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A Day in the Life of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security has one mission but uses many tools and areas of expertise to accomplish our goal of securing the homeland.  On any given day, we perform a variety of different tasks and functions to make America safer and our citizens more secure. Although our responsibilities are varied, we are united in a common purpose - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Below is a sampling of what the men and women of DHS do in a day.

Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will:

  • Process more than 1.1 million passengers and pedestrians
  • Inspect more than 70, 000 truck, rail and sea containers
  • Process more than $88M in fees, duties and tariffs
  • Make 2,402 apprehensions between ports for illegal entry
  • Execute 70 arrests of criminals at ports of entry
  • Seize over 7,000 pounds of narcotics
  • Seize over 4,000 prohibited agricultural items
  • Deploy more than 1,000 canine enforcement teams to aid inspections
  • Make 5,479 pre-departure seizures of prohibited agricultural items

Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will:

  • Make an average 153 administrative arrests and 61 criminal arrests
  • Make an average of 10 currency seizures totaling $731,309
  • Participate in an average 21 drug seizures each day, totaling more than 3,560 lbs. of marijuana, 11.8 lbs. of heroin, and 663 lbs. of cocaine
  • ICE attorneys prepare 2462 cases and on average obtain 450 final orders of removal, including 71 final orders of removal against criminal aliens.
  • House approximately 29,786 illegal aliens in facilities nationwide
  • Prevent nearly 2,082 prohibited items from entering federal facilities

Today, the Transportation Security Administration will:

  • Screen approximately 2 million passengers and their 1.8 million pieces of checked baggage before they board commercial aircraft
  • Intercept 17,000 prohibited items at checkpoints including over 2,800 knives and 175 other dangerous items
  • Open 205,000 bags for screening and intercept 800 prohibited items in checked baggage
  • Deploy 45,000 transportation security officers to protect the traveling public and thousands of federal air marshals to protect the skies
  • Minimize the wait times of passengers’ security screening during peak periods to an average of 13 minutes
  • Operate the National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program, which has over 500 explosive detection canine teams deployed across the country. At any given time these teams may be responsible for responding to bomb threats, searching airport terminals, mass transit stations, vehicles, buses, subway cars, aircraft, cargo, luggage. These teams provide a valuable and visible deterrent on a daily basis.

Today, the United States Coast Guard will:


  • Saves 14 lives
  • Assists 98 people in distress
  • Conducts 74 search and rescue cases
  • Completes 31 Port State Control safety and environmental exams on foreign vessels
  • Performs 18 safety examinations on commercial fishing vessels
  • Conducts 24 marine casualty investigations
  • Issues 102 Certificates of Inspection to U.S. commercial vessels
  • Services 135 aids-to-navigation and corrects 23 aids-to-navigation discrepancies


  • Interdicts 17 illegal migrants at sea
  • Seizes or removes over 1,000 pounds of illegal drugs ($12.9M value)
  • Administers 25 International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code vessel Exams
  • Escorts over 20 larger passenger vessels, military outload vessels, High Interest Vessels (HIVs) or vessels carrying especially hazardous cargo
  • Boards 193 ships and boats
  • Boards 17 vessels at sea to enforce domestic fisheries and marine protected species regulations


  • Facilitates safe and efficient marine transportation on the Nation's 15,000 Miles of inland waterways
  • Inspects 53 HAZMAT containers
  • Responds to 12 Oil Pollution/Hazardous Chemical Material spills

Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will:

  • Naturalize more than 3,000 new citizens
  • Have more than 15,000 federal employees and contractors working in approximately 250 headquarters and field offices around the world.
  • Promote education and training on citizenship rights, privileges, and responsibilities for immigrants interested in becoming U.S. citizens.
  • Conduct 135,000 national security background checks
  • Received 200,000 visitors to
  • Process 30,000 applications for immigrant benefits
  • Answer questions from 12,000 customers at 84 local offices
  • Issue 7,000 permanent resident cards (green cards)
  • Capture 11,000 sets of fingerprints at 130 Application Support Centers
  • Welcome 3,200 new citizens
  • Welcome 3,300 new permanent residents
  • Adjudicate nearly 200 refugee applications from around the world
  • Help American parents adopt nearly 125 foreign-born orphans
  • Grant asylum to 40 individuals already in the United States
  • Naturalize 27 individuals serving in the Unites States military

Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will:

