Posted by Assistant Secretary for the Private Sector Raul Perales
EDITORS NOTE: This blog was originally posted by the White House on March 26.
For the sake of our economy and our security, legal immigration should be simple and efficient. After the long wait for a legislative solution to fix our broken system, the President took action within his authority to help streamline the legal immigration system until Congress passes commonsense, comprehensive reform.
Earlier this week, speaking at the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit, President Obama announced the next steps the Administration is taking to attract the world’s top talented professionals by making it easier for global companies to launch and invest in the United States:
My administration is going to reform the L-1B visa category, which allows corporations to temporarily move workers from a foreign office to a U.S. office in a faster, simpler way. And this could benefit hundreds of thousands of nonimmigrant workers and their employers; that, in turn, will benefit our entire economy and spur additional investment.
Specifically, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued proposed guidance this week clarifying the standards and creating consistency for decisions of L-1B nonimmigrant visa applications. This is a popular visa category that allows global companies to temporarily transfer specialized workers to the U.S. for the purpose of launching or expanding a U.S. operation.
This long-anticipated policy guidance, which has been released for public feedback, has been of particular interest to global companies seeking to do business in the United States. It will provide increased certainty to businesses and eliminate confusion in the L-1B program, helping to bolster investment and our overall economic growth.
By releasing this updated guidance, the Department of Homeland Security is taking yet another important step forward in executing the President’s immigration executive actions announced in November 2014. These actions will modernize and streamline the legal immigration system, helping grow the U.S. economy, create jobs, and recognize the fluid dynamics of the 21st century.
The economic benefits of the President’s action are formidable. Last month, the President’s Council of Economic Advisers released an updated report on the economic impact of the entirety of the President’s executive actions, finding that they could boost the nation’s GDP by as much as $250 billion while shrinking the federal deficit by as much as $65 billion over the next 10 years. These actions are also expected to increase wages and productivity of all workers, not just immigrants, and expand the American workforce by an estimated 200,000 people over the next 10 years.
While the President is leading through administration actions, he also recognizes that more must be done through legislation. As he stated at the SelectUSA Investment Summit:
Of course, as all of you know, one of the things that would make America even more attractive to businesses and that would grow our economy and shrink our deficits, and keep this country safer, stronger, and smarter, would be a comprehensive immigration reform package. We need to get immigration reform done here in the United States of America.
The bottom line: Only Congress can finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system. President Obama continues to be committed to working with Congress to pass a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that will capture the full economic benefits of immigration reform
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson was honored earlier this week with the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) Empowering Voices Award, for his dedication to and personal investment in engagement with Muslim American communities across the United States.
During the 2015 Empowering Voices Gala and before White House representatives, Members of Congress, and civil society leaders, MPAC DC Director Haris Tarin and President Salam Al-Marayati recognized Secretary Johnson for his dedication to public service and empowering the Muslim American community through forums, discussions, and meetings throughout the country.
During the past year, Secretary Johnson has made it a personal priority to engage community organizations to promote local efforts and partnerships to counter homegrown violent extremism. Since June 2014, Secretary Johnson has traveled to Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Columbus, and Chicago, and has used these opportunities to hear from hundreds of community leaders, and understand how the Department can better serve their needs.
In addition to Secretary Johnson’s personal commitment to the issue, the award recognizes the Department’s continued efforts to engage with local communities on this important issue. The Department, through its Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), operates an interagency community engagement program anchored by regularly-held quarterly roundtables in 16 cities around the country. These roundtables, among other similar efforts undertaken by CRCL in partnership with all Department component agencies and offices, serve as a primary tool in the Department's efforts at building trust, explaining policies, clarifying misconceptions, and addressing grievances.
