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Written testimony of FEMA for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency hearing titled “Employee Misconduct: How Can FEMA Improve the Integrity of its Workforce?”

22 hours 52 min ago
Release Date: July 27, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Good Morning, Chairman Perry, Ranking Member Correa, and members of the Committee. I am David Grant, Acting Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Thank you for this opportunity to meet with you today to discuss ways in which FEMA is improving its disciplinary and misconduct policies and procedures.

From June 2016 through July 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a performance audit of FEMA’s process for handling allegations of employee misconduct. GAO reviewed FEMA’s misconduct policies and procedures, data on misconduct cases, and the extent to which FEMA shares misconduct data with the DHS Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG).

The GAO report recognized how FEMA already has effective and efficient misconduct policies and procedures applicable to employees hired under Title 5 of the U.S. Code (covering traditional federal civilian employees) and employees hired through the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act). FEMA records data regarding misconduct cases and outcomes to ensure timely adjudication of misconduct cases, verify misconduct cases are treated in a similar and equitable manner, and for auditing purposes. Finally, there is already a process for FEMA to share misconduct data with DHS OIG.

GAO has not finalized the report; however, the contains the following recommendations to enhance efficiency: misconduct policies regarding Surge Capacity Force (SCF) personnel should be documented; additional guidance on the disciplinary and appeal process for Reservists should be provided; the range of penalties associated with specific acts of misconduct should be communicated; the quality and consistency of misconduct data should be improved; and FEMA should study misconduct data to identify any patterns or trends for further action.

In my testimony today, I will discuss how FEMA is working to improve its misconduct process. FEMA is taking active steps to formalize the misconduct process for SCF employees, provide additional guidance on how Reservist misconduct is reviewed and addressed, and improve the quality of data associated with misconduct cases.

FEMA’s Disaster Workforce

In assessing FEMA’s process for handling misconduct, it is helpful and important to recognize and understand the unique features of FEMA’s workforce. Most federal, civilian employees are hired under authorities set forth in Title 5 of the United States Code, which are standard for most of the federal government. As a consequence and feature of the special needs and circumstances of FEMA’s emergency management mission, however, FEMA utilizes authorities and arrangements beyond those in Title 5. To effectively and efficiently respond to disasters, FEMA augments its permanent Title 5 workforce by appointing temporary employees through the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act). FEMA has also partnered with the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) to create FEMA Corps, a dedicated volunteer unit of AmeriCorps that supports FEMA’s mission. In addition, in response to particularly catastrophic events, FEMA may activate the Surge Capacity Force, comprising specially designated, non-FEMA, Department of Homeland Security personnel, to reinforce FEMA personnel in support of Stafford Act functions when necessary.

The Stafford Act grants FEMA the authority “to appoint and fix the compensation of such temporary personnel as may be necessary, without regard to the provisions of Title 5, United States Code, and governing appointments in the competitive service.” FEMA uses this Stafford Act appointing authority to hire Reservists, who are intermittent employees serving under two year appointments. Reservists are activated and deployed in support of disasters as response and recovery needs require. When not activated or deployed, Reservists remain in a non-duty/non-pay status allowing FEMA to field sufficient disaster personnel in a cost effective manner.

In 2012, FEMA partnered with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to strengthen the nation’s disaster response capacity by establishing a FEMA-devoted unit of 1,600 service corps members, within the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, to aid in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery activities. Upon completion of an initial orientation by NCCC and FEMA, FEMA Corps members are deployed to help individuals, families, and communities recover following the initial impact of a disaster. Projects include working directly with disaster survivors, providing support to disaster recovery centers, and sharing valuable disaster readiness and mitigation information with the public.

The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA) requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a Surge Capacity Force of Department of Homeland Security employees, who are not FEMA employees, and employees of other federal agencies that could deploy in response to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters. DHS headquarters and its components, as well as other partnering federal agencies, designate employees to serve on the SCF and ensure such employees are ready to deploy within 48 hours of a warning, alert, or no-notice activation.

In very rare circumstances, a disaster of extraordinary size may require the DHS Secretary to activate the SCF. During a declared disaster, the DHS Secretary will determine if SCF support is necessary. If the SCF is required, the Secretary will then authorize FEMA to task and deploy SCF personnel from DHS components and other federal agencies to support disaster operations. The SCF was successfully activated by former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, at the request of former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in response to Hurricane Sandy. Approximately 1,150 SCF personnel were activated to assist FEMA’s disaster response efforts, providing critical support to Individual Assistance, Disaster Survivor Assistance, and Logistics mission areas.

Disciplinary Process for Disaster Personnel

The vast majority of FEMA’s disaster personnel effectively and honorably serve the nation providing critical assistance to communities, first responders, and disaster survivors to respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies. In rare instances when a FEMA employee, or an individual representing FEMA, is accused of misconduct, FEMA takes immediate action to address the allegations.

Using the authority granted by the Stafford Act, FEMA created unique policies and procedures for taking disciplinary actions against Reservists to meet FEMA’s mission requirements. The Stafford Act affords FEMA the latitude to devise a disciplinary process outside of the requirements of Title 5. The process in place allows for disciplinary cases to be quickly initiated, reviewed, and finalized. FEMA employs an internal appeals process for Reservist disciplinary cases to confirm appropriate action is taken in response to acts of misconduct. The process ensures Reservists are subject to a fair and equitable disciplinary process, while minimizing the impact of the disciplinary process on disaster operations.

While FEMA does not have written policies and procedures specifically for guiding misconduct investigations involving SCF personnel, if such cases arise, the Office of Chief Counsel, the Office of the Chief Component Human Capital Officer, and the Office of the Chief Security Officer are empowered to take necessary actions to address misconduct and would follow FEMA’s existing policies and procedures for conducting misconduct investigations that apply to FEMA personnel. With regard to taking disciplinary action against SCF personnel as a result of misconduct investigations, it is important to note that SCF personnel are not FEMA employees. FEMA does not have the authority to take disciplinary actions regarding these individuals because SCF personnel remain officially employed by their sponsoring organization (e.g., DHS headquarters, component, other federal agency) while engaging in activities on FEMA’s behalf. The sponsoring organization would be responsible for effecting any appropriate disciplinary action against its SCF personnel.

Development of FEMA’s Misconduct Policy

Over the past several years, FEMA made significant strides in documenting and improving the disciplinary and misconduct policies and procedures.

Prior to 2012, FEMA did not have written or established policies or procedures on how to conduct employee misconduct investigations. Although FEMA had a process for imposing disciplinary action, FEMA did not have a uniform process for investigating the facts surrounding a misconduct allegation to determine whether disciplinary action was warranted. Rather, the Office of the Chief Component Human Capital Officer (OCCHCO) Labor and Employee Relations Branch conducted ad hoc investigations to clarify the factual circumstances associated with a misconduct allegation. On some occasions, the Office of the Chief Security Officer (OCSO) would assist OCCHCO to gather necessary witness statements. Alternatively, an attorney with the Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) General Law Division would investigate a misconduct allegation in the process of reviewing a disciplinary action.

In 2012, OCC, OCCHCO, and OCSO collaborated in creating FEMA Directive 123-19, Administrative Investigations Policy (Administrative Investigations Directive), and an accompanying manual, FEMA Manual 123-19-1, Administrative Investigations (Administrative Investigations Manual), establishing a process for the three offices to receive complaints of employee misconduct, send complaints to the DHS Office of Inspector General as required by DHS policy, and direct misconduct investigations within FEMA. The Administrative Investigations Directive and Manual require the three offices to meet weekly and review all known complaints to ensure complaints are properly investigated. The Administrative Investigations Directive and Manual also institute a formalized process for appointing investigators and finalizing investigative reports, which are reviewed by the OCCHCO Labor and Employee Relations Branch for potential disciplinary action.

In practice, if there are misconduct allegations against SCF personnel, the misconduct investigation process would follow the current investigations process for FEMA employees. FEMA would notify the parent organization of the allegation. Simultaneously, depending on the nature and credibility of the allegation, the SCF personnel may be demobilized and returned to their employing agency. Any additional information gathered through the investigations process would be provided to the employing agency for that agency’s consideration in its determination of what action to take.

Currently, the Administrative Investigations Directive and Manual are undergoing a periodic review and update as mandated by FEMA policy. The updated version of the directive and manual will streamline some of the processes and are expected to be finalized and signed in 2017.

GAO Recommendations

Although FEMA has an effective misconduct process in place for Title 5 and Stafford Act employees, GAO has recommended that FEMA take additional steps to clarify the process and improve data associated with misconduct cases. The GAO report makes several recommendations to improve managing misconduct. FEMA agrees with those recommendations, and has already initiated several lines of effort that will address GAO’s concerns when fully implemented.

Recommendation 1: Document policies and procedures to address potential Surge Capacity Force misconduct.

Proper documentation of the misconduct process for SCF personnel helps to ensure a consistent and reliable investigation process. Although FEMA would apply its existing administrative investigation procedures to allegations against SCF personnel, the FEMA policies governing those procedures do not specifically state that they apply to investigations of SCF personnel. Ensuring that application of the existing administrative investigation procedures to SCF personnel is spelled out clearly, in writing, will help eliminate any potential confusion. DHS charged FEMA with developing a human capital plan for the SCF to address this issue and other human capital related aspects of deploying the SCF.

Recommendation 2: Document Reservist misconduct policies and procedures, to include disciplinary actions and appeals currently in practice at FEMA.

FEMA is committed to providing employees subject to allegations of misconduct a fair and equitable process for addressing such allegations. FEMA already applies a consistent process for reviewing misconduct allegations involving Reservists and taking appropriate disciplinary actions, but FEMA can do more to make employees aware of the process. To address employee perceptions, FEMA will issue additional guidance regarding the disciplinary process for Reservists.

Recommendation 3: Communicate the range of penalties for specific misconduct offenses to all employees and supervisors.

FEMA is committed to communicating with employees and providing guidance on the disciplinary process, while ensuring FEMA complies with applicable privacy laws and regulations. Such information will increase the perception among supervisors and employees that the disciplinary process results in fair and equitable decisions. FEMA’s Office of the Chief Component Human Capital Officer drafted a Table of Penalties, which is undergoing agency review. FEMA anticipates the new Table of Penalties will be approved and finalized in the near future.

Recommendation 4: Improve the quality and usefulness of the misconduct data it collects by implementing quality control measures, such as adding additional drop-down fields with standardized entries, adding unique case identifier fields, developing documented guidance for data entry, or considering the adoption of database software.

The Office of the Chief Component Human Capital Officer, the Office of Chief Counsel, and the Office of the Chief Security Officer are working together to provide consistent and accurate misconduct data. FEMA is working on securing funding to purchase a case management system that supports FEMA’s misconduct process. Until sufficient funding can be secured, FEMA is modifying its existing tracking tools to include drop-down fields in order to provide standardized data entries and include a column to cross reference any case referred to DHS OIG, received from the DHS OIG, or investigated by OCSO.

Recommendation 5: Once the quality of data is improved, conduct routine reporting on employee misconduct trends.

Stakeholders managing the disciplinary and misconduct processes are constantly seeking ways to improve the investigation process, identify misconduct trends for strategic remediation, and ensure consistent and fair results. FEMA already provides trend analysis to program areas upon request; however, FEMA is currently seeking to acquire a system that enables additional analytic capabilities. Analyzing misconduct data will allow FEMA to identify and address emerging trends of misconduct through targeted training to promote integrity within the workforce.

Recommendation 6: Develop reconciliation procedures to consistently track referred cases

FEMA is working with the DHS OIG to establish processes and procedures that will improve reconciliation of case data. FEMA is also working on the feasibility of using the same cases management system used by the DHS OIG. This would allow for a seamless flow of case information between the two agencies. A case management system will help in this endeavor. Until then, more care will be taken to reconcile cases manually.

Conclusion

FEMA is committed to providing effective support to our citizens and first responders during disasters and emergencies. That commitment includes a commitment to investigate allegations of misconduct and appropriately hold individuals accountable. FEMA currently has an effective misconduct and disciplinary process and routinely looks for ways to improve that process. FEMA appreciates GAO’s assistance and recommendations in this regard and will take appropriate action to address the concerns they identify in their final report. Again, thank you for allowing me to testify, and I am happy to answer any questions the Committee may have.

Keywords:  Workforce, employee misconduct, GAO recommendations

Written testimony of CBP for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing titled “Deter, Detect and Interdict: Technology’s Role in Securing the Border”

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: July 25, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairwoman McSally, Ranking Member Vela, and distinguished Members of the Committee. It is a pleasure to appear before you today on behalf of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to discuss how border security technology enables us to achieve our strategic and operational border security objectives, specifically in combating the flow of illegal aliens and dangerous contraband into the United States.

Along the more than 5,000 miles of border with Canada, 1,900 miles of border with Mexico, approximately 95,000 miles of shoreline, and at 328 ports of entry (POE) and more than 40 countries across the globe, CBP’s U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), Air and Marine Operations (AMO), and Office of Field Operations (OFO) secure our borders and associated airspace and maritime approaches to prevent illegal entry of people and materials, including dangerous drugs, into the United States. The border environment in which CBP works is dynamic and requires continual adaptation to respond to emerging threats and changing conditions. We appreciate the partnership and support we have received from this Committee, whose commitment to the security of the American people has enabled the continued deployment of advanced technology assets needed to secure the border.

As President Trump has stated, “Homeland Security is in the business of saving lives, and that mandate will guide our actions.” Through a series of Executive Orders (EOs), the President has taken steps to enhance border security, promote public safety, minimize the threat of terrorist attacks by foreign nationals, and protect American workers from unfair foreign competition. The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget proposes significant investments to support all of those goals while implementing the EOs.

In January, the President signed the Executive Order entitled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (EO 13767). Included in the Budget is a total of $2.6 billion in enhancements in high-priority border security technology, tactical infrastructure, assets, and equipment, including $975 million for border security technology, assets, and equipment.

Our testimony today discusses some of the advanced technology used by CBP frontline agents and officers to deter, detect, and interdict illegal cross-border activity, at and between POEs. Technology enhances CBP’s operational capabilities by increasing our ability to detect and apprehend individuals illegally crossing the border, to detect dangerous goods and materials concealed in cargo and vehicles, and to detect and interdict illegal activity in the air and maritime domains. Advanced detection and surveillance technology is a critical element of CBP’s multi-layered border security strategy to deploy the right mix of personnel, technology, and tactical infrastructure to enable us to meet the everyday challenges of a dynamic border threat environment. For CBP, the use of technology in the border environment is an invaluable force multiplier that increases situational awareness and allows us to detect illegal activity -- including unauthorized border-crossers -- and interdict dangerous drugs – and those who attempt to smuggle them – faster and safer.

Technology at the Ports of Entry

Smugglers use a wide variety of tactics and techniques for concealing drugs and other contraband through POEs. CBP officers regularly find drugs concealed in body cavities, taped to bodies (body carriers), hidden inside vehicle seat cushions, gas tanks, dash boards, tires, packaged food, household and hygiene products, checked luggage, and concealed in construction materials on commercial trucks. CBP incorporates advanced detection equipment and technology, including the use of Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) equipment and radiation detection technologies to maintain robust cargo, commercial conveyance, and vehicle inspection regimes at our POEs.

NII technology is a critical element in CBP’s ability to detect contraband as well as materials that could pose nuclear and radiological threats. These systems enable CBP officers to examine cargo conveyances such as shipping containers, commercial trucks, and rail cars, as well as privately owned vehicles, for the presence of contraband without physically opening or unloading them. This allows CBP to work smarter and faster in detecting contraband, while expediting legitimate trade and travel. NII technologies deployed to our Nation’s land, sea, and air POEs include large-scale X-ray and gamma-ray imaging systems, as well as a variety of portable and handheld technologies.

As of July 1, 2017, 301 Large-Scale (LS) NII systems are deployed to, and in between, our POEs. In FY 2016, LS-NII systems were used to conduct more than 6.45 million examinations resulting in more than 2,600 seizures and over 359,000 pounds of seized narcotics. NII systems are particularly valuable in detecting concealed contraband in vehicles and cargo containers. With the help of NII, on July 22, 2017, CBP officers assigned to the San Ysidro POE seized 4.54 kilograms (10 pounds) of fentanyl, 11.31 kilograms (24.96 pounds) of methamphetamine, and 1.10 kilograms (2.43 pounds) of mannitol hidden in the quarter panels of a 2012 Toyota Corolla driven by a 26-year old female U.S. citizen accompanied by a 27-year old female U.S. citizen passenger. The Budget proposes $109.2 million to build upon prior year investments and will be used to recapitalize the current small-scale (SS) and LS NII technology fleet. This funding will allow CBP to remain on track to ensure the NII fleet is operating within its service life by FY 2024, and will help CBP continue to use NII to safely, quickly, and effectively detect a wide range of contraband imported using a variety of conveyances, thereby facilitating lawful trade and travel.

Personal vehicles are not the only means by which smugglers attempt to transport illegal drugs and other contraband across the border. For example, just a couple of weeks ago, CBP officers using NII equipment and canine teams at the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility discovered 2,746 pounds of marijuana and 50.70 pounds of cocaine, worth almost $1 million, over the course of just three days.1

Furthermore, as an integral part of the DHS comprehensive strategy to combat nuclear and radiological terrorism, CBP scans all arriving conveyances and containers with radiation detection equipment prior to release from the POE. In partnership with the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), CBP has deployed nuclear and radiological detection equipment, including Radiation Portal Monitors (RPM), Radiation Isotope Identification Devices (RIID), and Personal Radiation Detectors (PRD) to 328 POEs nationwide.2 Utilizing RPMs, CBP is able to scan 100 percent of all mail and express consignment mail and parcels; 100 percent of all truck cargo; 100 percent of personally-owned vehicles arriving from Canada and Mexico; and nearly 100 percent of all arriving sea-borne containerized cargo for the presence of radiological or nuclear materials. Since the inception of the RPM program in 2002 through June 2017, CBP has scanned approximately 1.4 billion conveyances for radiological contraband, resulting in more than 6.1 million alarms, all of which have been successfully resolved at the proper level.

In conjunction with CBP’s many other initiatives, advancements in cargo and conveyance screening technology provide CBP with a significant capacity to detect dangerous materials and other contraband and continue to be a cornerstone of CBP’s multilayered security strategy.

1 https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/cbp-field-operations-seizes-over-900k-marijuana-and-cocaine-commercial
2 As of June 30, 2017, CBP currently has 1,276 RPMs, 3,316 RIIDs, and 34,387 PRDs operational systems deployed nationwide.

