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Department Celebrates Five Years

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Bush created the White House Office of Homeland Security on October 8, 2001. Congress passed legislation mandating the Department of Homeland Security November 19, 2002. The Department became operational on January 24, 2003; most component agencies merged on March 1, 2003. The stand-up was the largest reorganization of the federal government since the U.S. Department of Defense was created in 1947. Read more about the 22 agencies that became part of the Department.

The Department celebrated its fifth anniversary on March 1, 2008. 

The Department's 216,000 employees are responsible for protecting the territory of the United States of America: patrolling borders, protecting ports, defending the skies, enforcing immigration laws, and responding to disasters and emergencies. The mission statement reads:

"We will lead the unified national effort to secure America. We will prevent and deter terrorist attacks and protect against and respond to threats and hazards to the nation.We will ensure safe and secure borders, welcome lawful immigrants and visitors, and promote the free-flow of commerce." Mission Statement


A Day in the Life of the Department

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Highlights from the first five years

  • Securing the Border - built more than 302 miles of fencing and increased number of agents from 10,500 to more than 17,500 by the end of 2008
  • Screening Travelers - screened 2 million travelers per day, required secure travel documents, checked more than 113 million foreign visitors' fingerprints and performed 20 layers of screening
  • Screening Ports and Cargos - screened more than 97% of inbound cargo for radiation at our seaports 
  • Protecting Infrastructure - established national standards for chemical facility security and chemicals in transit and issued over 200 actionable cyber alerts
  • Enforcing Immigration Laws - removed over 275,000 illegal aliens, interdicted more than 86,000 illegal migrants at sea, and secured fines and judgments of more than $30 million against violating employers
  • Responding to Disasters - responded to over 400 major disasters and assisted more than 3.78 million individuals
  • Naturalized -  more than 2 million citizens between 2003 and 2006
  • Countering Drugs - seized more than 7 million pounds of drugs and made 8,920 arrests at land and sea 

Read more about the Department's achievements.

2008 Priorities

The Department will focus on five goals in 2008:

  • Protect the nation from dangerous people
  • Protect the nation from dangerous goods
  • Protect critical infrastructure
  • Strengthen the nation's preparedness and emergency response capabilities
  • Strengthen and unify the Department's operations and management

Read more about the Secretary's five goals.

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This page was last reviewed/modified on August 6, 2008.