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January 26, 2010
1:57 pm
 Alexander WallnöferLast week, I was in Toledo, Spain, and Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with our European counterparts and aviation industry leaders on one of the Department of Homeland Security's major priorities: working with our international partners to strengthen aviation security standards following the attempted terrorist attack against Northwest Flight 253 on December 25th.

The attempted attack underscores that boarding a plane in one airport can give you access to almost any airport in the world. This means that we need a truly global approach to aviation security. While the failed bombing attempt took place on a U.S. bound flight, it involved at least four airports on three continents, and threatened the lives of citizens from 17 countries.

In Toledo, I found broad consensus on this point and a clear sense of urgency to take immediate action to strengthen security measures. Specifically, my European counterparts and I signed a joint declaration affirming our collective commitment to strengthening information sharing and passenger vetting, deploying additional proven security technologies, and bolstering international aviation security standards.

I found a similarly strong consensus in Geneva where I met with the leaders of the airlines that are part of the International Air Transport Association — which represents approximately 230 airlines and more than 90 percent of the world's air traffic. We agreed that government and the private sector must work collaboratively both to develop enhanced international security standards and–most importantly — to effectively implement them.

These meetings were the first in a series to bring about international agreement on stronger aviation security standards and procedures. Over the next few months, the International Civil Aviation Organization is facilitating several regional aviation security meetings where we will build on the progress we made in Toledo and Geneva.

Together, we can and will strengthen an international aviation system that, for half a century, has served as an extraordinary engine for progress and prosperity for the United States and around the world.

Janet Napolitano
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2010
12:45 pm
Today, the President's cabinet reports back to you on the progress of the first year of the administration. Each cabinet secretary recorded a video message to the American people, detailing his or her department's work during the last 372 days, and looking forward to the year ahead.

Check out Secretary Napolitano's video below, and visit the White House website to watch the rest.

The Secretary and indeed the entire Department want to hear your thoughts on securing our country in the months and years to come. We encourage you to tell us what you think in the comment section below.

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Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2010
9:11 am
From USA Today, on evolving threats to our national security:

Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. She was the governor
of Arizona from 2003 to 2009, Arizona's attorney general from 1999 to 2002, and
the U.S. attorney in Arizona from 1993 to 1998.

"One area we are now seeing more of is the whole cyber issue. We saw that with China and Google (which said its computers were hacked in China). We're seeing increasing attempts to use the Internet not only to connect different people as a facilitator of terrorist groups but also as a possible means of attack...

"It can be a denial of service attack, which really shuts down your access not only to the Internet, but in some circumstances, to services that are operated through the Internet, like communications. It can be fraud or misinformation. It can be the theft of valuable defense information or of intellectual property."

Q: Will terrorists still be focused on aviation in 2020?

A: "It's hard to predict that far out. But what we are assuming is that aviation could be (their focus), which is why we're continuing to work on the technology that is used at airports...We also are working across the international air environment because this is an international issue. We need to lift aviation standards around the world."

What are the challenges of doing

"It's a challenge of capacity. In some places, it's a challenge of
political will. In some places, it's a challenge of resources."

Q: By 2020, will we see a body scanner at every airport checkpoint?

A: "I don't know about at every checkpoint. But I think what we'll see is a rapid deployment of body scanners, and rapid improvement of technology. We'll also see improvements in explosive detection (that will increase) our ability to pick up traces on persons and on baggage and on cargo, but particularly on persons."

From the Arizona Republic, on changes to the immigrant detention system:

The head of U.S. immigration enforcement on Monday announced plans for an overhaul of the government's controversial detention system for people who face deportation.

The moves described by John T. Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, address oversight, medical care and tracking of detainees at facilities in Arizona and across the country.

Plans include:

. Hiring 50 federal employees to oversee the largest detention facilities, which now are largely run by contractors without much government oversight, Morton said.
. Assigning regional case managers to keep tabs on detainees with significant medical problems to ensure they are getting proper care. Detainees with major problems will be housed in facilities near hospitals and medical centers, Morton said.
. In June, launching an online immigrant-detainee locator so family members can easily find their relatives when they are in custody awaiting possible deportation.

"You can look up their name and find out where they are and what the visiting hours are at that detention facility," Morton said, during a speech at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

From the Houston Chronicle, on the clean up effort in response to the Port Arthur oil spill:

As cleanup efforts of Texas' worst oil spill in more than a decade took shape Sunday, Coast Guard officials began examining radio transmissions to find out what went wrong in the moments before an 800-foot tanker collided with a barge carrying chemicals off Port Arthur.

Saturday morning's collision ripped a 15-by-8-foot hole in the hull of the Eagle Otome, which was loaded with Mexican crude oil intended for a Beaumont Exxon refinery. The crash dumped 462,000 gallons of oil into the intracoastal waterway in what Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said was the biggest Texas oil spill since 1994.

The slick spanned a stretch of seven or eight miles of waterway, threatening marshlands that serve as nurseries for juvenile shrimp and fish.

An army of 500 people manned the cleanup effort Sunday from helicopters, skimmers, boom vessels and several other Coast Guard boats. By the evening, cleanup crews had skimmed away 1,100 barrels of the 11,000 barrels spilled.

Leadership Events
Secretary Napolitano will brief media and provide updates about her recent trip to Spain and Switzerland to discuss strengthening the security of the international aviation system with her European counterparts and global airline industry leaders
DHS Headquarters, Building 21
Nebraska Avenue Complex
3801 Massachusetts Ave NW

Public Events
ICE Acting Los Angeles Deputy Special Agent in Charge Jorge Guzman will participate in a media availability hosted by the Mexican consul general in Los Angeles and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)
Los Angeles, Calif.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 25, 2010
4:56 pm
The latest from the DHS Science and Technology Directorate.

Government brainiacs rethink the brain scanner so you can fly with all your liquids, gels, sprays, spreads…and so on.

Remember 2005, when you could still board a plane with shampoo in your bag, toothpaste in your purse, a can of soda in your hand? Do those fluid memories hurt right down to your denture cream?

Washington feels your pain. As Snapshots reported in 2008, researchers at the Energy Department’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have been fine-tuning magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. By detecting ultralow magnetic fields, the lab’s creation—the Magnetic Vision Innovative Prototype (or MagViz)—can peer through whatever container you’re carrying, divine what’s in it, and let you pass with your bottled water or—during flu season—your hand sanitizer.

The first MagViz was an overachiever. It was programmed to be extremely sensitive, but like the palace sentinel who mistook the princess for a witch, it came off a bit paranoid. It “saw” danger in certain off-brand shampoos and sport drinks. Since then, with funding and guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), the LANL team has fine-tuned the technology. MagViz’s spidey sense now casts a narrower net.
Last year, to test the new model’s selectivity, Department program evaluators planted a minefield of surprise liquids at Albuquerque International Airport. Their faith proved well-placed: Nothing nasty slipped past LANL’s brainchild; MagViz correctly flagged all liquid-bomb ingredients.

At the same time, MagViz gave the green light to all but one friendly fluid. And it withstood everyday mishaps—an outsize bag; a refrigerator magnet from the airport gift shop; a stuck-open door; a false loading, wherein an edgy passenger snatched back her half-inserted purse. (Yup.) On the operator’s display, threats were circled and lit up like Vegas, to the delight of screeners from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

And yet, MagViz’s precision does come with some challenges. In Albuquerque, the prototype had to be shielded from electromagnetic interference radiating from fluorescent ballasts, Wi-Fi laptops—even smartphones. That shielding came in the form of a hulking exoframe that would be too bulky for a real operational setting. To engineer a shielded MagViz in a compact enclosure, the Department will look to the private sector, where ingenuity spells profit.

