DHS and Immigration: Taking Stock and Correcting Course
This report assesses the performance of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over the course of the agency’s first six years. It examines the effectiveness of the three core immigration agencies within DHS—U.S Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services—as well as the overall immigration policy direction and coordination of DHS. In doing so, the report highlights the distinct challenges that each agency faces in meeting its specific missions, roles, and responsibilities; and ultimately DHS’s overarching mission of meeting the heightened security imperatives of the post-9/11 era with an efficient, fair, and humane immigration enforcement plan that both prevents illegal immigration and facilitates legal immigration and integration. Toward this aim, 36 non-legislative policy recommendations which can be accomplished by the executive branch are offered.
Proposed shifts in policy and operational focus include: accommodating anticipated increases in workload by streamlining procedures and programs, modernizing systems and processes, recalibrating funding and staffing models, and improving oversight and coordination within and across all three agencies; targeting programs and resources on enterprises that underlie large-scale illegal migration or facilitate terrorist networks, employers who flagrantly violate laws, and individuals who threaten U.S. security and public safety; issuing and enforcing protocols that demonstrate high standards for respectfully receiving citizens and noncitizens at ports of entry, processing immigration applications in a timely and responsive manner, and carrying out worksite enforcement actions and detainment practices that are consistent with individual and civil rights prerogatives; and improving the consistency, integrity, and transparency of data collection methods and database systems.
In light of the growing urgency that immigration and immigrant integration represent for the nation—both in the domestic and foreign policy/national security realms—the report stresses the importance for the new Obama administration to weigh these considerations as a precursor for eventual comprehensive immigration reform.
II. U.S. Customs and Border Protection
III. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
IV. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
V. The Sum of the Parts: Immigration Policymaking and Coordination
VI. Final Thoughts