David Aguilar, Acting Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, posted clarification about the $420 million in Recovery Act funding to replace aging infrastructure and enhance safety at 43 ports of entry across the on the Leadership Journal.
The assessment to rank the conditions and needs of all 163 U.S. land ports of entry started in 2003. CBP incorporated over 60 factors across four categories, ranging from health and life safety concerns to workload growth and space and site deficiencies. For ARRA funds, which were tied to construction timelines, CBP also identified and analyzed a range of factors that could impact the feasibility of meeting these timelines.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided critical funding to improve security along our borders at our land ports of entry. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, is utilizing $420 million in Recovery Act funding to replace aging infrastructure and enhance safety at 43 ports of entry across the country- through an objective, thorough, and transparent process.
On August 26, the Associated Press ran a misleading story that portrayed this process as biased and secretive. This is absolutely incorrect. The AP was provided information which it chose not to include in its story that clearly demonstrates how our Recovery dollars are being put to work quickly and transparently.
The AP claimed that political considerations helped determine which ports received ARRA funding. In reality, CBP and the General Services Administration used a thorough, objective, and transparent process based on the merits of each project to select the ports of entry that will be modernized with ARRA funds.
This process was long in the making. The assessment to rank the conditions and needs of all 163 U.S. land ports of entry started in 2003. CBP incorporated over 60 factors across four categories, ranging from health and life safety concerns to workload growth and space and site deficiencies. For ARRA funds, which were tied to construction timelines, CBP also identified and analyzed a range of factors that could impact the feasibility of meeting these timelines. This list is public on Recovery.gov.
The AP also alleges that the Department chose to use ARRA funding for small, low-traffic northern border ports rather than for busier ports along the southwest border, such as the port in Laredo, Texas.
But what the AP story doesn’t reflect is how the funding process works and an understanding of how ownership of a port restricts the funding process. The Department received ARRA funding specifically for ports owned by CBP, which includes 39 ports of entry along the northern border and four along the southwest border. None of these CBP owned ports are in Laredo. GSA owns or leases all the Laredo port facilities, part of the 38 southwest border land ports that GSA controls.
Most of the ports CBP owns are small, rural, low-traffic ports along the northern border. Most are four decades old and unequipped to meet the security needs of a modern, post-9/11 world.
Finally, the AP wrote that CBP had a secretive process for determining port funding and refused to provide justifications for its decisions. This is patently false. Prior to the AP’s story, CBP had published the prioritized list of ARRA port projects, along with detailed information describing the review process, on Recovery.gov.
The Department provided the AP with unprecedented access to a wide array of additional information about final project selections, including a nearly three-hour briefing and access to all supporting documents. CBP also provided written, on-the-record justifications for why specific ports were not eligible for ARRA funds due to feasibility and project readiness issues. We also made available to the AP numerous high-level policymakers for interviews on this topic.
In every instance, we provided the AP with information, which – if reported fully and accurately – would have addressed their questions. Americans should have confidence in the objectivity and openness with which ARRA funds have been dedicated to port projects and both CBP and the Department of Homeland Security are committed to upholding this responsibility. To find out more about how ARRA funds are being used in your community and across the country, visit Recovery.gov.
Acting Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday that the federal government is more prepared than ever to respond to a Hurricane Katrina-like disaster and that the county is safer than ever against foreign terrorist attack.From the Houston Chronicle, on a new immigration task force:
In a wide-ranging hour-long interview with The Courier-Journal's editorial board, the former Arizona governor, who took over the federal post in January, said an issue receiving ever more attention by her agency is the threat of domestic terrorism. She added that the department is also focused on potential threats to the private sector, such as cyber-terrorism.
Napolitano said that while the threat of a terrorist attack "remains with us" it doesn't come solely from Al Qaida and that the "methods" of possible attack are varied.
"We're stronger now and we keep getting stronger," Napolitano said. "We're certainly stronger than before 9/11." She added that the department needs to continue to "reduce the risk and strengthen our ability to respond."
Immigration officials on Wednesday announced plans to create a task force to crack down what they described as a tremendous local problem - immigration document and benefit fraud.From NextGov, on Cyberstorm III:
"We've noticed a tremendous amount of document and benefit fraud occurring within the Greater Houston area," said Pat McElwain, the assistant special agent in charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Houston and head of the newly created task force.