Envisioning far-reaching applications for the new invention, R&D Magazine recognized the LANL team with a coveted 2009 R&D 100 Award. Such laurels are welcome validators, says MagViz program manager Stephen Surko of S&T’s Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA). But if MagViz is to earn its place behind thousands of X-ray stations, it must catch dangerous liquids reliably, affordably, and swiftly, while flagging few types of liquors as evil spirits.

To this end, Surko is evaluating a variety of concepts of operation. In most, MagViz would be placed immediately behind the X-ray machine, giving each carry-on a second scan. In smaller airports, where the screening area may be too short for a tandem arrangement, MagViz would sit off to the side. “You’d have to wait in a separate line,” concedes Surko, “but at least you could bring along that large bottle of H20.”

MagViz would be a tremendous improvement, but don’t expect miracles. Unlike a fingerprint, nuclear magnetic resonance signatures can vary. If, for example, a liquid is slightly warmer or cooler than expected, or its pH a bit more acidic or basic, the reading can change. “MagViz can see all these differences easily,” says Surko. “We need to learn how well we can predict them and account for them.”

The challenges—accounting for each such variance and shielding MagViz while keeping it trim—may prove a bridge too far. But if the departments of Homeland Security and Energy and the free market can cross each bridge, then traveling with toiletries, snow globes, and drinks may be a thing of the future, rather than the past.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 21, 2010
9:51 pm

Let’s just say we switched from European Time to Spanish Time, as Interior Minister Rubalcaba himself said.

On Wednesday, Secretary Napolitano spent the day testifying in two major hearings on the Hill—and when these hearings ran a little long, our plane to Spain took off a little behind schedule as well. Departing late is fine under most circumstances—the schedulers build in down time so we have some cushion between meetings and events in case something like this happens.
Not on
this trip.

We’re in Europe for two days to discuss aviation security with our international partners – a critically important issue given the attempted attack on Dec.25 – and the Secretary has a packed schedule of meetings, events, interviews and bilateral discussions.

So, we took off at 6 PM from Washington, D.C., got two or three hours of sleep on the flight as the Secretary spent most of her time preparing for the next day’s meetings, and landed at 6:45 AM local time in Spain. I’d say my mood as we deplaned could have generously been described as “groggy,” as we were whisked from the airport to the site, past some incredible local scenery and buildings – including the
Cathedral of Toledo – and arrived barely on time.

We had only had 10 minutes before we began our first event. Here's hoping no one noticed we went to our first two bilateral meetings in the clothes we slept in!

Fortunately, next we had a brief break as the Europeans met behind closed doors. Freshly scrubbed we reconvened and went full force into the first full day and evening of scheduled events. Spanish coffee was dark and plentiful to get us past jet lag, though.

On this short trip, we had a lot to accomplish in our conversations with ministers from more than 30 countries about ways we can work together to make the world’s skies safer and more secure for passengers worldwide. The main event today was the Toledo ministerial – at the invitation of Interior Minister Alfred Rubalcaba – with all of the Secretary’s European homeland security counterparts.

We had an incredibly productive session. The attempted attack on Dec. 25 threatened people from 17 foreign countries, including more than 100 citizens of European nations, and Secretary Napolitano stressed the incident’s “international dimensions,” pressing the room for support to strengthen global security and screening standards.

I must say, I was amazed at the unanimity among the European ministers on the need for more international consensus as we take immediate steps to address the security shortfalls that allowed a man – armed with an explosive device – to board a plane headed for the United States. We discussed information collection, information sharing, technological cooperation, international standards, and foreign security assistance.

The ministers discussion was so lively we went overtime, so lunch was a quick bite before more bilateral meetings. Interior Ministers, Justice Ministers -- I think there were eight meetings, not including the press conference and a few press interviews.

In the private bilateral meetings, the sentiments were even more candid and it's clear there is a mandate to move forward on some European and some American ideas -- we put them together in the ministerial statement the Spanish hosts released. We and our European partners will talk more about and refine them in the coming days.

