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Tag: Homeland Security

White Supremacy Is Greatest Threat to U.S., Garland, Mayorkas Testify

Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

By Steve Neavling

The heads of the Justice Department and Homeland Security warned senators Wednesday that white supremacy is the most serious threat facing the U.S. 

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the departments are cracking down on violent extremism.

“The department is taking a new approach to addressing domestic violent extremism, both internally and externally,” Mayorkas said. 

Garland said the Jan. 6 insurrection was “an attempt to interfere with the fundamental element of our democracy, a peaceful transfer of power.”

“I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the Capitol,” Garland said. 

He added, “We will use every appropriate tool at our disposal to deter and disrupt such criminal acts and to bring their perpetrators to justice.”

The Justice Department has charged more than 430 people in connection to the deadly riot. 

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy called the threat “uniquely dangerous” in his opening remarks. 

“Attacks and plots by domestic extremists are at historic highs, with the majority of them being planned by those on the far right espousing white supremacist and related ideologies,” Leahy said. “In 2020 alone, white nationalists and like-minded extremists conducted 67% of terrorist plots and attacks in the United States. We cannot deny we are facing a class of criminals who feel more emboldened than ever.”

Read Garland’s full comments here.

Homeland Security to Review Threat of White Supremacy, Extremism within Its Ranks

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

By Steve Neavling

The Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced it’s launching an internal review to asses the risks of white supremacy and extremism within the federal agency.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayoraks said the review is intended to prevent, detect and respond to domestic threats within its ranks, The New York Times reports.

“We recognize that domestic violent extremism and the ideology, the extremist ideologies that spew it, are prevalent,” Mayorkas said. “We have a responsibility, given what we do, to ensure that that pernicious influence does not exist in our department.”

The announcement is part of the Biden administration’s broader effort to weed out extremist ideology in the federal government. 

As part of the review, senior officials will explore the prevalence of extremism in its agencies, which include Border Patrol, ICE and the Secret Service. 

Mayorkas described domestic extremists as “the most lethal and persistent terrorism-relate threat to our country today” in a memo to all department employees on Monday. 

Former DHS Secretary Chad Wolf Launches New Consulting firm

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

By Steve Neavling

Former Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf is starting a new consulting firm with three other former senior officials. 

The firm, Wolf Global Advisors, will be tasked with advising companies, NGOs and government agencies on homeland and national security issues, Politico reports.

Joining Wolf are former acting chief of staff Scott Erickson, former deputy chief of staff Tyler Houlton and legislative affairs director Beth Spivey.

“During my time at DHS, I came to know and came to realize that a number of organizations, whether they’re companies or non-profits really struggle with assessing risk and security issues facing their respective organizations,” Wolf told Politico. “Others want to better understand the department, whether they’re regulated by the department, or perhaps they have technology or services to help the department better fulfill their mission.”

Wolf says he has a few clients already but declined to identify them. 

Wolf stepped down as acting secretary in January. 

Oops! Fox News Falsely Reports Homeland Security Director Resigns

Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

By Steve Neavling

Fox News host Harris Faulkner falsely reported Monday that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had resigned while she interviewing former President Trump. 

During the live broadcast, Faulkner interrupted Trump to tell him, “I want to double-check this with our producers: The DHS secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, has resigned, Mr. President.”

Trump chimed in, “Well I’m not surprised. Good. That’s a big victory for our country.”

“Hold on, let me stop, let me listen to my team one more time,” the host said. “Forgive me, that has not happened. And I apologize.”

Trump responded, “OK, cross off that victory.”

Fox News was excoriated on social media. 

Mayorkas Defends Administration’s Handling of Border in First House Hearing As Secretary

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Screen shot via U.S. House.

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas clashed with Republicans Wednesday on how the Biden administration is handling the boarder amid an influx of migrants. 

In his first appearance before lawmakers as the Homeland Security secretary, Mayorkas said the border situation was a challenge but not a crisis as depicted by Republicans. 

“I’m not spending any time on the language that we use. I am spending time on operational response to the situation at the border,” Mayorkas told the House Homeland Security Committee.

Mayorkas described former President Trump’s policy of separating children as a humanitarian crisis. 

“The situation at the southwest border is difficult,” Mayorkas said. “We are working around the clock to manage it.”

Since last spring, illegal border crossings have sharply increased as poverty, hunger and gang violence grip Central America. In February, Border Patrol agents arrested 97,000 migrants for crossing the border illegally, a two-year high. 

Watch the committee hearing here:

HSI Returns Nearly 300 Pre-Columbia Artifacts to Mexican Officials

One of the recovered artifacts. Photo courtesy of Homeland Security.

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security Investigations returned nearly 300 pre-Columbia artifacts to Mexican officials this week during a repatriation ceremony at the Mexican Consulate in Nogales. 

The 277 pieces included arrow heads, axe heads, hammer heads, spear heads and small stone carvings that were between 1,000 and 5,000 years old and “of significant cultural value,” HSI said in a news release.

The repatriation follows two separate HSI investigations by special agents in Phoenix and Nogales. 

Scott Brown, special agent in charge of HSI Phoenix, presented the relics to Ricardo Santana, Mexican consul general ambassador in Nogales, and Jose Luis Perea, director of the Mexican Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) in Sonora.

“The cultural significance of artifacts from regions around the world extends beyond any monetary value,” Brown said. “The pieces, like those discovered, are fragments of history; and it is an honor to return them to their rightful home country. HSI fully supports the importance of antiquities and cultural property, and it is through these repatriations that new generations are able to experience a part of their nation’s story.”

Perara said the timing was culturaly significant. 

“This repatriation comes at an opportune time, in the year of a very significant commemoration for Mexico – the 500th anniversary of the taking of Tenochtitlan, which was a heartrending encounter between the cultural universes of Western Europe and America,” Perea said. “This event allows us to deeply recognize the pre-Hispanic cultures of Mexico, as well as the resistance and presence of its contemporary indigenous peoples.”

HSI conducts investigations for the Department of Homeland Security. Among its roles is investigating thefts of cultural property. 

FBI, Homeland Security Warn of Potential Plot to Seize Control of Capitol Today

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned that domestic extremists “discussed plans to take control of the U.S. Capitol and remove Democratic lawmakers on or about March 4,” the date that far-right conspiracy theorists believe former President Trump will be sworn in for a second term. 

The agencies sent a joint intelligence bulletin, titled “National Capitol Region Remains Attractive Target for Domestic Violent Extremists,” to local and state law enforcement agencies late Tuesday, NBC News first reported.

After the U.S. Capitol Police issued a similar warning, House leaders canceled Thursday’s legislative session. The Senate still plans to meet.

Extremists, emboldened by the Jan. 6 insurrection, may “exploit public gatherings either formally organized or spontaneous to engage in violence,” the memo states. 

According to adherents of QAnon, a right-wing conspiracy group that believes a secret cabal of Satan worshipers is running a global child sex-trafficking ring, former President Trump will be sworn in for a second term for the “true Inauguration Day” on March 4. 

Homeland Security Special Agent Charged with Bribery for Allegedly Helping Organized Crime Figure

By Steve Neavling

A former Homeland Security special agent is accused of accepting at least $122,000 and other gifts to help an organized crime figure evade authorities. 

Felix Cisneros Jr., 46, was arrested Tuesday and charged with conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official, bribery and 26 counts of money laundering. 

Between 2015 and 2016, while he was a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, Cisneros is accused of accepting cash, checks, private jet travel, luxury hotel stays and meals. In exchange for the bribes, Cisneros used highly restricted law enforcement data bases to keep the crime figure informed about investigations, according to a Justice Department news release.

Cisneros also is accused of removing information about a German citizen with a criminal record from a government database to help him enter the country. In addition, Cisneros allegedly tried to help get a relative of the crime figure into the U.S. from Armenia. 

Cisneros also is accused of warning the crime figure about law enforcement actions. 

The crime figure wasn’t identified in the indictment. 

Cisneros faces up 20 years in prison. 

The FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General continue to investigate. 

The case is behind handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruth C. Pinkel of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.