After years of lobbying by federal and local officials, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office opened Monday in Colorado Springs.
Some of those who sought it believe it was needed to curtail illegal immigration, but law enforcement officials at the official opening downplayed that role.
The downtown office in Colorado Springs is the ninth ICE office in Colorado and houses several cubicles and conference rooms as well as a cache of secure rooms to be used for interviews, confidential paperwork and holding weapons.
Currently, three agents will work out of the office, with plans to add seven more, said U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.
The new office will house an investigations branch which will look into criminal cases that span international borders such as human smuggling or criminal organizations with ties in several countries said Kumar Kibble, ICE special agent in charge of Colorado.
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who contracts with ICE to house an average of 150 illegal immigrants in his jail, said he didn't expect a local ICE office to have a big impact on day-to-day immigration issues.
From the Associated Press, on the virtual fence project:
Government officials overseeing the construction of a "virtual fence" along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border hope to turn over the first segment to the Border Patrol in January, while beginning construction on a second stretch in coming weeks.
Although the government has plans to extend the network of cameras, ground sensors and radars along most of the border, officials said they'll draw on lessons from the first two segments in southern Arizona as they contemplate if and where to build more sections and how fast to complete them.
The government estimated it would cost $6.7 billion to cover most of the Mexican border by 2014.
"We do want some time to look at whether or not that really does make the most sense," said Mark Borkowski, the government's director of the virtual fence project.
"Is it really sensible to spend all that money? Or are there other more measured approaches? Maybe there are some places along the border that make sense, but maybe not the entire border."
As it now stands, once both southern Arizona sections are in operation along 53 miles of the border, the next step would be to authorize construction through the majority of the 375-mile border in Arizona, the nation's busiest gateway for immigrant smuggling and a major thoroughfare for marijuana smuggling.
From the Washington Post, on the end of hurricane season:
The Atlantic hurricane season ended Monday with barely a whimper: Not a single hurricane came ashore in the United States.
Since June, when the season began, just nine named storms developed. Only three of them became hurricanes, and those stayed out at sea or weakened before passing over land.
Two tropical storms made landfall in the U.S., causing little more than rain and some beach erosion.
"We had a great, great year," said Chris Vecsey, a salesman at Top Gun Tackle in Orange Beach, Ala., near where Tropical Storm Ida slogged ashore in November.
"Last year we had Gustav and Ike and a couple of other storms that didn't even hit here. And with all the hype, it ruined us. It just didn't happen this year."
The 2009 season was on target with the lower end of forecasters' predictions. Before the season began June 1, the National Hurricane Center had anticipated nine to 14 storms, with four to seven hurricanes - a prediction that the Miami-based center scaled back slightly in August before the arrival of the season's first storm, Tropical Storm Ana.
James Franklin, the center's chief hurricane specialist, credited much of the quiet season to El Nino, the periodic warming of the central Pacific Ocean. El Nino, he said, produced strong winds in the Atlantic that cut down storms before they could develop into hurricanes.
1:30 PM EST
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks highlighting the Department’s critical infrastructure protection efforts at the Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) Symposium
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center
201 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, Md.
11 AM EST
Office of Health Affairs Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jon Krohmer will moderate a panel on the natural disasters and the federal response at the American Medical Association Third National Congress on Health System Readiness: Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness in the 21st Century
Washington Marriott Wardman Park
2660 Woodley Road, NW
11 AM EST
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement New York Special Agent in Charge Jim Hayes will host a small repatriation ceremony to return two Italian artifacts to Italy
Office of Investigations
601 West 26th Street, Suite 700
New York, N.Y.
12 PM EST
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) National Cyber Security Division Acting Director Dr. Peter Fonash will deliver keynote remarks about the 60-day cyber review and current cybersecurity initiatives at the Canada Government Symposium
3 boulevard du Casino
2:30 PM EST
Caryn Wagner will participate in a hearing considering her nomination to be Under Secretary of Intelligence and Analysis before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
216 Hart Senate Office Building
From CQ Homeland Security, on confirmation hearings for the nominee for undersecretary for intelligence and analysis:
Customs and Border Protection officials have reported an increase in drug and cash seizures made at borders across the country.
So far this year, officials have seized more than 4.47 million pounds of narcotics and $57.9 million in currency, which is a 74-percent increase from 2008.
In addition to seizures, customs officers have encountered more than 224,000 inadmissible immigrants at national borders and arrested more than 556,000.
They have also facilitated nearly $2 trillion in legitimate trade.
"This data illustrates the tremendous work the men and women of CBP perform every day on the front lines protecting our borders while ensuring the efficient flow of travel and trade," Customs Acting Commissioner Jayson Ahern said in a news
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a confirmation hearing this week to consider President Obama’s nominee for undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security.
The nominee, Caryn Wagner, currently is an instructor in intelligence-resource management at the Intelligence and Security Academy, a company that provides education, training and consulting in national security issues and intelligence analysis.
As DHS undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, Wagner would oversee DHS’s intelligence operations, leading a number of critical initiatives involving information sharing, engagement with state and local fusion centers and management of the security of classified information systems. The undersecretary also serves as the department’s primary point of contact for the intelligence community.
“Effective intelligence collection and analysis and robust information-sharing are essential to our mission of securing the nation,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano after the White House announced Wagner’s nomination in October.
“Caryn’s extensive experience in the intelligence community will enhance our capability to collaborate with federal, state and local partners to assess and protect against homeland security threats.”
The new security checkpoint at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport's Terminal 3 will get its first major test this week, as more than 25,000 travelers are expected to pass through in the coming week, a big jump from last year.
And after a rocky opening to the $23 million screening area earlier this month, local federal security officials say they're ready for the annual travel rush, which could be bigger than last year.
"I'm not going to go out on a limb and say everything will be sweetness and light, but I feel that we're about 90 percent there when it comes to learning the new layout and changing things as we go to make it more efficient," said Paul Wisniewski, the federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration's CVG operation. "This has been a non-event for the last three years, and I don't see any reason to expect any different this year."
Wisniewski said that he expects more than 16,000 passengers to pass through the checkpoint between Monday and Wednesday, including 6,400 on the day before Thanksgiving. There could be as many as 8,000 on Sunday alone, with those visiting Cincinnati for the holiday making their way back home.
He said peak wait times could reach 30 minutes, but unless something breaks down, they shouldn't be any longer than that. This year, there is one more security lane in Terminal 3 than before, allowing the TSA to process as many as 1,800 travelers an hour through the checkpoint that now sits on the ticketing level instead of downstairs.
From the Wall Street Journal, on a story of citizenship:
A naturalization test at an immigration office in Boston was the last hurdle standing between me and U.S. citizenship. But for me this journey had actually begun years before, on a rickety vessel you may have heard of-The Mayflower. Except in my adaptation, that leaky ship sailed down the Red Sea to the New World of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where I proudly played the role of a pilgrim in a kindergarten play at the American school. Decked out in a gray frock and a hat fashioned from black construction paper, I prepared to welcome a band of friendly Native Americans to the very first Thanksgiving.
In my five-year-old mind, it seemed perfectly logical that a scrawny Indian girl with brown skin and a Canadian passport should be charged with inviting those other Indians (feather, not dot-although I'm Muslim so we don't have either) to celebrate the founding spirit of America. In a desert nation, no less, thousands of miles from Plymouth Colony.
"Sarah, is it?" asked the immigration official testing me. "So, where are you from?"
Easy question, no easy answer.
Secretary Napolitano and Minister Van Loan will participate in a media availability
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Press Room
Ronald Reagan Building
The vast majority of our national CIKR is privately owned and operated, which means ensuring its protection and resiliency involves an unprecedented partnership between government and the private sector. This partnership is at the heart of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, which establishes a unique coordination and information-sharing framework that unifies protection of our nation’s CIKR into an integrated plan. The partnership now includes more than 200 trade associations from every CIKR sector, representing more than 4 million members.
Check out the video below to learn more about how this public-private groundbreaking partnership works to safeguard the nation’s Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources.
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U.S. immigration officials are taking H-1B enforcement from the desk to the field with a plan to conduct 25,000 on-site inspections of companies hiring foreign workers over this fiscal year.
The move marks a nearly five-fold increase in inspections over last fiscal year, when the agency conducted 5,191 site visits under a new site inspection program. The new federal fiscal year began Oct. 1.
Tougher enforcement from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services comes in response to a study conducted by the agency last year that found fraud and other violations in one-in-five H-1B applications.
In a letter to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Alejandro Mayorkas, director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the agency began a site visit and verification program in July to check on the validity of H-1B applications. Mayorkas' letter was released on Tuesday by Grassley.
"[The inspection program determines] whether the location of employment actually exists and if a beneficiary is employed at the location specified, performing the duties as described, and paid the salary as identified in the petition," said Mayorkas in his letter to Grassley.
Mayorkas is a former federal prosecutor who was recently appointed by President Barack Obama. He was sworn in August and said since then, "I have worked tirelessly to learn of the condition of our anti-fraud efforts and other critical programs in our agency."
From the Associated Press, on a huge drug bust in Arizona:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers say two Scottsdale men are in custody after allegedly trying to smuggle nearly 2,000 pounds of marijuana across the border into Arizona.Public Events
Authorities say the marijuana worth an estimated $4.7 million was found hidden in a trailer being pulled by a pickup truck that was stopped Monday at the Lukeville port of entry.
A drug-sniffing dog alerted customs inspectors to the presence of narcotics near
the floor area of the trailer.
When inspectors searched the trailer, they discovered 1,968 pounds of marijuana in 128 bundles concealed inside the flooring.
The truck and trailer were seized and the two men - whose names were not released - were arrested and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
10 AM EST
NPPD Under Secretary Rand Beers and Federal Protective Service (FPS) Director Gary Schenkel will testify about the transition of FPS from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to NPPD before the House Committee on Homeland Security
311 Cannon House Office Building
2 PM EST
Bruce McConnell, Counselor to NPPD Deputy Under Secretary Philip Reitinger, will participate in a panel discussion about critical infrastructure protection as part of Aviation Week’s Cybersecurity Webinar
2 PM EST
Transportation Security Administration Assistant Administrator for Global Strategies Cindy Farkus will testify about protecting the flying public and security at foreign repair stations before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection
311 Cannon House Office Building
I know we’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, the Our Border network is the first of its kind. It is a groundbreaking civic forum that connects users and encourages a new kind of dialogue about issues unique to the southwest border. We depend on Our Border members to build the network, connect with other users, and spread the word. We’re launching a Membership Challenge today with this in mind.
We’re encouraging you to reach out to your networks online and offline and get people to sign up on Our Border and expand the dialogue. Talk to your networks and friends, your colleagues and fellow activists. Ask them to join Our Border. The member who is responsible for the greatest number of new members to the network will receive a Border Patrol hat signed by Secretary Napolitano. The contest runs through December 8th, so click here to get started.
Growing this network and continuing this important public discussion depend on public participation and input. We look forward to hearing from you.
FLETC Director Connie Patrick presents Chad Hersey with the Director’s Life Saving Award certificate, which reads: “In recognition of your immediate response to a heart attack victim during an export Commercial Vehicle Counterterrorism Training Program in Little Rock, Arkansas, on August 26th, 2009. While acting commendably and without hesitation, you performed CPR and used the AED until emergency medical technicians arrived on scene. As a result, the life of a fellow officer was saved.”
Chad Hersey, one of FLETC’s Physical Techniques Instructors, was conducting a four day training course as part of the Commercial Vehicle Counterterrorism Training Program (CVCTP) in Little Rock, Arkansas, in August. During a training exercise entitled “Tractor-Trailer stop,” where students practice looking for a Weapon of Mass Destruction in a vehicle, one of Chad’s students suddenly clutched his chest and lost consciousness. Chad caught and eased the student to the ground, and, after realizing he wasn’t breathing, began CPR and called for an automated external defibrillator (AED). He performed CPR and used the AED to resuscitate the student, who was unresponsive for a short time. Chad then worked with the student until the Emergency Medical Technicians arrived, and ultimately the student was saved. Chad’s instinctive training, his quick response, and his persistence meant the difference for this student; it could for someone you know, as well.
Chad came to FLETC’s Counterterrorism Training Division in 2005 after a career with the Georgia State Patrol, and joined FLETC’s Physical Techniques Division in March, 2009, where he received his most recent first aid and CPR training. Chad’s heroic act and his ability to respond quickly in this emergency situation were undoubtedly influenced and informed by his CPR and AED training. This can serve as a live-saving lesson for the rest of us. The department encourages the public to be prepared in circumstances like these. Attend an emergency preparedness training, as Secretary Napolitano did in August, when she and her senior staff became CPR and AED certified. Check out the American Red Cross’ website to learn more about getting trained on these and other live-saving skills, and visit ready.gov to stay prepared at home and in the workplace.
Click here to learn more about FLETC and its training programs.
Dr. Alexander Garza is the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Homeland Security
From the Savannah Morning News, on a panel discussion including Craig Fugate:
It takes teamwork to react effectively to disasters, Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate said Monday. Participating on a panel at Savannah State University, Fugate warned against "government-centric" responses to calamities.
He said various emergency responder agencies should work more closely with the private sector and the public.
"A government-centered approach can't get to everybody fast enough," Fugate told more than 100 people at the event.
The FEMA chief suggested that agencies recruit grocery stores and faith-based private groups to help distribute food and water.
That would provide more resources and let people focus on the things they do best, Fugate said.
"Ask police or emergency people what they would rather do," he said. "Provide security or hand out stuff?"
All too often, he added, emergency responders treat the general public as a problem rather than a potential resource.