Finally came dinner in the beautiful Museo de Santa Cruz, hosted by the region of Castilla-La Mancha. Not everyday one eats dinner looking at 16th century tapestries. I hope to come back another time to do justice to Toledo, including the museum and the cathedral.

This was the first in a series of top-level meetings that the Secretary expects to hold with her counterparts around the world as she works to build toward more concrete international coordination on aviation security.

We’ll send another update tomorrow, when she has more bilateral meetings here before flying on to Switzerland.


Mark Koumans is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of International Affairs
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 21, 2010
9:59 am

Washington would Thursday try to overcome EU doubts about the installation of airport body scanners at talks in Spain, but European officials are seeking privacy safeguards before agreeing to the measure.

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is attending an informal meeting of EU interior ministers in Toledo to try to strike a deal, deemed crucial following last month's failed bomb plot on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

She began her talks with a bilateral meeting with Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

The two are scheduled to give a joint news conference at 12:30 pm (1130 GMT) after Napolitano and the interior ministers from the 27 nation bloc wrap up their talks.

The gathering comes just one day after part of Munich airport was closed for three hours due to a major alert sparked by a man running away from a security check when his laptop tested positive for possible explosives which has fueled concerns over airline safety. Related article: All-clear at Munich airport

Napolitano will try to rally the support of key interior ministers, such as France's Brice Hortefeux, at the gathering whose support for the measure could prove to be decisive, a European official told AFP.

From the New York Times, on yesterday's hearings:

Restrictions put into place last year that limit how people are added to terrorist watch lists unintentionally compromised the nation's ability to prevent attacks, the Obama administration's top counterterrorism officials testified Wednesday.

The assertion came during a marathon of testimony on Capitol Hill as Congress held four separate hearings on the Dec. 25 plot by 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria to blow up an airliner headed to Detroit.

One after another, top officials including Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, and Michael E. Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, agreed that they personally deserved part of the blame for failing to disrupt the plot.

But they also said that complaints about bloated terrorist watch lists - which at times mean that innocent travelers are subject to extra airport scrutiny - had resulted in a change in the final year of the Bush administration that too tightly governed how names were added to these lists.

"Why are you searching grandmothers?" Mr. Blair said of the criticism that led in 2008 to the approval of the new policy, which was only formally put into place last year. "I should not have given in to that pressure, but it was a factor."

The testimony came on the same day that Erroll Southers, a former F.B.I. agent and counterterrorism supervisor for the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department, withdrew his name as the nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees aviation security.

From McClatchy, on Temporary Protected Status for certain Haitians residing in the United States:

Federal immigration officials are expecting up to 200,000 undocumented Haitian immigrants, including nearly 68,000 in South Florida, to apply for a new federal immigration program that would allow the migrants to legally remain and work in the United States for 18 months.

The estimated number of potential applicants for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, is far larger than earlier predictions of about 30,000 Haitians nationwide, according to local immigrant organizations and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials.

The higher figures emerged Wednesday during a briefing with reporters by USCIS
Director Alejandro Mayorkas. He was in Miami to meet with several South Florida immigrant aid organizations involved in assisting undocumented Haitian immigrants applying for TPS.

His visit comes on the heels of the Obama administration's announcement last week to grant TPS to undocumented Haitian immigrants who were in the United States on or before Jan. 12 -- the day the earthquake struck Haiti. Those who arrive after the Jan. 12 deadline will be repatriated to Haiti.

TPS is an immigration benefit reserved for selected undocumented migrants from countries disrupted by natural disasters, armed conflicts or other emergencies.

Leadership Events
Secretary Napolitano will participate in a media availability following her meetings with her European counterparts to discuss ways to bolster international security measures and standards for aviation security
Hotel Beatriz
Carretera Ávila, Km 2,750
Toledo, Spain

January 19, 2010
9:45 am

We encourage you to check out a few of the following posts from The Compass, the Coast Guard's blog. They've been heavily involved in Haiti, and have been posting some first-hand reports from the field.

