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December 22, 2009
8:50 am
By now you may have seen the announcement that the President has selected Howard Schmidt as the Cybersecurity Coordinator. I said on more than one occasion that it was important to get the right person, and we at DHS will be honored to work with Howard and under the leadership he will bring to the issue of cybersecurity. Howard has been involved in cybersecurity for many years, and I first met him when I was a cyber crime prosecutor with the US Department of Justice and he was a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in the 1990s. He built his own computers even then, and I’ll bet he still does.

Howard has demonstrated the ability to work across government regardless of party, and across industry, for many years. He helped establish the Information Technology – Information Sharing and Analysis Center, served on the President’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board , has held key security positions in several private sector companies, has personally investigated cases and until recently continued to serve as an agent in a reserve capacity for the Army Criminal Investigations Division. It is hard to find someone in the cybersecurity community with whom Howard has not worked.

I and we look forward to continuing to work with Howard and his great team at the White House.

Phil

Phil Reitinger is the Deputy Under Secretary of the National Protection and Programs Directorate and Director of the National Cybersecurity Center
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 21, 2009
8:13 am
An American Airlines jet taxis down a recently cleared runway at Washington Reagan National Airport, two days after a recorded 16.4 inches of snow fell on our nation's capital.


Cross-posted from the TSA Blog while sitting at Washington Reagan National Airport

Can you believe it? It’s that time of year again where turkeys head for the hills and people head for the airports. It’s the busiest travel time of the year and a time when people who rarely fly, or have never flown, take to the skies, so we wanted to provide some clarification and tips for those who might come to the blog looking for some information.

Here’s some guidance related to the most common questions we’ve been hearing lately. Please remember that each time our officers have to search a bag or a person, the line slows down.

The 4-1-1 on 3-1-1 (Liquids, Gels & Aerosols): Let me start by saying this. If you’re checking a bag, make it easy on yourself and just put your liquids in your checked luggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about 3-1-1. I know that suggestion doesn’t work for everybody. Some liquids are essential and some of you understandably would not like to pay to check your luggage. If you’d rather take liquids in your carry-on, please continue reading…

3-1-1 is the name for our liquid policy. You can read here for more details, but here is the gist of 3-1-1… Each passenger is allowed to take one clear quart-sized sealable bag and fill it with as many liquids in 3.4 oz or less sized containers that will fit, while still being able to seal the bag. Basically, don’t stuff it to the point where it won’t close.

Make sure you take the bag out of your carry-on prior to sending it through the X-ray, or our officers may have to search your bag.

If you have liquids, aerosols, or gels that are used for medical purposes, they do not need to adhere to our 3-1-1 policies and do not have to be placed in a bag. You may be asked to go through a TSA Family Lane (see below) so we can expedite the screening process. The liquids, gels and aerosols will need to be removed from your bags.

Answers to common questions: Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz or less, but gel or spray deodorant is. Also, any liquid makeup such as eyeliner should be placed in the baggie. That goes for perfume as well. Powder makeup is fine.

Family Lanes: Frequent flyers hate it when they’re in line behind a family, and guess what… families hate it when the frequent flyer is behind them tapping their foot and sighing. That’s why we created Family Lanes. They’re designed to let families take their time and ask questions without feeling rushed by the experienced frequent flyers who can zip through a checkpoint in no time. Also, as stated earlier, anybody carrying medically necessary liquids, aerosols and gels in excess of 3.4 oz may be directed to a Family Lane.

Foods: Pies are permitted, but they are subject to additional screening if our officers see any anomalies. (Additional screening of pies does not include our officers tasting the pie, no matter what they tell you…) Cakes, bread, donuts, turkeys, etc. are all permitted. If it’s a live turkey, you might want to have a word with the airline. Here is a list of items that should be placed in your checked bags or shipped: cranberry sauce, creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.), gift baskets with food items (salsa, jams and salad dressings), gravy (mmm gravy), jams, jellies, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, sauces, soups, wine, liquor and beer.

Gifts: Wrapped gifts may need to be unwrapped. If there’s something in the gift that needs to be inspected, we have to open it. Our officers try their best not to mangle the gift wrap, but it’s not a guarantee and it also slows down the line for everybody else when we have to do this. It is suggested that you wrap the presents when you arrive at your destination. You also have the option of shipping the items as well.

Snow Globes: We are not in cahoots with the Heat Miser, but snow globes are not permitted in your carry-on luggage. They are sealed containers full of liquid that would have to be opened and destroyed to test. We’re not in the business of busting snow globes, so we suggest you place them in your checked baggage or mail them ahead of time.

ID & Boarding Pass Checking & Secure Flight: As you approach a TSA checkpoint, you will see an officer checking IDs and boarding passes. Please have your acceptable ID and boarding pass out and ready to present to our officer. If your ID is in a plastic sheath or other type of holder, it will need to be removed so our officers can properly inspect your IDs. By having your ID and boarding pass out and ready, you’ll help move the line along faster. The several seconds it takes to get your ID and boarding pass out might not seem like much time, but it really adds up when you’ve got people in line behind you.

Also, folks have had questions about the Secure Flight program and whether the name on your ticket has to match the name on your ID. The Secure Flight watch-list matching process occurs before a passenger even gets to the airport so if you get a boarding pass, the Secure Flight watch-list matching process is done. In other words, you are clear once you get that pass.

If you have lost or forgotten your ID, you will still be permitted to fly as long as you help us verify you are who you say you are by answering a few questions for us.

Inconsistencies: You may notice your screening experience at one airport doesn’t match the experience of another airport. We realize this happens, and some of it is intentional. While it can be a little confusing for our passengers, it also makes things unpredictable for those who might wish to do us harm.

Our officers also can use their discretion in different scenarios that allows them to use common sense and not abide by a checklist mentality that can be studied and defeated by those who wish to do us harm.

Shoes on Belt: We recommend you place your shoes on the X-ray belt as opposed to placing them in a bin. Why? It keeps the bins from getting too cluttered and allows our officers to get a better look at items to ensure prohibited items do not get on the plane. It also speeds things up when they get a better view and don't have to stop the X-ray belt for searches.

-----------------------------------The best piece of advice I could give a traveler is to arrive early if you have the time. No matter what happens, (aside from a flight being cancelled) if you get to the airport early, you should be fine. Worst case scenario is you’ll have some time to kill while you wait on your flight.

For any pilgrims who might be flying, be sure not to bring your muskets through the checkpoint and clothing with large buckles is discouraged as it will most likely alarm the walk through metal detector.

Is this all a bit too much to remember? Print out this handy dandy checklist (PDF) so you don’t forget anything.

For a complete rundown, check out our “What to Know before You Go” blog post. It has everything broken down by category.

Also, we’re going to be Tweeting a TSA Holiday Travel Tip every day, so follow us on Twitter @tsablogteam for travel tips, blog post announcements, and other useful information.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 18, 2009
11:35 am

From KTRK-TV Houston, on the Secure Communities initiative:

The Houston Police Department has teamed up with the Department of Homeland Security for a new program designed to identify and deport criminal illegal immigrants. But as you might imagine, the program is already stirring up some controversy.

The program isn't new, but it's new to Houston. While police say this technology puts the department on the cutting edge, some in Houston's immigrant community are skeptical.

It's called the 'Secure Communities' initiative, a sweeping new plan to target and remove potentially dangerous criminal illegal immigrants from the city's jails and eventually the country.

"Non citizens, if they commit a serious crime against people here, they ought to be deported after they serve their time," said Houston Mayor Bill White. "There are some people who have not been and there are some people who've come back."

Using the latest technology, anyone arrested for a Class C misdemeanor or above, will have their fingerprints taken and electronically compared to local and national databases all over the country, including the FBI's and the Department of Homeland Security's, where immigration history information can be accessed.

From the USA Today, on a seizure of counterfeit goods:

When federal and sheriff's investigators showed up with a search warrant at Bargain Corner Jean Store here, they found about $130,000 worth of fake True Religion, Ed Hardy, Affliction and other high-end jeans, T-shirts and sneakers.

