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  4. Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas' Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security

Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas' Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security on “Worldwide Threats to the Homeland”

Release Date: November 15, 2022

Thank you for inviting me to join you today.

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the Homeland Security Act, signed into law. This Act brought together many components of the federal government to safeguard the United States against foreign terrorism in the wake of the devastation wrought on September 11, 2001. It remains the largest reorganization of the federal government's national security establishment since 1947. It is a testament to the grave threat we faced as a nation from terrorism brought to our shores by foreign actors in foreign terrorist organizations.

Congress created a Department that has significantly reduced the risk foreign terrorism poses to the homeland by increasing our capacity to prepare for and respond to those events. Foreign Terrorist Organizations remain committed to attacking the United States from within and beyond our borders. They use social media platforms to amplify messaging, intended to inspire attacks in the homeland. They have adapted to changing security environments, seeking new and innovative ways to target the United States. The evolving terrorism threat to the homeland now includes lone actors, fueled by a wide range of violent extremist ideologies and grievances, including domestic violent extremists, US based individuals who seek to further political or social goals only or in part through violence, without direction or inspiration from a foreign terrorist group or foreign power, from cyber-attacks on our critical infrastructure to increasing destabilizing efforts by hostile nation states. The threats facing the homeland have never been greater, or more complex.

Flouting internationally accepted norms of responsible behavior in cyberspace, our adversaries, hostile nations, and non-nation state cyber criminals continue to advance in capability and sophistication. Their methods vary, but their goals of doing harm are the same. Hostile nations like Russia, the People's Republic of China, Iran and North Korea and cyber criminals around the world continue to sharpen their tactics and create more adverse consequences. Their ransomware attacks target our financial institutions, hospitals, pipelines, electric grids, and water treatment plants attempting to wreak havoc on our daily lives. They exploit the integrated global cyber ecosystem to sow discord, undermine democracy and erode trust in our institutions, public and private. These cyber operations threaten the economic and national security of every American and many others around the world.

In particular, China is using its technology to tilt the global playing field to its benefit. They leverage sophisticated cyber capabilities to gain access to the intellectual property, data and infrastructure of American individuals and businesses. Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine intensified the risk of a cyber-attack impacting our critical infrastructure earlier this year. Nation state aggression is creating a heightened risk of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear related threats to Americans as well.

While fast emerging technologies like unmanned aerial systems, artificial intelligence, internet communications and cryptocurrencies are helping societies be more productive, creative, and entrepreneurial, they also are introducing new risks. Transnational criminal organizations are deploying these technologies to commit a wide array of crimes as they continue to grow in size, scale, sophistication, and lethality. With respect to unmanned aerial systems in particular, it is vital that Congress act before the end of this year to extend our sea UAS authorities in order to protect the American people from malicious drone activity.

The risk of targeted violence perpetrated by actors abroad and at home is substantial. Emerging technology platforms allow individuals and nation states to fan the flames of hate and personal grievances to large audiences and are encouraging people to commit violent acts. Those driven to violence are targeting critical infrastructure, soft targets, faith-based institutions, institutions of higher education, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement and the military and perceived ideological opponents.

Addressing these threats requires a whole of society approach across federal, state, and local governments, the private sector, nonprofits, academia, and, most importantly, every citizen. Congress may not have predicted the extent of today's threat environment when our department was created 20 years ago, but our mission has never been more vital, our components have never collaborated more closely, our extraordinary workforce has never been more capable, and our nation has never been more prepared. We must harness the same deliberative and bipartisan spirit in which this department was created to combat the vast threats Americans face today. I look forward to answering your questions.



Last Updated: 11/30/2022
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