Today, I was honored to join 225 individuals, representing 69 different nations, as they took the Oath of Allegiance to become U.S. citizens at the National Archives, in the heart of our nation’s capital. The National Archives is home to the Charters of Freedom – the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.
We also honored the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution and recognize the rights and freedoms it guarantees. In commemoration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, the Department of Homeland Security will welcome more than 32,000 new citizens during 158 naturalization ceremonies across the country this week.
I take great pride in my role as Secretary of the Department responsible for immigration and citizenship. Since 2006, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has welcomed more than four million new citizens to our country. Last year alone, more than 691,000 people became citizens.
Welcoming enterprising immigrants into the American family is a fundamental part of our heritage and a critical piece of our continued success as a nation. These 225 newest citizens remind us that America is still a beacon of hope and opportunity for others, and I am happy to welcome them to our American family.
Originially posted by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deputy Administrator Rich Serino on Thursday, August 13, 2012
Yesterday, we welcomed 231 energetic members into the first ever FEMA Corps class. The members just finished off their first month of training with our partners at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and are one step closer to working in the field on disaster response and recovery. They will now head to FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness to spend the next two weeks training in their FEMA position-specific roles. Once they complete both the CNCS and FEMA training, these 231 dedicated FEMA Corps members will be qualified to work in one of a variety of disaster related roles, ranging from Community Relations to Disaster Recovery Center support.
FEMA Corps builds on the great work of AmeriCorps to establish a service cadre dedicated to disaster response and recover. To be sure, responding to disasters is nothing new for Americorps. In fact, the great work that AmeriCorps already does during disasters was the inspiration for FEMA Corps. When I visited communities all over the country that were devastated by disasters, from Joplin, MO to Bastrop, Texas, I always encountered the incredible members of AmeriCorps lending a helping hand to survivors. I was continually struck by the level of compassion, dedication, and skill these members brought to the table.
The inductees are pioneers, combining the exceptional record of citizen service at AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps with FEMA’s specialized mission of supporting survivors with their recovery after a disaster. The new members, who range in age from 18-24 years old, will contribute to a dedicated, trained, and reliable disaster workforce by working full-time for ten months on federal disaster response and recovery efforts. As we announced in March, FEMA Corps sets the foundation for a new generation of emergency managers; it promotes civic engagement and offers an educational and financial opportunity for young people; and is designed to strengthen the nation’s disaster response by supplementing FEMA’s existing Reservist workforce.
I commend and thank every member of the inaugural class of FEMA Corps for their dedication to helping communities in need. Welcome to FEMA Corps!
Secretary Napolitano today announced that Maria Odom has been appointed as the new Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman. Ms. Odom brings substantial knowledge of immigration law and valuable experience working with community partners to address challenges with immigration and citizenship services. As Ombudsman, Ms. Odom will lead the Ombudsman’s Office as they continue to provide assistance to the public, while also recommending ways U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can improve the delivery of immigration services and benefits.
Ms. Odom most recently served as Executive Director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), since September 2009, where she led a national network of community-based immigration programs. Early in her career, Maria served in a number of roles in the U.S. Department of Justice, including positions at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and as counsel for the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service. Maria also practiced immigration law in the private sector for many years. A native of Puerto Rico, Ms. Odom holds a Bachelor’s degree from The Florida State University and a Juris Doctorate from Mercer University in Georgia.
Ms. Odom replaces January Contreras who departed earlier this year. Debra Rogers, who has been serving as Acting Ombudsman will serve again as Deputy Director of the Ombudsman’s Office.
At DHS, we believe that homeland security begins with hometown security. Security is a shared responsibility, and each citizen has a role to play in identifying and reporting suspicious activities.
We’re all safer when everyone is alert and engaged, and that’s what the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign is all about. If you see something that doesn’t look right, report it to local authorities.
On Thursday, September 6, I joined Simon Property Group Executive Vice President of Property Management Tim Earnest to announce a new partnership with the Simon Property Group as a part of the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign.