 

Technology Investments Along the Border

Thanks to the support of Congress, CBP continues to deploy proven, effective technology to strengthen border security operations between the POEs — in the land, air, and maritime environments. With enhanced detection and surveillance capabilities, USBP and AMO can improve their situational awareness remotely, direct a response team to the best interdiction location, and warn the team of any additional danger otherwise unknown along the way. As a result, these investments increase CBP’s visibility of illegal activity along the border, our operational capabilities, and the safety of frontline law enforcement personnel. The terrain along the border between the United States and Mexico is extremely diverse, consisting of desert landscape, mountainous terrain, and urban areas. Tailored to address an area’s risk and environmental challenges, CBP deploys a combination of fixed and mobile technology assets, with short-, medium-, and long-range persistent surveillance capabilities to maintain situational awareness of the varying border environments.

Fixed, Persistent Surveillance

Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) systems are one of technologies used by USBP that are being deployed to the Southwest border in Arizona. IFTs provide long-range, persistent surveillance. An IFT system automatically detects with radars, identifies and classifies items of interest with day and night cameras, and tracks the items of interest at the Command and Control Center using a COP that integrates data, video and geospatial locations of selected items of interest. The first IFT system became operational in the Nogales Area of Responsibility in August 2015. The second IFT system became operational in May in the Douglas Area of Responsibility. The third system has been installed and will undergo system acceptance testing this September in the Sonoita Area of Responsibility. The Budget supports these critical assets by including $22.4 million in FY 2018 for operations and maintenance of the IFT program and $17.4 million for IFT program procurement, construction, and improvements.

Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS) are another fixed technology asset used by USBP in select areas along the Southwest and Northern borders. These systems provide short-, medium-, and long-range, persistent surveillance from towers or other structures. The RVSS uses cameras, radio, and microwave transmitters to send video to a control room, enabling the control room operator to remotely detect, identify, classify, and track targets using the video feed. Existing RVSSes are being upgraded with newer cameras and additional towers. The Budget includes $20.0 million in FY 2018 to sustain RVSS. An additional $46.2 million is provided for procurement, construction, and improvements. This funding will be used to support the deployment of the RVSS capability to the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

In some areas along the Southwest border, USBP also uses Unattended Ground Sensors (UGS), which provide short-range, persistent surveillance. These sensors support our capability to detect, and, to a limited extent, track and identify subjects. Sensor capabilities include seismic, passive infrared, acoustic, contact closure, and magnetic, although these capabilities are not necessarily available in all deployed UGS. When a ground sensor is activated, an alarm is communicated to an operations center. Some UGS are used in conjunction with Imaging Sensors (IS). The UGS/IS include an imaging capability to transmit images or video back to the operations center. As with UGS, UGS/IS are monitored in a centralized system and geospatially tracked.

Fixed systems provide persistent surveillance coverage to efficiently detect unauthorized border crossing and incursions by suspected drug smugglers. Once detection is confirmed, USBP can quickly deploy the appropriate personnel and resources to interdict. Without fixed-system technology such as IFT, RVSS, and UGS, USBP’s ability to detect, identify, classify, and track illicit activity would be significantly limited.

Mobile and Relocatable Capabilities

Working in conjunction with fixed surveillance assets, USBP also uses mobile and relocatable systems to address areas where rugged terrain and dense ground cover may allow adversaries to exploit blind spots or avoid the coverage of fixed systems. Mobile and relocatable technology assets provide USBP with the flexibility to adapt to changing border conditions and threats.

Along the Southwest border, Mobile Surveillance Capability (MSC) systems provide long-range, mobile surveillance. They include radar and camera sensors mounted on USBP vehicles. An agent deploys with the vehicle to operate the system, which automatically detects and tracks items of interest and provides the agent/operator with data and video of the observed subject.

Mobile Vehicle Surveillance Systems (MVSS) are short-, and medium-range, mobile surveillance equipment. They consist camera sensors on telescoping masts mounted on USBP vehicles. A USBP agent deploys with the system, which detects, tracks, identifies, and classifies items of interest using the video feed. The agent/operator observes activity on the video monitor to detect intrusions and assist agents/officers in responding to those intrusions. The Budget includes $3.2 million to provide operation and sustainment for MVSS, and an additional $1.6 million for procurement, construction, and improvements to fulfill operational needs on the Southern and Northern borders.

Another system is the Agent Portable Surveillance System (APSS). Mounted on a tripod, it provides medium-range, mobile surveillance and can be transported by two or three USBP agents. Two agents remain on-site to operate the system, which automatically detects and tracks items of interest and provides the agent/operator with data and video of selected items of interest.

CBP’s Tactical Aerostats and Re-locatable Towers program, originally part of the Department of Defense (DOD) re-use program, uses a mix of aerostats, towers, cameras, and radars to provide USBP with increased situational awareness over a wide area. This capability has proven to be a vital asset in increasing USBP’s ability to detect, identify, classify, and track activity. Since initial deployment in 2012, these systems have been responsible for detecting more than 180,000 illegal border incursions of aliens and smugglers, leading to the seizure of approximately 180 tons of narcotics and related contraband. In this fiscal year alone, USBP agents, with the assistance of existing aerostats and re-locatable towers, have seized 62 tons of narcotics, and caught more than 20,000 illegal border crossers detected by aerostats. The Budget includes $34.8 million in FY 2018 for the Tactical Aerostats and Re-locatable Towers Program to fund continued operations and maintenance costs.

Technology is critical to USBP border security operations. A tailored blend of complementary fixed, mobile, and portable surveillance systems increases USBP’s effectiveness in targeting a high-risk areas, enabling rapid-response strategies to maximize limited manpower, and adjusting to seasonal and periodic traffic patterns.

Technology in the Air and Maritime Domains

AMO increases CBP’s situational awareness, enhances its detection and interdiction capabilities, and extends our border security zones, offering greater capacity to stop threats before they reach our shores. Through the use of coordinated and integrated surveillance capabilities – including aviation, marine, tethered aerostats, and integrated, ground-based radars – AMO detects, interdicts, and prevents acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs, and other contraband toward or across the borders of the United States. These assets provide multi-domain awareness for our partners across the Department, as well as critical aerial and maritime surveillance, interdiction, and operational assistance to our ground personnel.

AMO’s maritime assets are tailored to the conditions of the environments in which we operate, and are equipped with the capabilities required to interdict attempted illicit smuggling of drugs and undocumented aliens. Often there is little time to interdict inbound suspect vessels, and AMO has honed its maritime border security response capability around rapid and effective interception, pursuit, and interdiction of these craft.

AMO employs high speed Coastal Interceptor Vessels (CIV) that are specifically designed and engineered with the speed, maneuverability, integrity, and endurance to intercept and engage a variety of suspect non-compliant vessels in offshore waters, as well as the Great Lakes. Furthermore, AMO’s Small Vessel Standoff Detection radiation detection capability increases the probability of detecting radiological and nuclear materials that might be used to attack the country. The transportable equipment is effective against small private or commercial vessels and can indicate a potential threat in advance of a boarding.

The Budget also seeks significant investments in our aircraft fleet. For example, the Budget includes $55.5 million in FY 2018 to purchase two KA-350ER multirole enforcement aircraft (MEA). The MEA is the optimal sensor-equipped aircraft for surveillance operations in regions such as the Southern border, Northern border, and maritime environments where terrain, weather, and distance pose significant obstacles to border security operations. The MEA further serves as a force multiplier for law enforcement and emergency response personnel, facilitating the rapid-response deployment of equipment, canines, and people. The multiple roles of the MEA include presently maritime with planned ground and air surveillance as well as air-to-air tracking and LETC.

P-3 Long Range Trackers and Airborne Early Warning Aircraft provide critical detection and interdiction capability in both the air and marine environment. Their sophisticated sensors and high endurance capability greatly increase AMO’s range to counter illicit trafficking. CBP P-3s are an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with the Joint Interagency Task Force - South. The P-3s patrol a 42 million-square-mile area that includes more than 41 nations, the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and seaboard approaches to the United States. In FY 2016, CBP’s P-3 operational efforts led to the total seizure or disruption of more than 193,000 pounds of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $2.5 billion.

Helicopters are also critical components of AMO’s aircraft fleet. UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters are critical to border security operations, being the only helicopters in our fleet with medium-lift capability (i.e., the ability to carry eight agents with full gear). The UH-60 is rugged enough to support interdiction and life-saving operations in hostile environments, at high altitudes in the desert, over open water, and in extreme cold. The Budget includes $14.1 million in FY 2018 to purchase one UH-60 Medium Lift Helicopter (MLH).

Another important asset is the DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). It bridges the gap between strategic assets, such as the P-3 and Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), and the smaller assets providing support in littoral waters.

AMO’s aircraft have received a number of technological upgrades to increase their utility. Avionics upgrades to the AS-350 helicopter allow operators to focus more of their attention on the mission, making them more effective. AMO has also added electro-optical infrared detection technology to its fixed-wing, light observation aircraft, greatly increasing its tactical capabilities.

UASs are an increasingly important part of CBP’s layered and integrated approach to border security. The UAS consists of an unmanned aircraft, sensors, communication packages, pilots, and ground control operators. UASs are used for surveillance, detection and other mission requirements along the Southwest border, Northern border, and in the drug source and transit zones. The UAS program has achieved over 43,500 flight hours since it began in FY 2006 and has been credited with interdicting or disrupting the movement of cocaine and marijuana with an estimated wholesale value of $170 million. CBP can equip four UAS aircraft with Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER) sensor systems, which can detect human movement along the ground. Since 2012, VADER has detected over 51,600 people moving across the Southwest border.

UAS and P-3 aircraft are equipped with technology that provides full-motion video capture for real-time and forensic analysis. This advanced detection and communication system enables AMO to disseminate live images and other sensor data to operational users, increasing response effectiveness and speed.

The Budget proposes $2.5 million to expand the small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) pilot projects and develop an official program of record. USBP needs this capability to surveil locations between the POEs in remote, isolated, and inaccessible portions of our borders. The sUAS needs to provide ground reconnaissance, surveillance, and tracking capabilities to support the USBP surveillance tasks of predicting, detecting, tracking, identifying, and classifying suspected items of interest. The ability to persistently and discreetly surveil remote areas along portions of the border is critical to USBP’s ability to secure the border.

Perhaps the most important advancements come in the area of data integration and exploitation. New downlink technology allows AMO to provide a video feed and situational awareness to its law enforcement partners in real-time. In addition, the Minotaur mission integration system will allow multiple aircraft to share information from multiple sources, providing a never-before-seen level of air, land, and maritime domain awareness. As the Minotaur system evolves, it will provide even greater awareness for a larger number of users.

AMO also combats airborne and maritime smuggling with an integrated long-range radar architecture comprised of ground-based radars and elevated radars deployed on tethered aerostats. AMO, in partnership with DOD, operates and maintains a network of more than 120 long-range radars providing a wide-area, persistent surveillance capability to detect and identify cooperative and non-cooperative aircraft travelling within or near the United States and crossing its borders. This network provides AMO the capability to detect and respond to air and maritime threats to the homeland, including organizations attempting to traffic contraband into the United States.

AMO’s Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) monitors the low-altitude approaches to the United States. With eight aerostat sites – six along the Southwest border, one in the Florida Keys, and one in Puerto Rico – the TARS elevated sensor mitigates the effect of the curvature of the earth and terrain-masking limitations associated with ground-based radars, enabling maximum long-range radar detection capabilities. In FY 2014 through FY 2016, TARS was responsible for detecting 86 percent of all suspected air smuggling flights approaching the Southwest border from Mexico. The Budget provides support for the Tethered Aerostat Radar System program. The $41.2 million requested will provide for the annual system operations, system upkeep, maintenance and supply of government personnel, and real property needs such as site and facility leases and expenses, for the full program. This funding will sustain the steady-state operations of the system while also retiring major threats from technical and program risks to system operations and health stemming from aging technology, diminishing manufacturing sources, and emerging regulatory requirements.

A vital component of DHS’s domain awareness capabilities, AMO’s Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC) integrates surveillance capabilities and coordinates a response to threats to national security with other CBP operational components, including USBP, Federal, and international partners3 to detect, identify, track and support interdiction of suspect aviation and maritime activity in the approaches to U.S. borders, at the borders, and within the interior of the United States. Coordinating with extensive law enforcement and intelligence databases and communication networks, AMOC’s command and control operational system, the Air and Marine Operations Surveillance System (AMOSS), provides a single display capable of processing up to 700 individual sensor feeds and tracking over 50,000 individual targets simultaneously. The eight TARS sites represent approximately two percent of the total integrated radars in AMOSS, yet were able to account for detecting 53 percent of all suspect target detections.

CBP is also pursuing improved border surveillance capabilities in the air domain. AMO is performing a formal Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) to review and assess multiple opportunities for extending a TARS-like surveillance capability beyond the next decade. A field test of promising key technologies is planned to take place in FY 2018. In addition, AMO is participating in an interagency effort to assess the feasibility of moving its current air surveillance radar capabilities out of the L-Band spectrum so that the L-Band spectrum can be auctioned off for private sector use. If the move proves feasible, the proceeds of the auction would be used to transition to the new air surveillance capability.

As we continue to deploy border surveillance technology, particularly along the Southwest border, these investments in fixed and mobile technology, as well as enhancements of domain awareness capabilities provided by the AMOC allow CBP the flexibility to shift more agents from detection duties to interdiction of illegal activities across our borders.

3 AMOC partners include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Defense (including the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)), and the governments of Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas.

 

Border Technology Requirements Development

CBP is committed to effective and efficient resource allocation and works closely with other elements of DHS headquarters and fellow Department components to ensure strategy-led, operationally informed requirements development. This process enables DHS to effectively and efficiently execute acquisition strategies and budgets that address the broad range of complex border threats and challenges, including illegal migration, smuggling of illegal drugs, human and arms trafficking, and the threat of terrorist exploitation of border vulnerabilities.

For example, CBP works closely with the DHS Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate to identify and develop technology to improve our surveillance and detection capabilities along our land and maritime borders. This includes investments in tunnel detection and tunnel activity monitoring technology; tactical communication upgrades, sUAS; low-flying aircraft detection and tracking systems, land and maritime data integration/data fusion capabilities, and border surveillance tools tailored to the Southwest and Northern border, including unattended ground sensors/tripwires, upgrades for mobile surveillance systems, slash camera poles, and wide-area surveillance.

In addition to collaboration with our DHS partners, as part of CBP’s efforts to seek innovative ways to acquire and use technology, CBP formed a partnership with DOD to identify and reuse excess DOD technology. To date, CBP has acquired several types of technology, including thermal imaging equipment, night vision equipment, and tactical aerostat systems, which increase CBP’s situational awareness and operational flexibility in responding to border threats. We will continue to pursue additional opportunities to leverage DOD excess equipment. We will do this in a sustainable way by considering the full life-cycle costs of the DOD equipment we are considering before acquiring it.

Conclusion

Technology is a primary driver of all land, maritime, and air domain awareness. CBP’s risk-based deployment of technology allows us to achieve our strategic and operational enforcement objectives at our POEs, along U.S. borders, and in the air and maritime approaches. The information obtained from NII, RPMs, fixed and mobile surveillance systems, ground sensors, imaging systems, and other advanced aerial and maritime technologies enhances domain awareness, informs situational awareness, and better enables CBP to monitor, detect, identify, and appropriately respond to unauthorized crossings and contraband smuggling.

Chairwoman McSally, Ranking Member Vela, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. We look forward to your questions.

Topics:  Border Security Keywords:  EO 13767, Border Technology

Written testimony of USCG for a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hearing titled “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Coast Guard Sea, Land, and Air Capabilities, Part II”

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: July 25, 2017

2167 Rayburn House Office Building

Good morning Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to testify today, and thank you for your enduring support of the United States Coast Guard.

As the service’s Chief Acquisition Officer, I especially appreciate the unwavering support of this Subcommittee to address our most pressing recapitalization needs. The Coast Guard is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and Congress to efficiently and effectively execute our existing acquisition programs and is employing risk-informed decisions to balance readiness, modernization, and force structure with the evolving demands of the 21st century.

Coast Guard personnel and assets must be ready to simultaneously execute our full suite of missions, sustain requested support to Combatant Commanders, and respond to contingencies when they arise. Your Coast Guard prides itself on being Semper Paratus – Always Ready. Prudence demands that we continue investing in a modernized Coast Guard. Indeed, recapitalization remains our highest priority, and today’s efforts will shape the Coast Guard and impact national security for decades. Your support has helped us make tremendous progress, and it is critical we build upon our successes to field assets that meet cost, performance, and schedule milestones. I am excited and encouraged by our progress to date.

The Coast Guard is in the midst of recapitalizing the service’s surface, aviation and command and control capabilities through more than 20 major and non-major acquisition programs. These efforts are supported by a framework of governance and policies developed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard; are in line with best practices identified by our federal partners, including the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy; and are constantly evolving based upon lessons learned.

Over the past year, we have made great progress in delivering enhanced capabilities to operational commanders in the field. In 2016, we awarded a contract to complete build out of our fleet of 58 Fast Response Cutters at an affordable price, and just last month we exercised an option to begin production of six Fast Response Cutters (Sentinel class hulls 39-44). We recently commissioned the 23rd Fast Response Cutter on July 4th and appreciate this Subcommittee’s continued support for the program. In September, we reached a major milestone with the award of a Detail Design and Construction contract for the Offshore Patrol Cutter. These cutters will eventually comprise 70 percent of Coast Guard surface presence in the offshore zone. Offshore Patrol Cutters will provide the tools to enforce federal laws more effectively, secure our maritime borders by interdicting threats before they arrive on our shores, disrupt transnational criminal organizations, and respond to 21st-century threats. We will be ordering long lead time material for the first Offshore Patrol Cutter in the next few months to support delivery of the lead hull in 2021.

We have also generated momentum to build new polar icebreakers. A little over one year ago, we made the commitment to partner with the Navy to establish an Integrated Program Office to acquire new heavy polar icebreakers. This approach leverages the expertise of both organizations and is delivering results. The benefits of this partnership were evident in the decision to award multiple Industry Studies contracts, a concept the Navy has utilized in previous shipbuilding acquisitions to drive affordability and reduce schedule and technical risk. We are receiving deliverables from Industry Study teams, which will help us to refine the specification to support delivery of the first heavy icebreaker in late fiscal year 2023. I am happy to report we remain on schedule to release a request for proposal for Detail Design and Construction in fiscal year 2018.

In 2018, we also will evaluate materiel and non-materiel options to replace the capabilities provided by the current fleet of inland tenders and barges commissioned between 1944 and 1990. Given the age and functionality of this fleet, requested funding supports initial Program Management Office (PMO) exploratory activities to replace this vital capability, including the potential for commercial services and alternative crewing options, as well as recapitalization alternatives.

