Congress created the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 by combining 22 agencies, which are responsible for a vast array of activities. The largest agencies are Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Secret Service.
The department spent $52 billion in 2016, or about $420 for every U.S. household. After adjusting for inflation, spending has increased 178 percent since 2000. It employs 184,000 people.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA coordinates federal responses to natural disasters, and it subsidizes state and local disaster relief. It also hands out various preparedness grants and runs the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA should be closed down and its activities moved to state and local governments and the private sector.
- Transportation Security Administration. TSA’s primary activity is performing passenger and baggage screening at the nation’s commercial airports. This activity should be privatized, as it has been in many other countries. Remaining TSA activities should be terminated or moved to other agencies.
- Terminating DHS. DHS adds bureaucracy and does not improve performance. It should be terminated. DHS agencies that perform important work should be moved to other departments or structured as stand-alone federal entities. Other DHS agencies, such as FEMA and TSA, should be terminated.
Congressman Ron Paul, statement to the press, January 2012.