Sep 9, 2020
Acting Sec. Chad Wolf Update on Homeland Security Transcript September 9
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf spoke on September 9 to provide updates on the state of US homeland security. Read the transcript of his remarks here.
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Speaker 3: (02:28)
Let us pray. Holy God, we thank you for blessing us with the gift of waking up this morning in a free nation, one that was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal. We thank you for the blessings that you have poured out on the United States throughout its history, and for the long list of individuals who have served this nation, especially those who have served and are serving to secure our homeland. We thank you for each one who comes each day to make our nation safe, secure, and resilient. This morning, we ask that you continue to pour out your blessings on Acting Secretary Wolf and all those who joined with him to protect our nation and our way of life. Please give us your presence for these proceedings, that all that we say and do might honor you and your provision for us. We pray it all in your name. Amen.
Speaker 4: (03:38)
Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Please welcome to the podium, the senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary, Ken Cuccinelli.
Ken Cuccinelli: (04:01)
Well, good morning and welcome everyone. It’s an honor to be here with all of you as we assess the state of our cherished homeland. We’re here today because the threats that we face as a nation require us to be more vigilant than ever in protecting the people and values we care so deeply about. After decades of putting global interests ahead of the safety and the prosperity of our citizens, this administration has boldly put America first. Our president has taken decisive action to revamp our approach to Homeland Security. We’ve seen the DHS more dynamic than at any time in the department’s history. We’ve seen a DHS unafraid to disrupt the status quo and deliver results that provide security for the American people.
Ken Cuccinelli: (04:56)
Today, Acting Secretary Wolfe will articulate the various ways in which DHS continues to innovate and fulfill the president’s vision of a more secure and prosperous America. Through our various components at DHS, we are unified as a department and understand the gravity of the work we do every single day throughout America. In Acting Secretary Wolf, the department has a leader committed to facing the emerging threats of tomorrow. It’s been remarkable to witness the president of DHS overcome the vast array of challenges that we’ve faced over the course of the last almost four years. DHS has adapted to the unique threats of our time and will continue to succeed and adapt to whatever obstacles the future may hold for us.
Ken Cuccinelli: (05:50)
Two days from now will mark the 19th anniversary of 9/11, a day that none of us will ever forget, a day our nation was attacked by terrorists seeking to destroy the bond of our people, but instead we grew stronger. We came together. And as we discuss the current challenges faced by the department and the future of Homeland Security, we do so with reverence to those lost on 9/11 and the heroic first responders and armed forces who have put their lives on the line since that day in the same fight. Out of the ashes of tragedy, our nation arose stronger than ever before. And DHS now plays a vital role in that ascension. We’ll hear more about that today.
Ken Cuccinelli: (06:47)
As we approach the 19th anniversary of 9/11, we’re reminded that on that day, 19 hijackers exploited the very gaps in our immigration system, in our enforcement, and our national security systems, because that’s what they are, the DHS was ultimately created to remedy. The president understands we live in a nation that must defend its borders. And we must know who is entering our beloved country. It’s our solemn duty to never, to never allow the entry of individuals hostile to America and our founding principles into the United States of America.
Ken Cuccinelli: (07:33)
And that is one of the many goals we pursue every day. At DHS, we’ve taken common sense measures to raise the baseline of security screening and to restore the integrity of our immigration system. We will not allow threats to breach our homeland via a dysfunctional and negligent immigration process. Every day, we protect the homeland and support our fellow citizens so they can live in a prosperous and free country with safe neighborhoods and communities. We’re honored to do so and honored to host you here today at our headquarters in Washington. Thank you very much.
George W. Bush: (08:49)
The rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these barriers down will hear all of us soon. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 takes the next critical steps in defending our country. The continuing threat of terrorism. The threat of mass murder on our own soil will be met with a unified effective response. Dozens of agencies charged with homeland security will now be located within one cabinet department, with the mandate and legal authority to protect our people.
Speaker 5: (09:19)
That’s going to be hard to get on. [inaudible 00:09: 26].
Speaker 6: (09:35)
I serve to promote homeland security and public safety.
Speaker 7: (09:37)
I serve to provide career long training to law enforcement professionals.
