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VIDEO: Peters Convenes Hearing with Secretary Mayorkas to Discuss Resources Needed by DHS to Address Challenges and Security Threats

WASHINGTON, D.C.  U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, convened a hearing with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas to examine what resources and authorities DHS needs to address evolving and persistent security threats, such as cyber-attacks, potential attacks from unmanned aerial systems (UAS), fentanyl, and domestic terrorism. Lawmakers and Secretary Mayorkas also discussed what the Department requires to effectively secure our nation’s Northern and Southern borders and facilitate lawful trade and travel.    

“The Department of Homeland Security and its dedicated employees play an essential role in keeping our country safe.” said Peters during his opening statement. “We must ensure that they have the resources necessary to keep doing that work – and to safeguard our nation from rapidly evolving security threats.”  

To watch video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks, click here. For text of Peters’ opening remarks, as prepared, click here.

To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions, click here.

In the past year, serious cyber incidents have impacted the daily lives of Americans and operations of health care facilities and pharmacies, Federal government agencies, and critical infrastructure facilities such as water utilities. During the hearing, Peters emphasized the importance of ensuring that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has the resources it needs to bolster our cybersecurity.   

The increasing numbers of UAS – commonly known as drones – create a higher risk of both unintentional disasters and malicious activity from nefarious actors that seek to weaponize drones or engage in illegal activities. Mayorkas and Peters discussed how DHS’ current authorities to prevent attacks from UAS – which are set to expire in May – are not sufficient to address this growing threat. At the hearing, Peters emphasized the need to pass his bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and strengthen DHS’ ability to protect the public and critical infrastructure from threats posed by drones.  

Peters and Mayorkas discussed the how fentanyl continues to harm communities in Michigan and across the country, and DHS’ efforts to combat the spread of illicit drugs. Peters emphasized that the Department must continue to prioritize investments in capabilities to combat fentanyl, including non-intrusive inspection (NII) equipment, which has enabled Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to seize dangerous drugs before they reach our communities.  

The hearing examined what resources and personnel DHS requires to securely and efficiently facilitate travel and trade across our nation’s Northern and Southern borders. Peters noted that this budget is an opportunity to hire more frontline personnel, and update border screening technology. Peters also highlighted his successful efforts to secure funding to establish the Northern Border Coordination Center – which will create one unified entity focused on Northern Border security needs.  

Peters highlighted his 2023 report on the government’s watchlisting and screening practices at airports and ports of entry and asked Mayorkas about what actions DHS is taking to implement the report’s recommendations which would enhance national security while upholding travelers’ dignity and rights. 

Peters also emphasized the importance of providing resources for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) – an initiative he has long championed. The NSGP helps houses of worship, including synagogues, churches, mosques, gurdwaras, and other nonprofits, strengthen their security.