Secretary Napolitano Outlines DHS Priorities for FY14

At a Congressional hearing earlier this year on the administration’s fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget request for the Department of Homeland Security, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano outlined the agency’s spending priorities for the new fiscal year that begins on October 1st. Although much can change in the back-and-forth between Congress and the executive branch, the administration’s proposed budget often provides a rough preview of things to come: new policies and programs, and the political wrangles that sometimes derail them.

In written testimony provided to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Secretary Napolitano asked Congress to provide funding for several key initiatives in the coming fiscal year. [See Written testimony of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano Before a Hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, 11.Apr.2013.]   Among the DHS priorities mentioned in her written testimony, the following may be of particular interest to our readers.

  • Worksite enforcement: Secretary Napolitano noted that the “requested funds will continue the Department’s focus to promote compliance with worksite-related laws through criminal prosecutions of egregious employers, Form I-9 inspections, civil fines, and debarment, as well as education and compliance tools.”
  • E-Verify: DHS seeks to continue expansion and improvement of E-Verify, the electronic employment eligibility verification system. Plans are to make E-Verify more user-friendly for employers, expand the E-Verify Self-Check program, “finalize the requirements for the electronic I-9 and its supporting processes for E-Verify,” and begin phasing in the program.
  • Reduced wait times at U.S. ports of entry: DHS wants to hire 3,477 new Customs and Border Protection officers, in a bid “to make international travel and trade easier, more cost-effective and more secure.”
  • USCIS Business Transformation: This refers to the agency’s ongoing effort “to transform USCIS from a paper-based filing system to a customer-focused electronic filing system,” with the eventual goal of processing all USCIS filing electronically.
  • Promotion of travel and tourism to the U.S.: DHS will continue to implement the President’s Executive Order 13597, to increase travel and tourism, a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States.
  • Visa fraud prevention: DHS says it will stop more terrorists and criminals from entering the U.S. through enhanced electronic screening of visa applications at high-risk visa adjudication posts overseas.
  • Advance vetting of travelers: DHS plans to continue the Immigration Advisory Program, which interdicts high-risk travelers at foreign airports; DHS also plans to support further growth of Pre-Departure Vetting of foreign travelers to the United States.

For the most part, Secretary Napolitano’s testimony doesn’t dig down to specific dollar figures for particular programs, but it does articulate her agency’s vision of where it would like to be in the coming year. How much of this vision is eventually realized depends on the vagaries of the Congressional budget process. As they often say on Capitol Hill: the President proposes, Congress disposes. Translation: The President can say where he’d like to go, but Congress is in the driver’s seat.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.