Posted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro N. Mayorkas
Every year, thousands of innocent men, women, and children are exploited in human trafficking schemes around the world and right here in the United States. Victims are often lured from their homes with false promises of well-paying jobs and a better life. They are instead forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic servitude, farm or factory work, or other types of forced labor.
At U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), we support the DHS Blue Campaign’s efforts to combat human trafficking by helping to protect victims of these horrible crimes. USCIS provides immigration relief in the form of T visas and U visas, which allow victims to remain in the United States and assist in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. These visas also provide a pathway to lawful permanent residence and permit certain family members to join them in the United States.
Earlier this month, Secretary Napolitano met Shiyma Hall, a brave young woman who was forced into domestic servitude when she was 9 years old. Today, Shiyma is free, and through the immigration benefits provided by USCIS, she is now a United States citizen. USCIS recently unveiled new resources and produced a video to highlight the immigration benefits available to victims of crime. In addition, we provide regular Web-based trainings for law enforcement officials, and have provided more than 30 in-person trainings on combating human trafficking and the immigration benefits available for victims to Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials nationwide. We also contributed to the DHS U Visa Law Enforcement Certification Resource Guide, a new tool available to law enforcement officials to support investigations and prosecutions.
Given the sensitive nature of cases surrounding victims’ protection, USCIS implemented confidentiality safeguards for individuals with applications associated with Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitions or T or U nonimmigrant petitions.
For more information on the Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking, visit www.dhs.gov/humantrafficking or www.uscis.gov/humantrafficking. In an emergency, call 911. To report human trafficking call the ICE tip line at 1-866-347-2423, and for related questions or to speak to a non-governmental representative, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.
Today, as Secretary Napolitano speaks to a class of graduating Federal Air Marshals we take a quick look back at the FAMS half century history of service to the traveling public.
This year the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) celebrates 50 years of service to the traveling public. After the first hijacking of a U.S. aircraft in 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed legislation to enhance the penalties for crimes committed aboard aircrafts in flight. To help enforce this act, FAA safety inspectors received additional training for duty aboard airlines. The first training class of inspectors were appointed and sworn-in by Attorney General Robert Kennedy in March of 1962.
After September 11, 2001 and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the service was rapidly expanded and became the law enforcement arm of the TSA.
Today, the FAMS continues to promote confidence in the nation’s civil aviation system through the effective deployment of Federal Air Marshals to detect, deter, and defeat hostile acts targeting U.S. air carriers, airports, passengers, and crews.
Watch this short video about the FAMS and their proud history of service:
Today, along with Secretary Janet Napolitano and Special Assistant to the President on Homeland Security Richard Reed, I had the pleasure of participating in the White House Champions of Change Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. We honored 17 exceptional leaders in local communities across the nation who have excelled in helping to build a more resilient nation by preparing their communities for disasters. These men and women have demonstrated significant innovation and creativity in getting their communities ready for unexpected emergencies.
I had the opportunity to hear from the honorees about their experiences, ideas, and solutions, as well as their advice on how other citizens and organizations can emulate their success. I was truly inspired by their innovative ideas on how to make their community stronger and more prepared for disasters.
For example, one of these remarkable honorees is Venus Majeski, the Director of Development & Community Relations for the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities. She spearheaded the Alianza Emergency Preparedness Project Plus, a project designed to address the disaster readiness of people with access and functional needs, and who also live in underserved areas. She works to ensure that all individuals are integrated into their community’s overall disaster readiness preparations. Others took an innovative approach, such as Michael Smith, the fire chief for the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians. Chief Smith helped San Manuel develop a "Send Word Now" system which provides text messages, email and voice alerts to tribal members during emergencies.
Several of this year's honorees also distinguished themselves by involving their entire community in emergency preparedness. Herman Schaeffer, the Director of Community Outreach for the New York City Office of Emergency Management, helps oversee the New York City Citizen Corps program, which collaborated with more than 60 community organizations, government agencies, private sector organizations, and volunteer programs to promote emergency preparedness. And Jodi Simpson, a Homeland Security Planner for the St. Clair County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, who created a robust new public preparedness campaign called, “Be Ready St. Clair County.” They played public service announcements at local movie theaters, hosted video contests, and launched a Facebook page where residents ended up sharing information with one another during and after storms.
These are just a few outstanding examples of how any person or organization can make a different in their community’s emergency preparedness and response. And there are many more like them. Check out the full list of awardees. The initiative and involvement of these honorees represents the role that each one of us plays in making sure that together, as a nation, we are better prepared for disasters. And this serves as a reminder to all of us that we can make a difference in our community, whether we are in a faith-based, tribal, non-profit, private sector, or community-based organization – or even just one individual.
I hope these awardees have inspired you to take action within your own community. Here are some easy ways to get started and get involved:
Contact your local emergency management agency or Citizen Corps Council to get involved in your community’s planning process.
Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order announcing new initiatives to increase travel and tourism in the United States while encouraging job creation.
One of these initiatives makes Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pilot that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk international travelers arriving at our airports, a permanent initiative.
This final rule will allow the Global Entry program to initially expand to four more international airports – Minneapolis, Charlotte, Denver and Phoenix – making expedited clearance through the Global Entry program available at airports serving 97 percent of international travelers arriving in the United States.
Over the last three years, we have deployed Global Entry to 20 airports and enrolled more than 246,000 trusted travelers who have used this expedited processing 1.7 million times.
Travelers who participate in the Global Entry program experience reduced average wait times of 70 percent over travelers going through traditional passport inspection, and more than 75 percent of Global Entry members are processed in under five minutes.
The Global Entry program is another way DHS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are helping to promote travel and tourism and stimulate our economy, while maintaining the highest standards of security.I am proud of this good work, and I look forward to the expansion of Global Entry and our other trusted traveler program in the coming months.
Posted by Director John Morton, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
This blog post is part of a series of posts related to National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Human trafficking victims are often hidden in plain sight. That was the case in northern Virginia in 2009 when Jose Ciro Juarez-Santamaria, an El Salvadoran national and MS-13 gang member, forced a 12-year-old girl – a runaway – into a life of prostitution. This past October, thanks in large part to the work of our Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, Juarez-Santamaria was sentenced to life in prison for child sex trafficking.
Sadly, scenarios like this one play out across the country every day. Through the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) HSI agents, DHS works hard to prevent and combat human trafficking. Last fiscal year, ICE initiated more than human trafficking investigations, which resulted in more than 900 arrests, 400 indictments and 270 convictions.
You can help us combat human trafficking and continue to put traffickers like Juarez-Santamaria behind bars. I urge you to keep your eyes and ears open to report suspicious activity and help us crack down on these horrific crimes.
At ICE, we not only investigate cases of human trafficking, but we also provide services and support to trafficking victims. ICE has full-time victim assistance coordinators at nearly 70 percent of its HSI field offices. We also have 350 collateral-duty coordinators who provide counseling and crisis intervention services when necessary.
President Obama declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Please join ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the fight against this heinous crime. If you suspect human trafficking, I encourage you to call 866-DHS-2-ICE or complete our online tip form. We can’t combat human trafficking without your assistance.
Today the Department of Homeland Security bids farewell to a true American patriot, professional, and valued member of the DHS leadership team – Rear Admiral Mike Brown, who this afternoon retires from the U.S. Navy after a remarkable, highly-decorated, 36 year career.
Admiral Brown began his service in the Navy in 1976 as a cadet at the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated in 1980 and embarked on a military career that spanned three decades and included numerous fleet, joint, and national positions. He specialized in intelligence and information operations, and was instrumental in expanding the Navy’s operational role in cyberspace.
He joined the Department in 2008 as deputy assistant secretary, Cybersecurity and Communications, where he helped lead and strengthen many of the Department’s key cybersecurity programs and initiatives – from efforts to develop the nation’s first cyber incident response plan, to the deployment of new technologies to protect federal systems from cyber attacks, to major exercises such as Cyberstorm, to test our nation’s cyber-readiness and response.
