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DHS Director Janet Napolitano on Border Security, National Security

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DHS Director Janet Napolitano on Border Security, National Security

Photo: Sen Gallup/Getty Images

(Also see Profile of Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Director.)

BORDER SECURITY, IMMIGRATION, EMPLOYMENT VERIFICATION - I issued a number of directives related to border security and immigration.

Among the directives:

  • I requested an assessment of past border security assistance by National Guard and Department of Defense assets.

  • I issued a directive to measure employer compliance and participation with the Department’s E-Verify program and ways that DHS has worked both to reduce false negatives in order to protect the rights of Americans and to strengthen the system against identity fraud.

  • I issued directives to assess the status of the Department’s worksite enforcement programs, fugitive alien operations, immigration detention facilities, removal programs, and the 287(g) program.

  • I asked for an assessment of the situation of widows and widowers of U.S. citizens who had petitioned for the alien spouse’s immigration, but whose petitions were not adjudicated before the citizen spouse’s death.

  • I issued a directive to assess Department programs to combat border violence and drug smuggling, and as a result, DHS is considering ways to better engage partners and increase the effectiveness of these programs.

  • I also issued a directive that assessed our northern border strategy. Through that directive, DHS is considering cases where, because of climate and geography, some specialized technology may need to be developed or modified in order to protect the northern border while mitigating unnecessary impacts on our extensive trade with Canada.
TRANSPORTATION SECURITY – In an effort to assess security across all forms of transportation, I directed the review of transportation security in the surface, maritime and aviation sectors.

The review identified a number of areas where risks to transportation security could be reduced. Resources such as explosives detection systems and transit, rail, and port security personnel contained in the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will enable the Department to accelerate the mitigation of risk in these areas.

CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION – I issued an action directive to assess the status of the Department’s efforts to shield the Nation’s critical infrastructure from attacks.

The response contained several steps DHS would take to inspect the security of chemical plants and efforts DHS would participate in to limit the availability of dangerous materials. I issued a separate directive for an assessment of DHS’s critical role in cybersecurity.

HEALTHCARE SURGE CAPACITY – I issued an action directive that evaluated DHS’s role in building capacity for a "healthcare surge" – the increase in people who might need medical attention after an incident – including DHS’s supporting role in coordinating response to such an incident, and how the Department’s preparedness and public communications efforts could better facilitate existing healthcare surge capacities.

This directive will help us move forward on a critical element of our Nation’s response capability.

PLANNING AND RISK MANAGEMENT – I issued an action directive asking for a report on DHS’s lead role in the interagency effort to develop Federal operational plans for prevention, protection, response, and recovery activities for the National Planning Scenarios.

The report will also discuss how DHS will work with law enforcement partners inside and outside the federal government in an integrated planning effort.

I issued a separate directive to assess DHS’s uses of risk analysis. As a result, several steps were identified that will assure DHS provides risk-analysis information to a full range of decision-makers, and assure that the Department’s strategies are risk-based.

Coordinating with Other Cabinet Officers

In addition to the action directives, I have also begun the process of reaching out to new Cabinet officers. I have already met with several of my fellow Cabinet officials about areas where our Departments will cooperate and coordinate.

We in the Cabinet work in one administration, and we address problems together. In particular, I am conducting this kind of outreach vis-à-vis the Department’s important role in the intelligence community.

We are one of several agencies that work together to identify security threats, and the ability to cooperate and coordinate across departmental lines is paramount.

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