Speaker 8: (09:41)
I serve to administer the [inaudible 00:09:44] lawful immigration system.
Speaker 9: (09:45)
I serve to enable effective and secure operations across all Homeland Security mission.
Speaker 10: (09:51)
I serve to defend against today’s threats, to build more secure and resilient infrastructure for the future.
Speaker 11: (09:57)
I serve to prevent an attack against the United States, using a weapon of mass destruction, through timely and responsive support to our operational components.
Speaker 12: (10:05)
I serve to protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.
Speaker 13: (10:12)
I serve to safeguard America’s borders and enhance the nation’s global economic competitiveness.
Speaker 14: (10:21)
I stand ready to rise.
Speaker 9: (11:17)
I stand ready to rise.
Speaker 12: (11:18)
I stand ready to rise.
Speaker 10: (11:20)
I stand ready to rise and face the next challenge that threatens our homeland.
Speaker 4: (11:41)
Please welcome to the podium, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, the honorable Chad Wolf.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (11:58)
The Department of Homeland Security is bound by one mission, one creed, answering the call. Often in the times of the most arduous environments and difficult of circumstances, to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values from all threats, all the time, both today, tomorrow, and in the months and years to come. We are one team. We are one mission. We are one DHS. And we stand ready to rise and ready to face the next challenge that threatens our homeland. Our mission is anything but easy. It is one that is increasingly complex and expansive. One that transcends borders, mission sets, and threat streams. While much has changed since the department was created after 9/11, one thing remains constant. The dedicated men and women of DHS who rise to meet every threat with unwavering professionalism, precision, and passion.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (12:57)
It was a privilege to join your ranks at the department’s founding. It’s the honor of a lifetime to lead this team. To each of you here and across America today, serving alongside you as your acting secretary is an honor that no words can capture, but let me try by saying this. I know your strength and I know your commitment. Nothing can intimidate you. Not cyber attacks, transnational criminal activity, not a global pandemic, or the pains of civil unrest. Not mother nature storms, and not those of malign actors seeking to bring storms of their own to our shores.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (13:33)
To the department’s leadership here today, your job is not easy. It’s not glamorous. You get no write-ups in glossy magazines. Instead, you get many words written about you or shouted at you. Here are two that you hear too seldom. Thank you. Thank you for showing up every day and working hard for the American people. They know. I know. And on their behalf, I say thank you for your work. As we recognize and celebrate the work today-
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (14:03)
As we recognize and celebrate the work today, we also acknowledge the contributions of past leaders who forged and helped to establish our department. I’d like to recognize a few of them here that are with us today. Kirstjen Nielsen, former Secretary, Admiral Jim Lloyd, former United States Coast Guard Commandant, TSA Administrator and Deputy Secretary, Elaine Duke, former Secretary of Management and Deputy Secretary, and Acting Secretary, Claire Grady, former Undersecretary of Management and Acting Deputy Secretary, and Tom Homan, former Acting Director of ICE. Thank you for being here. On behalf of a grateful nation and a grateful department, thank you for dedicating your time and service
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (14:52)
As one DHS team, today, we gather to survey the state of the homeland, and with a steady voice, we will state the threats we face in absolute confidence. We will share how we will meet and defeat them, show how we will strengthen the resilience of our borders, our infrastructure, and our way of life. And let me say at the outset, thanks to the resolve, the ingenuity, and the technical prowess of the men and women of DHS and the unwavering support of President Trump, America is more prepared and more equipped to tackle the threats of the homeland than ever before.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (15:28)
The mission sets, the components that compromise DHS, from the USCIS to Secret Service, are distinct and important. They are diverse. But our dedication of our workforce is uniformly strong. As we prepare today for tomorrow’s dangers, I’m confident that the state of our homeland is secure in the steady hands of the men and women of DHS.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (15:50)
We cannot gather as a family in September and fail to remember the day 19 years ago. The smoke has long since disappeared over New York, Shanksville, and the Pentagon, right across the Potomac from where we gather today. But for us, the skies of September are never clear. We rose from the ashes of that day with one purpose, to protect America. Here, liberty and the rule of law live together and sustain one another. DHS stands against all enemies seeking to weaken or destroy them.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (16:19)
For more than 17 years that the department was founded, our resolve to safeguard the homeland has never been stronger, but the threats have changed. They’re more complex and they’re more sophisticated. We were established in 2003, well before iPhones existed that could be used to control drones, before terrorists used cryptocurrency to fund their evil plots, and before nation states used Twitter to proliferate their dis-information campaigns.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (16:48)
Our challenges today are unimaginably different than those of our past. Threats shift, and so must the department. Through the trials, obstacles and successes of nearly two decades, we have learned many lessons and honed our abilities to accomplish our singular mission of protecting the homeland. This ongoing process of growth and improvement has prepared the department to address the threats of today.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (17:12)
DHS was created with adaptability in mind, to ensure our government’s efforts to defend the nation were, in the words of President Bush, comprehensive and united, crafted to analyze threats, to guard our borders, our airports, protect our critical infrastructure, and to coordinate the response of our nation to future emergencies.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (17:32)
In 2020, where threats are dynamic, this need for operational flexibility is paramount. And thanks to the support of Congress, the innovation of DHS employees, and the support of the American people, we are better prepared than ever before and to meet the dangers of our time, though we still have much to do.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (17:50)
DHS has been able to leverage, coordinate and surge the department’s resources at a moment’s notice, from the US Coast Guard and medical teams deploying to the border, to ICE and CVP buttressing the federal protective services defense of federal property, and to FEMA marshaling the response efforts of CISA, CVP, TSA, Coast Guard, and the Secret Service in the wake of hurricanes and COVID-19. This agility is precisely what DHS was designed to accomplish.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (18:18)
The American people do not want a department that shies away from challenges just because they are controversial or difficult. The varied objectives of DHF placed us at the center of nearly every major challenge and crisis. And thanks to the leadership of President Trump over the last four years, we’ve addressed obstacle after obstacle head-on, overcoming the vast array of threats facing our nation.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (18:41)
Amidst this shifting series of challenges, a vocal and ill-informed minority has clamored to paint recent DHS actions as examples of mission drift or portalization. They could not be more wrong. Rising to meet the evolving threats means that our tactics, our actions and our strategies may change, but our mission never does. DHS must not, and under this administration will not permit baseless sensationalism to deter our commitment to secure America.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (19:13)
I can confidently say that if the department did not exist, every effort, every response, and every action to secure our homeland would have been slower, inefficient, and less effective. Within the last year alone, we have faced both as a nation and as a department, new and unprecedented threats. DHS was established for years just like this. We’re using authorities previously granted by Congress but never before used, as we have faced evolving and novel threats.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (19:41)
Let’s remember what the department has been able to achieve in the last year alone. We continue to lead the federal government’s response to a global pandemic. We’re protecting federal buildings and federal law enforcement officers from an emerging threat of violent rioters. We are combating crisis at the Southern border, such as human trafficking, drug smuggling, and unprecedented illegal migration flows. We are fortifying our economic security by tightening our immigration system, preserving free and fair trade, and thwarting the growing threats posed by China now and in the future. We are identifying and preventing malign foreign actors in nation states from interfering in our elections and protecting our election infrastructure.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (20:23)
Against each of these challenges, the department has marshaled our resources, tapped our authorities, has unified our efforts to safeguard the American people and our way of life. Yet we will not rest on yesterday’s successes. Our eyes are on the horizon and on the future. As we look ahead, terrorism, criminal actions threatening public safety, and natural disasters and pandemics will remain threats to the homeland. They always will. But today, we’re also seeing nation states launching new aggressive tactics here in the homeland through cyber and economic means. And rest assured, the Trump administration is taking the necessary actions to ensure they do not succeed.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (21:04)
Of all the threats DHS has confronted in the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed one of the most formidable, rapidly evolving and uniquely challenging for the department. Due to what we now know was China’s irresponsible response, COVID-19 was permitted to become the worst global pandemic in more than a hundred years. Along with the World Health Organizations, their actions were in depth and their response was too slow.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (21:29)
In stark contrast, President Trump’s decisive and rapid action led to our federal government to pursue a whole of America response, which continues to deliver results, where he locally executed state managed and federally supported strategy. And when the federal government needed expertise in incident management, they turned to FEMA. Utilizing their experience, FEMA quickly got to work prioritizing tasks, putting structure to a growing crisis, and working with our inner agency partners to make certain the full weight and breadth of the US federal government was being brought to the fight.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (22:03)