We are also making progress with unmanned aerial systems. A recent small Unmanned Aircraft System proof of concept aboard a National Security Cutter conducted actual interdiction operations, which enhanced the overall effectiveness of the cutter. In its inaugural deployment, the small Unmanned Aircraft System operated from Coast Guard Cutter STRATTON logged 280 flight hours, provided real-time surveillance and detection imagery for the cutter, and assisted the embarked helicopter and law enforcement teams with the interdiction or disruption of four go-fast vessels carrying more than 5,000 pounds of contraband. A second deployment is currently underway and will provide invaluable information on sensor capabilities and impacts to the host cutter’s operational capabilities as we develop a request for proposal for small Unmanned Aircraft System capabilities across the entire National Security Cutter fleet. This cutter-based system will be a tactical game changer for the Coast Guard, complementing our embarked helicopters and cutter boats by equipping our cutters with additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

On the aviation side, we are nearing completion of the C-27J reactivation process and are expecting acceptance of the 14th and final C-27J from the Air Force next month. We are also moving forward with development of mission system suites that integrate command and control and sensor information for HC-130J, HC-144 and C-27J operators. The enhancements will be based on the Minotaur mission system architecture currently being used by the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security and will greatly improve our ability to maintain maritime domain awareness and process/distribute data in real time.

As vigilant stewards of the taxpayers’ investment, the Coast Guard is maximizing the capability of our existing fleet of cutters and aircraft through a series of sustainment and enhancement programs. The current work being conducted at the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland, includes a Service Life Extension Project to enhance mission readiness and extend the service life of the 140-foot icebreaking tug class by approximately 15 years. These multi-mission assets are key components of the service’s efforts to mitigate wintertime flooding and facilitate safe navigation for critical cargos on the Great Lakes and several rivers and harbors in the Northeast. Also, last year, the Coast Guard initiated a Midlife Maintenance Availability on 225-foot sea-going buoy tenders that will address obsolescence of critical ship components and engineering systems. The work on these two platforms is vital to sustaining current mission performance in support of maritime commerce. Similarly in the aviation domain, we are continuing efforts to extend the service life and improve the operational effectiveness of our rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft at the Coast Guard’s world class depot maintenance facility, the Aviation Logistics Center, located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

The Coast Guard is continuing deployment of new and updated C4ISR systems on our assets and at our shore facilities around the country. Rescue 21 and Nationwide Automatic Identification System capabilities are deployed in coastal areas nationwide, and work to expand these systems along the Western Rivers and Alaska are nearing completion. These systems are critical to the Coast Guard’s efforts to save lives and enhance maritime awareness in our ports and on inland and coastal waterways. We are also proceeding with installation of enhanced C4ISR systems on board our surface and aviation assets, including deployment of the Sea Commander suite on our National Security Cutters and SeaWatch on our Fast Response Cutters. This equipment and software provide situational awareness, data processing and information awareness tools required to modernize and recapitalize our shore sites, surface and aviation assets.

While my focus is on executing our acquisition programs, the service is also mindful of our collective need to ensure that the facilities that receive these new assets and the people that will operate and maintain them are properly equipped and trained to meet mission demands. While readiness and modernization investments improve current mission performance, the right force is central to success. The service is incredibly proud of its 88,000 active duty, reserve, civil service, and auxiliary members. Funding 21st-century Coast Guard platforms, infrastructure, and personnel is a smart investment, even in this challenging fiscal environment. Investments in Coast Guard personnel are especially important, as our greatest strength will always be our people. Coast Guard operations require a capable, proficient, and resilient workforce that draws upon the broad range of skills, talents, and experiences found in the American population. Together, modern platforms and a strong, resilient workforce will maximize the Coast Guard’s capacity to meet future challenges.

History has proven that a responsive, capable, and agile Coast Guard is an indispensable instrument of national security. Your continued oversight and direction have been critical to our success and with your continued support, we – your Coast Guard – will continue to live up to our motto. We will be Semper Paratus – Always Ready. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today and for all you do for the men and women of the Coast Guard. I look forward to your questions.

Topics:  Air, Maritime Keywords:  acquisition, aviation

Written testimony of USCG Commandant for a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hearing titled “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Coast Guard Sea, Land, and Air Capab

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: July 25, 2017

2167 Rayburn House Office Building

Good morning, Chairman Hunter, Ranking Member Garamendi, and distinguished members of the subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to testify today and thank you for your enduring support of the United States Coast Guard.

As the world’s premier, multi-mission, maritime service, the Coast Guard offers a unique and enduring value to the Nation. The only branch of the U.S. Armed Forces within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a federal law enforcement agency, a regulatory body, a first responder, and a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community – the Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to help secure the maritime border, combat transnational criminal organizations (TCO), and safeguard commerce on America’s waterways.

Coast Guard authorities bridge gaps and create opportunities. The Coast Guard is first and foremost an armed service that advances national security objectives in ways no other armed service can. Our combination of broad authorities and complementary capabilities squarely align with the President’s national security and economic prosperity priorities. Appropriately positioned in DHS, the Coast Guard is also an important part of the modern Joint Force.1 The Coast Guard offers trusted access to advance mutual interests, preserve U.S. security and prosperity, and serve as a force multiplier for the Department of Defense (DoD). I am proud of our enduring defense contributions to Combatant Commanders around the globe and of the return on investment your Coast Guard delivers on an annual basis.

I also appreciate the unwavering support of this Subcommittee to address our most pressing needs. I will continue working with the Administration and this Congress to preserve momentum for our existing acquisition programs and employ risk-based decisions to balance readiness, modernization, and force structure with the evolving demands of the 21st century.

Secretary Kelly leads the Department’s efforts to secure our borders, and the Administration’s strategy “to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation’s southern border”2 relies on the Coast Guard supporting this comprehensive security strategy. The Coast Guard protects the U.S. maritime border – not just by operating in U.S. territorial waters, but also by conducting operations off the coasts of South and Central America. As Secretary Kelly has stated, “the defense of the southwest border really starts about 1,500 miles south.”3

It begins with broad Coast Guard authorities, over 40 bilateral agreements to enable partner-nation interdictions and prosecutions and engage threats as far from U.S. shores as possible. The Coast Guard is best positioned to disrupt the large volumes of illicit drugs transiting by sea. We employ a robust interdiction package consisting of assets, specialized personnel and broad authorities to seize multi-ton loads of drugs at sea before they can be broken down into small quantities ashore.

In 2016, Coast Guard and partner agencies interdicted more cocaine at sea than was seized at the land border and across the entire Nation by all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies combined. A service-record 201.3 metric tons of cocaine4 (7.1% of estimated flow)5 was removed from the western transit zone and 585 smugglers were detained for further prosecution.

Coast Guard readiness relies on the ability to simultaneously execute our full suite of missions and sustain support to Combatant Commanders, while also being ready to respond to contingencies. Your Coast Guard prides itself on being Semper Paratus – Always Ready – and predictable and sufficient funding is necessary to maintain this readiness in the future. Prudence demands that we continue investing in a modernized Coast Guard. Indeed, recapitalization remains our highest priority, and today’s efforts will shape your Coast Guard and impact national security for decades. Your support has helped us make tremendous progress, and it is critical we build upon our successes to field assets that meet cost, performance, and schedule milestones. I am encouraged by our progress to date.

In 2016, we awarded a contract to complete build out of our fleet of 58 Fast Response Cutters at an affordable price, and just last month we exercised an option to begin production of six Fast Response Cutters (hulls 39-44). In September, we awarded a contract for Detail Design and Construction of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC).

These cutters will eventually comprise 70 percent of Coast Guard surface presence in the offshore zone. OPCs will provide the tools to enforce federal laws more effectively, secure our maritime borders by interdicting threats before they arrive on our shores, disrupt TCOs, and respond to 21st century threats. We will order long-lead-time material for the first OPC later this year, and plan for its delivery in 2021.

We are making progress toward building new polar icebreakers. Last July, we partnered with the Navy to establish an Integrated Program Office to acquire new heavy icebreakers. This approach leverages the expertise of both organizations and is delivering results. The recent award of multiple Industry Studies contracts – a concept the Navy has utilized in previous shipbuilding acquisitions to drive affordability and reduce schedule and technical risk – is an example of the positive results of this partnership. We will refine the system specification and release a request for proposal for Detail Design and Construction in FY 2018.

In 2018, we also will evaluate materiel and non-materiel options to replace the capabilities provided by the current fleet of inland tenders and barges commissioned between 1944 and 1990. Given the age and functionality of this fleet, requested funding supports initial Program Management Office (PMO) exploratory activities to replace this vital capability, including the potential for commercial services and alternative crewing options, as well as recapitalization alternatives.

We are also making progress with unmanned aerial systems. A recent small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) proof of concept aboard a National Security Cutter (NSC) conducted actual interdiction operations, which enhanced the overall effectiveness of the cutter. In its inaugural deployment, Coast Guard Cutter STRATTON's sUAS logged 280 flight hours, providing real-time surveillance and detection imagery for the cutter, and assisted the embarked helicopter and law enforcement teams with the interdiction or disruption of four go-fast vessels carrying more than 5,000 pounds of contraband. In addition, we are exploring options to build a land-based UAS program that will improve domain awareness and increase cued intelligence that our surface assets rely on to close illicit pathways in the maritime transit zone. While long-term requirements are being finalized, we are moving quickly to field this much-needed capability.

In concert with efforts to acquire new assets, we are also focused on improving the existing fleet of cutters and aircraft through sustainment programs. The current work being conducted at the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland, includes a Service Life Extension Project (SLEP) to enhance mission readiness and extend the service life of the 140-foot icebreaking tug class by approximately 15 years. Also, last year, the Coast Guard initiated a Midlife Maintenance Availability on 225-foot sea-going buoy tenders that will address obsolescence of critical ship components and engineering systems. The work on these two platforms is vital to sustaining current mission performance and essential to maritime commerce. Additionally, the Aviation

Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, conducts centralized, world-class depot maintenance activities to enhance mission performance of our rotary and fixed-wing aviation assets.

In addition to the focus on recapitalizing our surface and aviation fleets, we are also mindful of the condition of our shore infrastructure. Investments in shore infrastructure are also critical to modernizing the Coast Guard and equipping our workforce with the facilities they require to meet mission. Investments in shore infrastructure are vital to modernizing the Coast Guard and equipping our workforce with the facilities they require to meet mission.

While readiness and modernization investments improve current mission performance, the right force is central to success. I am incredibly proud of our 88,000 active duty, reserve, civil service, and auxiliary members. I am working aggressively to validate a transparent and repeatable model to identify the appropriate force structure required for the Coast Guard to respond simultaneously to global, national, and regional events.

Funding 21st century Coast Guard platforms and people is a smart investment, even in this challenging fiscal environment. Modern assets bring exceptional capability, but our greatest strength will always be our people. Coast Guard operations require a capable, proficient, and resilient workforce that draws upon the broad range of skills, talents, and experiences found in the American population. Together, modern platforms and a strong, resilient workforce will maximize the Coast Guard’s capacity to meet future challenges.

History has proven that a responsive, capable, and agile Coast Guard is an indispensable instrument of national security. With the continued support of the Administration and Congress, the Coast Guard will continue to live up to our motto. We will be Semper Paratus – Always Ready. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today and for all you do for the men and women of the Coast Guard. I look forward to your questions.

1 In addition to the Coast Guard’s status as an Armed Force (10 U.S.C. § 101), see also Memorandum of Agreement Between the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security on the Use of Coast Guard Capabilities and Resources in Support of the National Military Strategy, 02 May 2008, as amended 18 May 2010.
2 Executive Order No. 13767 on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, 25 January 2017.
3 Secretary Kelly Hearing Testimony, “Ending the Crisis: America’s Borders and the Path to Security” before the House Homeland Security Full Committee and Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security Joint Hearing on America’s Borders, Panel 1, 07 February 2017.
4 US Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Review of U.S. Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2016 Drug Control Performance Summary, OIG Report, OIG-17-33, February 1, 2017.
5 [US Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Review of U.S. Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2016 Drug Control Performance Summary, OIG Report, OIG-17-33, February 1, 2017. ]

 

Topics:  Border Security, Economic Security, Law Enforcement Partnerships, Maritime Keywords:  Mission, national security, National Security Cutter, Joint Force, Workforce

Statement By Secretary John F. Kelly On Texas Smuggling Incident

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 18:38
Release Date: July 23, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON— This tragedy demonstrates the brutality of the network of which I often speak. These smugglers have no regard for human life and seek only profits. The Department of Homeland Security and its partners in the U.S., Mexico and Central America will continue to root out these smugglers, bring them to justice and dismantle their networks.

The dedicated men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement not only investigate and help prosecute horrific incidents like this but they and their U.S. Customs and Border Protection colleagues work hard day and night, 365 days a year, to prevent senseless deaths and injuries like these. They put their lives on the line to rescue and save the lives of those who attempt the treacherous journey north on the network of abuse and death.

# # #

Topics:  Combat Cyber Crime Keywords:  Cyber, Smuggling

Aviation Security Update for Last Point of Departure Airports

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 14:58
Release Date: July 21, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON—All 180 airlines and more than 280 last-point-of-departure airports around the world have implemented the first phase of enhanced security measures as outlined in Secretary Kelly’s June 28th remarks.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has lifted the restrictions on large personal electronic devices for the ten airports/nine airlines in the Middle East and North Africa, which were announced in March. These airports and airlines have successfully implemented the first phase of enhanced security measures.

There are currently no airlines under restrictions for large personal electronic devices. Airlines worldwide have implemented additional security measures that ultimately make the global aviation community more secure.

The quick and decisive action taken by airlines, nations, and stakeholders is a testament to our shared commitment to raising the bar on global aviation security. Airlines were able to implement the necessary enhanced security measures because of the close coordination and extensive communication between aviation partners and the DHS/TSA.

To learn more please see the fact sheet and Q&As.

# # #

Topics:  Air, Transportation Security Keywords:  TSA, aviation security, Secretary Kelly

Secretary Kelly Discusses DHS Priorities at Aspen Security Forum

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 10:55
Release Date: July 20, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly discussed his top priorities for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the Aspen Security Forum. In a discussion with NBC News’ Pete Williams, Secretary Kelly highlighted DHS efforts to confront transnational criminal organizations by reducing drug demand, raise global aviation security standards, and bolster cybersecurity.

Key excerpts from the conversation are below and you can watch the full conversation here.

 

 

Secretary Kelly on stamping out transnational criminal organizations by reducing drug demand:

“…the profits that come out of that drug market are fantastic and as a result the countries to our south, Mexico and further south, suffer terribly because of the violence and the trafficking, and the production…As Americans we should be ashamed of ourselves that we have done almost nothing to get our arms around drug demand…to try to influence the lives of folks who live in places like Central America, we work very very hard to inject investment, certainly U.S. help…”

Secretary Kelly on raising global aviation security standards:

“We can actually use this crisis as a way to raise global aviation security …In my view globally, at least of those final points of departure…we are raising aviation security as opposed to just going after one single threat.”

Secretary Kelly on bolstering cybersecurity:

“…The name of the game is coordination within our government at every level… and then fantastic partnerships with the commercial tech industry…”

Secretary Kelly on the DHS reauthorization:

“…I truly believe that it’s time to do this. One of the things I am hoping for is that we can really start looking at the efficiencies in the department…”

Secretary Kelly on the DHS workforce:

“ …For 45 years I benefited from serving under men and women who are the most amazing people in our society, the 1% as we say that serve in the U.S. military…when I came to this job I was really really pleasantly surprised at all of the patriotism, all of the dedication, all of the focus on protecting the nation is not just in the U.S. military…the men and women, particularly the law enforcement organizations…are incredibly dedicated people doing incredibly dangerous things and every one of them loves their job.”

 

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Topics:  Air, Cybersecurity, Transportation Security Keywords:  Secretary Kelly, aviation security, cybersecurity, drug interdiction

DHS Provides Relief to American Businesses in Danger of Suffering Irreparable Harm

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 11:08
Release Date: July 17, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

 

Additional Visas for Temporary Workers Provided Until End of Current Fiscal Year

WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of available temporary nonagricultural workers will be able to hire up to 15,000 additional temporary nonagricultural workers under the H-2B program under a final rule that the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor submitted to the Federal Register today. To qualify for the additional visas, petitioners must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it cannot employ H-2B nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year (FY) 2017.

After consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly determined there are not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor to satisfy the needs of some American businesses in FY 2017.

“Congress gave me the discretionary authority to provide temporary relief to American businesses at risk of significant harm due to a lack of available seasonal workers,” said DHS Secretary John Kelly. “As a demonstration of the Administration’s commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap.”

The H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker program was designed to serve U.S. businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified U.S. workers to perform nonagricultural work of a temporary nature. Congress set the annual H-2B cap at 66,000. A maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas are available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder, including any unused H-2B visas, is available starting April 1 through September 30. On March 13, 2017, USCIS received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full FY 2017 statutory cap of 66,000. In May, Congress delegated its authority to the Secretary to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural work visas available to U.S. employers through September 30. The Secretary took the intervening time to consult with the Secretary of Labor on the issue and to properly develop this rule in accordance with Congressional requirements.

Starting this week, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA with their petition. A new tip line to report general H-2B abuse and employer violations has also been established.

Details on eligibility and filing requirements will be available in the final rule and on a new uscis.gov webpage to be published when the final rule is posted for public inspection. This page will also include information on how individuals can report abuse in the program.

If members of the public have information that a participating employer may be abusing this program, DHS invites them to submit information to ReportH2BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov.

 

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For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit www.uscis.gov or follow on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook(/uscis), and Instagram (@USCIS).

 

Keywords:  Secretary Kelly, USCIS, business, Temporary Worker Visas

Readout of Secretary Kelly's Meeting with Bahrain's Minister of Interior Lt. General Sheikh Rashed Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 17:57
Release Date: July 12, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly met with Bahraini Interior Minister Lt. General Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa to discuss the Department’s cooperation with the Bahraini Ministry of Interior on regional security issues and efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Bahrain relationship.

Secretary Kelly and His Excellency Sheikh Rashed discussed the importance of continuing security cooperation, particularly as it relates to challenges Bahrain faces from regional threats. Secretary Kelly and Sheikh Rashed spoke about the need to increase information sharing between the Department and Ministry of Interior, and Secretary Kelly offered his support to work with Bahrain in the fight against terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security is committed to continuing to work with the Bahraini Ministry of Interior in the furtherance of our shared international security interests.

