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Tag: Homeland Security

Vacancy in Permanent Homeland Security Director Position Causes Concerns

Former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

Former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Nearly a month after President Trump named Homeland Security Director John Kelly as White House chef of staff, no permanent replacement has been selected.

That worries former department officials, who said it’s critical to fill the position because of the serious responsibilities of Homeland Security, from immigration enforcement to counterterrorism efforts, the Hill reports

The acting head is Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke.

The Senate is on break until after Labor Day and has placed a block not he president’s ability to make recess appointments.

“The White House understands that they need to get someone in that position quickly because if a terrorist attack were to occur without a leader at the helm of that department, they are vulnerable to the criticism that they’re asleep at the switch,” said a source close to the White House.

What’s unclear is what has delayed the president’s nomination of a new secretary.

Other Stories of Interest

7 Infrastructure Advisers Quit, Saying Trump Is Making Country Less Safe

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s controversial response to the violence that broke out during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., has prompted the resignations of seven members of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council this week.

Their concerns are that Trump is making the country less safe by failing to quickly and sternly denounce hate groups.

“Your actions have threatened the security of the homeland I took an oath to protect,” the resigning members wrote in a letter sent Monday and obtained by HuffPost

“You failed to denounce the intolerance and violence of hate groups,” the letter read.

Huffington Post wrote:

The resigning members include Cristin Dorgelo, former chief of staff at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama; DJ Patil, former White House chief data scientist; and Christy Goldfuss, former managing director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. All three confirmed to HuffPost that they had resigned.

Daniel Tangherlini, a former administrator of the General Services Administration, was also among those who resigned, CQ Roll Call confirmed on Wednesday. Seven total people resigned, according to Dorgelo and Goldfuss.

A White House spokesperson did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. But a White House statement published by Reuters on Tuesday said “We can confirm that a number of members of the [council] who had been appointed under the previous administration have submitted their resignation.” 

The National Infrastructure Advisory Council is made up of presidential appointees from the private sector, academia and government, and was originally founded in 2001 under then-President George W. Bush. It advises the president on security, including cybersecurity, for critical infrastructure like water systems. There are now only 20 members listed on the council’s website, down from 27 earlier today.

Trump Administration Slaps Visa Restrictions on 4 Countries over Immigration Response

President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration has slapped visa sanctions against four countries for their refusal to allow for the return of citizens whom the U.S. is trying to deport.

Homeland Security and the State Department confirmed the sanctions but declined to list the four countries.

Sources told the Washington Times that the countries were Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The administration is using an effective, but rarely used tool for requiring compliance.

“We can confirm the Department of State has received notification from the Department of Homeland Securityregarding four countries that have refused to accept or unreasonably delayed the return of its nationals,” a department official told The Washington Times.

Other Stories of Interest

Homeland Security: Trump’s Crackdown on Illegal Immigration Is Working

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security officials said President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants is having a positive impact.

Senior officials said suspected illegal immigration declined 43% in the first half of 2017, compared to the same period last year, CNBC reports. 

The comments came ahead of President Trump’s visit to Yuma, Ariz.

According to Homeland Security officials, ICE arrested about 91,000 people during the first seven months of the year.

“Going from 5 miles of fence to 60 miles of fence on the Yuma border made a huge difference,” a senior DHS official said in a conference call with media, speaking on condition of anonymity.

CNBC wrote:

Increased enforcement, including this year’s extension of the fence, resulted in an 83 percent drop in illegal border crossings near Yuma since 2007, the official said. Up to 800 immigrants illegally crossed the border in the area every day in 2005 and 2006, the official said.

The DHS officials said 126,472 apprehensions have been made in the first half of this year, a 46 percent increase from the first half of 2016.

Away from the border, removals in the interior of the country are up 32 percent this year from last year, the officials said.

Trump Warned Months Ago of White Supremacist Violence ‘Over the Next Year’

FBI file photo of KKK items.

FBI file photo of KKK items.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security warned President Trump’s administration as recently as May about the potential for violence by white supremacists and other ultra-conservative groups.

The intelligence bulletin, entitled “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence, warned of “lethal violence over the next year,” according to Foreign Policy, which obtained a copy. 