FEMA’s tireless efforts implementing critical initiatives, those saving lives, replenishing lost wages, deserve our highest commendation. FEMA processed the first ever nationwide emergency declaration under the Stafford Act. This was in addition to the simultaneous major disaster declarations granted to all 50 States, five territories, and the District of Columbia. Putting this effort in perspective, FEMA was essentially responding to a category five hurricane in every state, every territory, and the District of Columbia, all at the same time. It’s truly an unprecedented level of emergency [inaudible 00:22:39] and response needed across America.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (22:43)
Under President Trump’s direction, we utilized the Defense Production Act to procure more than 220 million respirators from 3M, saving American lives. By taking historic action to better collaborate with the private sector, we have helped deliver and allocate billions of pieces of scarce PPE to our frontline healthcare workers and first responders.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (23:05)
But it doesn’t stop there. Most recently, FEMA has played a leading role in easing the economic burden COVID-19 has placed on millions of Americans. In August, in the absence of congressional action, President Trump authorized FEMA to use $44 billion from the disaster relief fund to alleviate the effects of lost wages, allowing states to make supplemental payments to those receiving unemployment insurance. FEMA acted in short order, and as of September 8th, FEMA has already provided more than $29 billion to 47 States for lost wages assistance, a truly phenomenal feat.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (23:39)
From the very beginning of this pandemic to this very moment, FEMA continues to martial the power of the federal government to assist our people in their time of need. However, the department’s response to COVID-19 is not exclusively to FEMA. From the outset. This administration proactively stemmed the spread of the pandemic. President Trump, working through DHS, placed travel restrictions on China and worked to implement further restrictions on an additional 30 countries to help slow the spread. And working with our neighbors to the north and south, CVP has successfully protected countless Americans through travel restrictions at our land ports of entry, while simultaneously facilitating the trade we need to support our economy.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (24:20)
Our other DHS components have also worked diligently in this environment to serve Americans in various ways. CISA, supporting our private sector partners, removed obstacles as they worked to keep supply chains fully operational and issued essential worker guidance on how to keep frontline employees healthy and at work. Our science and technology director curated the latest research and data on COVID-19, keeping policymakers and decision makers abreast of the latest scientific information. ICE HSI launched operations Stolen Promise, leveraging its expertise in global trade and criminal analysis to investigate financial fraud schemes, the importation of prohibited pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, cyber fraud, and other illicit activity associated with the virus. And CVP has proactively combated the criminals exploiting this pandemic for profit by seizing over 12 million counterfeit face masks, thousands of FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits, and thousands more unimproved medications that could pose harm to the American public.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (25:22)
DHS will remain vigilant in supporting the public health and economic wellbeing of the American people. Responding to COVID is not the only mission that would have been hard to predict at the beginning of the year. Today, the department is resisting the civil unrest that is gripping certain cities across the country. And let me be clear, those who seek to undermine our democratic institutions, indiscriminately destroy our businesses and attack our law enforcement officers and fellow citizens are a threat to the homeland. I want to be clear on that point.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (25:52)
The department has experienced this firsthand in Portland, Oregon, where violent opportunists repeatedly targeted and attempted to burn down a federal courthouse, the seat of justice in downtown Portland. Federal law in this area is an unequivocal and compels action. The Secretary of Homeland security shall protect the buildings, grounds, and property that are owned, occupied, and secured by the federal government and the people on that property. I have made it clear time and again that we will never abdicate this moral and legal duty.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (26:24)
Our federal protective service protects nearly 9,000 federal properties around the country, and in almost every one of those areas, we receive assistance from local officials when federal buildings are targeted and attacked. Unfortunately, this cooperation did not occur in Portland. This is a city where local leadership played partisan politics with public safety, allowing attempts of arson and violence against federal law enforcement officers, and the destruction of federal property to occur with impunity.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (26:54)
For nearly two months while defending the federal courthouse, our federal officers were assaulted with sledgehammers, commercial grade fireworks, rocks, metal pipes, IEDs, and more. As Portland officials refused to cooperate with DHS, our law enforcement officers suffered over 240 separate injuries. And after 60 days of this violence, the Governor of Oregon finally offered assistance of state law enforcement, but to be clear, that offer should have occurred on day one, not day 60.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (27:26)