Guardians Report In: HS1 Larry Berman

Updated – Guardians Report In: FN Rebekah Runner

Field Notes: LCDR Christopher O’Neil

Guardians Report In from Haiti

A few stories this morning on the Haiti relief efforts:

From the Miami Herald, on humanitarian parole for certain Haitian orphans:

In a late development on Monday, the U.S. government announced it was granting humanitarian paroles to hundreds of Haitian orphans who were waiting to be adopted by Americans before the earthquake.

``While we remain focused on family reunification in Haiti, authorizing the use of humanitarian parole for orphans who are eligible for adoption in the United States will allow them to receive the care they need here,'' said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The humanitarian parole policy will be applied on a case-by-case basis to the following children: . Children who have been legally confirmed as orphans eligible for inter-country adoption by the government of Haiti and are being adopted by U.S. citizens.

. Children who have been previously identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for inter-country adoption and have been matched to U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents.

Napolitano left the door open for other needy orphans to be considered for the humanitarian parole.

The Catholic Church in Miami has announced plans to launch a second Operation Pedro Pan, this time to house in South Florida Haitian children at risk. They have already identified three sites; two in Miami-Dade and one in Broward.


From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, on a group of Haitian orphans evacuated to the United States:

A group of 53 Haitian orphans was expected to arrive in Pittsburgh this morning as part of a mission led by Gov. Ed Rendell to rescue the children from an earthquake-battered orphanage run by two Ben Avon sisters.

A military transport plane carrying the Pittsburgh delegation, which included lawmakers, doctors and others, left Port-au-Prince shortly before 11 p.m., said Gary Tuma, a spokesman for Rendell.

The plane was expected to land first at Homestead Air Force Base in Miami, Tuma said. Republic Airways provided the charter jet to Haiti, according to officials at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which helped coordinate the effort.

Plans called for the children to receive medical checkups at Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville after their arrival in Pittsburgh and stay with temporary caregivers licensed by Allegheny County. Volunteers from The American Red Cross and Catholic Charities were setting up cots and supplies such as clothing, blankets and food at the hospital, said spokesman Marc Lukasiak.

"I feel good about this," said Leon Pamphile, executive director of the nonprofit Functional Literacy Ministry of Haiti, a native of Port-au-Prince who lives in Pittsburgh and whose niece was part of the contingent. "Everyone is so happy."


From the Washington Post, on Temporary Protected Status for Haitians living in the United States:

When a friend called a 36-year-old Haitian woman from Takoma Park to tell her Haitians who have been living in the United States illegally will be allowed to stay and work for the next 18 months, the woman dropped the phone.

"I screamed. I got on my knees. And I cried 'Lord, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you,' " the woman, whose middle name is Stephanie, recalled. "Nine years I have been waiting for this."

But for Stephanie, who asked that only her middle name be used because she does not want acquaintances to know she has been an illegal immigrant all this time, the feeling was bittersweet.

The massive earthquake that prompted the Obama administration to extend Haitians "temporary protected status" or TPS, flattened the house in Port-au-Prince where Stephanie grew up, leaving two of her brothers and their children homeless. Two other brothers are still unaccounted for.

"I said, 'Lord, All those people had to lose their lives so that you can deliver me from my hardship?' It's like joy and sorrow at the same time."

So it went in Haitian immigrant enclaves across the country this weekend as word of the TPS decision Friday spread among the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 foreigners expected to qualify.

Many are still trying to sort out the details.

"Will I need a lawyer?" wondered Vertus Louidor, 31, also of Takoma Park, who has mostly relied on close friends to house and feed her since she fled the poverty and unemployment of her rural hometown four years ago.

Dady Philogene, 28, a mother of two young American children who lives in Salisbury, was nervous about identifying herself to authorities--especially since there is no guarantee the status will be renewed after 18 months. "It's hard to put into words the feeling," she said. "You ask yourself what is going to happen afterwards."

But she was still keen to try. "Can I ask you a question, How long will the process take? When can I apply?" she asked a reporter.


Public Events
2 PM Local
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) US-VISIT Director Robert Mocny will deliver remarks about US-VISIT’s current and upcoming initiatives at the First Conference on Technical Cooperation for Border Management
Shangri-La Hotel, Grand Ballroom
New Road
Bangkok, Thailand

January 14, 2010
4:41 pm

Current Situation

UPDATE 1/15/2010 - 5:30 PM EST: The Secretary just announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. This is a historic disaster, and TPS will allow eligible Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months. This designation is part of the Administration's continuing efforts to support Haiti's recovery, and will protect Haitians who would otherwise be endangered by returning home.

From the Secretary's statement:
"At this moment of tragedy in Haiti it is tempting for people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere. But attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation. The international community has rallied to deliver relief to Haiti. Much has already arrived and much more is on the way. The Haitians are resilient and determined and their role in addressing this crisis in their homeland will be essential to Haiti's future.

It is important to note that TPS will apply only to those individuals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after January 12, 2010 will not be eligible for TPS and will be repatriated.

Haitians in the U.S. who are eligible to apply for TPS should go to or call USCIS toll-free at (800) 375-5283.”
Read the full text of the Secretary's statement.

The department continues to stand up assets as the situation in Haiti develops and the extent of the devastation is more fully realized. The Secretary recorded the following message on the disaster and the department's response in the aftermath:

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As we mentioned yesterday, The United States Coast Guard has deployed four cutters - the Forward, Mohawk, Valiant and Tahoma - to Haiti to render assistance. They are joined by two C-130 Hercules fixed wing aircraft conducting over flights and patrols, and two Coast Guard helicopters are forward deployed in the area to provide rescue or other assistance. The Coast Guard and FEMA remain in close contact with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (the U.S. entity tasked with coordinating U.S. efforts), as the situation develops. We'll keep you updated on the operational details as we have them.

How You Can Help

The White House has set up the following site for individuals who wish to donate money, goods, and services to the relief effort, and to get information on the entire federal response to this unspeakable disaster.

You can also visit, the lead federal agency coordinating the relief efforts, for updates.

We've also received an outpouring of goodwill and requests from individuals wishing to offer their personal assistance to the relief effort. We commend anyone who is willing to travel to help the people of Haiti. However, we must remind everyone that we cannot permit any personally identiable information to be posted in the comment section of the blog. This means email addresses, physical addresses, telephone numbers, and social security numbers. Please visit the White House website above to find out how you can help those affected by this disaster.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
Category: Haiti, International
January 14, 2010
8:32 am

From the New York Times, on the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake:

President Obama, facing the first large-scale humanitarian crisis of his presidency, moved quickly to send help to Haiti, pledging Wednesday that the Haitians and their devastated island nation would have the "unwavering support" of the United States.

Within hours of Mr. Obama being informed of the quake in Haiti on Tuesday, United States officials were plotting a response that included ships, transport planes, helicopters and thousands of Marines.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton decided Wednesday night to cancel the rest of her Pacific trip and return to Washington.

Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of the United States Southern Command, said that one of the Navy's large amphibious ships would probably be sent to Haiti, with a Marine expeditionary unit aboard, and that other American military forces were on alert, including a brigade of 3,500 troops. He said the Pentagon was "seriously looking" at sending thousands of Marines to help the disaster effort.

The Navy aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was deployed from Norfolk, Va.; military commanders said it should arrive in two days. In addition, White House officials said the military was looking into sending the Southern Command's hospital ship, the Comfort, in light of reports that most of Haiti's medical facilities were severely damaged if not destroyed. The Coast Guard also sent four cutters.

From the Miami Herald, on the halting of U.S. deportations to Haiti:

In the aftermath of Haiti's catastrophic earthquake, the Obama administration announced Wednesday it was temporarily suspending deportations of undocumented Haitians.

