Today In History: Creation of the Office of Homeland Security

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I have always been fascinated by what happened on today in history so I decided I should do some blogs on it :). Today I picked the creation of the Office of Homeland Security (now known as the Department of Homeland Security, referred to as DHS from here on out).

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

History of DHS

Basically, the Office of Homeland Security was created as a reaction to September 11th. Initially it was in the White House, but then it later became its own government department so it could stand alone at the Cabinet level – the first cabinet level department formed in 60 years. That’s the history of it on a basic, basic level.

Purpose and Function of DHS

“To secure the nation from the many threats we face.” That’s the basic functionality and purpose, but it breaks down more specifically to “protecting the border; supporting local agencies, like police and fire departments; detecting chemical, nuclear, or biological weapons; and analyzing all sources of intelligence.” (Was from PBS, link now broken as of 2/8/14). Like I said, it was a reaction to 9/11 that created this department. As I’ve talked about before, governments have often used terrorism to be able to create overarching laws, departments, and so on. This is one of those cases. It’s a lot harder to question the creation of a department like this when everyone is afraid of being attacked by terrorists. Right or wrong, it is what it is. Are some parts of DHS necessary? I certainly think so, but I can not claim that they are all necessary.

Agencies Under DHS

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Science & Technology Directorate
  • United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)
  • Office of Cybersecurity and Communications
  • Office of Operations Coordination
  • Office of Infrastructure Protection
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • U.S. Secret Service

And if you’re curious, this is an organizational chart of how it’s structured.

President George W. Bush signs the Homeland Se...

President George W. Bush signs the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2004 on October 1, 2003. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How the DHS Has Been Affected by the Government Shut Down

As you may suspect, the government considers most of DHS to be an essential service. Overall, only 13.66% of people employed by DHS have been furloughed – you can see a nice chart breaking down which departments within DHS have furloughed the most people here.  However, not all of it is, and there have been some really important parts of DHS that have been suspended. For example, the government suspended E-Verify, which is the process by which employers ensure that they are hiring people who are legal to work in the United States. The U.S. Coast Guard isn’t issuing licenses or doing routine inspections. They’re also not conducting trainings or anything at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. They have also suspended “State, local, and federal law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties training” and along with that “Civil rights and civil liberties complaint lines and investigations.” Because apparently, protecting our civil rights and liberties is not essential. Also, the government suspended the chemical security program. Because apparently preventing chemical explosions and making sure chemical plants are safe are not essential functions. I wish whoever made these decisions was consulting me. In less important things, their Youtube account won’t be updated (I’m surprised they have a Youtube account – it’s mainly PSAs). And their Facebook account won’t be updated either (again, I had no idea they had a Facebook account). Their website is still functioning, but it says the info will not be updated. So if any of this is outdated, I am going to blame it on the government shutdown (haha). I’ll link below to the document detailing their shutdown plans of what’s open and what’s not open, but I just thought I’d highlight the biggies or the ones that the average person might notice the most.

Teaching Kids About the DHS


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