Some politicians and media figures brazenly characterize the extreme violence in Portland and other cities around the country as mostly peaceful. Our Constitution protects the natural right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. The department supports the exercise of everyone’s first amendment rights. There is, however, no constitutional right to loot, to burn, or to assault law enforcement officers or your fellow citizens.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (28:03)
Let me repeat, there is no constitutional right to burn cities to the ground and assault the men and women of law enforcement. I’m proud of the work that we’re doing in Portland and around the country. DHS working with the Department of Justice and other federal law enforcement will make sure that those choosing to break the law in any city will be held accountable. The vast majority of reasonable Americans are also proud of the work of law enforcement. We cannot and must not fall victim to the delusion of a fringe minority of Americans who are opposed to the honorable men and women who wear the badge and swear to protect our communities. Americans see the violence against our officers and are not falling for this false narrative.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (28:45)
To our law enforcement colleagues watching today, we could not be more prouder of your sacrifice and professionalism. It has been disappointing to see so-called experts criticize our response in Portland without understanding the facts on the grounds. It’s unsettling that these self-appointed experts rushed to criticize the uniformed men and women of DHS, working to save lives and to defend federal property, even before they condemn the violent behavior of a rioting mob. Scoring cheap political points by abandoning those that risk their lives to preserve law and order should never be the way that our homeland security community operates.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (29:21)
As President Theodore Roosevelt rightly observed in 1910, “It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how strong the man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. Credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.” Every day, DHS professionals are in that arena while others sit on the sidelines and criticize. They have that right, and DHS law enforcement proudly helps ensure they can exercise that right safely. But make no mistake, there’s more work to be done as we see groups right here at home seeking to tear down our government institutions and our way of life.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (30:04)
I’m proud to say that DHS has taken unprecedented actions to address all forms of violent extremism, to specifically include threats posed by lone offenders and small cells of individuals. Last year the department released a comprehensive strategy that contextualizes the threats from violent extremists and lays out the DHS mission in preventing such violence. We secured with the help of Congress additional funding in FY2020 for those initiatives and the president requested a 300% increase in funding for DHS-wide efforts in this area in his FY21 budget.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (30:38)
Just this week we’re releasing an implementation plan that outlines dozens of separate actions across the DHS enterprise designed to combat domestic terrorism and soon we will announce our terrorism prevention grant recipients. Let me be clear, DHS stands in absolute opposition to any form of violent extremism, whether by white supremacist extremists or anarchist extremists, we will continue our daily efforts to combat all forms of domestic terror.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (31:10)
The work of DHS is diverse as it is important. Whether in cyberspace or at the border, DHS is unflinching in its resolve to secure America’s territorial sovereignty through strong border security and bringing integrity back to our immigration system. These are difficult issues that require difficult decisions. Many administrations, Republican and Democrat alike, have chosen to make improvements around the edges, only weighing in when a crisis occurs and almost never making the hard decisions. Homeland security does not come easy, it does not come without debate. From the early days of this administration, President Trump articulated what most Americans intuitively knew, we need strong border security and we needed to put an end to the longstanding fraud and abuse in our immigration system.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (31:57)
So we got to work. We started with the premise that it is better to stop criminal activity before it gets to America. Specifically we began by pushing our borders out and keeping Americans safe through a layered approach that includes more effective screening of those who are seeking to enter our country, securing unprecedented international cooperation, fully applying the law to all those who break it, reforming our immigration system, and last but certainly not least, building an effective border wall system.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (32:29)
One of the most fundamental responsibilities of any sovereign nation is to know exactly who is entering their country and for what purpose. The U.S. is the world’s most generous and welcoming country, but unfortunately there are evil people who seek to travel to the U.S. with the intent of harming and killing Americans. Despite the progress we’ve made since 9/11, we remain heavily dependent on the paperwork and documentation of a prospective traveler. That is why the department along with our inter-agency partners developed a process for evaluating the information, sharing cooperation, identity management, practices and travel-related risks associated with each country in the world. We identified the lowest performing countries, put them on notice, and for those unwilling or unable to meet our standards, we issued common sense travel restrictions. Because of this process, we’ve seen multiple countries begin sharing information with us that they have never done so before. Proud of the work the department has done to raise the security of the baseline around the world.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (33:34)
We are working closely with our partners in Central America, providing them the resources and capacity to address the illegal flow of migration and allowing their foreign nationals to seek protection closer to home. Over the last 18 months, we’ve signed and implemented security and asylum cooperative agreements with our partners and we are slowly restoring functionality to our broken immigration system. In 2019, under President Trump’s leadership, Mexico has also stepped up its efforts along known migration routes and we continue to work with Mexico to this day on partnerships to reduce illegal crossings.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (34:12)
These historic agreements with our partners in the Western hemisphere have helped curb illegal migration and make all of our countries more safe and more secure. For those who do attempt to illegally enter at our southern border, we have made tremendous program in building a state of the art border wall system. Having an effective barrier at our southern order was at one time considered common sense and bipartisan approach to homeland security. Over 80 senators in the United States Senate at the time voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Many of those senators are still in the U.S. Senate today, some complaining loudly now about President Trump successfully implementing what they themselves voted for back in 2006.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (34:58)
Let’s remember, we provide the very best equipment to our military troops fighting our adversaries overseas everyday. There’s no reason not to provide the very best equipment to the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol so they can protect us here at home. While politics may have changed, the facts have not. They cannot. Effective border barriers simply work. The new border wall system allows the U.S. government to decide where border crossings take place, not the cartels and not human traffickers. Where effective border wall systems have been constructed, the results speak for themselves. Where wall goes up, the number of illegal crossings and crime goes down, and while our opponents have used every conceivable roadblock, from Congress to the courts to stop our progress, I cannot be more proud to stand alongside President Trump and deliver the results that protect the American homeland.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (35:54)
Since January of this year, we have constructed over 300 miles of new border wall system. I’m proud to report by the end of this calendar year, we will reach over 450 miles.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (36:03)
The new border wall system is unlike anything that we’ve had before. It provides capabilities to the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol who need it to protect America. This wall is a testament to a key promise made and kept by President Trump and this administration. As hundreds of new miles of border wall system are constructed, they push cartels to traffic their goods at locations precisely where DHS is best equipped at ports of entry. Here we have the infrastructure, the staffing and the technology to better detect and interdict [inaudible 00:36:48]. No longer are cartels able to walk across the border unimpeded. We are hard at work on deploying non-intrusive inspection equipment at ports of entry. By 2023, we expect to expand NII screening of commercial vehicles from 15% today to 72% and the screening of personal vehicles from 1% today to 40%.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (37:10)
Since President Trump took office, we’ve seized more than four million pounds of hard drugs, like fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines. It means the Trump administration has annually seized roughly twice as many pounds of these hard drugs as the previous administration. Put another way, President Trump’s administration is on track to seize roughly the same amount of drugs in his first term alone as the amounts of drugs seized the entire eight years of the previous administration. These are narcotics that will never enter and devastate our communities and their seizure takes billions of dollars from the pockets of cartels.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (37:46)
We are also working to close many of the legal loopholes that have been identified and exploited by those seeking entry. We have all but put an end to catch and release, which served as a magnet to those who wish to exploit our immigration system time and time again. What we inherited was a situation with loopholes so large that most illegal aliens who were caught could expect to be released within our borders and then live and work for years without any consequences for their actions. That was both indefensible and on its own terms harmful to illegal aliens themselves, particularly those who with meritorious claims, and also deeply corrosive to the rule of law here in America.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (38:29)
Under the Migrant Protection Protocols grounded in law passed by Congress in 1996, aliens entering or seeking admission to the U.S. from Mexico illegally and without proper documentation will be returned to Mexico and required to wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings. MPP helps promote a safer, a more orderly process along our southwest border, discourages individuals from making meritless asylum claims, and enables expeditious immigration results. America is a generous nation. Thus it has also been a top priority of this administration to preserve our asylum system for genuine asylum seekers. Those seeking economic opportunity by exploiting our generous asylum laws hamper and delay individuals who truly qualify for asylum and should be granted this relief as soon as practicable. Strong border system and immigration enforcement is a win for Americans, a loss for organized crime, and a rebuke to those who wish to dissolve not just America’s borders but the rule of law. The administration’s message is simple, if you are a human trafficker, a drug smuggler, or any criminal seeking to break our laws and illegally enter the United States, you will find no sanctuary in this country.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (39:52)
We still have more work to do but looking back, we’re here because this administration did something uncommon here in D.C., we did precisely what we said we would do. Reforming our immigration system helps to secure the homeland, both directly and by supporting other vital efforts. As I said many times before, economic security is homeland security. We directly support the economic security every day here in the homeland by keeping commercial airline travel safe and secure, facilitating commercial trade through our ports of entry, keeping our networks free from economic disruptions, and safeguarding our ports and inland waterways that process nearly 90% of all goods coming into our country.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (40:36)
While there is much to talk about in this arena, let me just focus on how the lawful flow of goods and services fuel economic growth, is responsible for good American jobs and raises living standards. Our trade enforcement protects American businesses and consumers and it ensures that we are globally competitive. CBP enforces our trade laws and implements special trade remedies with quotas and exclusions to protect vital U.S. industries that are especially vulnerable to unfair labor practices. We will not let illicit actors threaten American innovation, our economy, or our business competitiveness, and we will protect the livelihoods of American workers and the health and safety of consumers every day.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (41:20)
As critical as trade is to our prosperity, it is also targeted for exploitation by terrorists and criminals. Our dedicated law enforcement officers are able to disrupt terrorist financing, target fraud and counterfeits, and ensure trade transparency. Addressing threats at the earliest possible point is essential to the strengthening, the security of our country, and enables to improve the free flow of legitimate goods. Since 9/11, DHS has significantly expanded its ability to track and disrupt terrorist and criminal financing by taking action against … To combat bulk cash smuggling and to close weaknesses in our financial, trade and –
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (42:03)
… smuggling and to close weaknesses in our financial trade and transportation sectors. We’re also encountering mass marketing fraud, investigating organized retail crime rings and fighting human smuggling and human trafficking organizations. Successful trade facilitation is what makes the United States globally competitive, ensuring that the supply chain is efficient, cost effective, and safe. And while COVID has highlighted many things over the last six months, perhaps most importantly it has reminded us that even the most dominant economy is fragile.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (42:36)
Surveying emerging threats of the last year, one menacing actor continues to evolve: China.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (42:42)
They’re relentless barrage of attacks aimed at undermining American workers, American economic dominance, and the American way of life can not be allowed to stand. And under this administration, they won’t.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (42:55)
China has leveraged every aspect of its country, including its economy, its military, and its diplomatic power demonstrating the rejection of Western liberal democracy and continuing renewing its commitment to remake the world order and its own authoritarian image. Their tactics are sometimes pernicious, but always harmful to the American worker and the American economy. From intellectual property theft and stealing trade secrets that rob American innovators, to harvesting personal data to turn a profit shattering the privacy of Americans of all ages, to exporting unjust business practices in the form of state backed enterprises that harm American entrepreneurs, to hacking attempts to penetrate and compromise American organizations conducting COVID research, to abusing student visas to exploit American academia. The actions of China made be un-abating, but they are not un-thwartable. Let me be clear, DHS has and will continue to play a critical role in the United States’ strategic approach to China. We are blocking visas for certain Chinese graduate students and researchers with ties to China’s military fusion strategy to prevent them from stealing and otherwise appropriating sensitive research.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (44:13)
We are targeting illicit Chinese manufacturers who have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic by producing fraudulent, prohibited PPE and medical supplies that are especially endangering our frontline workers. We are preventing goods produced from slave labor from entering our markets and demanding that China respect the inherent dignity of each human being. At our borders and ports of entry, we are leveraging technology and innovation to target and interject deadly Chinese made fentanyl before it can destroy American communities and take American lives.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (44:45)
