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Oct. 21, 2014

Contact: DHS Press Office, (202) 282-8010

Today, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s ongoing response to prevent the spread of Ebola to the United States, we are announcing travel restrictions in the form of additional screening and protective measures at our ports of entry for travelers from the three West African Ebola-affected countries. These new measures will go into effect tomorrow.

Last week, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHS implemented enhanced screening measures at five airports around the country – New York’s JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago. Passengers flying into one of these airports from flights originating in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are subject to secondary screening and added protocols, including having their temperature taken, before they can be admitted into the United States. These airports account for about 94 percent of travelers flying to the United States from these countries. At present there are no direct, non-stop commercial flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to any airport in the United States. 

Today, I am announcing that all passengers arriving in the United States whose travel originates in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will be required to fly into one of the five airports that have the enhanced screening and additional resources in place. We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption. If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed.

We currently have in place measures to identify and screen anyone at all land, sea and air ports of entry into the United States and who we have reason to believe has been present in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the preceding 21 days.

Yesterday I had a conference call with our CBP officers at the five enhanced screening airports. I was impressed by their professionalism, and their training and preparation for the enhanced screening. I reminded our CBP officers to be vigilant in their efforts, and encouraged them to set a calm example for an American public nervous about Ebola. I thanked these men and women for their service.

We are continually evaluating whether additional restrictions or added screening and precautionary measures are necessary to protect the American people and will act accordingly.

HUD Announces $24 Million in Grants for Jobs Plus Pilot Program for Public Housing Agencies

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has published a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) of $24 million in grants for its Jobs Plus Pilot Program for public housing agencies to cultivate locally-based methods to grow incomes and employment for their residents. According to the notice, “The NOFA will fund initiatives to advance employment and earnings outcomes for Public Housing residents through supports such as work readiness, employer linkages, job placement and financial literacy.”

These grants will focus on the president’s  job-driven training checklist principals—labor market data, career pathways, work experience, access to training, and key partnerships—to ensure that public housing residents are connected to programs with the most accurate and updated job-seeker practices. 

Applications are due by Dec. 17, 2014.  For more information and to apply, click here.

Empowering Our Young People, and Stemming the Collateral Damage of Incarceration

by Roy L. Austin Jr., Karol Mason

Today, officials from the White House, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) welcomed a diverse group of federal officials, non-profit workers, faith leaders, school administrators, researchers, and child welfare advocates to the White House, to announce a series of steps aimed at providing stronger support to help children with incarcerated parents succeed, and overcome the unique obstacles they often face.

President Obama has been committed since day one of his presidency to the idea that every child should have an equal opportunity to learn, grow, dream, and thrive. Yet for children of incarcerated parents, this can seem like a far-off reality.

Nationally, more than 2.6 million children have a parent in prison, and approximately half of these children are under the age of 10 years old. Losing a parent to incarceration can result in devastating consequences for children, including poverty and housing instability. Nearly 20% of all children entering the child welfare system have an incarcerated parent, and a recent study suggests that children with parents in prison are at an increased risk for asthma, obesity, ADD/ADHD, depression, and anxiety.

Since taking office, President Obama has called for increases in the Bureau of Prisons budget to expand education programs that strengthen family and parental ties, and for demonstration grants within the Second Chance Act to enhance parental and family relationships for incarcerated parents as a re-entry strategy.

In a series of announcements today, the Department of Justice unveiled the newest round of grant awards from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Children of Incarcerated Parents Mentoring Demonstration Program, and the Second Chance Act – Strengthening Relationships Between Young Fathers and Their Children. In addition, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, Charles Samuels, announced the creation of a new Reentry Resources Division at DOJ, and Pamela Hyde, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at HHS announced new resources to help incarcerated parents with reentry and navigating the child welfare system.

The announcements were made as part of today’s White House event, which featured remarks by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, and Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. The audience also heard from Miss America 2012, Laura Kaeppeler-Fleiss, who spoke on her personal experience as the child of an incarcerated parent.

Also featured during the event was the premiere of “Echoes of Incarceration,” a documentary film project commissioned by the Children’s Television Workshop (Sesame Street). “Echoes of Incarceration” provides intensive filmmaking and advocacy training to youth aged 16 to 22 to produce documentary films told from their own life experiences as children of incarcerated parents.

Each of us has a role to play in ensuring that children of incarcerated parents have the opportunity they deserve to live happy and successful lives. To learn more about President Obama’s leadership, the Administration’s efforts, or to look for ways to do your part,please visit the federal Children of Incarcerated Parents web portal here.

Roy L. Austin Jr. is the Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity. Karol Mason is the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs.