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Extended stretches of U.S. land borders invite illegal entry on the ground, and our coastlines are often used for unauthorized seaborne entry. New, creative attempts at illegal activity in these domains are a daily occurrence. Aerial threats pose a different challenge as they have no natural barriers restricting them — land or coastal. Airborne illegal entry issues call for expert input from a broad range of public, private, and interagency partners.
Commercialization of drone technology, or unmanned aerial systems (UAS), for all the beneficial opportunities it provides, also enables a new medium for criminal activity and other homeland security threats. The protection of U.S. skies will demand more than ever an effective air surveillance sensor network. Optimizing this begins with an accurate assessment of current air surveillance capabilities and how they operate together. To do this, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is creating standards for air surveillance, known as DHS (Interim) Strategic Air Surveillance Requirements (I)SASR.
DHS, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are currently working together to ensure future U.S. air surveillance capabilities meet our nation’s security and aviation safety needs. S&T supports this interagency initiative by assessing the degree to which both current and future proposed radar solutions can meet the country’s needs.
S&T applies modeling and simulation expertise to simulate air traffic and assesses how well current U.S. air surveillance capabilities meet the detection standards established by the DHS (I) SASR.
“S&T’s analysis will provide CBP Air and Marine Operations a detailed understanding of where the DHS (Interim) Strategic Air Surveillance Requirements are being met and where there are gaps in required coverage,” said the Arch Turner, an Operations Analysis Chief at S&T.
Today, more than 300 radars around the country attempt to detect and determine the geographic location of all non-commercial aircraft, from tiny drones to larger manned aircraft such as private and business aircraft and gyrocopters. Among these radars are tethered aerostats, balloon-like systems which enable elevation of radars to heights of 10,000 feet or more. Termed Tethered Aerostat Radar Systems (TARS), they are placed primarily along the U.S. southwest border to provide much needed, and otherwise unavailable, ability to detect and track aircraft flying at very low altitudes.
Using the Extended Air Defense Simulation (EADSIM) modeling and simulation software, analysts can simulate every radar currently supporting CBP AMO’s critically important air surveillance efforts and assess their ability to detect incoming aircraft. S&T analysts can even use EADSIM to watch in real-time as the simulated radars detect suspicious aircraft targets. EADSIM then provides analytic data, which includes geographic location of detection as a function of a target’s altitude and radar cross section, which measures how large a given aircraft appears to radars.
Analysts have relied on EADSIM to model aircraft, sensors and missiles for more than three decades. The model has been used to shape and understand the effectiveness of aircraft and ballistic missile defense systems. The commercialization of drones means U.S. air surveillance sensors are likely to encounter a higher volume of very small and difficult to detect air traffic in the future. This will require both more radars and more sensitive radars. This is where S&T’s partnership with the interagency, DHS operating components and industry can play a vital role in public safety by helping to ensure the U.S. can effectively maintain situational awareness of all aircraft within its national airspace.
The current interagency effort to modernize the U.S. air surveillance network is motivated in part by government plans to auction to the commercial sector L-band (1-2 GHz) radio-frequency spectrum used by many existing U.S. radars. This means these radars must be taken out of service to avoid interference. Once candidates for replacing this lost surveillance capability are examined and confirmed by CBP AMO, S&T HSARPA and S&T through simulation and analysis, the government will select the best alternative and work with industry to develop and deploy it to ensure the best achievable surveillance of U.S. airspace.
“S&T’s work is exactly the type of detailed analysis that is necessary for the Department to mature in its decision-making,” said Drew Kuepper, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy (Unity of Effort Integration).
In performing its analytical work, the S&T team collaborates closely with CBP radar technical experts to coordinate and review their findings. This helps ensure a common and more thorough understanding of current air surveillance capabilities and shortfalls, how requirements can be most cost-effectively achieved, and helps pave the way for interagency discussion of joint requirements for future aircraft surveillance.
Frequent collaboration between S&T and CBP AMO allows them to be optimistic about the future of the project. S&T has received very positive feedback on this work from its customers, some of whom expressed their surprise that modeling, simulation and analysis capability of this kind is available in DHS.
Securing U.S. airspace requires continuous cooperation among DHS and its operating components, interagency partners and private industry. Cooperation among these partners will help ensure the best solutions and ideas are brought forth to maximize the security of the homeland.
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen, Acting Chief of the Border Patrol Carla Provost, and Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tom Homan released the following statements after President Donald J. Trump received an operational briefing at the border wall prototypes in San Diego, California:
“The border wall is only one of the tools we need to secure the border – the wall system also involves mission-ready agents, patrol roads, sensor technology, and support resources,” said Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen. “But importantly it also includes the ability to promptly remove illegal aliens, terrorists and criminals, closing often exploited loopholes in our immigration system. After speaking with our frontline operators at the border today, their message underscores the urgency for Congress to take action and find legislative solutions to secure our border and make America safe. I want to thank President Trump for his steadfast support for the men and women of DHS and what they need to execute their mission.”
