DHS 2015: The Secretary’s Progress Report

DHS 2015: The Secretary’s Progress Report

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Good Morning everybody.
Let’s try it again please, good morning everybody.
(Good Morning!) Ok! I want to start with a family
photograph. From 1966, you won’t believe this.
Yes you want to see this Jane. This is me and my
kid sister in 1966. I was 8 years old, standing next
to my Dad’s 1966 Buick convertible. The most
striking thing about the photograph is that as
recently as 1966, a private, everyday family
of tourists like ours could drive our car onto
the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and park it, with
no inspection or prior notice, just a few feet
from the building. This is the same spot, today.
The public parking lot is gone, replaced by a few
black Suburbans, police vehicles, and
heavily-armed members of the Capitol Police. Sadly,
there are threats to our homeland security today
that did not exist in 1966. The Department of
which I am Secretary is responsible for addressing
those threats. A year ago I stood here and spelled
out my vision for the future of the Department
of Homeland Security. I was then new to the job.
Now, a year later, I’m here to provide a progress
report on our efforts, with the benefit of a
year’s experience. I thank Jane Harman and the
Wilson Center for once again providing me with
the forum for this speech. Jane Harman is a wise
supporter, advisor and mentor. In this town,
people like her mean a lot to people like me. We
could not govern without you. Thank you and
the Wilson Center for everything that you do.
Improving the Manner in Which We Deliver Homeland
Security On New Year’s Day I wrote out a set of New
Year’s Resolutions for the senior leadership of DHS.
At the top of the list were things that go to the
manner in which we conduct business and deliver
homeland security. The reality is that DHS is a
very large conglomerate of 22 components that is only
12 years old. We are a large bureaucracy. We are
still finding our way, but we are headed in the right
direction. Filling the vacancies. First, over the
last year we have filled almost all the
senior-level vacancies that existed in the
Department. Just prior to the time I took office a
year ago, the Department of Homeland Security had
no Secretary, no Deputy Secretary, and
vacancies at a number of senior-level positions.
We now have a new Secretary (me), a
new Deputy Secretary (Alejandro Mayorkas), a
new Under Secretary for National Protection and
Programs Directorate (Suzanne Spaulding), a
new Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis
(General Frank Taylor), a new Under Secretary for
Science and Technology (Dr. Reggie Brothers),
a new Commissioner of Customs and Border
Protection (Gil Kerlikowske), a new
Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services
(Leon Rodriguez), a new Assistant Secretary for
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Sarah
Saldana), a new Chief Financial Officer (Chip
Fulghum), a new Deputy Administrator of FEMA
(Admiral Joe Nimmich),a new Inspector General
(John Roth), a new Assistant Secretary for
Legislative Affairs (Brian de Vallance), and a new
Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (Tanya
Bradsher). Unity of Effort. We are
restructuring the whole manner in which we make
decisions within the Department of Homeland
Security. In April I directed a “Unity of
Effort” initiative, which has brought about a more
centralized and integrated process for making
decisions concerning budget requests,
acquisition, strategy and other department
functions. We are moving away from decisions made
in stove pipes. As part of this initiative, we
have created a Joint Requirements Council
consisting of senior leaders from the DHS
components, to identify and recommend investments
to maximize efficiency. We have also realigned seven
major DHS headquarters functions, to consolidate
like functions and promote efficiency. Next, as I said here last year,
we are committed to greater transparency. Government
transparency breeds credibility and
confidence; government secrecy breeds suspicion.
One of our executive actions that the President
announced on November 20 is to direct our Office of
Immigration Statistics to collect, maintain and
report consolidated DHS-wide data on the
number of people we apprehend, remove, return
or repatriate every year, in a manner that can be
made public. Here again, we’ve been far too
stove-piped in how we collect and report this
information. I applaud Chief Fisher for making
public the Border Patrol’s use of force policy last
year, and Commissioner Kerlikowske for making
public the recommendations of the independent Police
Executive Research Forum about use of force by
the Border Patrol, two documents long sought
by the media. Improving Morale. The Deputy
Secretary and I are on an aggressive, multi-faceted
campaign to improve morale within components of DHS.
In October of last year we restored the
Secretary’s Awards Program, which had been
dormant since 2008, to recognize more than 300
employees who have made outstanding achievements
across DHS. Getting off the GAO High Risk List.
Next, DHS is one of 16 departments and agencies
on GAO’s so-called “High Risk List.” We are on a
path to get off that list soon. Indeed, GAO has
informed us that our interactions with GAO
serve as a “model” for how other federal agencies can
work to address GAO’s high risk designations.
Improving responsiveness to Congress. We have
improved the Department’s responsiveness to
Congress. This, despite the challenge of —
depending on how you count — 92 committees and
subcommittees of Congress who claim an oversight
role over this Department. Members of Congress on
both sides of the aisle, including some of our
biggest critics, have taken note. From Worst to
First in Plain Language. Finally, and my favorite
one, which I learned about last week, in the judgment
of the Center for Plain Language, the Department
of Homeland Security has gone from worst to first
among federal agencies in our ability to communicate
in plain language – one of my personal passions.
these challenging times, management reform is
itself a homeland security imperative. Now, here
is where we are on the substance of some of our
important missions: I said here a year ago, as
long as I am Secretary, counterterrorism will
remain the cornerstone of the Department of Homeland
Security’s mission. Thirteen and a half years
after 9/11, it’s still a dangerous world. And, in
2015, we must recognize that we have evolved to
a new phase in the global terrorist threat. Today
the terrorist threat is more decentralized, more
diffuse, and more complex. We are concerned about the
so-called foreign fighter who leaves his home
country, travels to another country to take up
the fight there, links up with terrorist extremists,
and may return home – whether it’s this country
or one of our allies — with a terrorist extremist
purpose. We are concerned about terrorist
organizations’ new, slick and skilled use of the
internet to publicly recruit individuals to
conduct attacks within their own homelands. AQAP
no longer builds bombs in secret; it has now
publicized its instruction manual, and has called for
people to use it. We are concerned about the
domestic-based threat lurking in our midst —
the so-called “lone wolf” — who may become
inspired by this extremist propaganda on the
internet, and who could strike with little or no
notice. So, what are we doing about this in 2015?
First, as everyone knows, we are taking the fight
to these groups, in places like Iraq and Syria. Our
intelligence community continues to detect
terrorist plots at their earliest stages.
Domestically, the FBI investigates, interdicts
and prosecutes terrorist plots in the homeland.
In response to the recent attacks in Paris, Ottawa,
Sydney and elsewhere, and the public calls by
terrorist organizations for attacks in the West, I
directed that the Federal Protective Service
increase its presence at federal buildings in
major cities in the United States. We continue to
tailor and enhance our security through every
appropriate method. For example, the visa waiver
program we offer to 38 nations is a valuable tool
for international commerce and travel. It is
a program that must continue, but there are
ways in which the security of the program can be
improved. To enhance security while maintaining
the integrity of the program, last November
we identified added information fields to
the Electronic System for Travel Authorization –
or “ESTA” – to learn more about those who travel
to the United States from countries for which we do
not require a visa. We are considering further
security enhancements. We are engaging our allies
in Europe and elsewhere to encourage them to
maintain and share travel information about
individuals of suspicion. We are sharing more
information and training with state and local
law enforcement in this country. Given the manner
in which the terrorist threat is evolving, the
cop on the beat must be as vigilant as the
intelligence analyst. Our efforts must include
public engagement. DHS, along with the Justice
Department, are engaging communities, organizations
and institutions here at home that are themselves
in a position to deter others who may be turning
toward violence. In 2014, DHS held over 70 of these
roundtables, meetings and other events in 14 cities
around the country. I personally participated in
these meetings in Chicago, Columbus, Ohio,
Minneapolis, Boston and Los Angeles. We are
doubling-down on our “If You See Something, Say
Something™” campaign. Yesterday at a pre-Super
Bowl press conference in Phoenix I rolled out this
new, enhanced program. This must be more
than a slogan. Our counterterrorism efforts
also include continued vigilance in aviation
security. Last summer I directed that we enhance
aviation security at overseas airports with
flights directly to the United States. Several
weeks ago TSA made further enhancements, and we are
reviewing whether more is necessary. As Secretary
I have made it a DHS priority to establish
pre-clearance by Customs and aviation security
personnel at overseas airports, before a
passenger gets on a flight bound for the United
States. At present, we have pre-clearance in 15
overseas airports at which we have screened more
than 16 million passengers before they arrived in the
United States. The newest of these pre-clearance
operations, at Abu Dhabi in the UAE, opened early
last year. Since that time, at Abu Dhabi alone,
we have already screened 364,000 passengers and
crew bound for the U.S., and denied boarding to 571
individuals, including a number who were in the
terrorist screening database. We want to build
more of these, at overseas airports where it makes
sense from a homeland security point of view,
and in a way that U.S air carriers will support.
Last year we put out a solicitation and received
25 letters of interest from airports around
the world. We are taking steps to fix our broken
immigration system. Some say we should have waited
for Congress to act. Let’s not forget that we did
wait, for years, and Congress did not act. The
President continues to urge Congress to finish
the job and pass a comprehensive, bipartisan
immigration bill. He is willing to work with
any serious partner – Democrat, Republican or
Independent – who wants to fix the system. In the
meantime, we must improve the system within
our existing legal authorities. We did
that, and the President announced these set of
reforms on November 20, 2014. We’ve established
a new program of deferred action for undocumented
adults. Those who have committed no serious
crimes, have been in this country since January 1,
2010, and have children here who are citizens
or lawful permanent residents, are eligible
to be considered for this program. The reality is
that these immigrants are not enforcement
priorities. Therefore, we want to encourage these
people to come out of the shadows, be accountable,
pay taxes, and get on the books, so we know who
they are. Our executive actions also prioritize
the removal of felons over families, includes a
number of measures to further secure the border,
discontinue the Secure Communities program and
replace it with a new program, streamline legal
immigration to boost the economy and promote
naturalization, support military families, and
enhance options for foreign-born high-skilled
workers, entrepreneurs and businesses. We are taking
a number of steps to further secure the border.
I’m on a mission to strengthen border
security, and to also replace public
misperception with the facts. In June 2013,
Pew Research conducted a survey and asked the
following question: “Just your best guess —
compared with ten years ago, do you think the
number of immigrants entering the U.S.
illegally today is higher, lower, or about the
same?” Amazingly, 55% of respondents answered
higher, and only 15% answered lower. The
reality is on this slide. In the year 2000,
apprehensions on the southern border– which
are a direct indicator of total attempts to cross
the border illegally — exceeded 1.6 million.
Apprehensions on the southern border have
dropped considerably since then, to around 400,000
a year in recent years. Apprehensions are in fact
at their lowest rate since the 1970s. These numbers
are no doubt partially due to economic conditions and
trends in the U.S., Mexico and Central America, but
also due to the very large investment this Nation has
made in border security over the last 15 years.
Today’s Border Patrol has the largest deployment
of people, vehicles, aircraft, boats and
equipment along the southwest border in its
90-year history. This includes a budget of $3.5
billion, a total of 23,000 personnel, and 20,833
border patrol agents. Without a doubt, we had
a challenge last summer, with the unprecedented
number of unaccompanied children and others who
crossed a narrow area of our southern border into
the Rio Grande Valley, in search of a family member
and a better life in this country. We responded
aggressively with more people and resources
on the southern border. Beginning in mid-June the
numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the
southern border declined sharply, and are now at
far lower levels. But, we are not declaring “mission
accomplished.” The President and I are
committed to building an even more secure border,
and a smart strategy to get there. Much of illegal
migration is seasonal. The poverty and violence that
are the “push factors” in Honduras, Guatemala and El
Salvador still exist. The economy in this country
– a “pull factor” — is getting better. There
is still more we can and should do. We are
pursuing a risk-based strategy for border
security. This means focusing resources where
our intelligence and our surveillance tell us the
threats exist. This is a smart, effective and
efficient use of taxpayer resources There are more
aircraft, surveillance, radar technology and other
equipment that our experts have determined we need,
which we have requested for FY 2015. In December
we opened a new family facility in Dilley, Texas
that will house up to 2,400 individuals. We
are continuing aggressive public awareness messaging
in Central America and elsewhere. This “know
the facts” campaign was launched on January 5th.
On January 21, I wrote another open letter in the
Spanish language press to repeat the message.
Finally, we have launched a Department of Homeland
Security-wide Southern Border Campaign Plan. We
are doing away with the stove-piped approach to
border security. Instead, we are putting to use, in
a combined and coordinated way, the assets and
personnel of CBP, ICE, CIS, the Coast Guard,
toward the goal of border security. We have
established three new Department task forces,
each headed by a senior official of this
Department, to direct the resources of CBP, ICE,
CIS and the Coast Guard in three discrete areas.
The first, Joint Task Force-East, will be
responsible for our maritime ports and
approaches across the southeast. The second,
Joint Task Force-West, will be responsible for
our southwest land border and the West coast of
California. And the third will be a standing
Joint Task Force for Investigations to support
the work of the other two Task Forces. A key part
of our mission is to facilitate lawful trade
and travel. This is vital to commerce and our
economy. President Obama is committed to this.
