Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday toured operations and received briefings at DHS facilities in the National Capital Region. The Secretary toured Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection operations at Washington Dulles International Airport, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center in Virginia, the Secret Service's James J. Rowley Training Center in Beltsville, Md. and the FEMA IMAT and the Fairfax USAR team in Herndon, Va. - highlighting the major steps the Department has taken this year to enhance America's capabilities to guard against terrorism; secure the nation's borders; engage in smart enforcement of our immigration laws; safeguard and secure cyberspace; prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters; and to mature and strengthen the homeland security enterprise.
"This year, as we observed the 10th anniversary of the attacks that gave rise to our department, we continued to strengthen the safety, security, and resilience of our nation," said Secretary Napolitano. "As we move into 2012, we will continue to work together with our federal, state, local, tribal and private sector partners to address new and emerging challenges while maturing and strengthening the homeland security enterprise."
To prevent terrorism and enhance security, DHS continued to collaborate with our international partners, forging agreements focused on strengthening aviation security; facilitating information-sharing; and securing the global supply chain. The Department also began new risk-based security measures through prescreening of passengers; deployment of new technologies; and training of airport security and law enforcement personnel to better detect behaviors associated with terrorism. In addition, the Department continued to enhance and streamline its vetting and screening capabilities, strengthen the national network of fusion centers, and support state and local partners through training, technical assistance and grant funding. The Department also continued expansions of the "If You See Something, Say SomethingTM" public awareness campaign through partnerships with sports teams and leagues, transportation agencies, private sector partners, states, municipalities, and colleges and universities.
To secure and manage our borders, DHS has continued to deploy historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to our borders to reduce the flow of illicit drugs, cash, and weapons; expedite legal trade and travel through trusted traveler and trader initiatives; and, as part of the Beyond the Border Action Plan, collaborated with our Canadian partners to strengthen security while advancing economic competitiveness. Border Patrol apprehensions--a key indicator of illegal immigration--have decreased 53 percent in the last three years and are less than 20 percent of what they were at their peak. In the maritime domain, the United States Coast Guard secures our borders through a layered security system that provides mobile surveillance coverage, engages smugglers at the earliest point possible, and addresses potential threats before they can cause harm to the United States.
To enforce and administer our immigration laws, DHS removed more criminal aliens from the country than any year in the agency's history, highlighting DHS' commitment to focusing on threats to public safety, repeat immigration law violators, recent border entrants, and immigration fugitives while continuing to strengthen oversight of the nation's immigration detention system and facilitate legal immigration. In 2011, USCIS held more than 6,000 naturalization ceremonies for approximately 692,000 lawful permanent residents who became U.S. citizens, including more than 10,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces and launched a series of initiatives to spur economic competiveness by attracting foreign entrepreneurial talent who can create jobs, form startup companies, and invest capital in areas of high unemployment. DHS also launched E-Verify Self-Check, an online service that allows individuals to check their employment eligibility status before formally seeking employment.
To safeguard and secure cyberspace, DHS responded to over 100,000 incident reports and released more than 5,000 cybersecurity alerts and information products for federal, state, local, international and private sector partners; worked to combat electronic crimes such as identity theft, network intrusions and a range of financial crimes; launched law enforcement operations targeting those who prey on children online; announced new Stop.Think.Connect.TM partnerships with DARE America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and YMCA; and released the Blueprint for a Secure Cyber Future: The Cybersecurity Strategy for the Homeland Security Enterprise, which outlines a coordinated effort for cybersecurity across the homeland security community.
To ensure resilience to disasters, DHS trained thousands of local, state and tribal responders; released the country's first-ever National Preparedness Goal, which identifies the core capabilities necessary to achieve preparedness; and awarded more than $2.1 billion in federal preparedness grants to assist states, urban areas, tribal and territorial governments, non-profit agencies, and the private sector in strengthening our nation's ability to prevent, protect, respond to, recover from, and mitigate terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. In 2011, FEMA supported 96 major disaster declarations, 29 emergency declarations, and 116 fire management assistance declarations, including the response to Hurricane Irene, fires in the Southwest, severe flooding in North Dakota, and devastating tornadoes that hit the Midwest and South, including Joplin, Mo.
To mature and strengthen the homeland security enterprise, DHS met its veterans hiring goal of 50,000 employees with veterans comprising 25 percent of the Department's civilian workforce in addition to nearly 50,000 active and reserve members of the U.S. Coast Guard. In recognition of DHS' efforts to cut costs and reinvest in mission critical operations, the Department's Efficiency Review was highlighted as a model effort for agencies across the Federal government. The Department also received a qualified opinion on its balance sheet for FY 2011 which is a pivotal step in DHS' financial management, highlighting efforts to increase transparency and accountability, and to accurately account for the Department's resources.
Additionally, this past year, DHS conducted unprecedented outreach to state, local, tribal and private sector partners, in an effort to engage communities across the country in DHS core missions. This outreach focused on information sharing, promoting civil rights and civil liberties, increasing access to DHS programs, and strengthening the homeland security enterprise.