“At CBP, we are committed to keeping America safe by securing our borders, and that includes enhancing our border wall system,” said Acting Chief of the Border Patrol, Carla Provost. “In our experience, walls work. With the right combination of a wall, technology, infrastructure and agents, we have been successful in denying and impeding illegal border crossers. Unfortunately, infrastructure alone will not deter migrants from taking a dangerous path towards illegally entering our country. Current loopholes in our immigration laws pertaining to family units and unaccompanied minors have created a path to entering America illegally. Without legislative changes to these loopholes, we will continue to see a rush to the border by young migrants, and adults with children. The dangerous journey to attempt to enter our country illegally is no place for children and without closing these loopholes, more and more people will be put in harm’s way.”
“ICE has made significant progress in enforcing immigration law and removing criminal aliens and public safety threats from local communities,” said Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tom Homan. “That includes increasing arrests by 43 percent, increasing interior removals by 30 percent, and achieving the highest number of MS-13 arrests by the agency since 2008. However, until Congress addresses the underlying causes of illegal immigration, we can’t reach a lasting solution to this problem. We need to address misguided policies and loopholes that serve as pull factors for illegal aliens, we need to stop dangerous sanctuary city policies, and we need a border wall, without which ICE’s work only grows in difficulty and danger.”
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President Donald J. Trump is making sure our schools are safe and secure, just like our airports, stadiums, and government buildings.
- President Trump’s Administration will assist States to train specially qualified school personnel on a voluntary basis.
- • Department of Justice (DOJ) assistance programs will be leveraged to enable schools to partner with State and local law enforcement to provide firearms training for school personnel.
- • The Administration will support the transition of military veterans and retired law enforcement into new careers in education.
- • The Administration will encourage States’ Attorneys General to audit school district compliance with State emergency preparedness activities.
- • Federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, will partner with States and localities to support a public awareness campaign modeled on “See Something, Say Something” to encourage awareness and reporting of suspicious activity.
STRENGTHENING BACKGROUND CHECKS AND PREVENTION: President Trump supports legislation and reforms to strengthen background checks and law enforcement operations.
- • President Trump’s Administration is calling on every State to adopt Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs).
- • The President is directing the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to States, at their request, on establishing and implementing ERPOs.
- • ERPOs allow law enforcement, with approval from a court, to remove firearms from individuals who are a demonstrated threat to themselves or others and temporarily to prevent individuals from purchasing new firearms.
- • ERPOs should be carefully tailored to ensure the due process rights of law-abiding citizens are protected.
- • President Trump supports improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The President supports the legislative framework introduced by Senators Cornyn and Murphy that will help improve the accuracy and effectiveness of NICS.
- • The Cornyn-Murphy bill will hold Federal agencies more accountable for reporting information to NICS and will incentivize States to improve their reporting to the system.
- • The President supports the framework of the STOP School Violence Act, which provides for State-based grants to implement evidence-based violence prevention programs.
- • Grants will provide States with funds for training, technology, and technical assistance to help schools identify and prevent violent acts.
- • The Administration requests that Congress provide funding in 2018 to jump start implementation of this evidence-based program in middle and high schools nationwide.
- • The President’s Administration will audit and make accountability improvements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) tip line, and will promote its use.
- • DOJ will provide emergency and crisis training for local law enforcement.
MENTAL HEALTH REFORM: President Trump is proposing an expansion and reform of mental health programs, including those that help identify and treat individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others.
- • The President is proposing increased integration of mental health, primary care, and family services, as well as support for programs that utilize court-ordered treatment.
- • The President is calling for a review of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and other statutory and regulatory privacy protections.
- • Reviews will determine if any changes or clarifications are needed to improve coordination between mental health and other healthcare professionals, school officials, and law enforcement personnel.
INVESTIGATION: In addition to these immediate actions, President Trump is establishing a Federal Commission on School Safety chaired by Secretary Betsy DeVos and will recommend policy and funding proposals for school violence prevention.
- President Trump’s Administration will establish a Federal commission, chaired by Secretary DeVos, to address school safety and the culture of violence.
- While the Administration is taking immediate action on school safety, the Federal commission will develop a process to evaluate and make recommendations on school safety.
- The commission will study and make recommendations on the following areas of focus:
- • Age restrictions for certain firearm purchases.
- • Existing entertainment rating systems and youth consumption of violent entertainment.
- • Strategies to advance the science and practice of character development in youth and a culture of connectedness.
- • Effects of press coverage of mass shootings.
- • Repeal of the Obama Administration’s “Rethink School Discipline” policies.
- • Best practices for school buildings and campus security from Federal Government components, including the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and also from other State, local, and private sector sources.
- • A plan for integration and coordination of Federal resources focused on prevention and mitigation of active shooter incidents at schools.
- • Opportunities to improve access to mental health treatment, including through efforts that raise awareness about mental illness and the effectiveness of treatment, reduce barriers to the recruitment of mental health professionals, and provide training related to violence prevention.
- • Best practices for school-based threat assessment and violence prevention strategies.
- • The effectiveness and appropriateness of psychotropic medication for treatment of troubled youth.
- • Ensuring that findings are sufficiently supported by existing and additional Federal, State, and local funding sources.