Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen today convened a DHS-wide meeting on the humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border. She received updates on the latest apprehension numbers, capacity challenges, and the department’s operational response.
“I want to be clear with the American people: there is an unprecedented emergency at the southern border, and DHS is leading a true government-wide emergency response,” said Nielsen. “We are using every tool at our disposal, redeploying personnel and resources, and calling on all federal agencies to assist, where possible. While only legislation can fix this crisis in the long term, we cannot wait for Congress to act. It is our duty to secure the homeland, enforce our immigration laws, and uphold our humanitarian obligations. So we are devoting everything we can to that end.”
Nielsen announced her decision to temporarily re-assign Manuel “Manny” Padilla as the lead official to coordinate DHS and interagency support to the border crisis response effort. Manny is a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), serving most recently as Chief of the Rio Grande Sector. In September 2018 he was appointed by President Trump as Director of the Department’s Joint Task Force – West. Effectively immediately, Manny will lead an Interagency Border Emergency Cell to improve information sharing and coordinate interagency support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) efforts to bring the situation under control.
“Manny brings deep on-the-ground experience and an operator’s understanding of the challenges we face in responding to the current crisis,” said Nielsen. “I have asked him to lead day-to-day efforts to ensure our frontline agencies have what they need to confront this situation head on. Manny’s team will utilize the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) as the hub for interagency coordination.”
Earlier this week, the secretary announced additional actions to address the border emergency, and this week she will be traveling to the southern border to oversee response operations.