  • Obligate $39 million for disaster response, recovery, and mitigation activities
  • Provide critical preparedness, prevention, response and recovery information to over 85,000 visitors through the FEMA website,
  • Help save $2.7 million in damages from flooding across the country through FEMA’s Flood Plain Management
  • Help protect an additional 104 homes from the devastating effects of flooding through flood insurance policies issued by the National Flood Insurance Program
  • Provide an average of $181,000 for the Fire Management Assistance grants, which aid state and local efforts in the suppression of wildfires
  • Provide 11,305 publications through FEMA's U.S. Fire Administration to educate citizens about how to stay safe from fire and help America's fire service to safely respond to fires and other emergency incidents
  • Strengthen citizen preparedness and participation through funding and technical assistance to over 2,200 tribal, state, territorial, and local Citizen Corps Councils in every state and U.S. territory
  • Provide funding, program guidance, and technical support to nearly 3,000 local Community Emergency Response Team Programs across all states to help organize, train and maintain over 500,000 citizens qualified to assist in responding to disasters
  • Work with state and local partners to build greater preparedness capabilities using a portion of the more than $3 billion in DHS grants (FY 08) as well as by supporting exercises, training and technical assistance through the National Preparedness and Grant Programs Directorates
  • Serve as a central training resource for thousands of emergency responders through more than 45 training partners such as the U.S. Fire Administration, the Emergency Management Institute and the Center for Domestic Preparedness
  • Arrange for translation services for disaster victims in up to 173 different languages through the National Processing Service Centers in Maryland, Puerto Rico, Texas and Virginia
  • Put Community Relations teams on the ground to work hand-in-hand with communities who need information and assistance in their recovery from disasters

Today, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate will:

  • Lead nearly 200 projects to provide solutions to protect us from chemical, biological, and explosive attacks, provide security for our borders and shores, protect key parts of our infrastructure, and mitigate the effects of natural disasters.
  • Assess 22 technology companies for product applicability to first responder customers, develop standards for first responder technologies to ensure high quality transitions, and provide test and evaluation services for DHS.
  • Support more than 100 colleges and universities in discovery and innovation, collaborate with four DHS and nine DOE laboratories for solutions and innovations, bring together scientists and engineers from around the globe to address specific threats, combat terrorism, and perform the homeland security mission

Today, the DHS Office of Operation Coordination will:

  • Work to secure the Homeland by coordinating the work of federal, state, territorial, tribal, local and private sector partners and by collecting and fusing information from a variety of sources
  • Create a real-time snap shot of the Nation’s threat environment at any moment
  • Provide real-time situational awareness and monitoring of the Homeland, through the National operations Center

Today, the DHS Management Directorate will:

  • Hire and process more than 100 new employees through its human capital office;
  • Obligate more than $141.5 million through its finance office; and
  • Issue more than 300 contracts through its procurement operations

Today, the DHS National Operations Center will:

  • Collect and fuse information from more than 35 Federal, State, territorial, tribal, local and private sector agencies
  • Provide real-time situational awareness and monitoring of the homeland, coordinate incidents and response activities, and in conjunction with the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, issues advisories and bulletins concerning threats to homeland security, as well as specific protective measures
  • Coordinate information sharing to help deter, detect, and prevent terrorist acts and to manage domestic incidents

Today, the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis will:

  • Review all-source intelligence information and produce analysis to distribute to federal, state, local and private sector partners regarding current and developing threats and vulnerabilities, as well as providing recommendations for potential protective measures

Today, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office will:

  • Provide radiation detection equipment to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to scan more than 70,000 cargo containers for radiological/nuclear material
  • Train an average of 12 State and local law enforcement officials on how to use preventive radiological/nuclear detection equipment
  • Maintain situational awareness of the global nuclear detection architecture

Today, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center will:

  • Train more than 3,500 federal officers and agents from more than 80 different federal agencies, as well as state, local, tribal and international officers and agents, in one or more of the approximately 400 basic and advanced training programs available

Today, the DHS Office of Health Affairs will:

  • Retrieve samples from hundreds of BioWatch collectors that have been testing the air in our major metropolitan areas for evidence of biological pathogens, regardless of weather conditions and in hundreds of locations.
  • Perform thousands of tests on samples from BioWatch collectors to determine if there is reason to believe a bio-terrorism attack has occurred so that these populations can be treated; thereby mitigating the consequence of such an attack.
  • Will review these results as part of an overall situational awareness picture for which they are responsible, utilizing the expertise of hundreds of public health professionals.
  • Screen over 350 sources of information from across multiple agencies and venues and assess them for significance and early recognition of a potential bio-event of national significance through the 24 hour watch of the National Biosurveillance Integration Center.
  • Work throughout all levels of government and the private sector leading the Department’s role in developing and supporting a scientifically rigorous, intelligence-based biodefense and health preparedness architecture to ensure the security of our Nation in the face of all hazards.
  • Set requirements for DHS health preparedness funding to states, tribal, and local governments and work with state and local entities to achieve target capabilities in health preparedness.
  • Work with our DHS colleagues to prevent introduction of foreign animal and plant pathogens and enhance local response capabilities for agro-defense.

