Founded in 2002 as a result of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, the United States Department of Homeland Security has been protecting citizens of the U.S. using a number of agencies and occupations. The 9/11 attack was a devastating tragedy that shook the country and left a scar on everyone’s hearts. It was random and unpredictable which is some of the reason why it was so frightening. Because we were not entirely prepared and could not prevent the damage and sorrow caused, the United States began to brainstorm.
The goals were to prevent these events from occurring or to at least soften the aftershock as much as possible. As a result, attempting to prevent terrorist attacks was done using the basic criminal justice system. These attacks “ushered in a new generation of policies like the USA Patriot Act, prioritizing national security and defense, often at the expense of civil liberties.” (Green).
The USA Patriot Act was initiated by George W. Bush on October 26, 2001.
The name is actually an abbreviation which stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. This act “updated electronic surveillance rules to allow warrants to intercept individuals even when they frequently changed phones, and to grant access to Internet communications on the same basic terms as applicable to traditional telephone communications.” (Chertoff). Homeland Security is made up of many different agencies and has many functions to help establish safety and security as well as prevent terrorism in the United States.
This makes having access to information one of the most important aspects of the job. Along with communication and information, some forms of security require authority and control in a physical sense. There are some who patrol areas where important events take place or take precise action to scope out the scene and make sure everyone stays safe, and there are some who have a round the clock duty to keep danger on the other side of the country.
Border control is an example of this because those who come to the U.S. illegally could be a potential threat. Someone eager to get across could be smuggling drugs and weapons. Even if the act of trying to get into the U.S. is strictly a hopeful attempt at a better life, there are precautions that need to be taken to ensure our safety. Because there are people searching for better opportunity and not looking to harm anyone, there is a system that offers them exactly what they are looking for. It would not be fair to label every immigrant illegal or suspicious, but until their intentions are known, they are still considered a possible threat. As a result, DHS (Department of Homeland Security) comes into the picture. Something like this could resemble a symbiotic relationship between the customs and immigration workers and the immigrants themselves. While one of them is provided employment, the other is offered a chance to become a citizen. Each serves a purpose and both of them rely on the other.
The Department of Homeland Security employs over 230,000 people. Not only does it provide for those working, but it also gives new chances to others. Immigration and citizenship are major issues today. Workers who take fingerprints, do background checks, and legally help those willing to appropriately and safely enter this country, give hope and opportunity. Immigration is not the only department worthy of mention. There is the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Secret Service, Domestic Nuclear Detection, and so many more. Each of these departments create a system of protection and stability throughout the United States and each are equally important no matter how simple or complicated they may seem. Because of the number of agencies that are a part of The Department of Homeland Security, it is considered the third biggest cabinet department in the U.S. government. A fun fact about DHS is that “Homeland Security officials have started field-testing a screening process in which they use eye movements, breathing patterns and other physical indicators to identify people who have ‘mal-intent,’ or plans to do harm to others.” (Jacob).
Improvements and skill like this could take us a long way. Even though we might not realize it, it is the small things like this that could save our lives one day. Imagine if people learned how to identify or spot suspicious behavior on their own. Could that help prevent danger as well? Even if people are not trained professionally to see and prevent crime, they still play a major role in where, when, and how something takes place. I believe it would very substantial to our everyday lives especially if there is even the slightest chance, we could help make a difference. Another great example of Homeland Security would be the evolution of airport security. Since the 9/11 attacks, “Airplane and airport security is clearly much better, including the addition of thousands more air marshals, reinforced cockpit doors, and comprehensive baggage screening.” (O’Hanlon).
Airports have also updated their ticketing system, the design of the airports, the amount of security in and around the airport, and some other security screening procedures. However, Airports are not the only possible targets for terrorism. Highly populated areas or areas where tourism is common are also at risk. In order to send a message, terrorists are willing to hit any place at any time. Some examples are May 10th, 2010, a car bombing attempt at Times Square in New York, April 15th, 2013, the Boston Marathon Bombing in Boston, Massachusetts where bombs were set off near the finish line, and June 12th, 2016, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida shooting along with taking hostages. These examples just prove how important security really is. There is no restriction on where or when it happens and I believe that is the one thing we may never be one step ahead of. As long as security or those who stand to protect the public are there at the time of an attack, then we can have hope that we are in safe hands.
Even if there is not much that can be done, any protection is better than none. Because attacks can and will occur as well as affect the stability and safety of the United States, it is vital that there be forms of protection to help prevent terrorism and maintain peace as well as we can. For our safety, “The United States must act to defer or prevent such attacks and, if attacks occur [sic] despite those efforts, must be prepared to limit the damage they cause and respond decisively against the perpetrators.” (Larson). This leads to another main aspect of DHS, which is to “ensure that the overall economic security of the United States is not diminished by efforts, activities, and programs aimed at securing the homeland.” (Homeland Security Act 2002). Because if the efforts to protect the country fail, that would mean putting people out of work, losing capital, affecting the stability of the government, lack of resources, etc.
There is a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of those who go out of their way to protect U.S. citizens. Because these workers are so diligent, loyalty and confidence is shared throughout the country. However, the painful truth to this is that most men and women protecting civilians on a day to day basis may not be appreciated enough. To some, when disaster occurs, it is easy to be appreciative and grateful, but when there is no danger, we tend to forget our place in the world. One life is just as precious as another. Maybe there are ways we as citizens, can help protect the people and the country we love as well. To be safe and to have comfort in knowing that there is a plan is all someone could ask for. In conclusion, because terrorism is cruel and unnecessary, we have to protect what is ours from terrible and tragic intentions. This means that everyday violence should be avoided and instead of turning on each other, we should all come together as one. Even though it is Homeland Securities job to protect us, it is our jobs to be helpful and trustworthy citizens. That would make their jobs easier and our lives happier. Because Homeland Security does not just prevent disaster and protect people every day, it also gives a sense of relief knowing that one can leave his or her house or be a part of the community without feeling helpless, scared, or alone.