They hauled out 1,500 items in 40 trash bags and 18 boxes from the store, the owner's minivan and employees' cars.

Not everything was counterfeit, investigators said. Mixed in were some pairs of legitimate Levi's and Wrangler jeans. But federal agents acted after being tipped off by one of the affected brands.

Counterfeiting "is a multibillion-dollar industry, a global crime and a serious threat," says Marcy Forman, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in Arlington, Va.

Apparel-related counterfeiting doesn't get the same attention as counterfeit toothpaste, batteries or Christmas lights because no one dies or gets physically hurt from knockoffs of pricey jeans, purses and belts. But arguments that the phony products are made without safety standards - often using child labor and sold by people connected to terrorist activity or organized crime - are starting to gain traction.

Public Events
8AM MST
TSA Public Affairs Manager Dwayne Baird will participate in a media availability to highlight holiday travel tips
Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field
3201 Airport Way
Boise, Idaho

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 17, 2009
1:44 pm
When Secretary Napolitano took the reins at DHS, she outlined five major priorities for the Department: guard against terrorism; secure our borders; enforce immigration laws, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters; and unify and mature DHS.

This final objective was the focus of the Secretary’s town hall meeting with employees this week. A standing-room-only crowd of employees packed the USCIS Tomich Center in Washington, DC, and more employees from across the country tuned in via video teleconference, to hear the Secretary highlight the Department's 2009 accomplishments and share her vision for creating One DHS.


After her remarks, the Secretary fielded questions from both the audience and from employees across the country who submitted questions via e-mail.


Video of Secretary Napolitano’s One DHS Town Hall with Employees – both the speech and the question-and-answer session with DHS workers – is now available below.

Secretary Napolitano made clear at the town hall that DHS’ biggest asset is its people, and she is proud to serve alongside the dedicated men and women who contribute to one of the most important missions around – protecting the American homeland and the American people. As she said, "DHS and our 230,000 employees are connected by a common mission and responsibility to protect the United States from all threats and disasters."

Please take a moment to watch the town hall below.

















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Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 17, 2009
12:39 pm
From the Kansas City Star, on the government’s plan to combat human trafficking:
The Obama administration is weeks away from announcing a new surge - this one aimed at escalating the war on human trafficking in America.

"In January we are going to be announcing a major set of initiatives," Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, told The Kansas City Star.

Napolitano disclosed the administration's plans at the conclusion of The Star's six-month investigation exposing numerous failures in America's anti-trafficking battle.

Although details of the plan were not released, advocates and other experts said they're cautiously optimistic that this is the best chance in years to address many of the problems revealed in the newspaper's five-part series. They're also hopeful that the administration, which has reached out to them and asked what changes are needed, will correct structural flaws in the broken system.

"It is time to go back to the drawing board and promote a more seamless, coordinated plan," said Florrie Burke, a nationally known advocate for trafficking victims.

From the Associated Press, on the H1N1 vaccine:
After weeks of shortages, swine flu vaccine is plentiful enough that nearly half the states now say everyone can get it, not just people in high-risk groups.

But the good news comes with a challenge for health officials: how to keep persuading people to get vaccinated when swine flu infections are waning.

"We're worried that people might be thinking out of sight, out of mind," said Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health authorities say that getting vaccinated could be a lifesaver if a new wave of illnesses materializes this winter.

The swine flu vaccine supply started with just a trickle from manufacturers in early October, leading doctors to reserve it for pregnant women, people with asthma, children and young adults, and others at high risk of becomingly severely ill.

But now 95 million doses are available, and 10 million more are coming out every week. Health officials in 24 states have lifted their recommended restrictions, as have communities in other states, said Paula Steib, spokeswoman for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

From the Associated Press, on a drug seizure in Arizona:
U.S. Border Patrol agents say they have arrested eight suspected drug smugglers near Sentinel and seized 260 pounds of marijuana loaded into backpacks.

An agent detected a group of backpackers crossing the desert early Tuesday about five miles south of Interstate 8.

