acting Secretary Beers congratulates Dr. Rahul Jindal, recipient of the Outstanding American By Choice award.

Yesterday, Acting Secretary Rand Beers participated in a special naturalization ceremony commemorating Veterans Day. The ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery’s Women in Military Service for America Memorial Auditorium in Virginia.

Acting Secretary Beers administered the Oath of Allegiance to 40 U.S. citizenship candidates, including active duty members of the United States Armed Forces. Since September 2002, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has naturalized more than 92,000 members of the military, including nearly 11,000 who received their citizenship overseas.


USCIS Deputy Director Lori Scialabba congratulates a newly naturalized U.S. citizen.

During the ceremony, USCIS Deputy Director Lori Scialabba recognized Dr. Rahul Jindal, a transplant surgeon at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., as an Outstanding American by Choice. The Outstanding American by Choice initiative recognizes the outstanding achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens, who through civic participation, professional achievement, and responsible citizenship, have demonstrated their commitment to this country and to the common civic values that unite us as Americans.

From Nov. 7-13, USCIS welcomed approximately 8,000 new U.S. citizens during 120 naturalization ceremonies throughout the nation and overseas.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit their website and the USCIS blog The Beacon

Photos courtesy of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

November 14, 2013
4:40 pm

Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted by the Transportation Security Administration on November 14.

Yesterday, TSA and the DoD announced a partnership to expand TSA Pre✓™ expedited screening benefits to more than 2.6 million U.S. Armed Forces service members in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy, as well as the Reserves and National Guard.

Currently, members of the U.S. Armed Forces can use TSA Pre✓™ lanes at 10 domestic airports by presenting their Common Access Card (CAC). Starting December 20th, these individuals will be able to enjoy the benefits of the program at the 100 participating airports across the country, allowing them to keep their footwear on as well as light outerwear, laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry on in select screening lanes.
Under this partnership, all active duty, U.S. Coast Guard, Reserve and National Guard service members are recommended to:
Sample DOD ID with CAC number
Check the back of your CAC for your DoD ID number.
Known Traveler Info
Enter the DoD ID number in the Known Traveler ID field when booking your flight.
Boarding Passes w/ TSA precheck Logos
Check your boarding pass. It should have a TSA Pre✓™ logo if you’re traveling after December 20. If you try to print your boarding pass prior to December 20, you may not see the TSA Pre✓™ indicator.
When arriving at the airport, service members will then be permitted access to TSA Pre✓™ lanes for official or leisure travel on participating airlines. Service members do not need to be in uniform to benefit from TSA Pre✓™. If you are traveling with children 12 and under they may accompany service members through the TSA Pre✓™ lanes. However, spouses will need to be enrolled in a trusted traveler program to participate. TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport. No individual will be guaranteed expedited screening.
TSA has long recognized our men and women in uniform as nearly a quarter of TSA’s workforce is a veteran or currently serves as an active duty service member in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Click here for more information about TSA Pre✓™.


November 12, 2013
3:09 pm

Acting Secretary Rand Beers and U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp laid a wreath in honor of veterans and their service during a Veterans Day ceremony at the Coast Guard Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery Monday. The ceremony is held each year to highlight the importance of the day, and serves as a way to thank veterans for their commitment to the Nation.

During his remarks, Secretary Beers – a veteran himself - highlighted the department’s commitment to hiring veterans. “It is…a day to recognize that veterans continue to serve our nation. For many of us, our service didn’t end when we took off the uniform,” he said.

Read more about DHS’ commitment to serving and honoring our Nation’s veterans in Secretary Beers’ latest blog post.

U.S. Coast Guard photos courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

November 8, 2013
7:41 pm

Posted by Transportation Security Administrator (TSA) Administrator John Pistole

Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted on the TSA blog on October 8, 2013.

Photo of TSO Hernandez. 11/10/1973 - 11/01/2013
This morning, at 9:20am(PST)/12:20pm(EST), TSA employees, airport workers, and travelers across the nation paused to mark the moment an attack took the life of TSA Officer Gerardo Ismael Hernandez last week at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). 
Sadly, Officer Hernandez – a husband, a father, a son, a colleague and a friend – became the first TSA employee killed in the line of duty. The agency and all across the Department of Homeland Security, have felt this impact.
In many ways, Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are the public face of our nation’s security. Every day, TSOs interact with nearly two million travelers across the United States with a single goal in mind – ensuring they safely reach their destinations.
He had joined TSA in June of 2010. His colleagues, as well as passengers, knew him as a man whose warm smile and humorous nature made them feel at ease. He took pride in his duty to the TSA mission and to the American public.
United States Honor Flag Ceremony (LAX) Photo Courtesy of United States Honor Flag
United States Honor Flag Ceremony (LAX) Photo Courtesy of United States Honor Flag
This week at LAX, an American Airlines plane landed on the runway, marking the arrival of a special United States flag that was presented to his family and used at his funeral. This flag, the United States Honor Flag , is a tribute reserved for those who make the ultimate sacrifice for their family, community and country. Hernandez was such a person.
Two other TSA officers, Tony Grigsby and James Speer involved in this senseless attack, are thankfully recovering from their injuries. Even in the chaos of the attack, these two TSO’s were seen helping others and continuing to put the safety of others ahead of their own.
Officer Grigsby is a Master Behavior Detection Officer (MBDO), who has been with TSA since 2004. He said that during the incident, his main concern was making sure the terrified people running towards him were okay. He was shot in the ankle while helping an elderly man move to a safe area.