This new partnership will take the campaign to shopping malls and retail centers across the United States. By providing signs in hallways and service areas that are used by Simon and tenant employees, DHS will encourage employees to say something when they see something suspicious. This could be an unattended package or suspicious behavior, like a person entering a restricted area that shouldn’t be there or leaving an item under a bench or behind a trash can.
Materials for employees will initially be in 20 Simon locations in Indiana and Virginia, and we’re working with Simon to expand to other properties in the future.
Originally developed by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, "If You See Something, Say Something™" is a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to raise awareness of indicators of terrorism, and emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper authorities.
DHS has expanded the program by partnering with cities, states, universities and private businesses, including the transportation, hospitality and retail sectors. In each sector, we have provided materials and collaborated on advertisements to help engage and educate the public as well as those working behind the scenes. And our new partnership with the Simon Property Group will allow us to continue expanding the program across the country.
We have seen the value of public vigilance in thwarting terrorism and crime time and again. Last year, a concerned gun store owner in Killeen, Texas called authorities after becoming suspicious of a customer’s purchases and helped to prevent a likely attack at Fort Hood. And a concerned citizen’s report helped to foil a planned attack against a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade route in Washington State in 2010.
When we each do our part, we keep our nation safe, one hometown at a time.
If a disaster strikes, how will you and your family be ready? During the month of September, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Ready.gov teams are focusing on planning and preparing for disasters during National Preparedness Month.
This month, DHS is asking you to “Pledge to Prepare.” Visit ready.gov/prepare to see simple steps you can take, such as keeping an emergency kit in your office and at home and keeping copies of important family documents in a safe place.
Being prepared means having a plan. Whether you are at home, at work or on-the-go, it’s important to create a plan in case of an emergency. Planning ahead will ensure that you and your family will know what to do and have the supplies you need to be safe wherever you are. In your home? Think ahead with your Family Emergency Plan. At work or school? Ensure you and your family are informed about hazards in your surrounding area and know the best ways to contact one another if you are separated during a disaster.
We have already seen a number of disasters this year, including floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and most recently, Hurricane Isaac. When an emergency strikes your area, knowing what to do before, during and after may make all the difference when seconds count.
Watch the video of myself and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate asking for your help in keeping each other safe, and then head to Ready.gov to take the pledge today.
As Tropical Depression Isaac moves inland, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Coast Guard continue to support our state and local partners through ongoing response and recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast and impacted areas.
At the direction of President Obama, Secretary Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Fugate and other federal officials have spoken with state, local, and tribal leaders to identify and respond to needs. In addition, FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard are contributing to the response and recovery efforts through direct coordination with state and local teams operating on the ground in affected areas. These agencies are providing key assistance to those impacted by Tropical Depression Isaac.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA and its federal partners, through the FEMA National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., and Regional Offices in Atlanta, Ga. and Denton, Texas, continue to monitor Tropical Depression Isaac and remain in constant contact with state emergency management partners in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
- Federal Coordinating Officers are on the ground in Mississippi and Louisiana, working closely with state and local officials to provide the full resources of the federal government to support response efforts to protect lives and property.
- FEMA, in coordination with U.S. Northern Command, deployed four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from Fort Campbell, KY and two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters from Norfolk Naval Air Station, VA, to assist in search and rescue efforts. A Search and Rescue planner has also been activated and deployed to the Baton Rouge Emergency Operations Center.
- Incident Management Assistance Teams are in state emergency operations centers in Mississippi and Louisiana, in addition to supporting state and local needs in Plaquemines Parish, La.
- Six Mobile Emergency Response Teams are deployed to Louisiana and Mississippi to support state emergency communications requirements.
- Disability Integration Advisors are deployed to areas along the Gulf Coast, in order to assist individuals with disabilities in impacted areas.
- Four Emergency Planners Liaison Officers from U.S. Northern Command were deployed to the National Response Coordination Center in support of FEMA and Fort Polk, LA has been designated as a Federal Team Staging Area. The command has activated Region VI Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO), and Defense Coordinating Element (DCE) to Baton Rouge, LA, to validate, plan and coordinate potential DOD support of FEMA's hurricane response operations and to facilitate DOD's support of potential life-saving and response operations.
- FEMA's Private Sector Representative in the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) in Washington, D.C. continues to engage National Business Emergency Operations Center (NBEOC) members requesting store open/closed status from impacted areas.
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is continuing reconstitution and recovery efforts, and is rapidly assessing impacts to the maritime transportation system in order to restore flow of commerce through the ports and the Mississippi River. The Coast Guard continues to communicate with federal, state and local authorities to identify personnel and resources to respond to calls for assistance.
- Seven U.S. Coast Guard helicopters and one fixed wing maritime patrol aircraft are conducting search and rescue operations, port assessments and off shore patrols in the Gulf of Mexico.
- The Coast Guard has responded to a variety of stranded persons in all of the parishes affected by the storm. As of (Aug. 30, 1800) 17 people and 2 pets have been rescued.
- U.S. Coast Guard cutters are en route to New Orleans to deliver food and water to affected persons.
- U.S. Coast Guard Disaster Response Teams, damage assessment teams and waterway assessment personnel are pre-staged and ready to respond.
- The Coast Guard has liaisons embedded at various emergency operations centers including the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to ensure a coordinated effort as all of us focus on life saving and to effect a rapid recovery of impacted areas.
- The Coast Guard has moved assets (boats, cutters, and aircraft) out of the path of the storm in order to ensure they are properly prepared to respond at the first sign of the storm’s passing.
DHS and FEMA continue to urge residents in affected areas to monitor local weather forecasts and to follow the guidance and direction of state and local officials. For more information on what to do during or after severe weather, visit ready.gov and follow @Readydotgov on Twitter. For continuing updates on federal response efforts as well as safety tips, visit fema.gov and follow @FEMA and @DHSgov on Twitter.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is supporting the development of the next generation of nuclear forensic scientists through two major academic award initiatives. The Nuclear Forensics Education Award Program (NFEAP) and the Academic Research Imitative (ARI) are enabling universities like Texas A&M University (TAMU) to develop an interdisciplinary radiochemistry program with strong ties to national laboratories.
The Nuclear Forensics Education Award Program (NFEAP), supported by DNDO and the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, awards cost-shared grants to colleges and universities to support educational programs in areas such as radiochemistry and nuclear physics. The initiative is part of the broader National Nuclear Forensics Expertise Development Program, launched by DNDO in 2008 and codified by the 2010 Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act (P.L. 111-140).
Through the NFEAP award, TAMU is developing an interdisciplinary graduate certificate program that will provide a strong foundation in radiochemistry, relevant fundamentals of nuclear engineering, and inverse problem solving and help channel nuclear engineers, radiochemists, and other science disciplines into the nuclear forensics expertise pipeline. To date, 61 TAMU students have enrolled in four key courses courses, and nine students have engaged in nuclear forensics research. The program also gives students the opportunity to acquire practical experience through a summer internship; TAMU has organized summer internships at national laboratories and similar organizations for 27 students in the first two years of the three-year NFEAP award.
DNDO and the National Science Foundation have also jointly executed the ARI grant program to invest in multi-year, leading-edge research at academic institutions, including TAMU. The ARI program to date has awarded 57 grants and invested over $65 million in early applied research to prevent nuclear terrorism. Through their 2011 ARI award, researchers from the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute and Cyclotron Institute at TAMU are teaming up with colleagues in the national nuclear laboratories to identify unique, indelible characteristics that can be associated with weapons-grade plutonium (Pu) made in certain types of nuclear reactors.
TAMU is building a national nuclear security pipeline that provides the next generation of researchers with talent and motivation to pursue careers in this important field. Through programs like the NFEAP and ARI, DNDO remains committed to advancing the U.S. government nuclear forensics mission and strengthening the nuclear forensics expertise pipeline.
Partnerships are required across all levels of government, the private sector and internationally to share information about emerging cybersecurity threats and how to stop them, and coordinate mitigation efforts in response to cyber incidents.
Last week, cybersecurity experts from the public and the private sector gathered in Atlanta for the eighth annual Government Forum of Incident Response and Cybersecurity Teams (GFIRST). More than 1,600 cybersecurity professionals from various federal agencies, state and local governments, and private businesses discussed a range of cyber-related issues from cyber intelligence to social networking. Participants had the opportunity to hear from some of the biggest names in the business, including Executive Chairman of RSA Art Coviello and founder of Black Hat and DEFCON Jeff Moss.
Representatives of DHS’ United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) demonstrated both their current capabilities and future initiatives, including the development of the Advanced Malware Analysis Center, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program and Cloud Service Provider Cyber Incident Response program, which help government and private sector entities respond to cyber incidents. The event also provides DHS with the opportunity to broaden the skill set (in the company of some of our top cybersecurity minds) necessary to keep pace with the ever-changing cyber landscape.
The annual GFIRST provides a great opportunity for government and private sector leaders to convene and evaluate the evolving cyber threats we deal with on a daily basis and the necessity of a team approach to cyber incident response. Director of Research at the SANS Institute Alan Paller noted at GFIRST that as we are busy addressing and mitigating current threats, others are continuously coming to our awareness. That is why forums like GFIRST where we can share experiences and best practices are absolutely critical to building stronger partnerships.
We’re confronting some new realities in cyberspace and we need some new thinking and new energy. Our message begins with a simple concept: to ensure cybersecurity for all of us, each of us must play our part. We know it only takes a single infected computer to potentially infect thousands and perhaps millions of others. I hope that this gathering and others reaffirm our collective commitment to ACT – Achieve Cybersecurity Together.
This morning, I joined Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, and representatives from Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Hockey League, as well as New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chief Operating Officer Nuria Fernandez and New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jerry Houer to unveil a new sports Public Service Announcement (PSA) as part of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) "If You See Something, Say Something(tm)" public awareness campaign.
Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League are joining together for the first time to help DHS deliver an important message to their millions of fans: if you see something that doesn't look right, report it to appropriate authorities.
The PSA will feature referees and umpires from baseball, soccer, basketball, football and hockey. It encourages everyone to be vigilant for things that don't seem right - an unattended bag or package, a vehicle that seems out of place or suspicious behavior or activity. Starting this fall, fans will see the new PSA in stadiums nationwide. You can also view the PSA on our redesigned website here.
At DHS, we believe that homeland security begins with hometown security. Security is a shared responsibility, and each citizen has a role to play in identifying and reporting suspicious activities.
So, while you're watching the game, remember - if you see something, say something.
Recent developments in high-speed, wireless communications technology have presented an opportunity to provide public safety members with enhanced capabilities to share information and communicate during emergencies and day-to-day operations. The Commerce Department today announced the appointment of 12 members of the First Responder Network Authority, or “FirstNet,” marking an important milestone in the implementation of a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).
The DHS Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) has been actively involved in implementing the NPSBN. As one of three Federal representatives on the FirstNet board, Secretary Napolitano will work with her Federal counterparts and the appointed members of the Board to ensure the successful deployment, governance, and operations of the NPSBN. This diverse Board includes experts in the fields of public safety, technology, network operations, and finance, and represents those who are committed to ensuring that our first responders have access to a secure, reliable, and dedicated interoperable network.
CS&C is working to ensure that our stakeholders have the information and assistance they need to prepare for network deployment in their areas. To that end, CS&C is offering on-site support through its Technical Assistance Program to assist users with broadband technology and early planning for its use in public safety operations. In addition, we are assisting states in incorporating broadband planning into their Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans through workshops around the country.
The establishment of the FirstNet Board represents an important milestone in the implementation of the NPSBN, and I look forward to continuing to work with our stakeholders to ensure the success of the NPSBN.