 

Secretary Kelly greet Bahrain’s Minister of Interior Lt. General Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa (DHS Photo/Jetta Disco)

 

Secretary Kelly and DHS leadership meet with representatives from Bahraini Ministry of Interior (DHS Photo/Jetta Disco)

 

# # #

Keywords:  Secretary Kelly, International partnerships

Statement by Secretary John F. Kelly

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 17:49
Release Date: July 12, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON - The fiscal year 2018 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill released by the House Appropriations Committee today prioritizes the most pressing issues facing our Department.  It supports critical aviation security, disaster relief, cybersecurity, and immigration enforcement measures, which are all essential to protecting our nation and preserving our way of life. It also includes physical and technological efforts to safeguard the southwest border.  Most importantly, this bill supports the men and women of the Department, who work tirelessly and selflessly every day to keep our citizens secure, and empowers them to do their sworn duties.  I want to thank Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman John Carter on his work on this bill, and I urge the full committee to act swiftly so this bill can be considered by the full House.  Additionally, I would urge the Senate to support a similar bill quickly.

 

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Topics:  Cybersecurity, Disaster Response and Recovery, Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Secretary Kelly, cybersecurity, disaster relief, immigration enforcement

Written testimony of PLCY, CBP, and ICE for a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border and Immigration hearing titled “Examining the Problem of Visa Overstays: Need for Better Tracking and Accountability”

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: July 12, 2017

226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Chairman Cornyn, Ranking Member Durbin, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the progress the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is making to incorporate biometrics into our comprehensive entry/exit system and to identify, report, and address overstays in support of our border security and immigration enforcement missions.

Presently, DHS, in conjunction with the Department of State, collects biometrics for most nonimmigrant foreign nationals1 and checks them against criminal databases and the terrorist watchlist prior to the issuance of a visa or lawful entry to the United States. Furthermore, the Department has developed new capabilities and enhanced existing systems, such as the Automated Targeting System (ATS), using intelligence and other information to help identify possible unknown terrorists and others who seek to travel to the United States to do harm.

Today, DHS manages an entry/exit system in the air and sea environments that incorporates both biometric and biographic components. Applying a risk-based approach, the Department is now able, on a daily basis, to identify and target for enforcement action those individuals who represent a public safety and/or national security threat among visitors who have overstayed their authorized period of admission.

Moreover, with the recent support of Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Pub. L. No. 114-113), combined with the clear commitment and direction of the President in Section 8 of Executive Order 13780, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is making significant progress toward implementation of a biometric exit system in accordance with the Comprehensive Biometric Entry/Exit Plan provided to Congress in April 2016.

The Department also released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report in May 2017, which contains significant additional data not available in the FY15 version, which itself was the first such overstay report issued in over 20 years. As noted in the report, almost 99 percent of nonimmigrant travelers left the United States on time and abided by the terms of their admission; and we welcome and encourage their time spent in our country. Nevertheless, while the percentage of overstays is small, the sheer number of overstays is a problem for the United States. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is effective at prioritizing for enforcement action those individuals who may pose national security and public safety threats. Yet, the scope of the overstay challenge means that we cannot shy away from using all available tools to resolve this problem and protect the integrity of our immigration system. DHS, in partnership with Congress, will address this challenge head on with solutions that include both enhancements to the screening of potential foreign visitors as envisioned in the President’s Executive Orders and, as appropriate, targeted actions focused on countries and categories of travelers that present significant risk.

1 DHS regulations exempt certain categories of aliens from biometric collection requirements. See e.g., 8 CFR 235.1(f)(1)(iv)(A)-(D) (exempting aliens younger than 14 or older than 79 on date of admission; aliens admitted on an A-1, A-2, C-3 (except for attendants, servants, or personal employees of accredited officials), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, or NATO-6 visa; Taiwan officials admitted on an E-1 visa and members of their immediate families admitted on E-1 visas); classes of aliens jointly exempted by the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State; and individuals exempted by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of State or the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency) and 8 CFR 235.1(f)(1)(ii) (exempting certain Canadian citizens seeking admission as B nonimmigrants). On May 24, 2017, Secretary Kelly provided DHS Components with flexibility to expand the collection biometrics below and above the current age 14-79 thresholds for authorized mission purposes, where operationally required, technically feasible, and consistent with existing law, regulation, and/or policy.

 

Existing DHS Entry and Exit Data Collection

A biographic-based entry/exit system is one that matches the personally identifying information on an individual’s passport or other travel documents presented when he or she arrives to and departs from the United States. The biographic data contained in the traveler’s passport includes name, date of birth, document information, and country of citizenship. By comparison, a biometric entry/exit system matches a biometric attribute unique to the individual traveler (e.g., fingerprints, a facial image, or iris image).

How DHS Collects Arrival Information

The United States collects biographic and biometric information for all travelers seeking to enter the country legally. For instances in which an individual requires a visa to enter the United States, biometric and biographic information are captured at the time his or her visa application is filed with the Department of State (DOS), along with supporting information developed during an interview with a consular officer. Additionally, for certain visa categories, the individual will have already provided biographic information via a petition filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. For eligible individuals seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), biographic information is captured when the intending traveler applies for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).2 If the individual is authorized for travel under the VWP, biometric information is captured and the traveler is interviewed by a CBP officer at the U.S. port of entry (POE).

ICE’s Visa Security Program (VSP) deploys Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) Special Agents at key overseas diplomatic and consular posts to maximize the value of the visa process to identify terrorists, criminals and other aliens ineligible for a visa prior to their travel or application for admission to the United States. As part of VSP operations, these agents may develop additional information regarding potential travelers through interviews and working with domestic-based intelligence analysts.

Once travel commences in the air and sea environments, DHS also receives travelers’ biographic information through passenger manifests submitted by commercial and private aircraft operators and commercial sea carriers. These manifests include every individual who actually boarded the plane or ship bound for the United States. This information is collected in DHS’s Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) and all non-U.S. citizen data is then sent to the Arrival and Departure Information System (ADIS), where it is stored for matching against departure records. ADIS is also the system used to subsequently determine overstay status in cases where an individual does not comply with the terms of their admission.

When a nonimmigrant arrives at a U.S. POE and applies for admission to the United States, a CBP officer interviews the traveler regarding the purpose and intent of travel, reviews his or her documentation, and runs law enforcement checks. If applicable,3 CBP collects and matches biometrics against previously collected data and stores this data within the Office of Biometric Identity Management’s (OBIM) Automated Biometric Information System (IDENT). If admission is granted, the CBP officer will stamp the traveler’s passport with a date indicating the traveler’s authorized period of admission. Based on electronic information already in DHS’s systems, CBP electronically generates a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record that the traveler can print remotely to provide evidence of legal entry or status in the United States. The form also indicates how long the individual is authorized to stay in the United States.

How DHS Collects Departure Information

The United States has a fully functioning biographic exit system in the air and sea environments. Similar to the entry process, DHS also collects APIS passenger manifests submitted by commercial and private aircraft operators and commercial sea carriers departing the United States. Carriers and operators are required by regulations promulgated under the Trade Act of 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107–210) to report biographic and travel document information to DHS for those individuals who are physically present on the aircraft or sea vessel at the time of departure from the United States and not simply for those who have made a reservation or are scheduled to be on board. Since 2005, collection of this information has been mandatory, and compliance by carriers is nearly 100 percent. DHS monitors APIS transmissions to ensure compliance and, if needed, issues fines for noncompliance. CBP transfers this data (excluding data for U.S. citizens) to ADIS, which matches arrival and departure records to and from the United States.4

In the land environment, Canada and the United States have implemented a biographic exchange of traveler records that constitutes a biographic exit system on the shared border. Today, traveler records for all lawful permanent residents and non-citizens of the United States and Canada who enter either country through land POEs on the Northern border are exchanged in such a manner that land entries into one country serve as exit records from the other. The current match rate of Canadian records for travelers leaving the United States for Canada against U.S. entry records for nonimmigrants is over 98 percent. Upon passage and implementation of Canada’s enabling legislation, Canada and the United States also plan to share data on Canadian citizens who cross the Northern border.

Additionally, CBP is able to reconcile a significant portion of travelers who arrive through our borders with Mexico, since the majority of those travelers are frequent crossers. CBP is able to close a previous arrival upon recording a new arrival.

2 ESTA collects biographic data and screens passengers against various law enforcement and intelligence databases. ESTA has digitized the Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) for authorized travelers from participating VWP countries.
3 Supra note 1.
4 DHS uses this information for a variety of immigration and law enforcement reasons, including to determine which travelers have potentially stayed past their authorized period of admission (i.e., overstayed) in the United States.

 

Addressing Overstays

This integrated approach to collecting entry and exit data supports the Nation’s ability to identify and address overstays. CBP identifies two types of overstays – those individuals who appear to have remained in the United States beyond their period of admission (Suspected In-Country Overstay), and those individuals whose departure was recorded after their lawful admission period expired (Out-of-Country Overstay). The overstay identification process is conducted by the ADIS system consolidating arrival, departure, and change or adjustment to immigration status information to generate a complete picture of individuals traveling to the United States. This process extends beyond our physical borders to include a number of steps that may occur well before an individual enters the United States through a land, air, or sea POE and up to the point at which that same individual departs the United States.

CBP’s ADIS identifies and transmits potential overstays to CBP’s ATS on a daily basis, which screens them against derogatory information, prioritizes them, and sends them to ICE. ICE’s lead management system, LeadTrac,5 retains them for review and vetting by analysts.

Through specific intelligence and the use of sophisticated data systems, ICE identifies and tracks available information on millions of international students, tourists, and other individuals admitted as nonimmigrants who are present in the United States at any given time. Overstays and other forms of nonimmigrant status violations bring together two critical areas of ICE’s mission—national security and immigration enforcement.

Enhancing Capabilities

In the past few years, DHS has made substantial improvements to enhance our ability to identify, prioritize, and address confirmed overstays. DHS has improved the data quality and flow between systems, enhanced user interfaces, and empowered ICE agents to make and update rules-based targeting.

Since May 31, 2017, CBP has been sending email notifications to VWP travelers identified as having overstayed the terms of their admission and have subsequently departed the United States. Future plans include sending 10-day pre-notifications to VWP travelers who are at risk of overstaying their admissions period. Both of these efforts will be expanded to visa travelers in due course.

DHS has also undertaken a number of systems enhancements to reinforce immigration and overstay enforcement, strengthening data requirements through computer enhancements, identifying national security overstays through increased collaboration with the Intelligence Community, and automating manual efforts through additional data exchange interfaces. DHS is continuing this progress in FY17.

Reporting Overstay Data

On January 19, 2016, DHS released the first Entry/Exit Overstay Report. This report represents a culmination of the aforementioned efforts to enhance data collection and address issues precluding production of the report in prior years. The Entry/Exit Overstay Report for Fiscal Year 2015 provided data on departures and overstays, by country, for foreign visitors to the United States who were lawfully admitted for business (i.e., B-1 and WB classifications) or pleasure (i.e., B-2 and WT classifications) through air or sea POEs, and who were expected to depart in FY15 — a population which represents the vast majority of annual nonimmigrant admissions.

In May 2017, the Department released the Fiscal Year 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report. In partnership with other DHS Components, CBP is continuing to improve data provided by

ADIS allowing for the FY16 report to include a significantly expanded classes of admission, compared with the FY15 report.

While the focus of last year’s report was on individuals visiting the United States for business or pleasure, and those traveling under the VWP, this year’s report expands the report population to include foreign student and exchange visitors (F, M, and J admission classes) and other in-scope nonimmigrant admission classes (such as H, O, P, and Q admission classes). With the expansion of the report population, the FY16 report accounts for 96.02 percent of all air and sea nonimmigrant admissions to the United States in FY16. This represents all in-scope classes of admission (i.e., classes of admission that can produce enforceable overstays), and is expected to be used as the baseline population for reporting annually going forward. However, it does not include vehicular or pedestrian admissions at land POEs.

In FY16, there were 50,437,278 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea POEs who were expected to depart in FY16, which represents the majority of annual nonimmigrant admissions. Of this number, DHS calculated a total overstay rate of 1.47 percent, or 739,478 individuals. In other words, 98.53 percent of the in-scope nonimmigrant visitors departed the United States on time and abided by the terms of their admission.

The report breaks down the overstay rates further to provide a better picture of those overstays who remain in the United States beyond their period of admission and for whom there is no identifiable evidence of a departure, an extension of period of admission, or transition to another immigration status. At the end of FY16, there were 628,799 Suspected In-Country Overstays. The overall Suspected In-Country Overstay rate for this scope of travelers is 1.25 percent of the expected departures.

Due to continuing departures and changes in nonimmigrant status or adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence by individuals in this population, by July 1, 2017, the number of Suspected In-Country Overstays for FY16 decreased to 425,495, rendering the Suspected In-Country Overstay rate as 0.84 percent. In other words, as of July 1, 2017, DHS has been able to confirm departures, changes to, extensions of stay, or adjustment of status of 99.16 percent of nonimmigrant visitors scheduled to depart in FY16 via air and sea POEs, and that number continues to grow.

This report separates VWP country overstay numbers from non-VWP country numbers. For VWP countries, the FY16 Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 0.60 percent of the 21,616,034 expected departures. For non-VWP countries, the FY16 Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 1.90 percent of the 13,848,480 expected departures.

As mentioned previously, part of the nonimmigrant population in this year’s report now includes visitors who entered on a student or exchange visitor visa, F, M, or J visa, respectively. DHS has determined there were 1,457,556 students and exchange visitors scheduled to complete their program in the United States. Of these, 5.48 percent stayed beyond their authorized window for departure at the end of their program.

For Canada, the FY16 Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 1.33 percent of 9,008,496 expected departures. For Mexico, the FY16 Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 1.52 percent of 3,079,524 expected departures. Consistent with the methodology for other countries, this represents only travel through air and sea POEs and does not include data on land border crossings. Currently, it is unclear if these numbers are inflated, as Canadian and Mexican nationals can depart across the land border. CBP is pursuing a variety of methods to obtain this land border departure data, which are discussed in greater detail below.

Identifying overstays is important for national security, public safety, immigration enforcement, and processing applications for immigration benefits. Moreover, it is one of the many drivers for DHS as it continues to develop and test the entry and exit system during FY17, both biometric and biographic, which will improve the ability of CBP to report this data accurately.

5 LeadTrac is an ICE system designed to receive overstay leads to compare against other DHS systems and classified datasets to uncover potential national security or public safety concerns for referral to ICE field offices for investigation. The system employs a case management tracking mechanism to assist with analysis, quality control reviews, lead status and field tracking.

 

Overstay Enforcement in the United States

With regard to overstay enforcement, ICE focuses its efforts on identifying and prioritizing for enforcement action foreign nationals who overstayed their period of admission or otherwise violated the terms or conditions of their admission to the United States. ICE receives nonimmigrant compliance information from various investigative databases and DHS entry/exit registration systems. The information identifies nonimmigrants who have entered the United States through an established immigration entry process and may have failed to comply with immigration regulations. As part of a tiered review, ICE HSI prioritizes nonimmigrant overstay cases through risk-based analysis. HSI’s Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU) oversees the national program dedicated to the investigation of nonimmigrant visa violators who may pose a national security or public safety risk.

Using a comprehensive prioritization scheme, ICE identifies nonimmigrant overstays, conducts in-depth analysis, locates targets, and initiates field investigations by referring high priority information to ICE HSI field offices nationwide. In order to ensure that those who may pose the greatest threats to national security and public safety are given top priority, ICE uses intelligence-based criteria developed in close consultation with the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

Each year, ICE HSI CTCEU analyzes records of hundreds of thousands of potential status violators after preliminary analysis of data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and CBP’s ADIS, along with other information. Once the leads are received, ICE conducts both batch and manual vetting against government databases, social media, and public indices. This vetting establishes compliance or departure from the United States and/or determines potential violations that warrant field investigations. Overstays who do not meet ICE HSI CTCEU’s national security and public safety threat criteria are referred to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) for action.

As part of its vetting process, ICE HSI CTCEU also instituted the Visa Waiver Enforcement Program (VWEP). ICE HSI CTCEU scrutinizes individuals identified as potential VWP violators, to identify those subjects who attempt to circumvent the U.S. immigration system by seeking to exploit VWP travel. Other significant projects and initiatives include: the Recurrent Student Vetting Program; DHS’s Overstay Projects; Absent Without Leave (AWOL) Program; INTERPOL Leads; and individuals who have been watchlisted.

In FY16, ICE HSI CTCEU reviewed 1,282,018 compliance leads. Numerous leads that were referred to ICE HSI CTCEU were closed through an automated vetting process. The most common reasons for closure were subsequent departure from the United States or pending immigration benefits. A total of 4,116 leads were sent to HSI field offices for investigation. At the end of 2016, from the 4,116 leads sent to the field, 1,884 were under investigation, 1,126 were closed as being in compliance (pending immigration benefit, granted asylum, approved adjustment of status application, or departed the United States) and the remaining leads were returned to ICE HSI CTCEU for continuous monitoring and further investigation. HSI Special Agents made 1,261 arrests, secured 97 indictments, and 55 convictions in FY16. Since then, additional case closures and arrests have been effectuated on those leads.

Improvements in Information Sharing, Data Integrity, and Use of Biometrics

ICE executes risk-based overstay enforcement activities as part of an integrated strategy to combat transnational crime in coordination with our domestic and foreign partnering agencies, targeting the illegal movement of people, merchandise and monetary instruments into, within, and out of the United States. In addition to developing viable leads for field investigation, ICE’s in-depth vetting efforts serve to continually improve DHS’s overall data holdings, and validate information across various DHS systems.

ICE has been an integral partner supporting the creation of a DHS Unified Overstay Case Management process that established a data exchange interface between ADIS, ATS-P, and ICE’s LeadTrac systems. That effort has helped reduce the timeline required for vetting national security-related and public safety overstay leads.

Improvements in Overstay Enforcement and Office of Inspector General (OIG) Recommendations

ICE is committed to improving and evolving our overstay enforcement efforts, including through advancing our information technology capabilities. In 2014, ICE HSI CTCEU established the Open Source Team (OST) to conduct social media analysis to help resolve unable-to-locate cases. OST applies in-depth knowledge of a broad range of publicly available information to locate specific targeted individuals, identify trends and patterns, and identify subtle relationships. This initiative enhances investigative leads that are currently being sent to HSI field offices for investigation. In August 2016, ICE HSI CTCEU’s Overstay Lifecycle and domestic counterproliferation pilot programs were launched. These pilot programs will help to better capture information on visa violators as part of an overarching visa lifecycle and identify foreign students who have access to sensitive technology. The Overstay Lifecycle pilot program tracks nonimmigrant visitors from the time they file a visa application to the time they depart from the United States, or until such time as they become an overstay or otherwise fail to comply with their terms of admission. The domestic counterproliferation pilot program identifies nonimmigrant students who enter the United States to study in a non-sensitive academic field and subsequently transfer to a sensitive academic field, or attempt to work in areas posing a national security or public safety threat. It is anticipated that these pilot programs will provide another layer of security and tool for overstay enforcement in the United States.