As Americans, we all have an equal stake in the safety and security of our country, and the protection of our family, friends, and neighbors. DHS and Secretary Johnson remain committed to fostering public engagement in countering the extremist narrative and encouraging continued positive engagement in society, and full participation in the democratic process. We continue to become a stronger nation, and a more perfect union, as a result.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Secretary Jeh Johnson and his Canadian counterpart, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney, share a laugh during a bilateral meeting in Washington, D.C.. On Monday, Secretary Johnson and Minister Blaney signed a preclearance agreement that will significantly benefit travelers and trade by reducing congestion and efficiency at the border by allowing for the immigration, customs and agriculture inspections required for entry into either country to occur on foreign soil.
Official DHS Photo by Barry Bahler.
Kevin K. McAleenan was officially sworn in as U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner – the agency’s chief operating official – March 18 during a ceremony at CBP headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Secretary Jeh C. Johnson and CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske spoke of Deputy Commissioner McAleenan’s distinguished work as a public servant, and well as his dedication to and vision for the agency.
After taking the oath of office, Deputy Commissioner McAleenan addressed the audience and highlighted the talent and accomplishments of CBP’s global workforce.
“Our people are our heart and soul,” said Deputy Commissioner McAleenan. “I believe we have the best leadership team in the government and I know we have a frontline workforce that has never let us down, no matter what challenges they face. We’re attracting tremendous talent and investing in enhanced training for them to take us to the next level.”
Mr. McAleenan served as the acting Deputy Commissioner since March 30, 2013. He previously served since Dec. 31, 2011, as acting assistant commissioner of the CBP Office of Field Operations, leading the agency’s port security and facilitation operations. Prior to serving in these capacities, he held the position of deputy assistant commissioner, Office of Field Operations, between July 2010 and December 2011.
Learn more about CBP here: www.cbp.gov
This week, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson met with Vietnam Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang to discuss a range of global security-related priorities, and expanding homeland security cooperation between the United States and Vietnam. Secretary Johnson and Minister Quang discussed law enforcement cooperation, information sharing, transnational threats, maritime security collaboration, and cybersecurity.
During the meeting, Secretary Johnson and Minister Quang discussed the potential for expanding joint approaches to address transnational crime, especially in combating human trafficking, protection of intellectual property rights, combating illicit finance, and bolstering cooperation in cyber investigations. Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States Pham Quang Vinh and DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy and Chief Diplomatic Officer Alan Bersin were also in attendance.
Minister Quang is visiting the United States as part of high-level exchanges and enhanced collaboration that mark the July 2015 20th Anniversary of the resumption of U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic relations. The visit is an important step in implementation of the July 2013 agreement between President Obama and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang to establish a new comprehensive partnership.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson listens to Martin Luther King III during Sunday morning service at Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Secretary Johnson traveled to Selma to mark the 50th Anniversary of the marches from Selma to Montgomery. An ancestor to Secretary Johnson was a co-founder of the church and their name is etched into the church’s corner stone.
Posted by A/S Raul Perales and CPO Soraya Correa
Two weeks ago, we were honored to join more than 450 industry partners and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leaders in a strategic industry conversation. Our industry partners are well positioned to assist the Department in solving problems, improving processes, and supporting diverse mission areas. The Strategic Industry Conversation provided a venue to discuss program-specific topics that span multiple DHS components and support the Secretary’s Unity of Effort initiative, which involves sharing challenges and best practices with our industry partners.
Secretary Jeh Johnson delivered keynote remarks, where he emphasized how working closely with industry leads to improved mission outcomes. Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spoke about how industry input should inform the Department’s strategic planning and how he sees a “new day” in how we engage our private sector partners.
Breakout sessions, led by industry leaders and Department employees, encouraged participants to discuss various topics across the homeland security enterprise, from policy and programmatic advocacy to procurement and R&D. Vendors interested in specific mission areas (e.g. biometrics) were able to hear from, and speak with, DHS and industry leaders who are actively engaged in those mission areas. These discussions could lead to new business relationships.
Over the course of the day, DHS received constructive feedback from industry about how to better communicate during all phases of the acquisition lifecycle. Industry partners gained greater perspective into the Department, its priorities, and how it approaches acquisition.
