WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, today announced the “American Security Agenda,” a comprehensive legislative effort from committee Republicans to improve the U.S. response to new and emerging threats to the homeland. Highlights from Rogers’ remarks at the International Summit on Borders can be found below:
On the goal of the American Security Agenda:
“The goal of the American Security Agenda is to take a hard look at the Department’s missions and act to ensure that DHS is prepared to tackle the emerging threats to our homeland. Our enemies are changing tactics and fighting us on new battlegrounds. Unfortunately, the federal government is not adequately prepared or properly resourced to combat this new and evolving threat.”
On the rise of cyberhackers, rival nation-states and emerging threats to the homeland:
“Since the horrible attacks of September 11th, we have made great strides to thwart global jihadist operations and stop those threats before they reach our shores. However, today, global jihadists are joined by cyberhackers, rival nation-states, and transnational criminal organizations to present incredible new risks to our economy, our safety, and our way of life.”
On the core pillars of the American Security Agenda:
“The American Security Agenda accomplishes three important goals: granting DHS the authority it needs to stay ahead of emerging threats; providing DHS and its state, local, and private sector partners with the resources they need to build and maintain a robust capacity to deter acts of terrorism; and reforming DHS structure and management to ensure it properly positioned to combat the constantly evolving threat to the homeland.”
Rogers full remarks, as prepared for delivery:
I am honored to be here today, at the International Summit on Borders. This annual gathering of global subject matter experts is impressive.
I commend you for bringing together political leaders, practitioners, and stakeholders to discuss security challenges and migration management issues.
The first things I think of when I hear border is structure, certainty, and most importantly security. As you all know, America is experiencing a humanitarian and security crisis on our southwest border.
This last year has been nothing like we have ever seen. We’re on track to apprehend over 1 million migrants this fiscal year. We encountered more than 100,000 migrants crossing the border in each of the last three months.
We are also seeing the flow of migrants change. What use to be single males from Mexico, is now unaccompanied children and families from Central American countries. We are also apprehending migrants from as far away as Asia and Africa.
Because of loopholes in our immigration laws, smugglers and cartels are making billions exploiting children to help adults enter the United States illegally.
Women are facing the constant threat of sexual assault on the journey. The security of this country and the lives of migrants are at stake. Our immigration system was not built to withstand this unprecedented surge of migrants.
CBP processing centers was designed to hold 4,000 migrants at a time. Right now, there are 20,000 in custody, most of them women and children. We have all seen the pictures. We all know those conditions are unacceptable.
50 percent of CBP officers are pulled off the line each day to process and care for migrants. CBP is on track to run out of funding before the end of the fiscal year – likely before August 1. Funding to care for unaccompanied children is on track to run out by the end of the month.
If that happens, the Department of Health and Human Services, tasked with caring for unaccompanied children, would be forced to divert funding from other vital health programs to provide minimum standards of care.
That cannot happen. The Trump Administration has asked for 4.5 billion dollars in emergency supplemental appropriations to address the humanitarian crisis at the border. I introduced that request – so far it has been blocked 15 times by my Democratic colleagues in the House.
None of this requested funding is for the wall. Instead it would be used to feed and house unaccompanied children and migrant families and provide urgent medical care and transportation services.
At some point, Congressional Democrats will need to do more than point fingers at President Trump. As the majority party, they have a responsibility to offer a solution. When they are ready to do that, we are ready and willing to work with them.
As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am focused on ensuring the Department of Homeland Security can stop all the threats facing our country. One of the first things I did as Ranking Member was to convene the 12 other Republican committee members for a meeting, to discuss our strategic objectives for the upcoming Congress.
There is no shortage of viewpoints and expertise amongst the members of our committee. One theme that continued to echo was that our enemies and their tactics are constantly evolving. As a country, we must be prepared for the threats we are currently facing, as well as the threats that will confront us in the future.
That is why I am here today. I am announcing Homeland Security Republicans’ American Security Agenda. This agenda arose out of the conversations I had with the Members on my committee.
The goal of the American Security Agenda is to take a hard look at the Department’s missions and act to ensure that DHS is prepared to tackle the emerging threats to our homeland.
Our enemies are changing tactics and fighting us on new battlegrounds. Unfortunately, the federal government is not adequately prepared or properly resourced to combat this new and evolving threat.
Since the horrible attacks of September 11th, we have made great strides to thwart global jihadist operations and stop those threats before they reach our shores.
However, today, global jihadists are joined by cyberhackers, rival nation-states, and transnational criminal organizations to present incredible new risks to our economy, our safety, and our way of life. Congress has taken several important steps in the last few years to position DHS for these new threats.
We modernized TSA in last year’s FAA bill. TSA now has a stronger technology and intelligence focus as opposed to shuffling passengers through screenings as quickly as possible.
We stood up the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, also known as CISA. CISA is leading the Department’s efforts to defend the nation against cyberattacks and they are solely focused on this mission. But more must be done because our adversaries continue to evolve.
Rising powers are using asymmetrical attacks to diminish our leadership role and influence in the world. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea all have state-sponsored “programs” aimed at harming the United States.
Some of you may know I’m also a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. That Committee has been watching these rising and resurgent powers for the last twenty years.
What we’ve seen is a comprehensive challenge to American dominance and security. There isn’t a single arena free of intense competition. Warning lights have been flashing in the defense community for years and they are now bleeding over to DHS. We are under pressure on everything from satellites to social media.
Online influence operations can destabilize our neighbors and impact migration flows. Or elections here at home.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is holding more and more of our foreign partners hostage using cheap state-backed loans. But the terms would make a loan shark blush. Missed a payment? We’ll take your port, your highway, your airport.
Intellectual property theft means that foreign powers are stealing innovation directly out of our laboratories rather than waiting to copy it off the shelf. These three threats weren’t on DHS’ radar when it was created in 2002. Some of them didn’t even exist. But the Department’s 21st century mission will be defined by these new threats and a few more that we can’t predict yet.
These threats from nation states also track with changes in terrorism at home and abroad. Online radicalization is free, easy, and anonymous. Acts of terrorism can now be simple and viral.
Republicans have made it a focus of the committee to try and better understand the changing nature of the terrorist threat. Whether it be the metastasizing of online radicalization, hackers, transnational criminal organizations, the “lone wolf” actor, or a nation state threat, Republican Members understand the gravity of their responsibility.
We understand that being naïve about our adversaries and their attempts to disrupt and destroy our way of life is not an option.
We need to address these emerging threats head on. The American Security Agenda is a long-term effort by Homeland Security Republicans to modernize and equip DHS for the threats of today and prepare it for the threats of tomorrow.
The American Security Agenda accomplishes three important goals: granting DHS the authority it needs to stay ahead of emerging threats; providing DHS and its state, local, and private sector partners with the resources they need to build and maintain a robust capacity to deter acts of terrorism; and reforming DHS structure and management to ensure it properly positioned to combat the constantly evolving threat to the homeland.
Today, I am happy to announce some of the legislative proposals we intend to pursue as part of the American Security Agenda.
To help the Department stay ahead of emerging threats – Our former Chairman Pete King is introducing the Securing the Homeland Security Supply Chain Act. The bill will enable DHS to keep products from vendors that pose security risks out of the supply chain.
Another former Chairman, Mike McCaul is introducing the BITMAP Authorization Act to formally authorize the program to screen migrants for national security risks before they reach our border.
A extremely bright freshman Member of our committee, John Joyce, is introducing the Emerging Transportation Security Threats Act, which will help TSA identify and mitigate emerging threats to our transportation system.
And one of subcommittee leaders, Debbie Lesko, will introduced the Pipeline Security Enhancement Act, which will empower TSA to inspect, monitor, and regularly improve the physical and cybersecurity of pipelines.
To help DHS and its local government partners build the capacity they need to be resilient in the face of emerging threats, another one of our subcommittee leaders, John Katko, is introducing the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act. This bill would authorize grants and technical assistance to state and local governments to build cybersecurity capacity.
Finally, to better position DHS to combat emerging threats, our Agenda includes the following legislation intended to reform the department’s structure, management, and procedures.
Clay Higgins, another subcommittee leader, has introduced the Combating TCOs Act. This bill establishes taskforces comprised of DHS, state, local, and international partners and leverages their authorities to combat the growing threat of transnational criminal organizations.
And we are working with one of our earnest new Members, Dan Crenshaw, legislation to reform DHS acquisition and ensure critical new technologies come in on time and on budget. These seven bills are just the start. We are working on other bills to address emerging threats that we hope to introduce soon as part of our agenda.
As we move forward with the American Security Agenda, I respectfully request your input. This room is filled with tremendous expertise. Each of you are homeland security practitioners operating in the real world. You’ve seen how misinformed policy making from Washington can undermine operational gains.
That’s why we need your ideas. We want to hear your solutions. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us. The security of our homeland has always been, and will always remain, our most profound commitment. Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.