After a much anticipated wait, Congress has finally voted to enact a full-year funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. It is a "clean" bill, meaning that it doesn't contain any of the immigration-related concessions that the Republican-controlled Congress had demanded for months. The bill provides roughly $40 billion to fund critical and necessary homeland security missions.
March 1, 2015 marked the 12th anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security’s creation. While the Department of Defense is charged with military actions abroad, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") works to protect the United States within, at, and outside its borders. What many people do not know is that DHS has many agencies, task forces, and offices that work together to protect our great nation.
The agency most commonly known by the immigration community is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), as it is the organization that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. It accepts applications and petitions for family and business-related individuals who want to either temporarily or permanently immigrate into our country. Another agency is U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"), which enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety. Other agencies or offices include U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Secret Service, and Transportation and Security Administration.
Given the current political climate, both nationally and internationally, including ISIS atrocities and encroachments, the nuclear discussions with Iran, the civil wars in Syria and Ukraine, and more, our great nation faces various challenges and threats, and DHS must be well-equipped and funded to handle these issues and continue to protect the United States. The quarrels and disputes that have ensued after President Obama's taking executive action to revamp and reform our immigration system should not be a reason to weaken DHS, as its mission, goals, and services reach much farther and have broader implications. Thankfully, Congress realized and accepted this last night, and the bill now needs only to be signed by President Obama.
DHS is a powerful and necessary agency. Its services affect each and every one of us that lives in the United States. Now that is has the requisite funding, it can continue doing its excellent job, and we can continue to live with the freedoms and rights that the United States of America stand for.