U.S. Established Working Group to Stop Middle Eastern Migrant Smugglers

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testifies at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON, Sept 27 – U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told a Senate panel on Tuesday that his agency established a working group in recent months to crack down on smuggling groups bringing Middle Eastern migrants across the southern U.S. border.

Johnson, speaking to the Senate Homeland Security Committee at a hearing on national security threats, said the new group works with the law enforcement in Central and South America to “interdict these people before they get to our border and share intelligence about what we’re seeing.”

Johnson said the group is focused on the smuggling networks that are moving migrants from the Middle East, whose numbers have risen in the past year.

Asked about security threats posed by cyber hackers, Johnson told the committee that 18 U.S. states have asked his agency for help in order to secure their voting systems from hackers ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

In August, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said voter databases in two states were breached.

FBI Director James Comey and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Nicholas Rasmussen also testified.

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