In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the United States passed the Homeland Security Act which created the immigration enforcement system that operates today. The Act was responsible for the founding of numerous federal agencies within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), all of which play unique roles in the application of immigration laws.
Prior to 2003, immigration matters were dealt with through the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor. As the Department of Homeland Security took over many of these matters and expanded its control, the U.S. government’s approach towards immigration transformed as well. Although the government’s stance became more rigid on immigration in the decades prior to 2003, the creation of the various new agencies substantiated it considerably.
The DHS’s immigration agencies, particularly ICE and CBP in the last four years, have been subject to much public debate. There are growing numbers of reports which point to the agencies’ role in numerous human rights vio