James Speer joined the TSA in 2008 and is a Master Security Training Instructor (MSTI). Even though he had been shot in the left shoulder, he continued to help by using his right arm to encourage people to keep running.

Pylons at LAX Lit Up in Blue in Honor of TSO Hernandez Photo Courtesy of United States Honor Flag
Pylons at LAX Lit Up in Blue in Honor of TSO Hernandez Photo Courtesy of United States Honor Flag
Every day, thousands of TSA officers and employees report to checkpoints and checked baggage locations around the nation. Every one of them has sworn to protect the nation's transportation systems and in this line of work, an uneventful day is a good day.
Thank you to Officer Hernandez, and to all our TSOs working across the country.
November 8, 2013
2:12 pm

As we take time on Monday to thank our nation’s veterans for their service and sacrifices, we also recognize the veterans who continue to serve here at home, including across the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

As a veteran myself, I am proud that DHS employs more than 54,000 veterans who make up almost 28 percent of our total workforce, in addition to the more than 43,000 active duty U.S. Coast Guardsmen and women we are honored to call our colleagues.

I’d like to highlight just some of the work we are doing across DHS to recognize our men and women in uniform.

This year, from November 7 to 13, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will welcome almost 8,000 new U.S. citizens at over 120 naturalization ceremonies—many of  whom are military members and veterans who have sworn to defend our nation and will be proudly welcomed as our fellow Americans.

At the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), over a quarter of the workforce is military veterans.  This year, TSA revised screening requirements to allow expedited screening for this group through its Wounded Warrior program.

The Wounded Warrior Screening program makes the overall experience for wounded service members as simple as possible, including curb-to-gate services and expedited screening to move through security checkpoints without having to remove shoes, light outerwear jackets or hats.         

Through a new program developed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, injured or disabled veterans can get a chance a chance to continue to serve at home for a good cause. The recently announced H .E.R.O. (Human Exploitation Rescue Operative) Child Rescue Corps, brings together resources and expertise to train and equip wounded warriors to assist special agents with criminal investigations involving child pornography and online sexual exploitation.

Earlier this month, Coast Guard members organized by the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association honored the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during a Flags Across America event.  On Veterans Day, I will join the Coast Guard for a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Coast Guard Memorial in Arlington National Ceremony. Also, next week we will celebrate the naming of the Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building.  Named after one of our heroes and the Coast Guard's only Medal of Honor recipient, Signalman Douglas Munro put himself in harm's way and made the ultimate sacrifice to protect Marines at Guadalcanal during World War II.

We also are proud to work with and support many veterans and veterans organizations outside the department.  Last year, DHS provided more than $1.5 billion in contracts to veteran-owned businesses, and we continued to expand our outreach to many veterans groups seeking to work with us. 

I hope you will join me in thanking veterans for their service and ongoing contributions.  Having served in uniform myself, I am grateful for every veteran across DHS for their hard work and know we are truly safer and more secure because of them.

November 7, 2013
1:59 pm

Posted by Chief Privacy Officer Karen Neuman

Over the past nine years, the Privacy Office has worked to create an environment at DHS where neither privacy nor security are compromised, but rather merged in a manner that keeps the country safe and honors the principles on which the country was founded. As a result, privacy is now firmly embedded into the lifecycle of DHS pro­grams and systems to inform Departmental policy, and to ensure effective privacy protections. 

Today, I am pleased to provide an update from the Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office’s 2013 Annual Report to Congress, on our achievements between July 2012 and June 2013, during which time my deputy, Jonathan R. Cantor, served as the Acting Chief Privacy Officer.  

The Privacy Office’s mission is to protect all individuals by embedding and enforcing privacy protections and transparency in all DHS activities.  Our ongoing efforts to incorporate strong privacy protection and transparency into initiatives and programs across the Department included providing expertise and advice in support of DHS’ ongoing work in law enforcement and intelligence sharing, ensuring that privacy considerations are part of how we accomplish these important missions.  In addition, the Department successfully reduced its Freedom of Information Act backlog by 33 percent this year despite another record-breaking year in the volume of requests received.  

As the Privacy Office enters our tenth year, we will continue to ensure that DHS stays committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals, and providing the greatest level of transparency and accountability possible.

For more information on the Privacy Office, please visit our webpage.


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