Today, Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen delivered the 2019 State of Homeland Security Address, hosted by the Auburn University McCray Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security and George Washington University.
The Secretary offered her assessment of the ever-evolving security landscape, operational challenges, and a look forward at the Department’s forthcoming strategic plan to protect Americans, “our values, and our way of life.” McCray Institute Director Frank J. Cilluffo moderated a question-and-answer session with the Secretary following the remarks. In particular, she highlighted the Departments major success over the past year.
“Life is changing faster than at any point in human history. And as a nation, we face a choice: shape the world around us, or get shaped by it. We cannot hide from the future. If we do, history will judge us harshly,” said Secretary Nielsen. “That is why today it is my duty to report that—although the overall security of our homeland is strong—the threats we face are graver than at any time since 9/11.”
The Secretary also highlighted the steps DHS is taking to identify and adapt to emerging threats through sustained partnership, innovation, and perseverance.
“There is no room in this great nation for violent groups who intimidate or coerce Americans because of their race, religion, sex or creed,” said Secretary Nielsen.
“We have worked with social media companies to crack down on terrorist propaganda online. And we have ramped up soft-target security nationwide, with a particular focus on protecting schools, large events, major gatherings, and places of worship. As I noted earlier, we need a ‘Whole of Society’ approach to turn the tide, which is why in 2019, DHS will host the first-ever National Summit on Terrorism Prevention. This two-day event will bring together tech companies, NGOs, community leaders, law enforcement, social service providers, and more in an effort to better ‘crowd-source’ our defenses against terror.”
Secretary Nielsen also addressed the ongoing humanitarian and security emergency at the U.S. Southern Border.
“We cannot lose sight of our most basic obligations to the American people, reflected in the second goal of our strategic plan: to defend U.S. borders and sovereignty. There is no more fundamental responsibility for a nation. And yet, the American people have been let down by our government again…and again,” said Secretary Nielsen.
“I want to cut through the politics to tell you loud and clear: there is no ‘manufactured’ crisis at our Southern Border. There is a real-life humanitarian and security catastrophe.”
“And today I can tell you that we are on track to interdict nearly 100,000 migrants this month. The situation at our Southern Border has gone from a crisis…to a national emergency…to a near system-wide meltdown.”
Secretary Nielsen laid out a road map for guarding against digital dangers, too.
“Threat actors are mercilessly targeting everyone’s devices and networks. They are compromising, co-opting, and controlling them. And they are weaponizing our own innovation against us.”
“America is not prepared for this. Your average private citizen or company is no match against a nation-state such as China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia. It is not a fair fight. And until now our government has done far too little to back them up.”
“President Trump has made homeland security his number-one priority. Not number two, or three, or four. It’s Pillar One of the U.S. national security strategy. And as Secretary of Homeland Security, I am running with that mandate to obtain the resources, to secure the authorities, and to execute the changes we need to fully transform homeland security and give the American people the protection they deserve.”