As authorities closed in, the group dropped their backpacks and ran. But agents apprehended all eight suspected smugglers and a search of the area turned up six makeshift burlap-style backpacks containing eight bundles of marijuana.

Border Patrol officials say the marijuana has an estimated street value of $208,000. The suspected smugglers and marijuana was transported to the Wellton Border Patrol Station for processing.

Public Event
2:30 PM EST
U.S. Fire Administrator Kelvin Cochran will testify about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance
253 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 16, 2009
10:44 am
From Homeland Security Today, on the Secretary’s employee town hall yesterday:
Integrating DHS virtually, physically remains a big priority Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Tuesday emphasized progress the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made to integrate its disparate components in a year-end speech of the department's accomplishments in 2009.

"Sometimes I don't even see DHS as an organization of components, I see it as an organization of missions and responsibilities. That is the genesis of my vision for One DHS," Napolitano said in a speech at the headquarters of US Citizenship and Immigration.

Acknowledging that the work to standardize processes and tie together infrastructure at DHS began under former Secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff and would continue long after her tenure, Napolitano stressed the progress represented by a consolidated DHS headquarters that broke ground this year and a department-wide intranet coming online next year.

The DHS headquarters, to be located on the campus of Saint Elizabeth's hospital in southwest Washington, DC, will help unify the DHS components into one department simply by collocating them in the same physical space, Napolitano asserted. The consolidated DHS campus also will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars as the department's components pull their resources into shared maintenance and operations costs at one location.

The DHS intranet, slated to become operational in early 2010, will help sharing and collaboration virtually across the entire department, she added.

From Government Technology, on EINSTEIN 1 on Michigan’s government network:
In a move that could change security monitoring for states nationwide, Michigan announced it will deploy the federal government's network monitoring system EINSTEIN 1. The system, which all federal agencies are required to use, is run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The federal-state partnership is the first of its kind, which Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm hopes will increase the types of cyber-threats Michigan can detect. The project could have implications for similar ones in others states in the future.

"It will enable greater federal and state coordination to promote mutual cyber-security interests and, if successful, will inform the efforts of state governments to enhance their own cyber-security efforts," Granholm said in a statement.

Michigan's collaboration with the DHS will include services from the agency's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), which will identify possible abnormal activities on Michigan's networks and address threats to the cyber-infrastructure.

EINSTEIN 1 automates the collection and analysis of computer network security information from participating agency and government networks to help analysts identify and combat malicious cyber-activity that may threaten government network systems, data protection and communications infrastructure.

In 2008, the DHS updated the system, adding automation and a real-time reporting function. At the same time, the George W. Bush administration mandated that all federal agencies use it. Time will show whether those improvements translate to best practices for state network monitoring.


From the Los Angeles Times, because, come on – puppies!:
Federal authorities in San Diego County rescued 15 sick puppies that were being smuggled across the U.S. border from Mexico to be sold here as Christmas presents, officials said today.

The 2-month-old puppies, described as mixed-breed miniature poodles, were discovered Monday evening by Customs and Border Protection officers at the Tecate Port of Entry, according to San Diego County officials.

A majority of the animals were suffering from parvo, a virus that is often deadly. The puppies would be receiving intensive care from San Diego County Department of Animal Services or a local adoption center, officials said.

Officials identified the alleged smuggler as Raul Jimenez Gonzalez. He told authorities that he had a bottle of tequila as he attempted to cross the border, but federal officers saw something move in the back seat of his vehicle, according to county officials.

The puppies were discovered under a blanket in the back seat.


Leadership Events
12 PM EST
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks at the “Women in Power” luncheon
Ritz Carlton Hotel, Salon I & II
1150 22nd Street NW
Washington, D.C.

Public Events
2 PM EST
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Acting Administrator Gale Rossides will testify about TSA’s response to the improper Web posting of an outdated, unclassified version of a Standard Operating Procedures document before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Management, Investigations and Oversight.
311 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 11, 2009
3:15 pm
From the Arizona Republic, Secretary Napolitano says Immigration Reform is still a priority:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday that overhauling the nation's immigration laws is still a top priority for President Barack Obama and that Congress is poised to act despite some lawmakers' concerns that a push could complicate Democratic re-election prospects.

