What is the Department of Homeland Security?

The Department of Homeland Security has the responsibility of administering and enforcing immigration laws.  It was created in reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 when Congress passed the Homeland Security Act, which established the Department of Homeland Security.  The Department of Homeland Security’s goal is to maintain domestic security against terrorism.  In order to accomplish the goals of the Homeland Security Act, Congress consolidated within the Department of Homeland Security the responsibilities of more than 20 different agencies, including a majority of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

The President, with the consent of the Senate, appoints a Secretary to head the Department of Homeland Security.  The Secretary has control over all functions of the Department of Homeland Security.  After appointment, the Secretary administers and enforces the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and all other laws relating to the immigration and naturalization of Noncitizens as well as promulgation of regulations.  The Secretary’s responsibilities also include control and guard U.S. borders.  The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security does not have authority over the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which remains within the power of the Attorney General.

The Homeland Security Act created three bureaus within the Department of Homeland Security to handle administration and enforcement of immigration law:

  1. the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services;
  2. the United States Customs Service; and
  3. the Bureau of Border Security.

The first bureau Department of Homeland Security of the USCIS reviews and approves applications for immigration benefits, including immigrant visa petitions, naturalization petitions, and asylum and refugee applications.

ICE is responsible for the interior security of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service. ICE also has a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit which is responsible for investigating issues that threaten national security such as immigration crime.  ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) unit is responsible for ensuring that removable noncitizens leave the U.S.

CBP inspects visitors and cargo at ports of entry into the United States and they secure the borders between them. CBP mission is “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade.”

Please contact Krist Qiu, Esq., a Fort Lauderdale Immigration Lawyer, to discuss your immigration situation and how the Department of Homeland Security will handle your specific case.