Penny Starr
CNS News

January 18, 2012

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday said her agency is working with Mexican officials on the threat posed by individuals from countries with terrorist links or “special interest aliens.’

Napolitano’s remarks came during a panel discussion in Washington about the global role of DHS in fighting terrorist threats to the United States, including efforts to stop threats abroad before they arrive at U.S. airports or seaports. asked the secretary about the threat posed by individuals linked to terrorist groups in countries such as Somalia and Yemen who might enter the U.S. from Canada or Mexico and how the DHS is tracking that threat.

Napolitano said DHS is addressing that issue, “recognizing that there are many things that could transit these huge land borders that we have.

“With respect to Mexico, we’ve been working very closely with them – there’s a whole category called SIAs – Special Interest Aliens is what it stands for,” Napolitano said, adding that DHS watches that category “very carefully.”

Napolitano also said DHS is pursuing the Special Interest Aliens strategy in Central American countries.

Napolitano referred to an announcement the White House made in December 2011 about an agreement between Canada and the United States dubbed “Beyond the Border” that explains the Obama administration’s goal to prioritize “perimeter” security through cooperation between the two countries on a wide range of security and other issues.

Tuesday’s discussion was held at the Woodrow Wilson Center in cooperation with The Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group. Other panelists included John McLaughlin, former deputy and acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and James Jones, former national security advisor.

In remarks leading up to the discussion, Napolitano emphasized the Obama administration’s emphasis on identifying threats around the world, including having DHS personnel stationed in 75 countries — making it the federal agency with the third largest presence abroad.

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