WASHINGTON — To combat a wide variety of tactics smugglers use to conceal fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas signed an Interim Final Rule (IFR) to promulgate regulations that will enable U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to implement provisions required in the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act. These regulations will strengthen the collection and sharing of advance electronic data (AED) by the United States Postal Service (USPS) and CBP for international mail shipments.
“The STOP Act is an important step in the battle against the deadly scourge of synthetic drugs that has caused so much loss and pain in our country,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “The Department of Homeland Security is proud to implement the STOP Act through this regulation. Since taking office last month, working closely with U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Gary Peters, I have prioritized the promulgation of today’s regulation.”
“Two additional points are noteworthy. First, our Department will continue to prioritize the battle against the importation of illegal drugs and their precursors, and we will dedicate our energy and resources accordingly. This is a matter of homeland security. Second, our Department is dedicated to the prompt, orderly, and effective promulgation of regulations that implement the laws Congress has passed and that advance the policy priorities of this Administration.”
The IFR, entitled “Mandatory Advance Electronic Information for International Mail Shipments,” is expected to be published in the Federal Register soon. The IFR amends CBP’s regulations pertaining to mail importation to establish a mandatory AED program for certain inbound mail shipments.
“CBP is the frontline in the battle against dangerous and illicit drugs shipped to our country through the international mail system,” said Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy Miller. “Fentanyl and its many fentanyl-based analogues continue to plague the American people, and these regulations will be critical in our efforts to identify and disrupt the transnational criminal organizations who ship these deadly drugs through our international mail system.”
These new AED regulations in the IFR will enhance the security of international mail shipments entering the United States by enabling CBP to conduct better targeting and risk assessments. This will help disrupt the flow of illicit supply chains that exploit the postal environment and will reduce shipments of illicit fentanyl and other dangerous goods from entering the country. Screening made possible through AED will also be used to identify counterfeit goods, and illicit biological matter - or even to counter terrorism.Keywords: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Drug Interdiction, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Synthetic Drug
Washington, DC—This afternoon, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and a bipartisan delegation from the U.S. Conference of Mayors met virtually to discuss critical issues facing American cities. The Secretary and the mayors discussed the need to rebuild the immigration system to make it more just and compassionate, address current immigrant resettlement needs in cities and reopen the borders for nonessential travel as soon as it is safe to do so. They also covered the current heightened threat environment and the need to share intelligence with city officials and help cities guard against cyber attacks. The mayors thanked Secretary Mayorkas for the administration’s efforts to make working with local leaders a priority, and the Secretary and the Conference pledged to continue an ongoing dialogue.
Mayors participating in the meeting included:
WASHINGTON – Today, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited operations at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) new Community Vaccination Center (CVC) facility at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, scheduled to open tomorrow and expected to vaccinate up to 6,000 people per day. Secretary Mayorkas thanked and met with the Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, and representatives from other partner organizations including the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and the Department of Defense.
“On the first day of his administration, President Biden challenged FEMA to stand up 100 Federally supported Community Vaccination Centers in 30 days,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “Well, FEMA did not stand up 100 Community Vaccination Centers in 30 days – they stood up 441. Today, that number is well over 500 and growing by the day. DHS will work night and day with our community partners, including our partners in Philadelphia, to defeat this pandemic.”
Secretary Mayorkas also emphasized the vaccine’s safety and DHS’ efforts to increase equal access to the vaccine in communities across the country.
“It is important for people to understand that these vaccines are safe. I have been vaccinated, and you should feel comfortable being vaccinated as soon as you are able to do so,” Secretary Mayorkas said. “As we work to increase access to the COVID vaccine in communities across the country, we are prioritizing equity, because your socio-economic status, your race, your ethnicity, your access to transportation, or your immigration status should not impact whether you are able to receive a vaccine.”
Secretary Mayorkas reaffirmed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will not conduct immigration enforcement operations at or near COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites throughout the nation.
###Keywords: Coronavirus (COVID-19), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced today the principles of the Family Reunification Task Force and the appointment of the Task Force’s Executive Director, Michelle Brané.
“We are dedicating our resources throughout the Department of Homeland Security and the federal government, and bringing our full weight to bear, to reunite children who were cruelly separated from their parents,” said Secretary Mayorkas, who serves as the Chair of the Task Force. “It is our moral imperative to not only reunite the families, but to provide them with the relief, resources, and services they need to heal.”
Secretary Mayorkas announced that Michelle Brané will serve as the Task Force’s Executive Director. Most recently, she served as the senior director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. Prior to that, Michelle also held positions at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, with human rights organizations in India, and as a human rights officer in Bosnia with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
“Michelle has dedicated her entire career to the protection and well-being of the vulnerable, and to ensuring that the dignity and human rights of every individual are respected,” continued Mayorkas. “I am proud that she has agreed to commit her talent to this most urgent work.”
