Travel and tourism is direcly related to security and the link to terrorism is obvious. The Wilson Center and the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group hosted U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen for a discussion on her Department’s strategy for confronting the terror landscape facing the United States — including aviation security, radicalization, enhanced screening and vetting measures, and protecting against soft-target attacks.
The Secretary’s remarks were followed by a question-and-answer session with the Wilson Center Director Jane Harman.
Secretary Nielsen oversees the United States’ third largest Cabinet department and leads the nation’s efforts to protect against a broad range of threats. The Department’s missions include counterterrorism, border security, immigration, cybersecurity, disaster prevention and management, and more.
Selected Quotes by Secretary Nielsen
“Leaders on both sides of the aisle continue to tell me that we all agree on the problem, that we all want to secure the border, we all want to remove criminal aliens, we all want to help people brought to America as children, and we all want an immigration system that is good for our economy and actually works. The devil is in the details, which is why we are working hard to iron out the differences….”
“We cannot let this moment slip away. Now is the time. It is time. We cannot afford to kick the can down the road any further, and we can’t allow partisan politics with an eye to the next election of either party to prevail over principle and what is best for our country.”
“Make no mistake: American is at war. We are at war with an enemy that knows no boundaries and respects no borders, but we are turning the tide against these fanatics. And today I will tell you what this administration and the Department of Homeland Security are doing to fighting forward to protect our homeland. We recognize that to prevail against this generational struggle, we must be clear-eyed about the danger. Much like the threat from communism and fascism, global Jihadists are driven by an insidious ideology and we must act now.”
“On an average day, and I want to underscore this, the DHS encounters 7 individuals on the terrorist watch list seeking to enter our country by air, land, or sea…The threat volume is so high in large part because the internet has allowed our enemies to thrive in virtual safe havens.”
“The good news is that we are making significant progress in combatting this threat. After taking office, the President directed sweeping improvements to block terrorists and criminals from reaching our country. Today, everyone entering the United States, whether they are tourists, business visitors, immigrants or refugees, and importantly regardless of what country they come from, face tougher vetting and tighter screening.”
“Today I’m also announcing security upgrades to the US Refugee Admissions Program. In 2017, the President directed us to assess the program and make any needed changes. As a result of that review, and in close coordination with the State Department and our intelligence community, we will be rolling out new security measures for applicants from high risk countries which will seek to prevent the program from being exploited by terrorists, criminals and fraudsters.”
“At the President’s direction, we have created a first-of-its-kind global baseline for all foreign countries to cooperate with the United States on information sharing for immigration vetting. Now every country in the world must meet minimum requirements to share counterterrorism data and prove identity document security and more, or face consequences. I am pleased to say with the State Department, we have worked successfully with almost every country in the world to reach this baseline, which has improved both US and international security.”
“We will not tolerate countries who refuse to cooperate with us to stop terrorist, criminals and other threats from traveling to our country and entering our communities undetected. I want to be clear; these restrictions have nothing to do with race or religion. This is about information sharing and knowing who, as an individual, is coming into our country.”
“A terrorist on the loose in a foreign land, is a terrorist that poses a threat to our homeland. Partnerships have become increasingly important as we seek to raise the baseline of security throughout the world.”
“This is not the end, and I want to be clear here. This is just the end of the beginning. We are entering a new phase of the fight. Jihadists are going underground, dispersing to other safe havens -including on the internet and returning to their home countries, so we must focus on rooting them out. The counterterrorism policies of other countries have never mattered more to our own security than they do today.”
“To those combatting against us or plotting against us, my message is simple: we are looking for you, we will stop you, and we will work with our partners to bring you to justice.”
“We have to recognize that we’re in a place where it’s not a question if we will be attacked, it’s how often we’re being attacked each day and how much we can withstand. So we need to innovate as we’re failing, or we need to anticipate as we’re being attacked, and it needs to be a much [more] proactive defense as we look forward.”