Finally, ICE is working with DHS to address the recommendation in the recent report released by the DHS OIG. The report included two recommendations for ICE and ICE is working to identify training gaps for visa-related IT systems used by ICE personnel and to notify the ICE user community of available training options. ICE is also working towards compiling a comprehensive list of all visa-related systems across the Department, to include system owners and training points of contacts. By addressing these two concerns and ensuring that ICE users have the opportunity to receive official, hands-on training in visa IT systems and documented guidance on potential uses of each system, the efficiency and adeptness of the visa overstay tracking system will be enhanced. In the immediate term, ICE HSI has sent guidance to all HSI field offices providing further instruction on how to conduct HSI CTCEU investigations.

The DHS Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is currently building an enterprise information-sharing platform that, in the future, can provide a solution to mitigate the issues raised and gaps identified in the OIG report. The vision of the Data Framework is to deliver an information-sharing platform in which intelligence analysts and mission operators have controlled, near real-time access to consolidated homeland security data in classified and unclassified environments in a manner consistent with applicable law and policy and while protecting individuals’ privacy, civil rights, and liberties. The goal is to more efficiently leverage data across DHS components in a manner that allows mission users with the ability to access, search, manipulate and analyze, as appropriate; extract different datasets from multiple DHS systems for a specific purpose; retrieve accurate and timely information; and view the information in a clear and accessible format. In FY17, OCIO will begin to expand from the classified environment to meet mission needs in the unclassified environment.

CBP Comprehensive Biometric Entry/Exit System

Since FY13, CBP has led the entry/exit mission, including research and development of biometric exit programs. A comprehensive entry/exit system that leverages both biographic and biometric data is key to supporting DHS’s mission. CBP developed and implemented a series of biometric exit pilot programs in the air and land environments between 2014 and 2016, and we testified before this Committee regarding those efforts in January 2016 and, most recently, in May 2017.

Biometric Exit in the Air Environment

The earlier trials allowed CBP to develop a realistic and achievable biometric exit plan. CBP's vision for implementing biometric exit is to “pre-stage” biometric data held in CBP systems throughout the travel process and allow that data to be used by each traveler as they follow the typical process for boarding an aircraft departing the United States. CBP will perform the matching function and use biometrics to streamline the passenger process throughout the air travel process, not just at departure.

Adding biometrics provides greater assurance of the information already collected by CBP and will allow for future facilitated processing upon both entry and exit. CBP will use a traveler’s face as the primary way of identifying the traveler to facilitate entry and exit from the United States, while simultaneously leveraging fingerprints for derogatory holdings and other law enforcement. This innovative structure will make it possible to confirm the identity of travelers at any point in their travel, while at the same time establishing a comprehensive biometric air exit system.

CBP is dedicated to protecting the privacy of all travelers, and will ensure that all legal and privacy requirements are met as we continue to implement biometric exit.

CBP's plan is to complete the technical matching service by 2018, but this summer CBP will roll out biometric air exit technical demonstrations at a number of airports to continue biometric exit implementation. These demonstrations will occur at select flights in each of the airports. CBP has already deployed this capability to Washington Dulles, Atlanta/Hartsfield, and Houston/Bush International Airports, with five additional airports to come by September. In addition, CBP has partnered with airlines to establish biometric exit capability in Boston/Logan and JFK International airports. All of this was deployed in June 2017. CBP is continuing to discuss with additional airlines how they can be incorporated into the program.

CBP Traveler Verification Service (TVS)

The technical demonstrations are based on a concept that CBP has been testing since June 2016 at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. The Atlanta airport demonstration tested a solution under five guiding principles: 1) avoid adding any new process to minimize time and impact; 2) utilize existing infrastructure to avoid large capital costs and enable a near-term deployment; 3) leverage existing stakeholder systems, processes, and business models to reduce costs and avoid large changes for all stakeholders; 4) leverage passenger behaviors and expectations to promote ease of use for travelers; and 5) use existing traveler data and existing government IT infrastructure to reduce costs and avoid stove-piped systems.

The Atlanta test was designed using existing CBP systems, leveraging data already provided to the U.S. Government by the traveler and airlines. CBP created a pre-positioned “gallery” of face images from DHS holdings based on a flight departure manifest provided by the airline. These photographs can come from passport applications, visa applications, or interactions with CBP at a prior border encounter where a photograph is typically taken. Essentially, CBP creates a gallery of all the passengers it expects to see boarding an aircraft, based on the manifest provided by the airline.

CBP then compares a live photograph of the traveler captured at the departure gate to the flight’s gallery of face images to confirm the traveler’s departure, providing a biometric record of departure for passengers on that flight. This process allows CBP to increase security by using a facial biometric to match the traveler to their advanced passenger information and biographic vetting results while simultaneously checking the fingerprints on file against derogatory holdings.

In essence, for U.S. citizens the document check has been transformed from a manual process by airline personnel or CBP officers into an automated process using a machine. U.S. citizens are not exempted from this process for two reasons: first, it is not feasible to require airlines to have two separate boarding processes for U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens; and second, to ensure U.S. citizen travelers are the true bearer of the passport they are presenting for travel. If the photograph captured at boarding is matched to a U.S. citizen passport, the photograph is discarded after a short period of time.

CBP has processed approximately 35,000 travelers through the Atlanta demonstration. For travelers who have an existing photograph in DHS systems- about 96 percent of travelers- the system is matching at a rate of 96 to 98 percent.6 Today, CBP continues to process biometric exit records for a limited number of daily international flights in Atlanta.

Summer 2017 Technical Demonstrations

Based on the success of the Atlanta demonstration, CBP has begun demonstrating the initial implementation of the TVS through the expansion of air exit capabilities to additional airports. The demonstrations are being deployed in conjunction with major U.S. air carriers and common use airports. Demonstrations are now operational at Washington Dulles International Airport and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport. By the end of summer 2017, demonstrations will be operational at a total of eight airports (Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport plus four additional large airports). The capability will utilize the TVS to biometrically identify departing travelers, and demonstrate to airlines and airports how biometrics can be integrated into current boarding processes, provide real-time, centralized biometric matching capabilities, and record biometrically verified outbound departures in CBP systems.

Stakeholder Outreach

CBP is executing a proactive engagement strategy with partners within the travel industry to execute public/private partnerships.

CBP has introduced the Biometric Entry/Exit vision to the air travel industry including international airports, U.S. airline carriers, and travel organizations.7 Biometric technology has the potential to transform how travelers interact with airports, airlines, and CBP, which has the potential to create a seamless travel process, to include check-in, bag drop, the security checkpoint, or entry of international passengers, improving both convenience and security. By involving all of the stakeholders, CBP is able to discuss and refine the solution and verify potential benefits for all stakeholders. For example, CBP is learning about best practices for integrating operations into existing airline boarding processes.

Biometric Exit in the Land Environment

In the land environment, there are often geographical features that prevent expansion of exit lanes to accommodate adding lanes or CBP-manned booths. CBP has developed a biometric exit land strategy that focuses on implementing an interim exit capability while simultaneously investigating innovative technologies needed to reach our long-term vision of a comprehensive biometric exit land solution. Recording exits and biometrically verifying travelers who depart at the land border will close a gap of information necessary to complete a nonimmigrant traveler’s record in ADIS, and will allow CBP an additional means to determine when travelers who depart the United States via land have overstayed their admission period.

Given the limitations outlined above and DHS’s desire to implement this program without negatively impacting cross-border commerce, a phased approached to land implementation will be undertaken. The initial implementation of the land exit strategy will require certain third country nationals to self-report their departure from the United States.

In addition, facial recognition technology, similar to what will be used in the air environment will be deployed at two ports on the Southwest border in both pedestrian entry and exit locations. Facial recognition technology will be implemented for frequent travelers and cameras will be located within the vicinity of primary processing booths. At pedestrian departure, cameras will also record facial images upon departure and once the camera system identifies a “match” (confirms the identity of the traveler), the system will record a biometrically confirmed exit for the traveler.

Biographic Exit Exchange Partnerships with Canada and Mexico

In April 2016, Canada reaffirmed its commitment to the United States to include all travelers who cross the Northern border in our two countries’ biographic exchange. Canada will need to complete passage of additional legislation to facilitate this final phase.

Engagement with Mexico on establishing a similar collection and exchange of entry/exit information is underway, and both countries plan to implement a biographic data exchange at the San Ysidro POE in FY18, using reading of radio-frequency ID documents which are very common among southern border crossers.

Biometric Vehicle Capture “At Speed”

CBP will test “at speed” facial biometric capture camera technology on vehicle outbound travelers. CBP will utilize operational test facilities to evaluate performance of “at-speed” facial technology including determining optimal equipment placement, number of cameras necessary to capture photographs beyond the driver, and establish performance baselines. Comparative analysis will be performed on facial recognition matching algorithms being developed by academia and industry on images captured during operational tests. If found operationally viable in the test environment, a field trial will be initiated at a Southern border land POE.

6 Two of the most common reasons for not having a photo within DHS systems are flying as a U.S. citizen under military orders or as an alien who entered the United States without inspection.
7 Including the A4A, ACI-NA, AAAE, and IATA.

 

Fee Collections for Exit Activities

In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Pub. L. No. 114-113), Congress provided CBP with a fee-funded account for implementation of the biometric entry/exit system. Congress authorized up to $1 billion in fees to be deposited into the account through FY25.

CBP has completed a spend plan and acquisition plan to account for the execution of these funds, which are currently being evaluated as part of the DHS Acquisition Review Board.

Conclusion

DHS is aggressively moving forward in developing a comprehensive biometric exit system, in the land, air and sea environments. We are proud of our progress. We look forward to the technical demonstrations in major airports coming this summer, and will continue to share our ongoing findings with this Subcommittee.

We also know that considerable work remains to address overstays. It is not acceptable to have hundreds of thousands of people overstaying or otherwise violating the terms of their admission to the United States. The report identifies countries and categories of travelers where the problem is most acute. The Department will work with Congress in addressing this problem.

Chairman Cornyn, Ranking Member Durbin, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to testify today on this important issue. We look forward to answering your questions.

Keywords:  Visa Overstays, Biometric Exit System, biometrics, Visa Security Program

Written testimony of FEMA U.S. Fire Administration for a House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology hearing titled “U.S. Fire Administration and Fire Grant Programs Reauthorization: Examining Effectiveness & Priorities”

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: July 12, 2017

2318 Rayburn House Office Building

Good morning, Madam Chairman and Members of the Committee. My name is Denis Onieal, and I serve as Acting Assistant Administrator at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Acting United States Fire Administrator responsible for managing the United States Fire Administration (USFA) at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC). It gives me great pleasure to be here today to discuss the functions of the USFA.

Background

In 1974, Congress passed the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act that established the USFA and the National Fire Academy (NFA) to help decrease tragic loss due to fire and to promote the professional development of the fire and emergency medical services (EMS) community.

The USFA focuses on supplementing, not duplicating, existing programs of training, technology and research, data collection and analysis, and public education. Over the years, the USFA has adjusted to the constant changes and challenges facing the fire and EMS community - from all hazards to terrorism.

From the DHS/FEMA perspective, it’s important to recognize that every emergency, every Federal disaster, starts with a local emergency response. The fire and emergency services responded to 25 million local emergencies last year. To the extent that a community has well-trained, well-led cadre of fire and emergency responders, the emergency stays local. During incidents so large that the local forces are overwhelmed, the emergency becomes a disaster, triggering State and Federal response, assets and costs. It is in the interest of both DHS and FEMA to keep local emergencies local through fire department data analysis, fire prevention, public education and response.

In the case where the local responders are overwhelmed, it is important that the local forces integrate seamlessly with outside help – State and Federal – using the National Incident Management System and the Incident Command System. Not properly prepared and trained, the local forces will not integrate well with State and Federal assets resulting in increased loss of life and property and increased criticism of DHS/FEMA efforts. Through its training, data collection and analysis, research, and public education/prevention programs, the USFA helps prepare local first responders to protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards by partnering with State and local fire and emergency services and stakeholders to achieve the desired outcomes:

  1. Reducing all-hazards risks through preparedness, prevention, and mitigation.
  2. Promoting response, local planning, and preparedness for all hazards
  3. Enhancing the fire and emergency services capability to respond to and recover from all hazards
  4. Advancing the professional development of fire service personnel and other people engaged in fire prevention and control activities (Public Law 93-498).

Because of our collective efforts with fire and emergency services stakeholders in public safety education, fire prevention programs, inspections, fire and building code initiatives, and installation of smoke alarms and residential sprinkler systems, fire related deaths in the United States declined 11 percent from 2006-2015. In addition, the number of on-duty firefighter fatalities has decreased 28.9 percent during the same period. The USFA is committed to promoting health and safety for all of the Nation’s firefighting and EMS communities.

Strategic Framework

The USFA identified five broad goals as a framework to implement our mission: to provide national leadership to foster a solid foundation for our fire and emergency services stakeholders in prevention, preparedness and response.

These goals provide strategic and operational direction:

  1. Reduce Fire and Life Safety Risk through Preparedness, Prevention and Mitigation
  2. Promote Response, Local Planning and Preparedness for All Hazards
  3. Enhance the Fire and Emergency Services’ Capability for Response to and Recovery from All Hazards
  4. Advance the Professional Development of Fire Service Personnel and of Other People Engaged in Fire Prevention and Control Activities
  5. Establish and Sustain USFA as a Dynamic Organization

The USFA actively supports these goals in partnership with the fire and EMS community. We continue to evaluate and institute new initiatives as needed based on the current climate and existing challenges.

Trends and Challenges

While we have made great strides, the analysis of international and domestic fire statistics show the United States fire problem remains among the worst in the industrial world. There are a number of factors that contribute to the Nation’s fire problem beginning with the changing nature of the fire threat. Today, the intensity and severity of residential fires due to building construction, home design and furnishing materials, make safe evacuation more difficult than in the past.

The USFA works with partners to develop tactics and to update and revise curriculum and programs to effectively fight the evolving threat of residential fires.

Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)

There has been a rapid escalation of severe wildfire behavior over the past two decades. Consequently, there are increased risks to responders and citizens, greater home and property losses, higher costs, and larger threats to communities and landscapes. Drought contributes to these impacts. As communities continue to expand into wildland areas, the number of buildings damaged or destroyed in wildland fires increases. We must continue to assist communities in reducing risk and mitigating the impact of WUI fires.

The USFA plays an active leadership role in several intergovernmental and coordinating bodies including the Wildland Fire Leadership Council and provides subject matter expertise to the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group. Since the release of the National Strategy and the National Action Plan, the USFA works with WUI partners to continually promote and implement the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy.

The NFA provides six different courses to help fire departments and local communities contend with the growing risk of fire in the WUI. The courses focus on mitigation through community awareness, land use planning, adoption and code enforcement, and preparation of evacuation plans.

The USFA also developed a toolkit to assist fire and EMS departments with educating themselves and their communities about wildland fire threat and risks along with mitigation strategies. The toolkit contains community risk assessment tools, information on Fire Adapted Communities, related codes and standards, outreach mitigation materials, specialized community planning, and land use resources. There is also access to current research articles, links to local training for citizens and responders, and wildfire safety tips and messages to share through social media. This collection of WUI resources assists fire departments, community organizations, local governments, emergency managers, and citizens alike to strengthen the way their city, town, or community prepares for a wildfire emergency.

Demographics

As the population of older adults increases, National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data show that their risk of fire death increases. As the “baby boomers” begin to age, there is a projected increase in the number of fire and emergency medical services calls. The USFA is adjusting its training and programs to prepare for this shift in demographics. The use of residential sprinklers and smoke alarms together are a highly effective way to mitigate this increased risk. We are working diligently to promote the installation and use of residential fire sprinklers.

All Hazard Response

Between 2011 and 2015, fire and emergency services responded to an annual average of 142,490 technical rescues (such as vehicle extrications, swift water rescues and high-angle rescues) and 1,515 explosive bomb removals. It is not commonly known but about 20-25 percent of bomb disposal teams are part of fire departments. To provide perspective, in 2015 about 25 million incidents were reported to NFIRS. Of these, 64.5 percent were rescue and EMS; 4.5 percent were fires; 3.6 percent were hazardous conditions with no fire; and all other types of incidents accounted for 27.4 percent. The fire and emergency services have evolved well beyond a fire focus to encompass all hazard response.

Active Shooter/Mass Casualty Incidents (AS/MCIs)

Over 500 people have been killed in the Unites States in AS/MCIs since the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. AS/MCIs occur locally and impact fire, EMS, and police departments. The ambush on Dallas police offices on July 7, 2016 is an example of a collaborative effort where a Dallas Fire Department Captain and crew entered the active shooter scene to save police officers. The initial commanding officer for the Dallas Fire Department, Chief Tami Kayea, is a graduate of the NFA’s Executive Fire Officer Program. She publicly attributed her success in managing the initial response to that tragedy to the training she received at the NFA.

The USFA recognizes that it is essential to be at the forefront of this increasing demand on emergency providers by ensuring we offer educational and training materials to ensure incident safety. We clearly have a role and responsibility to all emergency responders for fire and fire-based EMS.

Fiscal Impacts

Thousands of Americans die each year, tens of thousands of people are injured, and property and business continuum losses reach billions of dollars. There are huge indirect costs of fire, such as temporary lodging, medical expenses, psychological damage and negative environmental impacts. The direct loss by fire in 2015 included 3280 civilian deaths, 15,700 civilian injuries and $14.3 billion in property loss. Someone is injured by fire every 34 minutes, killed every two and a half hours every day in America.

It is imperative to evaluate all aspects of USFA programs to realize the most effective way to do business. This evaluation is necessary at the Federal, State and local levels. The idea of maximizing limited resources to achieve optimal results is important for the sustainability of the Nation’s fire service and the livelihood of our communities. The USFA cooperates with others in the development of data collection tools to identify the location of at-risk populations and local fire and emergency trends. As instructor fees and student travel stipend costs increase, the NFA has begun converting some of its courses from residential delivery to mediated on-line delivery. While on-line training does increase costs, it also increases the number of people trained. Additionally, it makes NFA training available to those who cannot travel to the NETC.

Current Programs and Key Initiatives

The USFA programs and key initiatives are in support of the efforts of local communities to reduce the number of fires and fire related deaths and injuries. We champion Federal fire protection issues and coordinate information about fire programs.

National Fire Academy (NFA)

The NFA promotes the professional development of the fire and emergency services response community and other allied professionals engaged in fire prevention and control activities. We deliver training and education to first responders and community leaders to assist in the preparation and response to all emergencies. As a result, first responders are better prepared to manage hazards at the lowest possible level. The NFA provides a variety of education and training opportunities for command level fire officers, emergency managers, emergency responders, technical staff, and other allied professionals such as architects and engineers.

