Department of Homeland Security

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 will spend $62 billion in 2019, or $490 for every U.S. household. After adjusting for inflation, spending has increased 340 percent since 2000. It employs 184,000 people.

Department of Homeland Security Spending in Billions of Constant Dollars
Downsize This!
  • 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 the states and private sector.
  • Transportation Security Administration. TSA’s main activity is performing passenger and baggage screening at 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. The DHS structure adds unneeded bureaucracy and should be eliminated. DHS agencies that perform important work should be moved to other departments or structured as stand-alone federal entities.
Timeline of Government Growth
Cato Experts


“The police state in this country is growing out of control … We must restore the freedom and respect for liberty that once made America the greatest nation in human history.”

Congressman Ron Paul, statement to the press, January 2012.

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