Of all the many government organizations in the United States, none are quite as well known as the Department of Homeland Security. If you've ever traveled before, then you've probably encountered the DHS at some point. The DHS has many responsibilities, but their main goal is to secure the nation from threats like terrorism, which involves safeguarding land, air, sea and even digital borders. But, their position is often seen as controversial, and because of this, there are a considerable amount of pros and cons to homeland security.
The Mission of the Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security was formed a year after September 11th and is similar to home ministry departments that other countries have. It was created with many intentions in mind, and their mission involves protecting the United States' borders at all costs. Some responsibilities that they state in their mission are to enforce and administer immigration laws, ensure resilience to disasters, prevent terrorism and enhance security, safeguard and secure cyberspace and secure and manage borders.
There are many positive aspects of homeland security. For one, it gives Americans a sense of security knowing that this department is doing everything it can to keep Americans safe. There are employees of the DHS located all over the world, catching threats before they present a danger to anyone. It's helped to increase security at airports and other ports, which although may be an inconvenience to many, allows passengers to feel comfortable getting on an airplane knowing that all passengers have been screened.
Homeland security also helps communities after a disaster, whether that be a natural disaster or an act of terrorism on U.S. soil. They're able to implement swift emergency recovery efforts, for example, in the case of a hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast.
Another advantage of homeland security is their vigilance when it comes to cybersecurity. These days, many dangerous threats aren't living in the physical world but instead exist in the virtual world. The DHS makes sure to monitor these threats and keep Americans safe online, protecting the country's secrets. They also work to prevent major public and private systems from being hacked.
There can be just as many disadvantages to an organization or program as there are advantages. Despite the fact that the DHS has been ultimately successful in preventing another attack similar to what happened on September 11th, there are still problems that exist. As the organization was established very quickly in a response to the attacks on 9/11, a lot of people are concerned that the attention on national security is entirely external, and there is very little focus on terrorist threats within the country's borders.
Another one of the major cons is homeland security's take on immigration. Though security and immigration certainly go hand in hand, there have been many situations in which the treatment of immigrants by ICE has caused controversy throughout the country. As their job is to find people living in the country illegally, this means many families can get separated due to deportation. Another related disadvantage to this is that it's very difficult for those who want to come to the U.S. legally to do so, as the process is very extensive. Additionally, security for both Americans and tourists coming in and out of the United States via international flights is extremely time-consuming.
Another role of DHS is maintaining security on digital platforms. As threats are constantly imminent in this fashion, there are certainly great things about what the DHS is doing as far as protection online. However, one of the problems with this is that people today have less and less privacy when they go on the internet, which makes people feel as though they aren't actually as safe as they should be.
Lastly, although there needs to be many employees to help secure the United States in order to fulfill the DHS's mission, too many employees can be difficult to manage. The DHS has 240,000 employees and has made headlines several times for the misconduct of their employees home and abroad. Also, when it comes to natural disasters, the amount of disorganization at DHS has lead to more hurt than help. The DHS was criticized after their failure to effectively respond to the situation after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005.