Secretary Mayorkas outlined the Task Force’s principles to heal the families, to the fullest extent the law permits:
On February 26, 2021, Secretary Mayorkas spoke with the Foreign Ministers of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, who committed to all work with the United States to support the Task Force’s work to reunite the families. The Task Force will also work with NGOs and the private sector to achieve its mission.Keywords: Asylum, Family, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas spoke on Friday, February 26 with Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandra Hill Tinoco. Secretary Mayorkas thanked the Foreign Minister for El Salvador’s partnership with the United States and Foreign Minister Hill underscored her great appreciation for President Biden’s humane approach to immigration. During the conversation, Secretary Mayorkas and Foreign Minister Hill discussed the Biden-Harris Administration’s approach to addressing irregular migration, as well as a shared desire to address its root causes and strengthen migration management. They collectively agreed on the need to counter false narratives about migration, work together to immediately reunite children who were separated from their families at the U.S. Southwest border, and other initiatives to protect vulnerable populations.Keywords: Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Homeland Security, Immigration, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas spoke by phone on Friday, February 26 with Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs Pedro Brolo. They noted the strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Guatemala, and pledged continued future cooperation. Secretary Mayorkas and Minister Brolo discussed President Biden’s strategy to stem irregular migration, agreeing on the need to address the issues that drive people to leave their home countries, strengthen migration management, and counter false narratives about migration. Secretary Mayorkas committed to working with Minister Brolo to do everything necessary to reunite children who were separated from their families at the U.S. Southwest border. They also committed to continued cooperation on combating illicit trafficking and seeking additional options for legal pathways for migration.Keywords: Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration, International Partnership, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas spoke by phone on Friday, February 26 with Honduran Minister of Foreign Affairs Lisandro Rosales. They acknowledged the strong relationship between the United States and Honduras, and their shared desire to continue building a productive and collaborative partnership. Secretary Mayorkas discussed the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive approach to addressing irregular migration, including through a regional strategy to address its root causes and improve migration management. He welcomed Minister Rosales’s shared commitment to respond to irregular migration through in-country measures in Honduras. Secretary Mayorkas and Minister Rosales also pledged cooperation to overcome the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; counter false narratives about migration; and collaborate in areas such as border security, family reunification, and combatting human smugglers.Keywords: Immigration, International Partnership, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas today announced the release of the funding notice for eight different types of preparedness grants worth nearly $1.87 billion. Together, these programs provide more than $1.8 billion in critical funding to assist our state and local partners in building and sustaining capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other disasters.
Secretary Mayorkas issued the following statement about this year’s grant awards:
“In the almost 20 years since September 11, 2001, the terrorism threat landscape has changed considerably. Today the most significant terrorist threat facing the nation comes from lone offenders and small groups of individuals who commit acts of violence motivated by domestic extremist ideological beliefs. While we continue to lawfully protect against threats posed by foreign terrorist organizations, we also must ensure adequate focus and funding is provided to combat domestic terrorism, some of which is motivated by false narratives and extremist rhetoric spread through social media and other online platforms.
“This year, and for the first time, I have designated combating domestic violent extremism as a ‘National Priority Area’ for the FY 2021 State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant programs. Recipients of these grants will be required to spend at least 7.5 percent of their awards on combating domestic violent extremism (DVE). Put another way, states and local governments across the nation will spend at least $77 million in grant funding to ensure we have the necessary capabilities to detect and protect against threats from DVE. This approach will help raise the nation’s security baseline and prioritize activities to combat DVE, including open source analysis of threats, execution of threat assessment programs, the development and sharing of intelligence across states and between states and the federal government, and the development of training and awareness programs.
“With today’s grant awards, I am also directing additional grant funding to support cybersecurity efforts. As we have seen in recent events, attacks on our cyber networks can have devastating effects. Accordingly, I have required that SHSP and UASI recipients spend at least 7.5 percent of their grant awards to enhance their cybersecurity posture. With this funding, state and local grant recipients can conduct cybersecurity risk assessments, strengthen their ‘dot gov’ internet domains, improve the cybersecurity of their critical infrastructure, and conduct additional cybersecurity training and planning.
“Finally, this year’s grant awards will prohibit the purchase of certain equipment such as grenade launchers, bayonets, and weaponized aircraft. Other types of ‘controlled’ equipment will require oversight and approvals. We will continue to support the purchase of critical equipment that has a demonstrable impact on enhancing the safety of law enforcement and members of the public.
“The threats we face as a nation have evolved significantly throughout the past 20 years. Therefore, I am directing the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a systematic review of these programs and to submit a report and recommendations to me. I will then engage – personally and extensively – with our state, local, tribal, and territorial partners across the country to inform future grant awards. It is through open and fulsome engagement that the Department can most effectively accomplish its mission. We are proud to support the brave and noble first responder community through these critical grant programs.”
The Fiscal Year 2021 grant guidance will continue to focus on the nation’s highest risk areas, including urban areas that face the most significant threats and national priorities. This year, the Urban Area Security Initiative will enhance regional preparedness and capabilities by funding 31 high-threat, high-density urban areas. This represents Congressional intent to limit these funds to those urban areas that represent up to 85% of the nationwide risk.
As the threats to our nation evolve, so too must the grant programs intended to prepare communities for those threats. To that end, DHS has identified five critical priority areas for attention in the FY 2021 grant cycle: cybersecurity, soft targets and crowded places, intelligence and information sharing, domestic violent extremism, and emerging threats. Grant recipients under the State Homeland Security Program and Urban Area Security Initiative will be required to dedicate a minimum of 30% of awards to address these five priority areas: cybersecurity (7.5%, an increase of at least $25 million across the country); soft target and crowded places (5%); information and intelligence sharing (5%); domestic violent extremism (7.5%); and emerging threats (5%).
As with previous years, new capabilities that are built using homeland security grant funding must be deployable if needed to support regional and national efforts. All capabilities being built or sustained must have a clear linkage to the core capabilities articulated in the National Preparedness Goal.
Preparedness Grant Program Allocations for Fiscal Year 2021
The following grants are non-competitive and awarded to recipients based on a number of factors:
State Homeland Security Program—provides $415 million to support the implementation of risk-driven, capabilities-based state homeland security strategies to address capability targets. Awards are based on statutory minimums and relative risk as determined by DHS/FEMA’s risk methodology.
Urban Area Security Initiative—provides $615 million to enhance regional preparedness and capabilities in 31 high-threat, high-density areas. Awards are based on relative risk as determined by DHS/FEMA’s risk methodology.
Emergency Management Performance Grant—provides more than $355 million to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial governments in enhancing and sustaining all-hazards emergency management capabilities. Relative population is considered.
Intercity Passenger Rail—provides $10 million to Amtrak to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and increase the resilience of the Amtrak rail system. Award made per congressional direction.
The following grants are competitive, and exact awards will be announced later this year:
Operation Stonegarden—provides $90 million to enhance cooperation and coordination among state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal law enforcement agencies to jointly enhance security along the United States land and water borders.
Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program —provides $15 million to eligible tribal nations to implement preparedness initiatives to help strengthen the nation against risk associated with potential terrorist attacks and other hazards.
Nonprofit Security Grant Program—provides $180 million to support target hardening and other physical security enhancements for nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack. This year, $90 million is provided to nonprofits in UASI-designated urban areas, and $90 million is provided to nonprofits outside of UASI-designated urban areas located in any state or territory.
Port Security Grant Program—provides $100 million to help protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism, enhance maritime domain awareness, improve port-wide maritime security risk management, and maintain or re-establish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.
Transit Security Grant Program —provides $88 million to owners and operators of public transit systems to protect critical surface transportation and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.
Intercity Bus Security Grant Program —provides $2 million to owners and operators of intercity bus systems to protect surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.Cyber Infrastructure, Cybersecurity, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Grant Funding, Preparedness, Preparedness Grant, Rail Security, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Beginning this week, with the support of the Government of Mexico and international humanitarian organizations, the United States will begin to process current residents of the Matamoros camp in Mexico.
The migrant camp in Matamoros has recently been hard hit by extreme weather in northern Mexico. As President Biden continues to rebuild the nation’s border management in a way that reflects America’s values, addressing humanitarian needs in Matamoros has become a priority. We will work in partnership with the Government of Mexico, and partners on the ground, to facilitate the safe processing of current camp residents who qualify for this program. New arrivals to the Matamoros camp will not gain entry into the United States through this limited process.
This registration and process will be done as quickly as possible with strict enforcement of health and safety protocols and the most vulnerable prioritized for immediate review. Every individual will complete all necessary security screening, as well as testing for COVID-19.
This action is the next phase in the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to a safe, orderly, and humane migration process, while continuing to strictly enforce our existing immigration laws and border security measures.
The government – at all levels – has been clear: Individuals should not believe smugglers or others claiming the border is now open. The Administration will enforce existing immigration laws.
As a reminder, individuals should not approach the border, including at designated ports of entry, unless and until they are approved and receive appointment information through the virtual registration process. Due to the current pandemic, travel restrictions at the border remain in place and will be enforced. Physical presence at a port of entry is not the way to gain access to this phased effort to draw down the MPP program. If individuals believe they were enrolled in MPP, they may register at https://conecta.acnur.org.Keywords: Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas spoke by phone today with the European Commission’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson. During the conversation, they emphasized their shared desire to strengthen U.S.-EU cooperation. Secretary Mayorkas and Commissioner Johansson expressed their continued interest in maintaining the U.S.-EU Passenger Name Record Agreement and working with Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania to meet the qualifications for the Visa Waiver Program. They also discussed the potential for new forms of cooperation on migration, domestic violent extremism, and COVID-19-related travel issues.Keywords: Europe, International Partnership, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas