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Department Of Homeland Security Immigration Fact Sheet Changes

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 9:54 PM
Monday, June 22, 2009

By Trbrian Jenkins

In August 2007, the White House released a fact sheet dealing with the Department of Homeland Security and immigration issues. The fact sheet detailed responses and activities by the Department of Homeland Security in the area improving border security and immigration within existing law. The report, titled “Improving Border Security and Immigration Within Existing Law”, detailed reforms and steps that Homeland Security would take to improve the security of the United States in the areas of Border Security, Interior Enforcement, Worksite Enforcement, the Guest Worker Program, improving immigration security, and Assimilation. Among the various tasks and improvements were a number of things that are important for employers and local emergency response agencies to know.

Quoting from the Fact Sheet under Interior Enforcement:

7. The Administration Is Training Hundreds Of State And Local Law Enforcement Officers To Address Illegal Immigration In Their Communities. The Administration is maintaining the 287(g) program and expanding other measures that help State and local law officials. These measures include a broad array of enforcement tools, such as formal task forces, greater use of the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center, delegated border search and seizure authority under Title 19, and enhanced partnerships to address location-specific threats, such as gangs.

As a part of this directive, the Department of Homeland Security has various grants available to help state and local law enforcement agencies and emergency responders train for terrorist incidents and other emergencies. Those grants can be used to purchase training videos, bring in speakers and implement training and educational programs to build awareness of safety and enforcement issues related to national security.

The grants and training programs are run through the Office for Grants and Training, which takes as its mission “to prepare America for acts of domestic terrorism by developing and implementing a national program to enhance the capacity of state and local agencies to respond to incidents of terrorism”. To that end, the OGT of the Department of Homeland Security offers training, exercises, equipment and exercises tailored to various sectors of the first responders community. It includes a specific category of grants aimed at firefighters, and another to help develop a Citizens Corps to respond to emergencies and other hazardous situations.

On June 25, 2008, Rep. David Price (D-NC), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, addressed attendees at a conference at the Center for American Progress. In his speech, he laid out the issues facing the Department of Homeland Security, and the next steps that the next administration should take to reinforce its mission and reform the department. Not surprisingly, tackling the complex issue of immigration and security tops his list. Price makes some recommendations that should be of interest to anyone who has concerns about emergency response and emergency preparedness.

  • Immigration reform should be a major focus of the new administration. The current administration, he said, has focused on enforcement-only, without recognizing or responding to the realities of our labor market. Doing anything else, he explained, will “drain our resources and distract attention” from locating and apprehending criminal and terrorist aliens within our borders.

The August Fact Sheet distributed by the DHS focused almost solely on enforcement against employers who knowingly employ illegal workers, and on enhanced systems to identify illegal immigrants. Immigration policies that recognize the realities of labor market that rely on legal foreign workers would make it far easier to focus needed resources on illegal immigrants that actually pose a threat to our nation’s security.

  • Emergency Response allocations should be readjusted to encompass a wide variety of disasters rather than automatically allocating the lion’s share to preparing against the possibility of terrorist attack. Price said that while there is a possibility of a terrorist attack in the next five to ten years, first responders in most states are far more likely to face natural disasters like hurricanes.

First responders should be trained to deal with a wide variety of disasters, natural and manmade. Many of the techniques and the infrastructure being developed to deal with a national terrorist-created emergency can and should be used to manage local emergencies resulting from chemical spills, natural disasters and other emergency situations as well as those emergencies that have a national impact.

  • Maintaining security during transition will have to be a priority, said Price. Attacks in the United States, London and Madrid have all taken place during government transition periods. It’s vital for the next administration to have a plan ready for the integration of the 22 agencies involved in the Department of Homeland Security.

Price is not the only one calling for these reforms and changes. Others, most notably Elaine Karmack, who created and managed the Clinton administration’s National Performance Review also talked about integrating and coordinating the many agencies involved in the Department of Homeland Security. Among other things, she recommends spinning FEMA out of the DHS and letting it stand as an independent agency to address and respond to all emergencies that require the assistance of the federal government.

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