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 www.dhs.gov/critical-infrastructure.
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.
Photos courtesy of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
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.
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.
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.
|United States Honor Flag Ceremony (LAX) Photo Courtesy of United States Honor Flag|
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|
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.
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.
Posted by Brian De Vallance
In September, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved the statutory maximum 10,000 petitions for U nonimmigrant status (U visas) for immigrant victims of crime, including domestic violence, for the fourth straight year since it began issuing U visas in 2008. Through this program and others, DHS is committed to combating domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.
Last March, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano created the DHS Council on Combating Violence Against Women to coordinate the department’s efforts to stop these crimes and to ensure the effective administration of laws preventing violence against women. The Council provides a unique forum that brings together experts to identify and build consensus around the best practices to combat violence against women, promote consistency on internal policies, and examine how the Department can improve its ability to combat violence against women in the communities we serve and who are impacted by our work.
The Council hosted its first engagement event this summer to update stakeholders on DHS’ efforts to combat violence against women. In an effort to connect further with our partners, DHS plans to release a comprehensive resource guide in December that provides summaries and links to its programs, initiatives, training and services that can be leveraged by communities across the country as they also work to combat these terrible crimes. For example, in early 2013, we issued roll call training videos that provide law enforcement officials with practical training to identify and screen individuals who may be immigrant victims of domestic violence or other serious crimes. In addition, DHS has published guidance regarding immigrant victims of certain crimes for law enforcement that includes information about visa requirements, the law enforcement certification process, and answers to frequently asked questions from law enforcement agencies.
Continued stakeholder engagement is vital to ensuring the success of our programs. October marks National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Every day the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays a role in combatting domestic violence and seeks to be a productive partner in working to break the cycle of violence against women. As the Council’s newest co-chair, I look forward to building on these efforts and continuing to advance our work to protect victims of domestic violence.
For more information on the DHS Council on Combating Violence Against Women, contact VAWA@hq.dhs.gov.
A year after Hurricane Sandy, we’ve seen countless stories of communities coming together and neighbors helping neighbors to recover from this storm. While we still have a long way to go, the signs of recovery can be seen across the region. We remain committed to standing with those impacted as they continue to build back, and will continue to provide all eligible aid as this effort goes on.
Editor's note: This was originally posted on the FEMA blog on October 29.