As the Department’s Chief Procurement Officer and Assistant Secretary for the Private Sector, we were proud to engage with our industry partners for a day of honest, frank discussions, which is a crucial first step in strengthening our engagements.
We are committed to working with our industry partners in order to reach new heights in industry‑government communication. Please join us as we work to make DHS the best partner in government.
For more information on doing business with the Department please visit: http://www.dhs.gov/do-business-dhs.
By Acting Administrator Melvin J. Carraway
If by the end of the week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not receive funding, the Department shuts down. A shutdown for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) means that most of our employees would still continue to come to work, without receiving a paycheck for that work until the shutdown ends.
As a counterterrorism organization, our dedicated and professional workforce will - in the event of a shutdown - continue to secure our nation’s transportation systems, without pay, just as they did during the government shutdown of 2013. Over ninety percent of our workforce – that’s about 50,000 employees – would continue to report to duty.
Yes, critical operations would continue, but the support for those operations would cease. Approximately 6 percent of the TSA workforce would be furloughed. Hiring would cease. Required training would cease. Travel associated with routine planned security inspections would cease. Deployment of security technology equipment would potentially be delayed.
Although TSA is most recognized and known for our work in nearly 450 airports throughout the United States, our national security mission includes mass transit and passenger rail, as well as pipeline and container traffic. These transportation systems play a vital role in driving the engine of our economy.
TSA officers rely on the development of new technologies, the sharing of reliable intelligence, and screening procedures that can be adapted to address the ever evolving threat. These vital functions depend on a secure budget.
As a civilian government workforce, the men and women of TSA have sworn an oath to protect the traveling public. As fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, partners, sisters and brothers – this responsibility is not without sacrifice.
The vast majority of TSA personnel – including frontline operational and support personnel– rely on biweekly paychecks to support themselves and their families. If DHS does not receive funding, these employees would not receive biweekly paychecks for their work during the shutdown until Congress acts. They deserve better than the proposition of coming to work every day on an IOU.
We hope that Congress will pass a clean budget for DHS. In the meantime, TSA remains dedicated to our mission to protect the nation's transportation systems and ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.
Yesterday, Secretary Johnson was joined by leadership and employees from across the Department of Homeland Security to discuss the consequences of a permitting a DHS shutdown.
“I am also honored to stand here today with the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, many of whom you see behind me. These are men and women who reflect a much larger workforce that is responsible for keeping our homeland safe,” Secretary Johnson said.
“The people you see behind me reflect a workforce responsible for border security, aviation security, port security, maritime security, cyber security, protection of critical infrastructure in this country, protection of our national leaders, and response to disasters.”
Read Secretary Johnson’s remarks:
Good afternoon. I am pleased to be joined this afternoon by the Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the Commissioner of CBP Gil Kerlikowske, the Under Secretary for NPPD Suzanne Spaulding, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, the Assistant Secretary for Immigration Customs Enforcement Sarah Saldana, the Director of the Secret Service Joe Clancy, Director of USCIS Leon Rodriguez, the Acting Administrator of TSA Mel Carraway and our CFO Chip Fulghum.
I am also honored to stand here today with the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, many of whom you see behind me. These are men and women who reflect a much larger workforce that is responsible for keeping our homeland safe.
The people you see behind me reflect a workforce responsible for border security, aviation security, port security, maritime security, cyber security, protection of critical infrastructure in this country, protection of our national leaders, and response to disasters.
None of this is free. We need a partnership with Congress to support our efforts. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security is being funded by a continuing resolution. That continuing resolution expires in just 4 1/2 days. The clock is ticking, and as I stand here, there's nothing from Congress to fund us beyond that point.
The American public needs to understand the consequences of permitting a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security. Here are just a few.
First, we will be forced to require some 75% to 80% of our men and women to come to work without pay. There are serious consequences for the working men and women of our Department standing behind me if they are required to come to work and try to make ends meet without a paycheck, for themselves and their families. This includes the men and women of the United States Coast Guard.
Second, we must, in the event of a shutdown, furlough approximately 30,000 of our employees, including our headquarters’ staffs. What does that mean? What are the consequence in that? An example. Every day I press the staff at my headquarters to stay one step up ahead of groups such as ISIL, to stay one step ahead of threats to our aviation security, to closely monitor and to stay one step ahead of illegal migration on the southern border, and to stay one step ahead of our weather conditions, to closely monitor our weather conditions in a very harsh winter. If we shut down, that staff is cut back to a skeleton.
Third, approximately 80% of FEMA's permanent appropriated workforce, 80% furloughed.
Fourth, our ability to grant money to state and local law enforcement, which they rely upon for their own homeland security missions, grinds to a halt, either because there is no money or the ability to process payment has been furloughed.
Fifth, service providers and suppliers of this Department do not get paid during the period of the shutdown. Again, because there's no money or because our ability to process payments have been furloughed. I could go on and on.
Overall, a shutdown of Homeland Security would have serious consequences and amount to a serious disruption in our ability to protect the homeland.
To those in Congress who may be contemplating punting or kicking the can a few weeks down the road, I must remind you that the consequences to this Department, if we remain on a continuing resolution, are also severe. We are restricted to last year's funding levels if we are on a continuing resolution and must operate in a state of uncertainty about when the next infusion of funds will be.
As I have said many times now, it is like trying to drive across country with no more than five gallons of gas in your tank, and you do not know when the next gas station will appear. We cannot pay for the enhancements to border security on the Southern border that we have put there. We cannot fund new non-disaster assistant grants to state and local law enforcement. Every governor, mayor, police chief, sheriff, and police commissioner should be concerned about this. We cannot pay for the things we need for the United States Secret Service in the coming presidential election cycle. This is no way to run a government.
On behalf of the men and women up here on this stage and for homeland security and public safety, we need a fully funded Department of Homeland Security. We need the Congress to pass a Fiscal Year 2015 appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security, free of amendments that attempt to defund our executive actions to fix the immigration system. The president has said he will veto a bill that comes to him with such language.
As the president and I have said many times, we welcome a debate in Congress about immigration and immigration reform. We know that there are strong views on the subject, but do not tie that debate or an effort to defund our executive actions to the ability of our Department of Homeland Security to function in its entirety. Do not tie debate about immigration to the funding of homeland security for this nation.
Now, at this point I would like you to hear from just two of our component heads. I will call upon the Commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol Gil Kerlikowske.
Commissioner Kerlikowske: Thank you all very much for being here. As the Secretary said, there's a human face to this. We have 60,000 employees. We’re going to be asking them, Border Patrol agents, Customs people at inspections to go to work without a paycheck. When you are young, and I remember as a young police officer, I do not think the mortgage holder would have been too sympathetic if I was working and was not getting paid. I don’t think the hospital would have been sympathetic to my plight either. That is significant. Let me give you another concrete example of the human face to this problem.
The human face is that we have been actively hiring Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents, literally almost 500 that are in our training academy right now. We will give them a plane ticket home and send back home from those academies in Georgia and Artesia, New Mexico, and we will not be paying for them.
When this happened before, some did not return. We spent a lot of money in training and hiring and making sure that they were properly screened, and when they went back home, people said you are pretty attractive person for a job there. We cannot continue on this path.
It is my pleasure to introduce the administrator of FEMA, Craig Fugate.
Administrator Fugate: Good afternoon. As the Secretary said, a continuing resolution is not the way to run the Department. If some of the impacts that are occurring right now at state and local governments that we not initiating the grant programs. These are reoccurring programs that are considered new activities. One in particular is a 50-50 match program that is used to fund in your local government, local emergency managers, and then state capitol state emergency managers, their salaries. Those funds will be necessary to pay those salaries, and without the grants, there will be impacts at both the local community level and the state level for impacts at the local community personnel, not equipment, not stuff, not training, but people that are currently serving at the local level whose grant dollars are dependent upon for their salaries.
If we end up in a shutdown, I have heard this said, and I like to be factual that the impact will not be that great because most of the people at DHS will still be at work. And I have heard that said about FEMA. So I want to be upfront and tell you what this means. In 2013, the last time we shut down the federal government, FEMA had to furlough 3,360 full-time people. Now, most people say FEMA has more people than that, that are not a big deal. Until you recognize the fact that without that staff we cannot continue to make any payments on outstanding disaster recoveries from any open disaster. Those funds that are for those disasters will still be there, but the people required to actually make those payments to oversee that will not leave there.
We will not be able to respond to governors' requests for disaster assistance unless it involves life-saving and property, and only under an emergency declaration.
And, we will have to recall staff if an emergency occurs, which happened in 2013 with Tropical Storm Faye we had to recall back permanent staff to staff up the operation centers and headquarters in the regions. Not only are they not getting paid, they're not there when the country needs them, and they have to be called back.
So there are real consequences not only to the people that are not part of the 1% not getting paychecks, there are real impacts our ability to support the recovery from Sandy, Katrina, the Colorado floods, you name it, because our ability to continue to pay and the rebuilding of those disasters will be delayed or postponed, and it will not be made up.
Last thing, there's a lot of our emergency responders that are supposed to be traveling this weekend to our training centers. They are not going to be able to go without a budget, and we will not be able to make up that training. Now some of that training is so rare we are the only facility outside the military that does live agent training for first responders and hazmat teams. That will be hard to reschedule. It will not be easy to what is of loss; most of those people will not be able to take it this year. It will delay them this year. There is a consequence of a CR and shutdown on our ability too. Thank you.
Five years ago, President Obama signed into law an important piece of homeland security legislation designed to help protect our Nation against the threat of nuclear terrorism. The Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act (NFAA) assigned to the Department of Homeland Security key nuclear forensics responsibilities and authorized the National Technical Nuclear Forensics Center within DHS’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO).
The law states, “The threat of a nuclear terrorist attack on American interests…is one of the most serious threats to… national security.” Confronted with this possibility, U. S. policy is to hold fully accountable any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor that supports or enables terrorist efforts to obtain or use nuclear weapons.
In the face of potential nuclear threats, we need to have the capability to determine who is responsible for such acts. Nuclear forensics enables us to trace nuclear materials and devices back to their place of origin. In smuggling cases, nuclear forensics can aid in the prosecution of perpetrators, help close down smuggling networks, and identify potential nuclear security deficiencies that need to be addressed. In the case of attempted or actual acts of nuclear terrorism, scientific evidence supports the determination of those responsible which would guide U.S. actions in response.
Since the enactment of NFAA, DHS has worked with the FBI, the Departments of Defense, Energy, and State, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to advance the national capabilities. DNDO supports multiagency forensics exercises that include state and local partners and we also participate in exercises with the intelligence community to plan and synchronize intelligence, law enforcement, and technical forensics information into a robust attribution process.
The NFAA also highlights the importance of increased international collaboration in nuclear forensics to ensure the United States and its partners are prepared for a nuclear event overseas. Since the Nuclear Security Summit in 2010, where nuclear forensics and detection were highlighted as ongoing priorities, we have seen international collaborations expanded and enhanced.
DNDO continues to work to advance technical capabilities to perform nuclear forensics on smuggled materials as well. DNDO has led the development of technology that can replicate how foreign nations produce nuclear materials. This allows us to predict the forensic signatures without having samples of those materials and is a significant advancement in our ability to trace nuclear materials back to their origin.
Finally, DNDO is ensuring we have the scientific talent required for nuclear forensics. The NFAA-mandated National Nuclear Forensics Expertise Development Program is designed to cultivate and sustain the expertise required to execute our mission and has significantly revitalized the pipeline, through its support to students and academic institutions, which have become increasingly involved with the nuclear forensics field over the last five years.
The NFAA has been instrumental for DNDO, where we remain singularly focused on preventing nuclear terrorism. Along with our partners, we remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the Nation against this threat.