In Fiscal Year 2016, NFA provided 3,737 course offerings, reaching 103,257 students. Courses are delivered in classrooms at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC), and in classrooms throughout the United States in cooperation with State and local fire training agencies and colleges and universities. The NFA also has a robust system of online instructor mediated and self-study courses.

Students who attended NFA courses reported that courses have improved job performance and increased professional development. Through feedback from the NFA’s long-term, follow-on evaluation survey, 94.4 percent of students reported that their NFA course work helped increase their skills and enhance their job performance; and 90 percent of supervisors of students indicated that the information gained from the courses helped improve performance within their departments.

NFA continues to face the challenge of reaching America's estimated 1.3 million firefighters with meaningful education and performance-improvement training. In recognition of this challenge and need to further reach into a changing workforce, the NFA implemented significant curriculum enhancements that include mobile computing, webinars, podcasts, online training, and mediated online education and other adjuncts to classroom delivery.

Public Education and Awareness

The USFA serves as an information conduit to the fire, emergency services and allied professional communities. We distribute research findings and information through multiple channels including social media, our web site, the Learning and Resource Center, national radio and print, and other outreach efforts that directly reach our fire and emergency services’ practitioners. Critical issues such as community risk reduction, prevention, firefighter health and safety, the WUI, human trafficking and critical infrastructures are disseminated to our colleagues and partners every day. Our educational outreach effort create prevention and life safety infographics (i.e., graphics without words) for people with limited English language abilities. These tools help our fire departments get information about life-saving practices to large and small communities throughout the country. The USFA also leads the Fire is Everyone’s Fight (FIEF) national initiative to unite the fire service, life safety organizations and professionals in an effort to reduce home fire injuries, deaths and property loss by changing how people think about fire and fire prevention.

Data Collection and Analysis

The USFA assists State and local entities in collecting, analyzing and disseminating data and special reports on the occurrence, control, and consequences of all types of fires, emergency medical incidents, and other emergency activities through the efforts of the National Fire Data Center (NFDC). The NFDC tracks firefighter fatalities and conducts an analysis of the fatalities that occur each year.

The USFA is in the process of modernizing the NFIRS data entry browser tool along with other NFIRS web tool applications in order to improve overall system reliability, performance, ease of data entry, and system administration by fire departments and state users. The goal of the modernization is to make the software more user friendly and encourage further participation. The modernization will integrate user access to the NFIRS Data Warehouse which has been in use by USFA for several years and is now being rolled out to an increasing number of states and departments. The NFIRS Data Warehouse provides a much larger suite of standard reports and the ability to create new reports or modify existing ones. Data warehouse users are able to access, share, and compare incident data among departments, States, and nationally. Use of the data warehouse has allowed USFA to track data quality issues in near real-time and therefore improve the data used for annual analyses and data distribution. This tool assists USFA and the Nation’s fire service in identifying trends, developing focused prevention, and mitigating programs and measures.

Research and Technology

Supporting the DHS Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate, USFA staff serve as subject matter experts for first responder needs as they relate to firefighter health and safety. Working in collaboration with public and private partners, the USFA develops projects, provides technical expertise, and serves as federal liaison to the fire community for initiatives of mutual interest such as emergency vehicle and roadway safety, firefighter occupational health and safety, emergency medical services (EMS) issues, residential fire sprinklers, and smoke alarms. Some of the Federal agencies we partner with include the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology; Non-governmental partners include the NFPA; International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), National Volunteer Fire Council, International Fire Service Training Association, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

An example of this collaboration is the partnership with FEMA’s Mission Support office which resulted in the development and installation of fire sprinklers in temporary housing for disaster survivors. The USFA partnered with CPSC to conduct research on new smoke alarm technology and focused on the modernization of the 40 year old alarm devices for greater effectiveness and safety. We collaborated with the ORNL on the development of new technologies to detect direct current to protect responders from electrocution. The USFA is also working with the IAFF on a study of occupational violence to firefighters and EMS to find ways to mitigate attacks on first responders.

Emergency Response Support

To enhance response capacity and capability at the state, local, and tribal levels, the USFA supports the development of Type 3 All Hazard Incident Management Teams (AHIMT). Currently, there are 128 Type 3 AHIMTs strategically located in 44 states within the ten FEMA Regions. These teams are all-hazard responders and manage incidents ranging from wildfires to hurricanes to terrorism incidents. The Type 3 AHIMTs have been able to manage incidents that formerly utilized the National Type 1 or Type 2 Incident Management Teams, producing the same outcomes at a fraction of the costs. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) recognizes the operational value of Type 3 AHIMTs, considers them part of their response resource base, and has incorporated USFA’s training and development program into their core training requirements for future credentialing of Type 3 Incident Management Teams.

Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Roles and Responsibilities Framework

At the recommendation of the Government Accountability Office, the USFA signed an agreement with FEMA’s Grant Programs Directorate in December 2016. This agreement provides a framework for each component’s role and responsibility to improve the management of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. This collaboration is ongoing and will be reviewed and evaluated by Assistance to Firefighters Grant and USFA staff to ensure quality grant program management.

Conclusion

Madam Chairman, thank you for your time today. I appreciate the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of United States Fire Administration and the hard work of our staff. Today we know that annual losses from floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters combined, by comparison average just a mere fraction of fire loss. Your continued support is instrumental as we work together for a fire safe America. I am happy to answer any questions the Committee may have.

Keywords:  NETC, National Emergency Training Center, National Fire Academy, NFA, Assistance to FIrefighters Grant Programs

Statement by Secretary John F. Kelly

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 16:16
Release Date: July 7, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

Remarks as Delivered

 

MEXICO CITY - Today, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Mexican Secretary of Government Osorio Chong held a press availability to discuss the continued partnership between the two nations. Secretary Kelly’s remarks as delivered below:

I want to thank Secretary Osorio Chong and his team for hosting me today. We had a good, substantive conversation about our shared security priorities.

I have had a wonderful three days in Mexico, meeting with many members of the Mexican government.  I’d like to also thank President Peña Nieto, Secretaries Videgaray, Meade, and Osorio Chong, General Cienfugeos, Admiral Soberon, and Attorney General Cervantes for taking the time to meet with me.

I cannot stress enough how valuable the U.S.-Mexico relationship is to each of our nations, and I know Secretary Osorio Chong -- and everyone I have met with over the past three days — agrees.

When I signed on as Secretary of Homeland Security, President Trump and I had a long conversation about our nation’s partnership with Mexico. The President has been very clear about his desire to work with Mexico on many of our shared issues. 

You can see the Administration’s commitment to this partnership in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s significant interactions in Mexico, including one visit he shared with me a few months ago.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions will also be meeting with his Mexican counterpart in a couple of weeks.  These connections are an expression of the President’s intent to create stronger, durable bonds between our countries.

Mexico and the United States have a history of partnership, and it is natural for the two countries to work together to solve common problems in the region. We've had excellent operational cooperation in the security and law enforcement missions for years. Our intention now is to make those ties even stronger.  We recognize that our prosperity and security are intertwined, and that criminal networks grow in influence and power when our two countries do not work together. As a practical matter, that means looking towards new agreements where we can share information, training, infrastructure, and planning resources. We will accomplish this with mutual trust and support.

Mexico has taken the regional lead in economic development of the Northern Triangle – having just cohosted the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central American with the U.S.  They have also been coordinating with us on increasing efficiency to speed legitimate trade and travel across the most productive border in the world.  

We are also working together to defeat the scourge of illegal drugs, with special emphasis on the heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl that is flooding the hemisphere and resulting deaths in both our countries.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to travel to the southwest part of the country, to meet with General Cienfuegos and Admiral Soberon.  There I had the chance to talk with the soldiers and Marines working to eradicate mountainous poppy fields. As a former general, it was good to be out talking with the troops.  Particularly these troops, who put their lives on the line to stop the production and transfer of drugs that otherwise would make their way into the U.S. bringing the accompanying violence and death.

The United States lost 60,000 people to drug overdoses just last year, and the toll in Mexico among citizens and law enforcement agents and officers has also been very high. I acknowledged to my counterparts that America’s insatiable appetite for drugs is the cause of much of the turmoil on their side of the border.   I pledged to continue to work with our government – and anyone else who can help in this fight – to address drug demand reduction in the U.S.

Once again, thank you Secretary Osorio Chong, for your hospitality today.  I look forward to continuing our solid working relationship and meeting with you again soon.

 

# # #

 

Topics:  International Keywords:  Secretary Kelly, Mexico

Readout of Secretary Kelly’s Trip to Mexico

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 10:05
Release Date: July 7, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

On Wednesday and Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met with President Enrique Peña Nieto and other senior Mexican government officials in Mexico City. Discussions with the President, Secretaries Videgaray and Meade, and Attorney General Cervantes focused on security, trade facilitation, immigration control, drug interdiction, drug demand reduction in the United States and joint efforts to confront transnational organized crime. Secretary Kelly will meet with Secretary Osorio Chong on Friday.

Secretary Kelly, with other U.S. cabinet officials, has met regularly with the Government of Mexico in order to expand cooperation and align strategies on issues of mutual interest.

“Mexico is a great partner to the United States,” said Kelly. “We are actively discussing how we can jointly combat illicit traffic across our shared border, such as illegal immigration coming north, and bulk cash and firearms flowing south. We are also examining how we will use technologies, data-sharing, joint training and harmonized business practices to improve trade and legal travel between our countries, making it faster, more efficient and more secure.”

This is Secretary Kelly’s second trip to Mexico since becoming the Secretary of Homeland Security in January.

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Topics:  Border Security, Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Border Security, immigration enforcement, Secretary Kelly, Secretary John Kelly

Statement By Secretary John F. Kelly Commemorating Independence Day

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 13:00
Release Date: July 4, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

DHS to Welcome 15,000 New Citizens During Holiday

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly released the following statement commemorating Independence Day:

"Two hundred and forty-one years ago, our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence establishing the sovereignty of this nation and publicly declaring the right of each of its citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They believed that the strongest form of government is not based on any one man, but on the protection of these rights through law and order.

Ever since the declaration was signed, people have come to the United States in search of freedom and opportunity. We have welcomed countless immigrants to our shores—immigrants who have helped build our nation and shape our history. Immigrants who became important parts of our institutions.

As American citizens, we are bound together by the ideal that our democracy and dedication to freedom for all is worth defending. So worthy, that American men and women dedicate their lives to protecting it, serving at home and overseas, and sacrificing their time, health, and even lives for it. We can never thank them enough.

Over the next few days, nearly 15,000 men and women will raise their right hands, take an oath, and become naturalized citizens of the United States. These naturalization ceremonies are the culmination of their hard work, their faith in America, and their respect for our country’s laws and immigration process. As the Secretary of Homeland Security, I am honored to congratulate them and call them my fellow Americans.

To them, and to all Americans, I wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July."

Click here to view a complete list of 2017 Independence Day-themed naturalization ceremonies.

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Keywords:  naturalization ceremonies, July 4th

DHS Announces Implementation Of Travel Restriction Provisions

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 17:54
Release Date: June 29, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Departments of State and Justice, will begin the implementation of certain travel restriction provisions in the President’s Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States at 8 pm EDT today.

Per the Executive Order and the associated June 14 Presidential Memorandum, the temporary suspension of entry applies, with limited exceptions, only to foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, who are outside the United States as of June 26, who did not have a valid visa at 5 p.m. EST on January 27, and who do not have a valid visa as of 8 p.m. EDT on June 29.

For purposes of enforcement of Executive Order No. 13780, visas that have been issued by the Department of State prior to the effective date of the Executive Order -June 29 at 8 p.m. EDT- are to be considered as valid for travel and seeking entry into the United States unless revoked on a basis unrelated to EO 13780. Persons from the six countries presenting themselves for entry with a valid previously issued visa and who meet other universally applied entry requirements will be admitted.

The Department expects business as usual at our ports of entry upon implementation of the EO today. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are trained and prepared to professionally process in accordance with the laws of the United States persons with valid visas who present themselves for entry. We expect no disruptions to service.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in coordination with the Departments of State and Justice, has provided guidance to its workforce regarding the adjudication of refugee applications to ensure proper implementation of EO 13780 in light of the Supreme Court’s order.   

It remains true at all times that all individuals seeking entry to the United States remain subject to all laws governing entry into the U.S., including all rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, and any other relevant statutory authority and all extant presidential orders and directives.

The Executive Order’s Travel Restrictions do not apply to:
(a) Lawful permanent residents;
(b) Any foreign national admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after June 26, 2017;
(c) Non-Immigrant visa classifications: A-1, A-2, NATO 1 though NATO 6, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4;
(d) Any foreign national who has been granted asylum, any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States, or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture;
(e) Any foreign national who has a document other than a visa, valid on June 26, 2017 or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission, such as an advance parole document;
(f) Aliens who present at the port of entry boarding foils, including YY or ZZ boarding foils, or transportation letters, including those documents issued to follow-to-join asylees.
(g) Any dual national of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen who is traveling on a passport issued by a country other than one of those six countries.
(h) Any national who has obtained a waiver pursuant to the terms of the EO or any individual covered by the portion of the injunction not stayed by the Supreme Court’s decision, i.e., “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
(i) Any individual seeking admission as a refugee who, before 8 p.m. EDT on June 29, 2017, was formally scheduled for transit by the Department of State.  After 8 p.m. EDT on June 29, 2017, if a first-time refugee is issued travel documents, those documents are evidence that the refugee has been cleared for travel and the EO will not apply.

For more information, see the frequently asked questions.  

# # #

Topics:  Transportation Security Keywords:  Executive Order, travel security

Frequently Asked Questions on Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 17:28
Release Date: June 29, 2017Q1. Who is subject to the suspension of entry under the Executive Order?

Per the Executive Order and the June 14 Presidential Memorandum, the temporary suspension of entry applies, with limited exceptions, only to foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, who are outside the United States as of June 26, 2017, who did not have a valid visa at 5 p.m. EST on January 27, 2017, and who do not have a valid visa as on 8:00 p.m. EDT on June 29, 2017. Further, the Executive Order does not bar entry for individuals who are excluded from the suspension provision under the terms of the Executive Order, who obtain a waiver from the Department of State or U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or who demonstrate to the Department of State that they have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States pursuant to the Supreme Court’s Order of June 26, 2017.

Q2. How will this impact commercial air carriers?

DHS anticipates no operational impact to commercial carriers. Passengers are still required to present a valid visa or other entry document to travel to the Unites States. Passengers who present a valid visa or other entry document are presumed to be either outside the scope of the Executive Order, to have received a waiver from the travel restrictions, or to be covered by court injunctions. Passengers in possession of a valid visa or other entry document, irrespective of the date of issuance, should be boarded pursuant to the same operational procedures which were in place prior to the Supreme Court decision.

Q3. What about dual citizens?

Travelers will be processed according to the travel document they present. For example, if the traveler presents a Canadian passport, the Canadian passport will be used to process that traveler for entry.

Q4. What about refugees who are considered to be “in transit?”

The Executive Order does not apply to refugees who were formally scheduled for transit prior to 8:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 29, 2017. For refugees who are considered to be “in transit,” for whom application of the Executive Order remains enjoined, or for whom a waiver has been granted, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security have coordinated on the travel of these individuals.

Q5. I am a national from one of the six affected countries currently overseas and in possession of a valid visa, but I have no prior travel to the United States. Can I travel to the United States?

Foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen who have valid visas will not be affected by this Executive Order. No visas will be revoked based on the Executive Order. But visas may be revoked, or admission may be denied, based on legal requirements independent of the Executive Order.

Q6. I am presently in the United States in possession of a valid single entry visa but I am a national of one of the six impacted countries. Can I travel abroad and return to the United States?

Regardless of the Executive Order, you may not travel abroad and return to the United States on the same visa unless your visa is valid for multiple entries into the United States. While the Executive Order does not apply to those within the United States and your travel abroad is not limited, a valid visa or other document permitting you to travel to and seek admission to the United States is still required for any subsequent entry to the United States. If you were present in the United States on June 26, 2017, the Executive Order will not apply to you when you apply for a subsequent visa. Please contact the Department of State for additional information pertaining to applying for a new visa.

Q7. I am presently in the United States in possession of a valid multiple entry visa but am a national of one of the six affected countries, can I travel abroad and return to the United States?

Yes. Individuals within the United States with valid multiple entry visas on June 26, 2017 are eligible for travel to and from the United States, provided the visa remains valid and the traveler is otherwise admissible. All foreign nationals traveling with a visa must satisfy all admissibility requirements for entry. Additional information on applying for admission to the United States is available at CBP.gov.

Q8. I am from one of the six countries, currently in the United States in possession of a valid visa and have planned overseas travel. My visa will expire while I am overseas, can I return to the United States?

Travelers must have a valid visa to travel to the United States, regardless of the Executive Order. Travelers who do not have a valid visa due to its expiration while abroad must obtain a new valid visa prior to returning to the United States. If you were present in the United States on June 26, 2017, the Executive Order will not apply to you when you apply for a subsequent visa. Please contact the Department of State for additional information pertaining to applying for a new visa.

Q9. Will the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS) be revoking the visas of persons ineligible to travel under the revised Executive Order?

No. Visas will not be revoked based on the Executive Order. Visas may be revoked based on legal requirements independent of the Executive Order. The Department of State has broad authority under Section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to revoke visas.

Q10. What is the process for overseas travelers affected by the Executive Order to request a waiver?

Waivers for overseas travelers who are affected by the EO will, if appropriate, be adjudicated by the Department of State. Please contact the Department of State for additional information.

Q11. How are returning refugees and asylees affected by the Executive Order?

Returning refugees and asylees, i.e., individuals who have already been granted asylum or refugee status in the United States, are explicitly excluded from this Executive Order. As such, they may continue to travel abroad and return to the United States consistent with existing requirements.

Q12. Are first-time arrival refugees with valid travel documents allowed to travel to the United States?

Yes, but only refugees, regardless of nationality, whose travel was already formally scheduled by the Department of State, or for whom the Department of State has determined that a waiver is warranted under the Executive Order, or for whom the Executive Order remains enjoined pursuant to the Supreme Court’s order, are permitted to travel to the United States and seek admission. The Department of State will have additional information.

Q13. Will unaccompanied minors within the scope of the Executive Order be denied boarding and or denied entry into the United States?

The Executive Order applies to those who do not have valid visas and are not otherwise exempt. Any individuals, including children, who seek entry to the United States must have a valid visa (or other approved travel document) before travel to the United States. The Department of State will determine whether the Executive Order is enjoined with respect to a particular individual and, if appropriate, may issue a waiver on a case-by-case basis when in the national interest of the United States notwithstanding the suspension of entry under the Executive Order.

Q14. Is DHS complying with all court orders?

DHS is complying, and will continue to comply, with all court orders in effect.

Q15. When will the Executive Order be implemented?

The Executive Order indicated an effective date of 12:01 A.M., Eastern Daylight Time, on March 16, 2017. Before the Order took effect, however, the travel restrictions in Sections 2 and 6 were enjoined by Federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland. Those injunctions were partially stayed by the Supreme Court. Accordingly, pursuant to the June 14, 2017 Presidential Memorandum, agencies will begin to implement the travel restrictions found in the Executive Order at 8:00 p.m. EDT on June 29, 2017.

Q16. Will the Executive Order impact Trusted Traveler Program membership?

No. Currently, CBP does not have reciprocal agreements for a Trusted Traveler Program with any of the countries designated in the Executive Order. Additionally, citizens of one of the designated countries who hold lawful permanent resident status and who are Trusted Traveler Program members will not have their membership revoked as a result of the Executive Order.

Q17. When will CBP issue guidance to both the field and airlines regarding the Executive Order?

CBP will issue guidance and contact stakeholders to ensure timely implementation consistent with the terms of the Executive Order.

Q18. If I receive a valid immigrant visa from the Department of State and I am a first-time arrival, will I be allowed to travel to the U.S.?

Yes. Individuals holding valid immigrant visas do not fall within the scope of the Executive Order. You will, however, be subject to all laws and regulations governing entry into the U.S.

Q19. Does this affect travelers at all ports of entry?

Yes, this Executive Order applies to travelers who are applying for entry into the United States at any port of entry—air, land, or sea. Additionally, the Executive Order will be applied to processing travelers at preclearance locations.

Q20. What does granting a waiver to the Executive Order mean? How are waivers applied to individual cases?

Per the Executive Order, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as delegated, and the Department of State can review individual cases and grant waivers on a case-by-case basis if a foreign national demonstrates that his or her entry into the United States is in the national interest, will not pose a threat to national security, and that denying entry during the suspension period will cause undue hardship.

Q21. Does “from one of the six countries” mean citizen, national, or born in?

The Executive Order applies to both nationals and citizens of the six countries.

Q22. Will nationals of the six countries with valid green cards (lawful permanent residents of the United States) be allowed to return to the United States?

Per the Executive Order, the suspension of entry does not apply to lawful permanent residents of the United States.

Q23. Can a dual national who holds nationality with one of the six designated countries traveling with a passport from an unrestricted country travel to the United States?

The Executive Order exempts from the entry suspension any dual national of one of the six countries when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country.Can a dual national who holds nationality with one of the six designated countries and is currently overseas, apply for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa to the United States?Please contact the Department of State for information about how the Executive Order applies to visa applicants.

Q24. Will landed immigrants of Canada affected by the Executive Order be eligible for entry to the United States?

Landed immigrants of Canada who hold passports from one of the six countries are eligible to apply for a visa, and coordinate a waiver, at a location within Canada.

Q25. Has CBP issued clear guidance to CBP officers at ports of entry regarding the Executive Order?

CBP has issued and will continue to issue any needed guidance to the field with respect to this Executive Order.

Q26. What coordination is being done between CBP and the carriers?

CBP has been and will remain in continuous communication with the airlines through CBP regional carrier liaisons. In addition, CBP will hold executive level calls with airlines in order to provide guidance, answer questions, and address concerns.

Q27. What additional screening will nationals of restricted countries (as well as any visa applications) undergo as a result of the Executive Order?

In making admission and visa eligibility determinations, DHS and DOS will continue to apply all appropriate security vetting procedures.

Q28. Is USCIS continuing to interview refugee applicants for admission?

Yes. However, USCIS officers have been instructed that they should not approve a refugee application unless the officer is satisfied that the applicant’s relationship complies with the requirement to have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States and was not formed for the purpose of evading the Executive Order. Alternatively and until the 50,000 ceiling has been met, Section 6(c) permits the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State to jointly determine that refugee applicants can be interviewed and considered for admission if the entry is in the national interest and does not pose a threat to the security or welfare of the United States.

Q29. How is USCIS determining whether a refugee applicant has a relationship to a person in the United States?

The Supreme Court explained, “For individuals, a close familial relationship is required. . . .” A “close family” relationship includes: a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and sibling, whether whole or half. This includes step relationships. However, “close family” does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law and any other “extended” family members.A refugee will be considered to have a credible claim to a bona fide relationship with a person in the United States upon presentation of sufficient documentation or other verifiable information supporting that relationship.

Q30. How is USCIS determining whether a refugee applicant has a relationship to an entity in the United States?

The Supreme Court explained, “As for entities, the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the Executive Order].” A refugee who has a relationship with an entity in the United States that is formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course will be considered to have a credible claim to a bona fide relationship with that entity upon presentation of sufficient documentation or other verifiable information supporting that relationship.

Q31. Are resettlement agencies or attorneys that will sponsor or represent a refugee for resettlement deemed to satisfy the bona fide relationship with an entity in the United States?

The fact that a resettlement agency in the United States has provided an assurance for a refugee seeking admission, or that an organization has engaged in representational activity for the purpose of assisting a refugee to seek admission is not sufficient in and of itself to establish a bona fide relationship for that refugee with an entity in the United States.

Q32. Are only refugees from one of the six countries affected prevented from traveling if they do not have a bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States?

No. Under the Executive Order as limited by the Supreme Court’s decision, any refugee, regardless of nationality, is prevented from admission to the United States unless he or she (1) demonstrates a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States or (2) obtains a national interest waiver from the Department of State or CBP.

Q33. How long will the refugee suspension be in place?

The Executive Order provides for a 120 day suspension of refugee admissions.

Q34. Nearly 50,000 refugees have already been admitted to the United States this fiscal year. Will refugees with a bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States be allowed to be admitted even if the 50,000 ceiling has been reached?

Yes. In its June 26, 2017 opinion, the Supreme Court decided that the injunction with respect to Section 6(b) was stayed in part. The 50,000 ceiling for FY 2017 cannot be enforced against “an individual seeking admission as a refugee who can credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Q35. Will family members planning to join refugees and asylees be permitted to travel?

Family members planning to join refugees or asylees are only approved for travel if a bona fide relationship to a spouse or parent in the United States exists. Therefore, if the relationship were confirmed, the travel suspension would not apply.

Q36. What is the status of the provision of the Executive Order that directs the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to review the USRAP application and adjudication processes to determine what additional procedures should be used to ensure that individuals seeking admission as refugees do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States?

This review is underway and DHS, in concert with DOS, law enforcement agencies, and the intelligence community are working together to identify enhanced vetting procedures to ensure program integrity and national security.

Five Country Ministerial 2017: Joint Communiqué

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 19:27
Release Date: June 28, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

We, the Interior Ministers, Immigration Ministers, and Attorneys General of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States met in Ottawa on June 26, 2017, to discuss both national security challenges facing our nations and proactive areas for collaboration. Our five country partnership, founded after the Second World War and strengthened during the Cold War, is more relevant today than ever as we deal with the relentless threats of terrorism, violent extremism, cyber-attacks, and international instability, while retaining our deep commitment to the shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Countering violent extremism

The safety and security of our citizens, whether at home or abroad, continues to be threatened by terrorist groups and the individuals who support them. The recent attacks in Manchester; London; Melbourne; Flint, Michigan; Sainte-Foy, Quebec; and Finsbury Park have tragically demonstrated that our five countries are not immune to terrorism – and other forms of violent extremism – and can be targets of terrorist and violent extremist groups and those who support them. During the Five Country Ministerial meeting, we committed to joint efforts to counter the spread of violent extremism and recruitment efforts by extremist groups that advocate and utilize violence to achieve their objective. Ministers further committed to:

  • A shared approach to engaging with Communication Service Providers to address online terrorist activities and propaganda, and to support a new industry forum led by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter.
  • Collectively enhancing knowledge on key issues such as design and support for local-level initiatives and sharing of best practices in prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation, such as approaches to mitigating the threat posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters and their families.
  • Examine the role of traditional and social media and community voices in facilitating or disrupting processes of radicalization to violence or the threat of terrorist propaganda, and to support effective practices in this area.
  • Promote research on programs to identify and build upon those with greatest effectiveness.
Global migration and refugee systems

We recognize the sovereign right of each nation to establish a lawful system of immigration that prioritizes public safety and the well-being of its citizens, while providing lawful immigrants an opportunity to make positive contributions to society. The Ministers affirmed that our countries intend to work together to understand global migration challenges, recognizing the importance of sovereignty, public safety, strengthened border security and human rights. The Ministers discussed joint efforts in border technology innovation and the importance of continued cooperation on screening and vetting of travelers, migrants and refugees. Ministers also committed to support border agencies in better using publicly available information for screening. They recognized the importance of distinguishing between economic migrants and those who seek protection, the potential benefits of legal pathways for migration depending on each country's domestic interests, and the right to return persons found not to have the legal right to remain. Ministers also discussed the importance of keeping refugees and migrants as close to home as possible - ideally in the country of first asylum - and the benefits of programs and support networks in countries neighbouring conflict zones.

Security cooperation on border management and human trafficking and aviation security

A joint meeting between the Five Country Ministerial and the Quintet of Attorneys General provided the opportunity to discuss the tools available for sharing information on criminal activities and national security issues, including terrorism and human trafficking. The recent brutal attacks in the UK, Afghanistan and elsewhere also serve as a reminder that Daesh and its affiliates will continue to attack soft targets in public spaces. In order to help prevent these sophisticated and relentless plots, the Ministers and Attorneys General affirmed that sharing information among partners on known criminal and terrorist actors is vital. Therefore, we committed to explore more timely and detailed information sharing on the detection of terrorist and foreign terrorist fighter movements, and to explore possibilities to further improve criminal information sharing practices. We also discussed the need to enhance the international response to human trafficking and modern slavery. To enable targeted action, the Ministers and Attorneys General agreed to direct their law enforcement agencies to share experiences of how partners are tackling this global challenge and identify opportunities for joint operations. Ministers also agreed to work together to better deter, detect and disrupt terrorist travel and to raise the baseline of aviation security globally to protect the traveling public against terrorist threats.

Cybersecurity

Ministers and Attorneys General noted their concerns with the recent cyber events that have affected various institutions and individuals in all of our countries. The “WannaCry” ransomware attack, which began on May 12th and impacted individuals in over 150 countries, is an unfortunate reminder that cyberattacks are increasing. To address cybersecurity threats, we note the robust cooperation underway between our five countries on cyber issues and note our collective efforts to study and assess key emerging issues and trends in cyber security to prevent, detect and respond to cyber threats.

Encryption

Ministers and Attorneys General also noted that encryption can severely undermine public safety efforts by impeding lawful access to the content of communications during investigations into serious crimes, including terrorism. To address these issues, we committed to develop our engagement with communications and technology companies to explore shared solutions while upholding cybersecurity and individual rights and freedoms.

Conclusion

We decided today on concrete steps to address issues and new challenges related to countering violent extremism, migration and refugees, security cooperation on border management and human trafficking, and encryption. While our five countries share similar security challenges that predicate this strong collective response, we more importantly share a history of cooperation, friendship, and common values. We are committed to building on this past cooperation in national security affairs and remain accountable for the steps we have pledged to take today. Throughout these discussions, we affirmed that building public trust within our countries is required to move forward on national security issues. Enhanced safeguards and greater efforts to promote transparency are critical in this respect.

The Five Country Ministerial and Quintet meeting of Attorneys General were hosted by Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, in collaboration with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen. They met with their international counterparts from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United Sates and New Zealand. These included George Brandis, Australian Attorney General; Peter Dutton, Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection; Christopher Finlayson, New Zealand Attorney-General; Michael Woodhouse, New Zealand Minister of Immigration; Amber Rudd, United Kingdom Home Secretary; John Kelly, United States Secretary of Homeland Security; and Jeff Sessions, United States Attorney General.

Ottawa, June 27 2017

# # #

Topics:  Countering Violent Extremism Keywords:  countering violent extremism, countering terrorism

Secretary John F. Kelly Announces New Aviation Security Enhancements

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 16:30
Release Date: June 28, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

Remarks as Prepared

Today, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly announced enhanced security screening measures for all commercial flights to the United States. Prepared remarks below:

We have a lot of ground to cover today. Our nation is being targeted daily by terrorists, criminals, hackers, nation states, and more. But I want to focus my brief remarks this afternoon on aviation security and the very real threat we face.

The world’s first commercial flight took to the skies more than a hundred years ago. It was a simple two-seat plane made of spruce and linen. And on New Year’s Day 1914, it took a maiden voyage from St. Petersburg to Tampa—flying 64 miles per hour at a low cruising altitude of 50 feet.

It may not sound like much. But a journey that took 20 hours by car now took a mere 20 minutes. Commercial aircraft was a marvel—and the world was never the same.

But history has shown us that with new innovations come new threats. And just 20 years after that Tampa flight, the world saw its first attack on commercial aviation when a bomb took down a United Airlines flight from Chesterton, Indiana to Chicago. All on board were killed, and the case was never solved.

Since that time we have continued to be confronted by threats to passenger aircraft. This isn’t a new issue. But the threat has evolved.

Since 9/11, the United States has seen a series of attempted attacks on commercial aviation. A shoe bomber. Liquid explosives. An underwear bomber. And a plot to detonate explosive cargo. Most of these were disrupted just in time, but our enemies have not always failed.

In 2015, for instance, ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing of Metrojet Flight 9268, which killed all 224 people on board, and became the deadliest air disaster in Russia’s history.

Terrorists want to bring down aircraft to instill fear, disrupt our economies, and undermine our way of life. And it works—which is why they still see aviation as a crown jewel target.

The threat has not diminished. In fact, I am concerned that we are seeing renewed interest on the part of terrorist groups to go after the aviation sector—from bombing aircraft to attacking airports on the ground, as we saw in Brussels and Istanbul.

However, we are not standing on the sidelines while fanatics hatch new plots. The U.S. government is focused on deterring, detecting, and disrupting these threats.

That is why in March I made the decision to ban electronic devices larger than a cell phone from the passenger cabins of U.S.-bound commercial flights from ten airports in the Middle East and North Africa.

I made that call based on evaluated intelligence and real concerns we had about terrorist plotting. Make no mistake: our enemies are constantly working to find new methods for disguising explosives, recruiting insiders, and hijacking aircraft.

I’ve made a point to talk with everyone I can about securing aviation. I’ve met with our international partners. I’ve met with our industry leaders. I’ve met with other private sector stakeholders.

My conclusion is this: it is time to raise the global baseline of aviation security.

Learn more about these aviation security measures and read the Secretary’s full prepared remarks.

# # #

Topics:  Transportation Security Keywords:  airport security, aviation security

Written testimony of CBP for a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations hearing titled “H.R. 2851, Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017”

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 00:00
Release Date: June 27, 2017

2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, and distinguished Members of Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the role of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in combating the flow of dangerous synthetic drugs, including synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, into the United States.

As America’s unified border agency, CBP plays a critical role in the Nation’s efforts to keep dangerous synthetic drugs out of the hands of the American public. Interdicting drugs at and in between our Ports of Entry (POEs), leveraging targeting and intelligence-driven strategies, and working with our partners to combat Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) are key components of our multi-layered, risk-based approach to enhance the security of our borders. This layered approach reduces our reliance on any single point or program and extends our zone of security outward ensuring our physical border is not the first or last line of defense, but one of several.

Synthetic Drug Trends, Interdictions, and Challenges

Several different types of illicit synthetic drugs, also called “designer drugs” are currently being sold to end-users in the United States, including synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones,2 and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Interdicting illicit synthetic drugs is both challenging and complex. Illicit synthetic opioids in particular present very real health and safety risks to law enforcement personnel and first responders, as well as to end users. In its pure powder form, fentanyl is approximately 50-100 times more potent in its intensity, speed of action, and effect on organs than morphine, and, at first glance, it is often mistaken for other drugs which appear as white powders such as cocaine or heroin.

The majority of illicit synthetic drugs trafficked into the United States are produced in other countries and are principally smuggled through international mail facilities, express consignment carrier facilities, or through POEs along the Southern land border. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, CBP officers and agents seized or disrupted more than 3.3 million pounds of narcotics across the country,3 including approximately 46,000 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately 200,000 pounds of cocaine, and approximately 4,800 pounds of heroin. CBP seizures of fentanyl, the most frequently seized synthetic opioid, remain relatively small compared to heroin, but have significantly increased over the past three years, from approximately two pounds seized in FY 2013 to approximately 440 pounds seized in FY 2016. While fentanyl is the most frequently-seized synthetic opioid, CBP has also encountered various types of fentanyl analogues.4 Additionally, CBP interdicted approximately 2,660 pounds of synthetic cannabinoids1 in FY 2015; approximately 1,214 pounds in FY 2016; and approximately 834 pounds to date in FY 2017. Between April 2016 and April 2017 CBP encountered 38 unique cathinones and 29 unique cannabinoids.

One way in which illicit synthetic drugs enter the United States is through online purchases which are delivered to domestic purchasers via U.S. mail or express consignment couriers. DTOs and individuals purchase illicit synthetic drugs online. DTOs and individuals can also access open source and dark web marketplaces for the tools needed for manufacturing synthetic drugs. In the case of fentanyl, powdered fentanyl, pill presses, and binding agents can be purchased online and then shipped into the United States, primarily using the U.S. Mail or express consignment couriers. We assess these transactions made over both the open and dark webs and comprised of smaller quantities of fentanyl (less than one kilogram) will likely continue in FY 2017. Based on increased flow and improved detection capabilities, CBP anticipates that illicit synthetic opioid seizures will rise over FY 2017.

U.S. law enforcement suspects that there are also some clandestine fentanyl production labs in Mexico that likely obtain precursor chemicals from China. Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are sometimes mixed into heroin to increase drug potency. Synthetic opioids mixed with adulterants are also sold to U.S. end users. These practices stretch the product of DTOs, increasing profits. The practice also increases the safety risk to heroin users, who are sold heroin of unpredictable strengths and compositions. Along the Southwest border, the practice of mixing synthetic opioids into heroin makes it more challenging for CBP to accurately quantify how much synthetic opioid is seized at the border.

In the mail and express consignment environments, DTOs and individual purchasers move synthetic drugs such as fentanyl in small quantities to try to evade detection, making targeting a challenge in both the mail and express consignment environments.5 In the express consignment environment, shipments are processed at 26 facilities located throughout the United States. Prior to arrival of the express parcels, CBP reviews the manifest information transmitted by the express consignment operators and targets those packages requiring examination. All parcels presented to CBP for examination are subjected to Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) to include X-Ray and Radiation Portal Monitoring. CBP operates in all 26 facilities nationwide.

