The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the responsibility of ensuring that all Americans remain safe while in the American soil. It also plays major responsibilities in protecting all crucial infrastructures from destruction by enemies. In the execution of its mandates via various divisions, the DHS faces different issues that pose a threat to the Americans. Some of these issues include cyber security, border security, immigration issues, and dealing with extremism and departmental image among others. This paper discusses some of these issues with the view of opening a scholarly debate on the important loopholes that DHS needs to seal to achieve its mandates.
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Together with its different agencies such as the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security possesses one of the worst images in the public domain. For example, in response to its obstacles, a review panel made recommendations in December 2014 concerning how to improve the USSS infrastructure. The recommendations were made following security lapses in the US. Such proposals targeted the mandates of the Secret Service such as the access to the presidential palace by an intruder and the landing of a drone on the mansion’s lawn.
The USSS struggled to deal with the poor image that was associated with this lapse. The DHS has some of the least satisfied workers among all federal human resources. In 2012, the committee of the senate that was then in charge of this body debated on how to build a single unified DHS. The committee investigated why workers’ morale in the department was low. Both Democrats and Republicans held an opinion that seemed similar to that of the DHS with reference to the challenges, which give it a poor public image. The opinion linked the challenges to the body’s inadequate leadership.
Besides the negative image, the body and its agencies also face some challenges, which influence their ability to execute their mandates. The department needs an urgent resolution of some major challenges, especially technology-related problems and the need to increase its staff population.
For example, in 2010, Kessler reveals how ABC News reported that the US Security Service was in dire need of modernizing its IT infrastructures and recruiting additional staff members to execute its mission effectively (12). Sullivan requested USD1.57billion from the House of Committee to fund the SS budget in 2011. This figure was 6% more than the amount that was appropriated in 2010. However, this increase was not surprising, as the Secret Service direly needed to upgrade its IT systems. While the entire federal government had already successfully upgraded its computer systems, the SS remained behind.
In 2014, the Secret Service expressed its intention to hire additional staff members. However, as Chiacu and Cornwell reveal, uncertainties over the DHS budget derailed the implementation of major initiatives to boost the agency’s capacity to respond to security threats (par.3). In December 2014, Jeh Johnson, the DHS secretary, stated that the department would not hire additional staff members to secure the following presidential candidate elections until the funding dispute was resolved.
This situation suggested that the need for budgetary approval and limitation of spending authority for a specific period constituted a major obstacle to the agency’s process of exercising of its roles. DHS operates under budgetary constraints. Therefore, in dealing with its poor public image, the government of the United States needs to deal with the issue of providing adequate resources to the department to facilitate the execution of its responsibilities.
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At the beginning of 2012, startling allegations of India’s involvement in hacking one of the United Sates’ commissions systems of e-mail communication hit many local and international media headlines. The communication system essentially dealt with security and economic relations between China and the US.
The Indian government spy hackers succeeded in placing an Indian cyber spying military intelligence document on the internet. The document discussed mechanisms for targeting China-US communications processes with the help of expertise that was derived from mobile phone manufacturers of the western nations. Allegations were reported that email transcripts of the emails changing hands between the commission members were also included in the document.
Among many other cases of operating system software hacking, an attack was speculated on 21 November 2011 in the US. It was claimed in the media that a hacker had destroyed a Curran-Gardner’s rural community water machine in the state of Illinois. However, it was later confirmed that this message was counterfeit (Rid 335). The two incidents exemplify an ongoing trend of access to organizations and states’ internet computer resources without approval.
Indeed, the situation translates to cyber war or cyber warfare. With the realization of the fact that the cyber war technology can greatly affect many normal operations of nations’ security systems while at the same time interfering with the production systems, DHS needs to increase its surveillance against cyber insecurity.