Today, the National Protection and Programs Directorate will:

  • Protect U.S. information systems by monitoring, through the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), an average of 87 incidents and events to identify emerging threats, ongoing trends, and intrusions.
  • Provide timely and actionable cyber security information, alerts, and warnings through the National Cyber Alert System to homeland security partners and the American public to improve cyber awareness and help protect critical information networks.
  • Identify threats, determine vulnerabilities, and target resources to safeguard our borders, seaports, bridges, highways and critical information systems in partnership with state and local governments and the private sector.
  • Disrupt potential terrorist planning activities by conducting five Buffer Zone Protection assessments with local law enforcement at critical infrastructure and key resources in every sector across the nation.
  • Increase awareness regarding improvised explosive devices among 40 Federal departments and agencies, 28 military units, 365 state and local agencies, and 35 private sector companies and organizations through the web-based Technical Resource for Incident Prevention (TRIPwire).
  • Administer the Protective Security Advisor Program to provide support and situational awareness to over 1,470 Federal, state, local, and private sector critical infrastructure security partners.
  • Analyze biometrics data on more than 100,000 foreign visitors against the federal watch list of more than 3.2 million known or suspected terrorists, criminals and immigration violators.
  • Identify, on average, 40 criminal migrants illegally attempting to enter the United States from the sea with biometric data and, through a partnership with the FBI, provide that information to state and local law enforcement agencies.

Today, the Office of Legislative Affairs will:

  • Serve as the focal point for interactions between DHS and Congress.
  • Provide DHS executives direction and coordination for all communications and relationships between DHS and the Congress.
  • Identify legislative issues of importance and assess congressional actions and views as they present potential opportunities, vulnerabilities, or impact on the Department.
  • Explain the actions and views of the Administration, generally, and DHS, specifically, to Congress.
  • Secure the best possible congressional action upon the President’s policies, programs and budget as they affect the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Advocate and defend the President’s Homeland Security policy, programs, and budget.
  • Serve as the principal advisor and consultant to the Secretary of Homeland Security and other DHS officials on all matters involving relations with Congress.
  • Serve as the Department’s spokesperson to Congress.
  • Respond to all actions including the provision of further material requested and answers to questions that arise as a result of these interactions.
  • Respond to all congressional inquires.
  • Educate and inform members of Congress about DHS’s mission, programs, and policies, as well as DHS’s activities in their respective states and districts. With the DHS Office of General Counsel, participate in the coordination of the Department’s position on all proposed legislation, and analyzes and coordinates DHS’s position on legislation proposed by Congress and within the Administration. This includes request for DHS’s views on draft testimony, proposals, and reports of other agencies.
  • Coordinate / support DHS testimony at congressional hearings. 2007 had a 12% increase in the number of hearings when compared to 2006, a 39% increase when compare to 2005, and a 40% increase when compared to 2004. 2007 had a 12% increase in the number of witnesses when compared with 2006, a 43% increase when compared to 2005, and a 47% increase when compared to 2004

Today, the Ready Campaign will:

  • Empower and educate Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural disasters and terrorist attacks through simple, easy-to-understand information
  • Encourage Americans to have an emergency supply kit; family emergency plan; and to be informed about the different risks and the appropriate responses.
  • Tailor the Ready message to address the unique concerns of a diverse audience, i.e., elderly Americans, pet owners, children, Spanish speaking citizens, individuals with disabilities and special needs, and businesses
  • Provide outreach and information to the public via Public Service Advertisements; the Ready website, toll free telephone numbers (1-800-BE-READY and 1-888-SE-LISTO), the distribution of printed materials (brochures, tri-folds, and posters) and partnerships

Today, the United States Secret Service will:

  • Protect dozens of high profile government officials including the President, the Vice President, visiting heads of state, and former Presidents
  • Seize more than $145,000 in counterfeit currency and suppress 2 counterfeit operations.
  • Open 42 new financial crimes and counterfeit investigations worldwide and conduct 17 computer forensic examinations
  • Seize more than $52,000 in illegal profits and arrest 19 individuals
  • Conduct 7 public education seminars on counterfeit recognition and financial fraud schemes.

This page was last reviewed/modified on May 28, 2008.