“We assess lone actors and small cells within the white supremacist extremist movement likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year,” the bulletin reads.

The bulletin also indicates that white supremacists are responsible for the marjory of domestic terrorism.

They  “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016…more than any other domestic extremist movement,” the document states.

Star-Tribune: Combating Extremism Must Stay Priority After Homeland Security Resignation

homeland-security-sportsBy Editorial Board
Star-Tribune

The resignation of a top U.S. Department of Homeland Security official has left the agency without a strong, outspoken advocate for locally led efforts to combat homegrown terrorism, a threat that the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Va., put a disturbing spotlight on.

With federal support for these programs now uncertain, private nonprofits and the business community must step up to fill this leadership void.

George Selim, who resigned in late July, led Homeland Security’s Office of Community Partnerships and directed the agency’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) task force. His energetic leadership made him a familiar figure to Minnesota law enforcement authorities and others working here to thwart terror recruiters. Some of these have targeted young people in the state’s large Somali-American community.

Selim, who began his federal career during the George W. Bush administration, merits praise for embracing a more comprehensive approach to fighting extremism. In addition to intercepting recruits and prosecuting them, he argued that preventive measures are needed.

This pragmatic approach is built on the premise that those who put down roots and prosper are less likely to fall prey to recruiters’ deceptive promises. Social services programs that build strong families, as well efforts to “de-radicalize” those who get involved with extremists, are now a critical component of CVE strategy.

Under Selim’s leadership, the Office of Community Partnerships advocated for federal grants to local organizations and finally convinced Congress to appropriate the dollars. The agency awarded the first round of grants in 2016. Two Minnesota organizations received $770,000 in funding: the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Heartland Democracy, a mentoring program for young people.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear if there will be a second round of grants. Selim’s departure raises troubling questions about CVE’s future. The CVE approach has been controversial in some circles because it’s sometimes deemed too soft an approach to terrorism. Other critics dislike that these dollars help immigrants, while others have wrongly contended that CVE shouldn’t encompass white supremacist groups inside U.S. borders.

To read more click here. 

Trump Administration Mulls Rick Perry for Top Homeland Security Job

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration is considering replacing John Kelly at Homeland Security with Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Three people family with the deliberations told Bloomberg that Perry is among an unknown number of potential candidates for the position, which was abandoned by Kelly when he became the White House chief of staff Monday. 

What unclear is whether Perry wants the job.

“Secretary Perry is focused on the important mission of the Department of Energy. He’s honored to be mentioned, but he loves what he’s doing,” said Robert Haus, director of public affairs at the department.

Some of Trump’s administration favor Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, for the job.

Perry, 67, has a lot of experience with border issues during his nearly 15 years as governor of Texas, but questions have been raised about whether he and the president agree on immigration policies.

Other Stories of Interest

Homeland Security to Waive Environmental Laws to Erect Border Wall

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.


By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A stretch of border wall will be replaced without an assessment to the environment, the Trump administration announced Tuesday.
The Washington Post reports that Homeland Security plans to waive requirements under the National Environmental Protection Act, which mandates extensive reviews of environmental impacts.
Calling it an overreach, the Center for Biological Diversity in San Diego plans to challenge the decision.
The Post wrote:

It will mark the sixth time that the department has exercised that authority since 2005 and the first time since 2008.

A law passed in 2005 gave Homeland Security broad authority to waive “all legal requirements” to build border barriers following years of ultimately unsuccessful court challenges to border wall construction in San Diego on grounds that it violated environmental laws.

Congress passed the law to blunt similar efforts elsewhere and it led to hundreds of miles (kilometers) of new U.S.-Mexico border fencing in the final years of President George W. Bush’s administration to its current total of about 650 miles (1,040 kilometers).

Last week, the House of Representatives approved the administration’s request for $1.6 billion to start building Trump’s border wall, which would include replacing 14 miles (22 kilometers) in San Diego covered by the latest waiver and building 60 miles (96 kilometers) of new barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. It was unclear if or when Homeland Security would issue waivers for Texas, which is currently the busiest corridor for illegal crossings.