Last year TSA continued to expand the very popular
TSA Pre-check program, enrolling 800,000 new
participants. At the same time, TSA screened
653 million total air passengers — 14 million
more than the year before — 443 million checked
bags, and 1.7 billion carry-on bags. Last year
CBP screened 374 million passengers at land, sea
and airports, an increase of 4% from the year
before, and enrolled an additional 1.25 million
travelers in the various Trusted Traveler Programs,
to bring total enrollment to 3.3 million members. In
2014, CBP also processed $2.4 trillion in trade,
an increase of 4% from the year before, and 25.7
million cargo containers through ports of entry,
a 4.5% increase from the year before. We are
working with Canada and Mexico on programs and
initiatives to facilitate the lawful and secure
movement of goods and people between our
countries. In response to President Obama’s
executive order, DHS is leading a 47-agency effort
to create a national, electronic “Single Window”
trade processing system for importers and
exporters to do business with the United States. We
are working to modernize in other areas to promote
lawful trade and travel. We need to make strides
in cybersecurity. Through our National Cybersecurity
and Communications Integration Center,
or “NCCIC,” DHS is responsible for assisting
and sharing information with the private sector
concerning cyberattacks and threats, and for
securing the civilian .gov networks. I was pleased
that, last year, Congress provided bipartisan
support for our efforts, with the passage of
legislation which codifies DHS’s authority to assist
the private sector, codifies DHS’s authority
to assist other federal agencies, and legislation
to enhance DHS’s ability to hire cyber talent. We
need to go further. On January 14, President
Obama came to the NCCIC and announced his
Administration’s support for more cybersecurity
legislation that will ensure our economic
prosperity, national security and individual
civil liberties. We are proposing legislation to
(1) encourage the private sector to share cyber
threat indicators with the NCCIC, (2) protect the
private sector with limits on civil and criminal
liability when they do, (3) require businesses
to notify victims and the government when there
is a data breach at that company, and (4) enhance
criminal penalties for cybercrime. The Secret
Service is the finest protection service in the
world. No other agency of any government in the
world could protect 135 world leaders all at once
when they gather for the UN General Assembly. The
Secret Service does this each year with great
professionalism and without incident. The
Secret Service continues to enjoy the President’s
trust and confidence, as it protects him and his
family. It has built tremendous talent and
capability to pursue cyber and financial crimes.
However, recent events have highlighted the need
for change. In October I appointed an independent
panel to take a hard look at the Secret Service.
In December the panel reported its findings
back to me. Those recommendations were
astute, thorough and fair. A number of security
enhancements have already been made and implemented
by Acting Director Clancy, but the Secret Service
must also commit to longer term and more systemic
change. For my part, I am committed to sustained and
encouraged oversight of the Secret Service, to
ensure that it has what it needs to get the job done.
Last year our Federal Law Enforcement Training
Center trained over 59,000 officers and agents from
federal, state, local, tribal and international
law enforcement. We are ensuring that the Coast
Guard has what it needs to get its job done. These
are exciting times for the Coast Guard, as it is
replacing its aging fleet with new vessels. Four new
National Security Cutters are in service and a fifth
will be commissioned this summer. Twelve new Fast
Response Cutters have been delivered and are making
a difference every day in south Florida, and we
are more than halfway to completing the replacement
of our fleet of aged patrol boats. Meanwhile,
the Coast Guard is in the design phase of a new
mid-size Offshore Patrol Cutter. I am committed to
ensuring this project is affordable before going
forward with the selection of a general contractor
and production. FEMA has become the premier
emergency management agency in the country and
has earned the confidence of federal, state and
local leaders throughout. In the year I’ve been in
office, I have personally had the opportunity to
observe this at disaster recovery sites. Finally,
DHS cannot pursue all these important missions
alone. I cannot print money. I cannot
appropriate money. We need a continued partnership
with Congress. We need a FY 2015
appropriations bill. At present DHS is
operating on a continuing resolution which expires
on February 27. As long as we are on a CR, we are
restricted to last year’s spending levels, and
cannot engage in any new spending and activities.
This means we cannot pay for the added border
security that I talked about. This means we
cannot invest in the things the independent
panel recommended to improve the Secret
Service; we cannot hire new Secret Service
agents for the coming presidential election
cycle. This means we cannot fund new
non-disaster grants for state and local
governments that mayors, police chiefs, fire
chiefs, and governors depend on. Our ability to
fund aviation security, maritime security, port
security and homeland security is severely
constrained as long as we are on a CR. As
originally introduced by the House Appropriations
Committee, the FY 2015 appropriations bill for
the Department of Homeland Security was a good bill.
It appropriated $39.7 billion for the Department
and funded many of the things we need. On the
House floor the bill was amended to include
politically-charged language to defund all our
executive actions to fix the immigration system.
The President has vowed to veto any bill that
includes such language. The clock to February
27 is ticking. In these times, the homeland
security budget of this government should not be a
political football. I urge Congress to pass an
appropriations bill for DHS, free and clear
of politically-charged amendments. I will end
with the very last two words I ended last year’s
speech with. Last year, I said that, in the name
of homeland security, we should not sacrifice our
values as a Nation of people who cherish privacy
and freedom, celebrate diversity, and are not
afraid. Fear is corrosive. In the final analysis,
courage and resolve in the face of challenge are the
greatest strengths of any nation. Terrorism cannot
advance if we refuse to be terrorized. Whether in
response to a terrorist threat, a natural
disaster, a deadly virus, or in the pursuit of
a more perfect union, courage and resolve
will always prevail. Thank you for listening.

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