Taking a look at the Department of Homeland Security

Anyone familiar with immigration knows about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, you may not know exactly what it does or how the department was started. As the DHS prepares to nominate a new department secretary, it’s a good time to get to know this important part of the U.S. government, and consider how a new leader might affect current proceedings.

What is the DHS? 
Established in 2002, the DHS combined 22 government agencies into one cabinet department. The goal of the DHS is to keep America secure, be it from terrorist attacks or natural disasters. After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the Office of Homeland Security needed more resources to keep the country safe. In November 2002, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act, establishing the DHS as a cabinet-level agency.

What does the DHS do?
With 22 different departments, the DHS is a large operation. Some of the responsibilities within that network include protecting the nation from foreign threats, researching new technology, gathering intelligence, monitoring U.S. security, training federal law enforcement officers, detecting nuclear missiles, and protecting and improving the nation’s transportation infrastructure.  You are probably familiar with the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Secret Services, both of which fall under DHS jurisdiction.

The DHS also runs U.S. Customs and Border Control (CBP), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS ) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If you are an immigrant or in the States on a visa, you are probably very familiar with one of these three agencies.

According to The Washington Post, the DHS is currently in the process of nominating a department secretary. So far, no one has been nominated, and rumor has it that those that White House picked have been turned down by other legislators. Many officials would like to fill the position with a minority or a woman to boost cabinet diversity. A bipartisan group of former security officials devised a letter praising Alejandro Mayorkas, current USCIS director, suggesting him as a nominee.