The task force is still forming, and ICE officials are talking to other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Attorney's Office, and local agencies, including the Houston Police Department and Harris County Sheriff's Office, about participation, McElwain said.
Gregory Palmore, an ICE spokesman, said ICE does not have statistics available on document fraud in Houston and could not go into details about cases locally that are under investigation.
Nationally, ICE has 17 fraudulent document task forces up and running that have been credited with a number of high-profile cases, McElwain said.
The Homeland Security Department's third large-scale cybersecurity drill in September 2010 will test the national cyber response plan currently being developed by the Obama administration, said industry and government participants in the simulation exercise during a conference on Tuesday.Leadership Events
Cyber Storm III will build upon the lessons learned in the two previous exercises that took place in February 2006 and March 2008, and provide the first opportunity to assess the White House strategy for responding to a cyberattack with nationwide impact.
"The national cyber response plan will be an offshoot of a lot of the findings that came out of Cyber Storm I and II that will formalize the roles and responsibilities," said Brett Lambo, director of the cyber exercises program in DHS' national cybersecurity division. He participated on an afternoon panel at the GFirst conference in Atlanta hosted by the department's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team. "It's not a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but a lot of questions bubbled up [from the exercises]," followed by the announcement along with President Obama's 60-day cyber review that a response plan should be developed.
9:15 AM CDT
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks at the 2009 Fire-Rescue International Conference, swear in Kelvin Cochran as U.S. Fire Administrator and participate in a media availability
Dallas Convention Center Arena
650 South Griffin Street
9 AM EDT
NPPD Deputy Under Secretary Philip Reitinger will deliver remarks about DHS cybersecurity priorities and how to better build and sustain current and future cyber partnerships at the GFIRST Conference
Omni Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
3:45 PM EDT
NPPD Federal Network Security (FNS) Director Matt Coose will participate in a presentation at the GFIRST Conference about the activities of the FNS Branch
Omni Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
Veterans hold a special place in our country, but they also hold a special place at the Department of Homeland Security. Roughly a quarter of our workforce consists of veterans, including more than 2,100 service-disabled veterans. Every day these men and women, who already have sacrificed so much for our nation, are helping achieve our mission to secure the country.
I told veterans gathered at the conference that we are firmly committed to increasing their ranks at DHS. Indeed, we have set a goal of employing 50,000 veterans at the Department by 2012. We are well on our way to achieve that goal – hiring 3,000 veterans since January of this year.
But our efforts aren’t just about numbers. We are also expanding partnerships and outreach to veterans across the United States. For example, we are creating greater opportunities for Veteran Owned Small Businesses and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses to do business with the Department. Last year, veteran-owned small businesses won more than $931 million in prime contracts from DHS.
And our first-ever job fair for veterans drew more than 750 participants this summer.
Through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, we’ve also continued to grant citizenship to tens of thousands of our men and women in uniform who have become American citizens while at the same time serving in our Armed Forces. We will continue to do even more this year and in the future.
In Louisville, I thanked the American Legion, as well as the American Legion Auxiliary, for their strong support for programs like Citizen Corps, which is creating more prepared communities through service and citizen engagement.
I also called on the Legion to continue to support these and other efforts to help build a culture of preparedness and resiliency in America. That includes taking action to boost personal preparedness and spread the word about important resources like Ready.gov. This is especially important as we prepare for the possibility of an H1N1 outbreak this fall.
We must bring a sense of shared responsibility to this effort. Veterans are in a unique position to help us meet this challenge, as they’ve done throughout our nation’s history. We are proud to have them as members of the Department and critical partners in our nation’s homeland security mission.
“The men and women of the armed services work tirelessly every day to ensure the safety and security of the American people,” said Secretary Napolitano. “We are honored by the thousands of veterans working at DHS who use their unique experience and extraordinary dedication to help DHS protect our nation from threats and prepare for disasters.”The 2009 National Convention, in Louisville, KY this year, is the governing body of the American Legion, and brings together the Legion's 55 departments to chart the course forward for the Legion.
After her speech, the Secretary stopped in a meeting of the Women's Auxiliary and discussed her own adolescent experiences at the New Mexico Girls State session. Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion, and provides "hands-on citizenship training" to high school juniors around the country. This year, Girls State is emphasizing "Patriotism, Participation, and Progress." You can visit the American Legion's website for more information.
The Secretary also spoke to the Women's Auxiliary about the importance of preparedness, particularly around the topic of H1N1. She emphasized that we all possess a shared responsibility when it comes to being ready for any kind of national situation; be it H1N1, a natural disaster, or a terrorist incident. She ended her impromptu remarks to a standing ovation, with one member of the women's auxiliary reportedly yelling out, "Yeah, girl!"
You can check out the Secretary's remarks here.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said Monday that it's her department's job to conclude the long-running dispute over how much FEMA owes Louisiana for the damage inflicted on Charity Hospital by Hurricane Katrina, but up to Louisianians to figure out what happens next and how to pay for what FEMA won't.From the Newark Star Ledger, on Global Entry:
"They have to make choices and we're not in a position to make choices for communities, " Napolitano said in an interview with The Times-Picayune in advance of Saturday's fourth anniversary of Katrina.
"What we are in the business of is facilitating the recovery of the community -- breaking through some of the bureaucratic entanglements that existed prior to January and moving things through as quickly as possible within the confines of what we're able to provide, " Napolitano said.
Napolitano's comments on Charity track those made last week by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. All expect Louisiana to use a new binding arbitration process established for resolving disputes between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local officials.
For $100 and a fingerprinting session, frequent international travelers can now shave a few minutes off their wait time after landing at Newark Liberty International Airport.From the Associated Press, on CBP's repatriation program:
Starting today, pre-approved U.S. citizens and permanent residents re-entering the country can skip passport-checking lines and pass through an automated kiosk instead."For frequent business travelers, it's a great program," said John Saleh, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in New York. "They come off the plane with their carry-on, they go up to the kiosk, and they're out the door within a couple minutes."
Immigration authorities are flying illegal immigrants deep into their native Mexico from Southern Arizona to discourage dangerous crossings in triple-digit desert heat.
The twice-daily flights from Tucson to Mexico City are intended to keep immigrants away from border towns where they would likely run into smugglers who want to sneak them back into the U.S.
"This is where the probability of losing their lives can really increase. We offer that opportunity for them to get out of that cycle," John Torres, a special adviser to the assistant secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Monday in Tucson.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security flights began Saturday for the sixth straight summer and will end Sept. 28.
Tucson is the only spot in this country where the flights depart. Arizona is the busiest illegal entry point into the U.S.
Since 2004, more than 82,000 Mexicans have been returned as part of the repatriation program. The number, however, represents just a small portion of illegal immigrants in this country.
8 AM EDT
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will deliver remarks about Coast Guard Diversity initiatives at the Coast Guard Training Forum of the Blacks in Government National Training Convention
Baltimore Hilton Hotel
1 West Pratt Street
8:30 AM EDT
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Gregory Schaffer will deliver opening remarks at the GFIRST Conference
Omni Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
10:30 AM EDT
NPPD Critical Infrastructure Protection Cybersecurity Program Director Patrick Beggs will deliver remarks at the GFIRST Conference about information technology sector risk
Omni Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
1 PM CDT
Office of Health Affairs (OHA) Acting Director for Food, Agriculture and Veterinary Defense Doug Meckes, D.V.M., will participate in a panel discussion about animal identification needs related to homeland security issues at the ID Info Expo 2009
Westin Crown Center Hotel
One Pershing Road
Kansas City, Mo.
3:45 PM EDT
NPPD Cyber Exercise Program Director Brett Lambo will deliver remarks about cyber exercises at the GFIRST Conference
Omni Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
3:45 PM EDT
NPPD National Cyber Security Division Acting Director Dr. Peter Fonash will participate in a panel discussion about raising cybersecurity awareness at the GFIRST Conference
Omni Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
One of the final presidential policy directives issued by the Bush administration, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25 (HSPD- 25) , issued on January 9 2009 declared that the "United States is an Arctic nation", with varied and critical security interests in the Arctic region.From ABC, on the Border Patrol's efforts to disrupt smuggling in Nogales:
Since taking office the Obama administration and new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary Janet Napolitano have reiterated the call for deeper focus on the Arctic, citing in particular the global security implications of climate change in the region, which by melting summer sea ice is fast accelerating maritime activity and the flow of goods, oil, gas and other resources.
