Legislative Activity

DHS Names Acting ICE Leader

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson has announced that Deputy Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Thomas Winkowski – who most recently served as acting director of CBP – will become the acting principal deputy assistant director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where he will effectively serve as the acting head of ICE. Johnson announced this leadership shift after the Senate recently confirmed Gil Kerlikowske to lead CBP. It remains unclear how long Winkowski will lead ICE, as the Obama administration has not yet submitted a nominee for ICE director. Winkowski previously served as deputy commissioner of the DHS Office of Field Operations, where he established two National Targeting Centers to facilitate intelligence-driven operations and worked with international partners to expand DHS programs abroad.

Congress Introduces Passport Enforcement Bill

In response to the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in which two passengers traveling on stolen passports caused confusion and complicated the investigation, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced the Transnational Regulation of Identity of Passports (TRIP) Act of 2014. The senators introduced this bill upon learning that only the U.S., Great Britain, and United Arab Emirates regularly check passenger documentation against the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Documents Database. The TRIP Act would require Interpol member countries to install processes to screen passengers against the Interpol database or else risk being barred from participating in to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, March 25: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing on FY 2015 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) appropriations. TSA Administrator John Pistole will testify.
  • Tuesday, March 25: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications will hold a hearing on the FY 2015 budget request for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • Wednesday, March 26: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing on FY 2015 Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) appropriations. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate will testify.
  • Friday, March 28: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security will hold a hearing titled “Lessons from the LAX Shooting: Preparing for and Responding to Emergencies at Airports.”

Executive Branch Activity

DHS Selects Urban Security Grant Recipients

DHS announced that it has chosen 14 new cities to receive Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funds in FY 2014. This announcement brings the list of recipients to 39 cities and regions, an increase from FY 2013’s 25 recipients. DHS will provide up to $587 million to the recipients this year. While congressmen representing urban districts have long argued that UASI funds are intended to prevent terrorist attacks on major cities, DHS has pursued a policy of providing funds to regions across the country. However, while cities like Pittsburgh will receive $3 million and Miami will receive $5.5 million, the New York City area saw its grant for FY 2014 increase to $179 million.