The operations of cyber war technology are dependent on the potentiality of people to have backdoor access or illegal admission on computer systems that hold susceptible data or computer systems that are deployed to control insightful operations. For instance, an advanced cyber warrior could interrupt a country’s electrical grid system, scuttle data that had been used to guide military movements, and even conduct an assault of computer systems of government branches (Andress and Winterfeld 105).
This observation implies that the cyber security threat can greatly influence key infrastructural installations in the US. Dealing with cyber security issues is an important step that the DHS can address, considering that threats from terrorists now take different forms, including espionage and that that US is a major adversary of terrorist groups such as the ISIS among others.
The DHS is a body that is responsible for ensuring ardent protection of the government and civilian crucial infrastructure. In its top list, the body needs to consider recruiting and training of workers who are capable of developing new strategies for dealing with new forms of cyber security threats. Secondly, it needs to empower, motivate, and/or guarantee the availability of a dependable workforce that can work through public and private cooperation and partnerships. This way, it becomes possible for the DHS to have both preparedness and ability to identify cyberspace insecurity threats before attackers harm the US key infrastructural installations.
The US experiences a massive inflow of illegal immigrants, especially from Mexico. The DHS has the responsibility of ensuring that only people who have valid US visa are allowed into the nation. However, illegal immigrants continue to cross the America-Mexico boundary. Crowe and Lucas-Vergona approximate that an excess of 800, 000 people cross the US-Mexico boundary illegitimately every year (1117).
Such people use strategies such as tunneling, smuggling of people, overstaying a legal visa, document forgery, and swimming across, or by just walking across the border through the unchecked areas to cross into the US illegally. This case suggests a failure of the DHS to ensure that foreigners do not get into the US dishonestly. Consequently, the department needs to face the issue of keeping off all illegitimate immigrants from the US in an attempt to deal with the social problem of overpopulation of some US major cities since overpopulation constraints major social services and amenities (Brake, Challinor, and Rosenblum 10).
The US possesses adequate rulings that protect its territorial boundaries. Therefore, the DHS needs to secure borders by deploying appropriate and regular processes for enforcing the existing law. Indeed, border insecurity comprises a major issue that the DHS needs to address since it is among the main reasons that led to its formation. The US governing body needs to establish guidelines that the DHS should embark on for better implementation of its objectives.
Such measures need to encompass more concrete and robust mechanisms for enhancing security at the borders. The strategy requires cooperation between the local communities and law enforcers combined with the incorporation of technology in securing borders. Hence, it becomes possible to deal with the challenge of illegal immigrants who cross the US perimeter.
Conclusively, it is also crucial for the DHS to address the issue of terrorism, which is now being encouraged by extremism. The US government has made some incredible steps towards this subject. For example, in 2011, it laid a premeditated program for dealing with aggressive radicalism under its plan of authorizing neighboring partners to thwart brutal extremism. However, the plan suffered from a major drawback, as it failed in giving the appropriate responsibilities to different parties so that resources could be allocated to it. Therefore, the DHS should consider an implementable plan to encourage the participation of communities and locals in enhancing the security of civil societies.
Andress, Jason, and Steve Winterfeld. Cyber Warfare: Techniques, Tactics and Tools for Security Practitioners. New Jersey, NJ: Syngress, 2011. Print.
Brake, Kate, Ann Challinor, and Marc Rosenblum. Mexican and Central American Immigrants into the United States. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute, 2011. Print.
Chiacu, Doina, and Susan Cornwell. The U.S. Funding Impasse Blocks Secret Service Hires: Homeland Security Chief, 2015. Web.
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Crowe, Susan, and Jamie Lucas-Vergona. “What should be done about the illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States?” Decision Making 46.8(2007): 1115-1129. Print.
Kessler, Ronald. In the President’s Secret Service: Behind The Scenes with Agents in The Line of Fire and the Presidents they Protect. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 2010. Print.
Rid, Thomas. “Will cyber war take place?” Journal of Strategic Studies 3.1(2011): 332-355. Print.