Last Thursday at a special "field hearing" held in Anchorage, Alaska by US Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, US Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, discussed how the Coast Guard was stepping up its Arctic Presence to address the challenges emerging in that fast changing region.
Maria Elena Leyva cannot see the problem that has recently made her hometown notorious along the US-Mexican border.Public Events
It is beneath her feet -- hidden in the earth below hills speckled with mesquites, pines, and oaks.
In the words of the county sheriff, Nogales is becoming "the drug-tunnel capital of the world."
Since 1990, the US Border Patrol has found 109 tunnels along the border with Mexico, all in California and Arizona. Sixty-five -- or 60 percent -- have been found in Nogales, with 16 of those discovered in the past nine months.
Until the 1990s, the international line here was just a chain-link fence that allowed Americans and Mexicans to look each other in the eye, Ms. Leyva recalls, sitting on a porch only two blocks from the border. But during the past few years in particular, an arsenal of manpower, physical barriers, and electronic surveillance has made the border a virtual fortress.
This has forced drug smugglers to look for alternate means of moving marijuana, heroine, and cocaine into the US. "We've increased our enforcement on the ground, so they have to compensate for it and that's why they're developing tunnels," Border Patrol spokesman Michael Scioli says.
9 AM PDT
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air & Marine Operations personnel will participate in a media availability and demonstration of the newly acquired Advanced Concept Demonstrator Vessel
Squallicum Harbor Boat Ramp
Roeder Avenue and Bellwether Way
3 PM MST
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Advisor to the Assistant Secretary John P. Torres will participate in a media availability about the beginning of the 2009 Mexican Interior Repatriation Program (MIRP)
Tucson International Airport
Executive Flight Terminal
The Secretary, along with 25 senior officials at the Department, were instructed by Red Cross officials today on CPR and basic first aid.
Watch the video below for the Secretary's remarks from today's training.
Then check our ready.gov for more information on how you can be prepared at home and at work.
Here's the current situation as reported by the National Hurricane Center (NHC):
Currently Hurricane Bill is located 695 miles Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Bill is traveling 18 MPH and is gradually turning north-northwest. If you live on the coast of New England you should be monitoring the forecast in your area.
Bill has been lowered to a category two hurricane. The maximum sustained winds are currently 110 MPH, though the National Hurricane Center cautions that there could be fluctuations in intensity over the next two days.
Click here for the latest public advisory on Bill.
All information in the above posted was drawn from the National Hurricane Center
Government officials are calling on U.S. businesses to help manage swine flu this fall by getting vaccines to vulnerable workers and encouraging employees with symptoms to stay home.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said Wednesday that employers should develop plans for managing both seasonal and swine flu. Businesses should encourage employees who are at-risk for swine flu to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available. First in line are pregnant women, health care workers and younger adults with conditions such as asthma.
The government is trying to prepare for the possibility of a widespread outbreak this fall, which could hurt businesses along with the broader economy by keeping workers home. Unlike regular seasonal flu, the H1N1 virus which causes swine flu has not retreated during the hot and humid summer months, and so far has infected more than 1 million Americans.
Locke briefed reporters on recommendations for U.S. businesses at a press conference alongside Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
From the North County Times in California, on ICE Assistant Secretary Morton's visit to San Diego yesterday:
A top-level official with the Department of Homeland Security said in San Diego on Wednesday that the agency would more strictly focus its enforcement efforts on arresting illegal immigrants with criminal histories.
In recent years, the agency has been criticized by immigrant rights activists for using raids ostensibly aimed at targeted individuals who were a threat to national security or community safety, but also arresting illegal immigrants nearby, known as collateral arrests.
John Morton, the assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who was in San Diego on Wednesday, said that the agency would more tightly focus the program on criminal immigrants but would not give a "free pass" to those who have been ordered to leave the country by an immigration judge.
"If we're going to have any kind of system that works and has credibility, there's got to be enforcement," Morton said.
2:30 PM Local
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will testify before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security about the Coast Guard’s Arctic Presence
University of Alaska Anchorage
Consortium Library Lew Haines Memorial Room (Room 307)
3211 Providence Drive