DHS is working with our inter-agency and industry colleagues to protect our information and communications infrastructure from intellectual property theft and nefarious data collection by China. In response to this massive undertaking ahead, I’ve ordered the establishment of the department’s own China working group in order to uniformly prioritize and coordinate the department’s response to these evolving threats. China’s efforts to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to sabotage free and fair trade and abuse our immigration system will be met with resolute determination of a department committed to putting America first.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (45:27)
Under this administration, DHS has tackled difficult issues and made historic strides in better securing the Homeland. Our newest component, the cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency is at the forefront of guarding against nation state actors, cyber enabled espionage and malicious influence activity aimed at all levels of government and industry. As we approach the 2020 election, we remained steadfast and protecting this essential American process. CISA has doubled down both on their efforts across the federal government, in partnering with local election leaders across the country to make sure our elections are safe and secure. Elections are a bedrock of our constitutional republic and securing them is paramount to accurately expressing the will of the American people. To protect the integrity of our representative government, our ultimate goal must be doing sure that American voters decide American elections.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (46:27)
In light of new levels of organized efforts by Russia in 2016, to disrupt and deceive, the department strengthened US efforts to rebuff the aggressive and meddlesome behavior of any nefarious nation state actor. Signed into law by president Trump, CISA has made extraordinary and rapid strides bolstering the security of this most sacred democratic process. CISA has leveraged unique cyber security technical services by funding the election infrastructure, information sharing, and analysis center that deploys and monitors intrusion detection systems on election infrastructure across all 50 States.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (47:06)
The results were historic. 2018 was the most secure election in modern era. But not resting on its laurels, CISA has only increased its protection and scope and impact as it pursues the goal of an evermore secure election in 2020. They have dedicated tremendous resources in the Protect 2020 Project, understanding that American voters themselves are key to bolstering resilience. They’re educating citizens about the vital importance of being prepared, participating, and being patient on election day. Beyond our shores, we face an ever changing threat landscape with the governments of China, Iran, and Russia target our election systems each with their own separate and nefarious motives and tactics. But we are ready.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (47:54)
This administration continues to hold these nation States accountable for their actions, assigning attribution where appropriate and taking aggressive punitive measures, including sanctions against hostile intelligence services targeting election systems, oligarchs running troll farms, and others attempting to spread disinformation.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (48:12)
The right to choose one’s own leaders is rare in the course of history. The department recognizes this fact and will continue to uphold the integrity of this indispensable American tradition. The men and women of DHS are committed to defending and securing the American creed. Yes, the wiles of our enemies will shift and yes, DHS will adapt at every turn, but in one way, we will keep constant: we won’t let up. We’ll hold to what doesn’t change, the fundamental goodness of our people, our country, and the values that made us great. America’s worth protecting.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (48:51)
In the long March of history. Nowhere else has the human heart had so good a chance to live as we were created to live free, safe, and the ability to use that liberty. To make the world better than we found it. Emerging from the horror of 9/11, the burden of grief and sorrow taught us to prepare for any adversity.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: (49:13)
Not because we fear what trials may come, but because we know who we are as a people, independent and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal. I believe these American values called to the men and women of DHS. That’s why you’re here. You apply yourself to their defense daily, with integrity, vigilance, and respect. You ensure every coming day is more secure than the one before. I am privileged to work beside you and humbled to lead among you. Every victory of this department is yours. Thanks to you, this department will safeguard the American Homeland, our people, and our way of life. We stand ready to rise and ready to face the next challenge that threatens our Homeland. Thank you.
Ken Cuccinelli: (50:03)
Thank you Acting Secretary Wolf. But most importantly, thank you to all the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who daily accomplish such tremendous results for the American people. We began today with the National Anthem that itself finishes reminding us that we are the land of the free and the home of the brave. And it is an honor, and I know this Acting Secretary Wolf agrees with me, to work alongside every day the brave referenced in our own national Anthem here in the Department of Homeland security. This concludes today’s program. We invite all of our guests to join us at the Monroe building, also known as Coast Guard Headquarters. There are shuttles waiting outside to take you over there if you would like to catch a ride and we look forward to seeing you all in the ceremonial front hall of the Coast Guard building, the Monroe building. Thank you again for joining us. God bless you all. And God bless America.