As director, Cybersecurity Coordination, Admiral Brown also led the Department’s efforts to better integrate and coordinate our work with the Department of Defense to ensure joint capabilities, and he served as our senior representative to U.S. Cyber Command.
For his service to DHS and the United States, Admiral Brown receives from Secretary Napolitano the DHS Distinguished Service Medal, one of the Department’s highest honors. It is certainly well deserved.
Mike was singularly wise, thoughtful, and hard working. He has been an inspiration to all of us, and we will miss his presence, counsel, and sense of humor. All of us wish Mike fair winds and following seas in his life beyond his military and government service and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.
Posted By Mark Weatherford, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity
The DHS Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) today announced the appointment of John Streufert as the new Director of its National Cybersecurity Division. Streufert comes from the Department of State where he served as the Chief Information Security Officer and Deputy Chief Information Officer for Information Assurance.
In his new role, John will continue to build and maintain an effective national cyberspace response system and implement a cyber-risk management program for the protection of critical infrastructure, such as dams and transportation. He will also work to maintain and strengthen our collaborations with public, private and international entities to secure the nation’s critical cyber infrastructure.
John comes to DHS with a broad range of experience in cybersecurity and innovation. At the Department of State, he helped oversee its work to become the first agency to implement the Trusted Internet Connection Initiative and the EINSTEIN Program – a cyber intrusion detection system.
We welcome John as part of DHS’ cybersecurity team.
Today, I spoke with 25 DHS employees from across the country who were selected as the winners of the ThinkEfficiency Campaign. I’m happy I had the chance to thank them for their commitment and dedication to helping the Department find smart, creative ways to save money and better accomplish our mission. I enjoyed answering their questions and hearing about new ways to improve efficiency throughout DHS.
Their ideas were selected out of the 1,600 ideas submitted by DHS employees nation-wide and from every Component. They proposed common-sense ideas that will improve day-to-day operations. For example, their ideas ranged from changing the way we purchase intelligence services, aviation maintenance services, and vehicle repair services by leveraging the purchasing power of the department to sharing unused software licenses and identifying DHS-wide solutions to improve the utilization of firearms training facilities.
Based on these ideas, we will implement initiatives across the Department this month which will result in tens of millions of dollars in savings.
Through the Efficiency Review, other Department-wide efforts, and component initiatives, DHS has identified more than $1 billion in cost avoidances and implemented 36 efficiency initiatives across the agency. Behind each of these initiatives are the employees like the ThinkEfficiency Campaign winners from across DHS who propose efficiency ideas, implement them, and fundamentally change the way the Department operates.
Today, I was honored to host a roundtable discussion at the White House to discuss efforts to combat human trafficking. Every year thousands of men, women and children become trafficked into the international sex trade and forced labor throughout the world – including right here in the United States.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and today’s meeting brought together representatives from across government, NGOs, law enforcement, first responders, private business and a brave young woman named Shyima Hall to continue to shed light on what is often described as a hidden crime.
When Shyima was just 9 years old, she was forced into domestic servitude in Egypt for a family and later brought with them to California. If it wasn’t for a neighbor suspecting something was wrong and reporting it to the Orange County Child Protective Services, who then worked with the Irvine Police Department to rescue her and contact ICE, Shyima might have remained captive much longer.
Today, Shyima is free, and she recently became an American citizen. Her captors went to jail. This story is a powerful reminder of how vital individuals and communities are in the effort to protect America.
Human trafficking is a horrendous crime, and at DHS, we are committed to doing all we can to prevent it. To that end, two years ago, I launched the DHS Blue Campaign to coordinate and enhance the Department’s anti-human trafficking efforts. And while we pay close attention today and this month, we must continue this fight every day.