But there was no immediate indication that the federal government would grant Haitian nationals Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, an immigration benefit long sought by Haitian activists and South Florida lawmakers.

TPS is granted to selected immigrants who cannot safely return to their homelands
because of natural disasters, armed conflicts or other emergencies. Those eligible are allowed to remain here and obtain work permits and temporary stays for specific periods -- a status often renewed indefinitely.

``TPS is in the range of considerations we consider in a disaster, but our focus remains on saving lives,'' Matthew Chandler, deputy Homeland Security press secretary, said in an e-mail to El Nuevo Herald after the department announced it was halting deportations.

From USA Today, on how people can donate in the wake of the earthquake:

After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma ravaged cities along the Gulf Coast in 2005, private donations by Americans to help victims totaled $6.47 billion, according to a philanthropy center.

After the 2004 tsunami struck in Asia, private donations approached $2 billion, Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy said.

Although government agencies provide assistance after natural disasters, charity experts say private donations will again be critical to helping Haiti.

"It's immediate cash for immediate needs," said Patrick Rooney, executive director of the philanthropy center. "Then there are other needs for longer-term, more sustained rebuilding of . the whole infrastructure."

Among organizations that need assistance:

. The American Red Cross has pledged an initial $1 million donation. People can contribute online (, or make a $10 donation by sending a text message with the word "Haiti" to 90999.

There are no public events scheduled for today.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 13, 2010
12:02 pm
Current Situation

Just as you are at home, we at the Department are closely monitoring the aftermath of the earthquake that struck the island nation of Haiti last night. The USGS reports an initial magnitude reading of 7.0 on the Richter scale, and while we don't have a full assessment of the damage, initial reports and military over flights suggest the loss of life and destruction of property to be severe.

The President spoke this morning, extending "the deep condolences and unwavering support of the American people" to Haiti, and committing the resources of the Federal government "to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives."

The Secretary released a statement shortly after the President's remarks. Here's an excerpt:

"The entire Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extends its sympathy for the devastation and loss of life in Haiti following last night's earthquake--a disaster that has called the world to action in response. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are leading DHS actions to support the larger assistance effort. Several Coast Guard cutters and aircraft have mobilized and are on the ground to assist the humanitarian effort as needed. FEMA has been in close contact with the State Department and USAID, the lead U.S. federal response agencies, and stands ready to provide assistance as requested."
The United States Coast Guard has deployed the Forward and Mohawk, two 270-foot medium endurance cutters to Haiti to render assistance. They are joined by two C-130 Hercules fixed wing aircraft conducting over flights and patrols, and two Coast Guard helicopters are forward deployed in the area to provide rescue or other assistance. These assets will be supplemented by the cutters Valiant and Tahoma, both standing by in the United States to join the effort as needed. The Coast Guard is in close contact with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (the U.S. entity tasked with coordinating U.S. efforts), as the situation develops.

In addition, many other DHS operational components – including FEMA, Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Citizenship and Immigration Services – are all responding with assets to assist in the relief effort.
Americans seeking information on family members in Haiti should contact the State Department at 888-407-4747.

We'll continue to provide operational updates as we have them.

How you can help

Individuals wishing to offer immediate financial assistance may do so by texting "HAITI" (42484) to "90999," which will donate $10 to the American Red Cross. The amount will be charged to your cell phone bill.

You may also donate online to the Red Cross and the Mercy Corps, both of which are actively engaged in disaster relief efforts.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and much of its population subsists without the modern communication and health care resources that we would rely on during a disaster. The President said today that "this is a time when we are reminded of the common humanity that we all share. With just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and a long history that binds us together, Haitians are neighbors of the Americas and here at home. So we have to be there for them in their hour of need."

The department will continue to work with our federal partners to stand up assets to assist the people of Haiti. We'll keep you updated as the search, rescue, recovery, and relief efforts continue.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
Category: Haiti, International


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