Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

September 2021
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: Homeland Security

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. 

Biden’s Homeland Security to Combat Domestic Violence Extremism with New Funds

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The Biden administration plans to boost funding from the Department of Homeland Security to help study and prevent the rise of domestic violence extremism. 

“We have successfully advocated for additional funds. We intend to keep building on preventing domestic terrorism departmentwide,” a DHS official told NBC News.

The DHS’s Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention provides funding for projects aimed at combating domestic extremism. The Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol underscores the threats from rising extremism. 

Under the Trump adminstatoin, the office provided $500,000 to allow American University to study the “growing threat of violent white supremacist extremist disinformation.” But the Trump administration also canceled a grant aimed at studying neo-Nazis. 

The Trump administration has been accused of ignoring the threats of domestic terrorism, a term that DHS didn’t use under Trump, according to Elizabeth Neumann, the former DHS’ assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention.

“We did expand domestic terrorism prevention under Trump, but when it came to questions of how we could change the domestic terrorism statute to charge people more easily, there were no adults at the White House who were willing to go there, nor was anyone willing to define the threat,” Neumann said.

Biden’s DHS isn’t shying away domestic violent extremism. 

“Domestic violent extremism poses one of the gravest threats to our homeland, and Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas has made clear that combatting it is a top priority. Our primary responsibility is to protect the safety and security of the American people, which means taking actions to prevent violence before it occurs,” a DHS spokesperson said.

Senate Confirms Mayorkas As Homeland Security Secretary

Alejandro Mayorkas is sworn in as DHS secretary. Photo via DHS.

By Steve Neavling

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as President Biden’s homeland security secretary, making him the first immigrant and Latino to lead the department.

He was confirmed by a 56-43 vote, with strong opposition from Republicans. 

Mayoraks is the first confirmed secretary in nearly two years.

About two weeks ago, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, blocked the fast-track confirmation process for Mayorkas, almost dashing Biden’s hopes for a quick confirmation. But a week later, the Senate Homeland Security Committee advanced his nomination to a full vote in Congress.

Mayorkas, 61 served as deputy homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2016 under President Obama and played a prominent role in the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). A former U.S. attorney in California, Mayorkas also served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during Obama’s first term.  

Born in Cuba, Mayorkas and her family arrived as refugees in the 1960s, settling in Southern California. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. Mayorkas graduated from the University of California-Berkeley and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School. 

At his confirmation hearing, Mayorakas pledged to combat homegrown domestic extremists, which has become an increasing national security threat. 

“The threat of domestic extremism is one of the greatest challenges that the Department of Homeland Security confronts,” Mayorkas said at the hearing, calling the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol “horrifying.”

Homeland Security Warns of Threats from Domestic Violent Extremists

By Steve Neavling

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday warned in a bulletin of the potential for violence from domestic extremists following the U.S. Capitol siege. 

The department didn’t mention specific threats but described “a heightened threat environment across the United States, which DHS believes will persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential Inauguration.”

“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said.

The bulletin added that extremists may be “emboldened” by the Capitol riot. 

The motivation for future violence includes “anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force.”

It added that some violent extremists are motivated by “long-standing racial and ethnic tension,” such as immigration issues. The bulletin cited the 2019 mass shooting at a Wall Mart in El Paso, Texas, that left 23 people dead. 

More than 400 suspects in the Capitol riots have been identified, and about 135 have been arrested. At least 134 police officers were assaulted and injured during the siege.

Mayorkas Moves Closer to Becoming Confirmed Homeland Security Secretary

Alejandro Mayorkas

By Steve Neavling

Alejandro Mayorkas, President Biden’s nomination to lead the Department of Homeland Security, moved closer to taking the helm. 

The Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday advanced his nomination to a full vote in Congress. 

“Our nation is facing historic security challenges right now, from the recent attack on our capital, two major cyber breaches of our federal agencies, and a pandemic that continues to take the lives of thousands of Americans every day,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said, Roll Call reports. “These are serious challenges, and we need steady, qualified and experienced leaders at DHS.”

The panel approved his nomination with a 7-4 vote. Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Mitt Romney of Utah joined Democrats in supporting the nomination. Last week, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, blocked the fast-track confirmation process for Mayorkas, potentially dashing Biden’s hopes for a quick confirmation.

Portman said it’s important to have a confirmed Homeland Security secretary to address numerous potential threats facing the nation. 

“We’ve got the massive cyber security attack that we aren’t talking about much because it seems like everything else has become more important, but that probably is the most significant national security threat we’ve had in this country in years,” Portman said. 

Mayorkas, 61, is poised to become the first immigrant and Hispanic to lead the department. 

Mayorkas served as deputy homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2016 under President Obama. A former U.S. attorney in California, Mayorkas also served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during Obama’s first term.  

Born in Cuba, Mayorkas and her family arrived as refugees in the 1960s, settling in Southern California. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. Mayorkas graduated from the University of California-Berkeley and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School.