Posted by Alice Hill, Senior Counselor to the Secretary
Today, I’m proud to announce several new human trafficking awareness and training materials for the general public, federal workforce, first responders and airline employees. These new materials aim to help increase awareness and provide education on the indicators of human trafficking and the importance of reporting it to officials. We can’t end the horrendous crime of human trafficking on our own- we need individuals and communities to spot the signs of human trafficking and report it to authorities.
The new trainings were unveiled earlier today at a meeting with DHS officials, other federal agencies along with representatives from NGOs, the private sector, and the international community at a human trafficking event. At the meeting, Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) David Aguilar, Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Kumar Kibble, Deputy Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Lori Scialabba, and Office of Health Affairs (OHA) Assistant Secretary Dr. Alexander Garza joined officials from the Departments of Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services and Transportation to discuss the U.S. government’s efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking and recognize National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Subject matter experts from across the government also engaged in a dialogue with stakeholders on methods and services to support victims, ways to engage local communities, and new initiatives taking place in the NGO, private sector and international communities. The session gave participants the opportunity to provide ideas to federal experts leading an array of anti-human trafficking programs and services. I’m very excited for the ideas that were expressed, and am hopeful that they will lead to new ways to prevent the terrible crime of human trafficking.
Posted by Warren Stern, Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
Last month, DHS’ Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) coordinated a full-scale exercise in Suffolk County, New York, to test the ability of state and local law enforcement personnel to locate hypothetical illicit radiological and nuclear weapons or materials that could be used by terrorist groups.
As part of the exercise, the FBI provided information about illicit materials believed to be in Suffolk County to Securing the Cities (STC) partners. The FBI, in coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), initiated radiological and nuclear search operations. Simulating real-life conditions, a Multi-Agency Coordination Center was assembled, and operational search teams were deployed to conduct search operations. SCPD conducted searches, including establishing checkpoints, using mobile, handheld, and backpack radiological and nuclear detection equipment.
During the scenario, DNDO deployed its Mobile Detection Deployment Unit (MDDU) to Suffolk County. Located in regions throughout the United States, MDDU trailers are equipped with radiological and nuclear detection systems that can support state and local operators during search operations and at special events. The MDDU deployments also include onsite technical support and training from subject matter experts.
Coordination between federal, state, and local agencies was critical to the success of the operation, demonstrating the continued collaboration between DNDO, industry stakeholders, and federal, state and local operators to create a safe, secure and resilient homeland.
Underscoring the Obama Administration’s commitment to family unity and administrative efficiency, this morning U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services posted a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to begin a regulatory change that would reduce the amount of time that U.S. citizens are separated from their families while their family members go through the process of becoming legal residents of the United States.
Currently, children and spouses of U.S. citizens who have accrued a certain period of unlawful presence in the U.S., and have to leave the country in order to become a legal permanent resident of the U.S., are barred from returning to their families for as long as 3 or 10 years. They can receive a waiver to allow them to return to their families before that period by showing that their U.S. citizen family member would face extreme hardship as a result of the separation. But under current procedures, in order to obtain the waiver, these individuals must apply from outside the United States after they have been found inadmissible by a Department of State consular officer. This process can be lengthy and discourages individuals who are currently eligible for this waiver from applying. To address this problem, the USCIS proposal would allow eligible immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to apply for and receive "provisional waivers" of unlawful presence before they leave the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications, significantly reducing the time U.S. citizens are separated from their spouses, or children.
Not only will this proposal further the Administration’s commitment to family unity, but the change would improve government efficiency by increasing the predictability and consistency of the application process.
More details regarding the proposed process change will be outlined in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, tentatively scheduled to be published this spring and, which will be open for public comment. While we’re still in the beginning stages of the rulemaking process, we’ve posted some initial questions and answers on USCIS.gov to provide additional information. USCIS has also scheduled a teleconference listening session on January 10th at 2PM. To RSVP for the teleconference, please visitwww.uscis.gov/outreach.
To learn more about the federal rulemaking process, visit the Department of Homeland Security’sRulemaking 101. For more information on our website, see ourfact sheet.