CBP also operates within nine major International Mail Facilities (IMF), inspecting international mail arriving from more than 180 countries. In the mail environment, the lack of advanced manifest data which would aid in targeting shipments, and the sheer volume of mail and the hazardous nature of various types of synthetic drugs, present challenges to interdicting synthetic opioids. The processing of inbound international mail is primarily manual, requiring CBP Officers to sort through large bags or bins of parcels.

Despite these challenges, CBP officers continue to utilize experience and trained intuition to target suspect packages for inspection. On April 20, 2017, CBP Officers working at the IMF in Chicago, Illinois intercepted a package from China destined for LaFayette, Indiana that was not manifested and had no declared value. CBP Officers selected the package for further examination due to prior seizures utilizing similar packaging. A physical examination of the package revealed 2.27 pounds of a fentanyl analogue. CBP has also worked in coordination with local police departments, as in the case of a man arrested in Rohnert Park, California in late 2016 for collecting a package shipped internationally through the mail containing $30,000 worth of MDMA, also called Ecstasy or Molly.6

In the land border environment, CBP uses the same drug-interdiction methodology to seize illicit synthetic drugs arriving from Mexico as it uses to detect other illicit drugs. However, the detection of illicit synthetic drugs in particular remains challenging. Just as the illicit drug manufacturers seek to outpace the law with new drug analogues, new drug analogues can come and go faster than the canine training needed to detect these emerging drugs.

1 Synthetic cannabinoids are drugs that do not contain marijuana but are pharmacologically similar to tetrahydrocannabinol. (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6527a2.htm)
2 Synthetic cathinones, more commonly known as "bath salts," are synthetic drugs chemically related to cathinone, a stimulant found in the khat plant. (https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts)
3 FFY 2016 Border Security Report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2016-Dec/CBP-fy2016-border-security-report.pdf
4 These include: acetylfentanyl, butyrylfentanyl, beta-hydroxythiofentanyl, para-fluorobutyrylfentanyl, pentanoylfentanyl, alpha-methyl acetylfentanyl, para-fluoroisobutyrylfentanyl, para-fluorofentanyl, carfentanil, furanylfentanyl, and most recently benzodioxolefentanyl, acrylfentanyl, and methoxyacetylfentanyl. Also, CBP’s LSSD has presumptively identified n-hexanoyl fentanyl and benzoyl fentanyl, and are working diligently to confirm these new substances.
5 CBP’s Laboratories and Scientific Services Directorate (LSSD) has observed the range of synthetic cathinone and cannabinoid samples to be as small as one gram to as large as one kg, with the typical sample weight around 250 – 500 grams.
6 Per http://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Rohnert-Park-man-busted-in-club-drug-smuggling-10623082.php?ipid=gsa-sfgate-result

 

CBP Resources and Capabilities to Detect, Target and Interdict Fentanyl

CBP, with the support of Congress, has made significant investments and improvements in our drug detection technology and targeting capabilities. These resources, along with enhanced information sharing and partnerships, are critical components of CBP’s ability to identify and deter the entry of dangerous illicit drugs in all operational environments.

CBP’s National Targeting Center (NTC)

Global trade and travel continue to increase in pace, and threats to the United States and our allies continue to evolve. Adversaries are always attempting to exploit vulnerabilities in global travel and supply chains. The NTC is the entity within CBP where advance data and access to law enforcement and intelligence records converge to facilitate the targeting of those travelers and items of cargo which pose the highest risk to our security- in all modes of inbound transportation. The NTC employs a layered enforcement strategy taking in large amounts of data and using sophisticated targeting tools and subject matter expertise to analyze, assess, and segment risk at every stage in the trade and travel life cycles. As the focal point of that strategy, the NTC leverages classified, law enforcement, commercial, and open-source information in unique, proactive ways to identify high-risk travelers and shipments at the earliest possible point prior to arrival in the United States.

CBP’s NTC – Cargo (NTC-C) Narcotics Targeting team addresses illicit narcotics smuggling on a global scale through an aggressive targeting and analysis program, identifying narcotics smuggling schemes. NTC-C leads CBP efforts to identify and respond to global trends and patterns in the narcotics trade. NTC-C narcotics analysts have identified numerous smuggling trends and combatted DTOs by successfully identifying shipments of drugs, pill presses, and precursor chemicals.7

To bolster its targeting mission, the dedicated men and women of the NTC collaborate with critical partners on a daily basis including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA/OCI), other members of the Intelligence Community, and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). Moreover, NTC works in close coordination with several pertinent taskforces including the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, and the Joint Interagency Task Force-West, as well as the Department’s Joint Task Force-West and Joint Task Force–Investigations.

Non-Intrusive Inspection Equipment

At our nation’s POEs CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) utilizes technology, such as NII x-ray and gamma ray imaging systems and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) equipment to detect the illegal transit of synthetic drugs hidden on people, in cargo containers, and in other conveyances entering through POEs, and at international mail and express consignment carrier facilities. Since September 11, 2001, NII technology has been a cornerstone of the CBP multi-layered enforcement strategy. As of May 1, 2017, 304 Large-Scale (LS) NII systems have been deployed to, and in between, our POEs. In FY 2016, LS-NII systems were used to conduct more than 6.5 million examinations resulting in more than 2,600 seizures and over 163,128 kilograms (359,636 pounds) of seized narcotics.8

Advance Information, Targeting, and Information Sharing

Substantive and timely information sharing is critical in targeting and interdicting shipments as well as individuals who move drugs and illicit merchandise from the POEs to their destinations throughout the United States. CBP contributes to the whole-of-government effort to identify and disrupt sophisticated routes and networks used by DTOs for the smuggling of illicit drugs by sharing critical information on individuals and cargo with investigative and intelligence partner agencies.

An important element of CBP’s layered security strategy is obtaining advance information to help identify shipments that are potentially at a higher risk of containing contraband. Under the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act or SAFE Port Act of 2006, (Pub. L. No. 109-347), CBP has the legal authority to collect key air and maritime cargo data elements provided by air, sea, and land commercial transport companies (carriers) — including express consignment carriers and importers. This information is automatically fed into CBP’s Automated Targeting System, an intranet-based enforcement and decision support system that compares cargo and conveyance information against intelligence and other enforcement data.

CBP is working to implement the same effective module in the international mail environment. USPS receives mail from more than 180 countries, the vast majority of which arrives via commercial air or surface transportation. As discussed above, inbound international mail inspections are largely conducted by hand. The international mail system is not integrated and there are few opportunities for foreign postal administrations to provide advance manifest data to USPS (which may then be passed on to CBP).

Hence within the mail environment, CBP Officers must rely on intelligence, selectivity, risk management, and physical or X-ray examinations to carry out their enforcement mission. CBP and the USPS have been conducting an advance data pilot on express mail and e-packets from some countries. CBP and USPS continue to work together to improve this metric to meet both agencies’ performance expectations, and CBP continues to work with the USPS and the Universal Postal Union to address the issue of electronic advanced data.9

Because of the complex tracking used by express consignment carriers, when CBP identifies a high risk shipment in the express consignment environment, it has the ability to place an electronic hold and to notify the carriers that a particular parcel needs to be presented to CBP for inspection. The major international air shipping carriers have a tracking number system that allows them to pull these parcels for inspection when they are scanned into the computer system as arriving at their particular air hubs.

7 The two main materials that are used to produce fentanyl, NPP and ANPP, are federally regulated. However, other precursor chemicals used to produce fentanyl are currently non-regulated and have legitimate uses. CBP has the authority to seize precursor chemicals if they can be identified as having illicit end-uses, including the production of illicit drugs. CBP targets precursor chemicals transiting the United States with destinations to Mexico and other countries. When these shipments are identified through interagency collaboration as having illicit end-uses, the shipments are offloaded for further inspection and enforcement action by external agencies such as the DEA and ICE-HSI.
In addition to targeting illicit substances directly, CBP targets related equipment such as pill presses and tablet machines. DEA regulates pill press/tablet machines. Additionally there is an ICE HSI Special Agent assigned to the DEA Special Operations Division (SOD) who oversees the investigations of pill press/tablet machine imports being diverted for illicit uses. The Diversion Coordinator works closely with the NTC to identify and target individuals importing and diverting pill press/tablet machines to produce fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. In FY 2014, 24 pill press/tablet machines were seized by CBP, and the number increased to 51 in FY 2015 and 58 in FY 2016.
8 Recent specific examples include: On May 8, 2017, CBP Officers at the Port of San Ysidro, California, discovered 23.99 pounds of fentanyl and 23.90 pounds of methamphetamine concealed in the spare tire of a privately owned vehicle. On April 26, 2017, CBP Officers at the Port of Nogales, Arizona, seized 23.15 pounds of fentanyl concealed within the dashboard of a privately owned vehicle.
9 49 U.S.C. 44901(a) states: “The Under Secretary of Transportation for Security shall provide for the screening of all passengers and property, including United States mail, cargo, carry-on and checked baggage, and other articles, that will be carried aboard a passenger aircraft.” Under 49 U.S.C. 1540.5, “Cargo means property tendered for air transportation accounted for on an air waybill. All accompanied commercial courier consignments whether or not accounted for on an air waybill, are also classified as cargo. Aircraft operator security programs further define the term “cargo.” Under this TSA regulation, international mail destined for the United States is considered air cargo and, as a result, is subject to all existing security controls. These security controls, which include screening for explosives and other unauthorized incendiary items in accordance with TSA regulations and security program requirements, are applied outside the United States prior to transporting international mail on aircraft regulated by TSA. These requirements are not dependent on advance electronic manifest data, as provided by express consignment operators and other participants in the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) pilot program.
Upon arrival in the United States, all international mail requested for inspection by CBP is turned over to CBP by USPS. CBP screens all international mail for radiological threats, x-rays all international mail packages presented by USPS, and physically examines those deemed to be high-risk. Although this process is largely manual and labor intensive, CBP is able to identify items that pose a risk to homeland security and public safety while facilitating legitimate mail.

 

Laboratory Testing

Due to the risk of unintentional exposure and subsequent hazardous drug absorption and/or inhalation, the confirmatory testing for the presence of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl is best executed in a laboratory by trained scientists and technicians. Expedited analysis can have a turnaround time of a day or two; the turnaround time for non-expedited samples can be up to two months.10 CBP’s Laboratories and Scientific Services Directorate (LSSD) has the necessary laboratory technology and resources to test for synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and its analogues.

CBP’s most effective means of performing illicit synthetic drug detection in the field is its triage program which utilizes ruggedized FTIR equipment whose data is transmitted to scientific personnel to provide presumptive results within one business day. LSSD is working to expand the field testing program, along with the scientific assets and personnel who are able to provide real-time chemical composition determinations.11

The composition and size of smuggled packages seized at the Land Ports of Entry (LPOE) are different than those seized in transit through that mail. The narcotics seized through the mail usually have a purity greater than 90 percent with the exception of two drug classes: naturally occurring drugs12 and certain forms of steroids. In contrast, the purity of seizures along the Southwest border, and particularly of synthetic opioids, average about seven percent controlled substance content due to the DTO practice of mixing synthetic opioids with other substances.

Additionally, DTOs continually adjust their operations to circumvent detection and interdiction by law enforcement, quickly taking advantage of technological and scientific advancements and improving fabrication and concealment techniques. Smugglers use a wide variety of tactics and techniques for concealing drugs. CBP Officers regularly find drugs concealed in body cavities, taped to bodies (body carriers), hidden inside vehicle seat cushions, gas tanks, dash boards, tires, packaged food, household and hygiene products, in checked luggage, and concealed in construction materials on commercial trucks.

Accordingly, different techniques and instrumentation are used to detect illicit drugs at the different venues. When illicit drugs are seized from the mail, the data is transmitted to LSSD for interpretation, without the instrument providing an analysis directly to the officer, while at the LPOEs, the instruments provides a read-out to the Officer and Agents. Recently deployed field instrumentation may be tried such as Gemini or TruNarc instruments; the instrument will make its best guess as to the identification of the product. The low purity levels of synthetic opioids found along the Southwest border, the detection limits of the instruments, and the instrument’s ability to correctly interpret chemical spectra at these low levels, all add to the difficulty of detecting synthetic opioids in this environment. As such, the best way to combat the ever-changing designer drug industry is LSSD’s Field Triage Infrared Reachback program. When any synthetic opioids are detected by the FTIR program, LSSD notifies key CBP personnel at the NTC-C as well as the liaisons with DEA’s Special Operations Division, so they can generate near real-time intelligence and see if controlled deliveries can be executed.

Canines

Canine operations are an invaluable component of CBP’s counternarcotic operations. CBP deploys approximately 1,227 Concealed Human and Narcotic Detection Canine teams at and between our Nation’s POEs. Synthetic opioids in particular present unique challenges to canine teams due to the potency of the drug and the associated danger to the health and safety of the canines and their handlers. Thus, CBP’s LSSD has been conducting special research to determine the detection and identification of signature odor profiles for fentanyl compounds. The relevant CBP components are working together to conduct a pilot course to assess the feasibility of safely and effectively adding fentanyl as a trained odor to OFO’s deployed narcotic detection canine teams. The project will continue through the remainder of FY 2017, with evaluations conducted at scheduled benchmarks.

10 Routine samples are treated as non-expedited. Samples that are treated as expedited are samples that are destined for controlled deliveries, have an impending court date, person or persons under arrest or detention, or are otherwise deemed a priority.
11 LSSD has provided triage on 5,299 submissions during FY 2015, and 8,384 submissions for FY 2016. Since the inception of the program, LSSD has triaged 20,158 submissions within a business day and has generated many controlled deliveries because of the rapid turnaround.
12 Examples include marijuana, khat, and psilocybin.

 

Operational Coordination

CBP works extensively with our Federal, state, local, tribal, and international partners and provides critical capabilities toward the whole-of-government approach to address drug trafficking and other transnational threats at POEs and along the Southwest border, Northern border, and coastal approaches. Our targeting, detection, and interdiction efforts are enhanced through special joint operations and task forces conducted under the auspices of multi-agency enforcement teams, including OCDETF, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, and the Joint Interagency Task Force-West, as well as the Department’s Joint Task Force-West and Joint Task Force–Investigations. These teams are composed of representatives from international and federal law enforcement agencies who work together with state, local, and tribal agencies to target drug and transnational criminal activity, including investigations involving national security and organized crime. Additionally, CBP participates in DOJ’s Nationwide Deconfliction System operated by DEA, conducting interagency deconfliction and coordination, and is the 2nd most prolific user among all federal agencies. We noted some of NTC’s key partnerships above, and, of note, as of April 2017, the NTC has two permanent USPIS employees working within the NTC narcotic targeting units under a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

CBP continues to collaborate and strengthen ties with investigative partners from the USPS, ICE, FDA/OCI, and DEA. CBP is sharing information with these agencies and conducting joint enforcement initiatives including intelligence-driven special operations designed to identify and disrupt drug smuggling at the border. CBP is also working with the Heroin and Fentanyl Working Group at the DEA Special Operations Division, alongside ICE HSI, and at the El Paso Intelligence Center to link drug seizures to international and domestic distribution networks.

For example, in January 2017, CBP Officers at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport IMF partnered with ICE-HSI, DEA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch "Operation Mail Flex." This five-day joint operation targeted and interdicted illicit fentanyl and other opioids shipments that posed a health and safety risk to consumers. Operation Mail Flex focused on express mail originating in China and Hong Kong. This successful operation resulted in the seizure of 2.4 kilograms (5.31 pounds) of fentanyl and 134 other controlled substances. It also resulted in the seizure of 1,297 non-compliant imports and provided law enforcement officers with the opportunity to conduct eight controlled deliveries to unsuspecting drug smugglers.

DTOs are known to use legitimate commercial modes of travel and transport to smuggle drugs and other illicit goods. Therefore, CBP also partners with the private sector to provide anti-drug smuggling training to carriers to assist CBP with stopping the flow of illicit drugs; to deter smugglers from using commercial carriers to smuggle drugs; and to provide carriers with the incentive to improve their security and drug smuggling awareness. Participating carriers sign agreements stating that the carrier will exercise the highest degree of care and diligence in securing their facilities and conveyances, while CBP agrees to conduct site surveys, make recommendations, and provide training.

Officer Safety

Fentanyl presents a significant safety threat to CBP Officers. Explicit instructions, including guidance to canine handlers, have been distributed to the field regarding the safe handling of fentanyl. Additionally, in response to the upsurge in the use of heroin (which is increasingly cut with fentanyl) across the nation and increased seizures at POEs in October 2015, CBP completed Phase 1 of a pilot program to train and equip CBP Officers with naloxone, a potentially life-saving drug for the treatment of opioid overdoses. During Phase I, CBP Officers, at seven participating POEs13 received training on recognizing the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, administering naloxone, and were certified as CPR instructors. In February 2016, CBP initiated Phase 2 of the Naloxone Initiative Pilot Program, expanding the pilot to an additional eight POEs and deploying 602 dual-dose Narcan Nasal Spray® kits to the field.14 The naloxone program has also expanded to LSSD to help protect its scientists both in its main and satellite laboratories. CBP was the first Federal law enforcement agency to implement such a program.

13 Phase 1 Naloxone Pilot Program POEs include El Paso; Laredo; Fort Lauderdale International Airport; John K. Kennedy International Airport; San Luis: San Ysidro; and Seattle/Blaine.
14 Phase 2 Naloxone Pilot Program POEs include Miami Int’l/Miami Seaport; Boston; Buffalo; Detroit; Newark; Chicago; Houston Int’l/Houston Seaport; and Dallas.

 

Conclusion

There is no single entity or single solution that can stop the flow of dangerous synthetic drugs into the United States or out of the hands of the American public. Tackling this complex threat involves a united, comprehensive strategy and an aggressive approach by multiple entities – from law enforcement, science, medicine, education, social work, and the public health sector – across all levels of government. With continued support from Congress, CBP, in coordination with our partners, will continue to refine and further enhance the effectiveness of our detection and interdiction capabilities to combat transnational threats and the entry of fentanyl and other dangerous synthetic drugs into the United States. We will continue to work with our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to improve the efficiency of information sharing, guide strategies, identify trafficking patterns and trends, develop tactics, and execute operations to address the challenges and threats posed by DTOs to the safety and security of the American people. CBP will also continue to work with USPS and USPIS to improve interdiction in the mail environment through improved advanced data, and other security best practices at the nation’s IMFs.

Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, and distinguished Members of Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I look forward to your questions.

Topics:  Information Sharing, International, Law Enforcement Partnerships Keywords:  synthetic drugs, drug interdiction

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