"The first responder is oftentimes you and me, a bystander or a neighbor," Fugate said.
From USA Today, on proposed inspections for airplane maintenance shops:
Thousands of airplane maintenance shops in the U.S. and abroad would get increased scrutiny to make sure they are not easy prey for terrorists looking to sabotage U.S. jets during routine repairs, a government proposal says.
Some experts and lawmakers have warned for years about potential terrorist saboteurs infiltrating airplane repair shops, and have urged security oversight. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says the greatest danger is posed by repair shops that are on or next to airports because a terrorist could take control of an airplane.
A TSA regulation proposed Monday would for the first time enable the agency to inspect airplane repair shops. If the TSA found a problematic repair shop, the agency would tell the Federal Aviation Administration to suspend the shop's operating license.
TSA Assistant Administrator Lee Kair said the new requirement "guards against the potential threat of an aircraft being destroyed or used as a weapon." The agency is soliciting public comments on the proposal and could finalize it later this year.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on counterfeit cash:
Consumers and businesses should expect to see more bogus bills this time of year, said Jeffrey T. Gilbert, special agent in charge of the United States Secret Service Atlanta.
WSB-TV reports that two Atlanta-area residents received counterfeit $20 bills from an ATM in DeKalb County.
The station says the man and woman tried to use the bills for purchases. It says no charges were filed against them and the counterfeit currency was confiscated.
"We cannot reiterate enough how important it is to look at your money," said Gilbert. "Counterfeiting is a crime of opportunity.
And it can be devastating on a business, a family, even our economy."
With the advancements in color copiers, counterfeiters are getting more creative. By bleaching the notes of $5 bills they are able to reprint them as $100 bills.
These bills, printed on official U.S. Treasury paper, are passing the counterfeit pen test.
10 AM PST
TSA Public Affairs Manager Dwayne Baird will host a media event to highlight Holiday Travel Tips with the Federal Security Director at Portland Oregon International Airport (PDX).
Portland Oregon International Airport
7000 NE Airport Way
10 AM PST
TSA Public Affairs Manager Andrea McCauley will conduct a joint media event with Continental Airlines and TSA to launch the paperless boarding pass program at Dallas/Ft.Worth International Airport (DFW)
Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport
Terminal E Continental ticket counter and checkpoint
1 PM EST
Domestic Nuclear Detection Office Acting Deputy Director Dr. William Hagen and CBP Cargo and Conveyance Security Executive Director Todd Owen will testify about the operations of advanced radiation monitors before the House Committee on Science and Technology, Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight
2318 Rayburn House Office Building
2:30 PM EST
Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alexander Garza will testify about H1N1 vaccine distribution before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
342 Dirksen House Office Building
4 PM EST
Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan will deliver remarks about the Department’s approach to new technologies from a privacy perspective at Kelley Drye’s Second Annual Privacy Law Seminar
3050 K Street NW, Suite 400
Secretary Napolitano delivered a speech this morning at the Center for American Progress, outlining the Obama Administration’s strong support for reform of the nation’s immigration laws, and delivering a clear message on her commitment to the effort required to change the status quo. “We are determined to deal with long lingering problems that cloud our future,” the Secretary remarked. We’ve discussed this issue on the blog before, but as the Secretary said today, these are “critical challenges that have been ignored in Washington for too long.” We’re going to start talking about them more on the blog in the coming months.
Reform isn’t just a legislative benchmark for this administration; for the department, first and foremost, it is about keeping our country secure. By almost any account, millions of people are living – and many working – in this country illegally. They are families and individuals; migrant workers and seamstresses; neighbors and fellow church-goers – individuals that deserve a clear, fair and firm process. This is just one part of what the Secretary referred to today as the “three-legged stool” reform that we need.
“Let me be clear: when I talk about 'immigration reform,' I’m referring to what I call the 'three-legged stool' that includes a commitment to serious and effective enforcement, improved legal flows for families and workers, and a firm but fair way to deal with those who are already here. That’s the way that this problem has to be solved, because we need all three aspects to build a successful system. This approach has at its heart the conviction that we must demand responsibility and accountability from everyone involved in the system: immigrants, employers and government. And that begins with fair, reliable enforcement.”The Secretary noted that while DHS has already made many reforms over the last nine months within the current legal framework, real reform is necessary to address the larger challenges we face on this issue.
"Our system must be strong enough to prevent illegal entry and to get criminal aliens off our streets and out of the country. But it must also be smart enough to reward the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that immigrants have always brought to America—traits that have built our nation."We’ll continue to update you, and encourage you to leave comments and let us know your thoughts. A full transcript of her remarks is posted on our site.
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