Napolitano, Obama's point person on the topic, said key Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, are onboard with moving ahead early next year. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Senate's immigration subcommittee, is working on the bill.

"We're ready to go, and the president wants to get it done,"
Napolitano said in a meeting with The Arizona Republic's Editorial
Board.

That might prove tricky in an election year, with some Democrats
already on the defensive and fatigued by a protracted and bruising battle over
health-care reform.

Historically, presidents see their party lose congressional seats in midterm elections, and lawmakers generally prefer to avoid having to vote on controversial or divisive issues such as immigration as they run for re-election.

For some Democrats, particularly those running in the South and Southwest, passing nothing might be preferable to having to vote for a controversial measure, said Kareem Crayton, an associate professor of law and political science at the University of Southern California.


From Homeland Security Today, on the DHS National Info-sharing Initiative
On Wednesday Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the launch of a new information-sharing initiative designed to help federal, state, local and tribal first responders communicate better during
emergencies.

The new program, called Virtual USA, according to Napolitano, will enable first responders nationwide to link disparate tools and technologies in order to share the location and status of critical assets and information. These may include power and water lines, flood detectors, helicopter-capable landing sites, emergency vehicle and ambulance locations, weather and traffic conditions, evacuation routes, and school and government building floor plans.

"Our first responders need interoperable tools to make accurate and timely decisions during emergencies," said Secretary Napolitano. "Virtual USA makes it possible for new and existing technologies to work together seamlessly during disaster response and recovery and gives the public an opportunity to contribute information in real-time to support the efforts of police officers, firefighters and other emergency management officials."

As outlined in a release by DHS Virtual USA will integrates existing communications frameworks, utilizing current information-sharing platforms to permit new and existing technologies to seamlessly exchange information with one another. The initiative will attempt to foster dynamic information sharing among all federal, state, local and tribal practitioners.


From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, on homeland security grants
Dallas-Fort Worth was named one of the top 10 terrorism targets in the country by the federal government this week, a designation that paves the way for millions in extra homeland security funding to the region.

"This is not, I stress, bad news for Fort Worth or the North Texas region," Mayor Mike Moncrief said Thursday. "This is good news. It's something that needed to happen before it did."

Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston and Philadelphia were all added to the ranking of Tier 1 high-threat urban areas by the Homeland Security Department in its annual review. All cities not in the top 10 are lumped into Tier 2.

The bulk of the federal funding to fight terrorism comes from Homeland Security's
Urban Areas Security Initiative Program. Moving to Tier 1 instantly creates the possibility of 30 percent more funding for the three urban areas.

The Metroplex is now eligible for $25 million in fiscal 2010. The $5.8 million increase is bigger than that of any other urban area except New York City, according to federal documents.

"They moved us into Tier 1 so that we can increase our surveillance, especially for domestic terrorism," said Melissa Patterson, Tarrant County emergency management coordinator.

The money will fund a wide range of public services, including intelligence-gathering units focused on domestic terrorism and first responders trained to help during a variety of disasters, Patterson said. Some of the funding will also likely go toward preparing for future public health efforts such as mass vaccinations.


From Brownsville Herald, on a drug seizure a the southwest border
U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than 100 pounds of marijuana and arrested one Brownsville woman, officials said.

Elizabeth Noemi Almazan, 22, was arrested Monday afternoon at Veteran's International Bridge and later charged with possession of a controlled substance-marijuana, court records show.

The arrest took place when Almazan drove a 1995 white Dodge Dakota truck to an inspection booth at the bridge and was referred to a secondary inspection area, said an agency release.

At the secondary inspection area, CBP officers used various imaging devices and a narcotics detecting canine to confirm the presence of narcotics in the tires and tailgate of the truck, CBP said.

The officers removed 33 packages of marijuana from the tailgate and tires weighing approximately 107 pounds and with a street value of $107,000, the agency reported.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 9, 2009
9:47 am
From Homeland Security Today, on yesterday's grants announcement:

DHS to distribute $2.7 billion for 13 grant programs Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano presented application instructions for more than $2.7 billion in funds for 13 specific fiscal 2010 grant programs at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), outlining the guidance in remarks at DHS headquarters Tuesday.
"These grants play a major role in our efforts to work with our state, local, tribal and territorial and private sector partners to build a national culture of readiness and resilience," Napolitano said. "This year's guidance focuses on maximizing efficiency and value while prioritizing risk in awarding grants to strengthen our nation's security."
The fiscal 2010 guidance kits incorporate feedback from states, cities, tribes, territories, and private companies, Napolitano added, all of which are eligible to compete for grant allocations under certain programs.
DHS released the guidance kits online at www.fema.gov/grants, enabling all organizations to begin applying immediately.
The 13 specific grant programs emphasize emergency preparedness across a range of specific areas of concentration.
The Homeland Security Grant Program offers a total of $1.78 billion for states and urban areas to build security capabilities. It encompasses five programs: State Homeland Security Program ($842 million) for emergency management in US states; Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) ($832.5 million) for emergency management in large US metropolitan areas; Operation Stonegarden ($60 million) for law enforcement activities in border states; Metropolitan Medical Response System Program ($39.3 million) for regional mass casualty incident response among 124 metropolitan areas; and Citizen Corps Program ($12.4 million) for community preparedness, planning, mitigation, response and recovery activities.


From WHYY, on protecting our critical infrastructure:

The Department of Homeland Security says it will beef up security on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. The additional funding is part of the the department's Critical Infrastructure Protection Program that includes national icons.
Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano says national icons like the Liberty Bell should be fully protected.
Napolitano says they don't rank the importance of National Monuments, but are putting additional resources to securing them because they are a prime target for terrorism.
Napolitano: Many times terrorists try to target things that will send a message. For example the 9/11 terrorists targeted the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and when you have things like for example the Liberty Bell that sends a message and that makes it something that could be a potential target.
Secretary Napolitano says they are spending money on surveillance for the monuments and also working with police to make sure their intelligence gathering capability is working well in order to prevent a terrorist attack before it happens.


December 4, 2009
4:59 pm
Secretary Napolitano departs Ellis Island this morning following a naturalization ceremony for 110 new American citizens. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Today concluded a productive trip to New York City for the Secretary. She focused most of her trip on the issue of protecting our critical infrastructure, and emphasized a shared responsibility with the private sector in protecting our national assets in meetings with leaders from the real estate, professional sports, media, and financial industries.

The Secretary also delivered remarks at the America-Israel Friendship League’s ‘Partners for Democracy Award Dinner,’ toured a U.S. Secret Service-led Electronic Crimes Task Force facility, visited regional Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and USCIS offices, and received a security briefing at the New York Stock Exchange.

Oh, and she did The Colbert Report.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 4, 2009
3:29 pm

Secretary Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas were at Ellis Island in New York City today to lead a naturalization ceremony, granting 110 people United States citizenship.

The ceremony took place in the Great Room, also known as the Registry Hall, where over 12 million immigrants who passed through Ellis Island were registered upon arrival. Constructed with a tiled floor and ceiling, it’s said that the clamor of footsteps and disquiet of different languages on a busy day must have been overwhelming.

The Secretary had the honor of administering the Oath of Allegiance, and remarked,

“Ellis Island reminds us of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that so many immigrants have brought to America,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I am honored to welcome these men and women as citizens of our nation and I applaud their commitment to the responsibilities and ideals shared by all Americans.”
Director Mayorkas added, “It is fitting that these individuals received today the cherished gift of citizenship on this historic island, a national symbol of hope and opportunity.”

The new citizens hail from 48 different countries, including China, Ghana, Kosovo, Colombia, Jamaica and Lebanon. Flor Dominguez came to the United States from the Dominican Republic. She’s 95 years old, has lived in the United States for 16 years, and when asked by a reporter why she wanted to become a U.S. citizen, said,

“Porque me gusta este pais, lo agradezco. Y quiero tener el voto.”
“Because I like this country. I appreciate it. And I want to vote.”


Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.

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