Humanity has experienced all kinds of crimes in the twenty first century. These crimes have left many people wounded psychologically, physically, as well as have left others for death. The crimes vary from massive attacks of terrorism to individual cases of shoplifting, with devastating crime of rape and murder among others. Before 25 November 2002, many criminals went unpunished as police and other security agents found it difficult to trace suspects of different crimes. However, After the Al-Qaeda terrorist attack on the twin towers in 2001, President George Bush signed the bill that authorized the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security. The majority of citizens backed the President and the approval of the bill. With establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, different security agencies came up together and shared intelligence in an attempt to deter crime activities, particularly terrorism. The Procedures of the Homeland Security have both positive and negative effects on the daily lives of the American citizens. Thousands of Americans appreciated the contributions of the Department of Homeland Security. However, groups of critics have criticized the department for infringing some of their rights and freedoms, like affecting the right to privacy and limiting their freedom of movement. This paper shall discuss the effects of the procedures of the Department of Homeland Security on the daily lives of American citizens, privacy and court decision regarding the department’s procedures.
Oliver (2006) contends that the most basic effect after the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security is reduction of criminal activities. After the creation of this department, many Americans have acquired the sense of security. The department has spent billions of dollars in recruiting of experienced staff, acquiring of appropriate technologies and establishment of several procedures that every person, who wishes to enter, move out or within the country must follow. The department works with all government security agencies like the FBI, CIA and local police sheriffs in maintaining law and order. For instance, the department has set up scanning machines that check identification of all passengers moving within the country. It works with the FBI, which has records of terrorists. During the scanning period at the entry points, it checks for terrorist information about the passengers from the FBI terrorism database. Therefore, it is able to maintain the security at the entry points countrywide, like borders, airports and seaports. The department has also set up thousands of cameras across major points in the country. The police departments use these cameras to maintain security. They believe the cameras will either help them to stop crime or identifying criminals in the process of committing a felony, thus bringing them to the books of justice. Through these procedures, the police have established intelligence network that is able to detect crime and try to prevent the felony before it occurs (Oliver, 2006). The police and other security agents have also collected biographic information, which they use to establish individuals’ criminal history from the entry points. The intelligence of the Department of Homeland Security had deployed next generation technologies to their station across America, which enhances maximum security and curbs future security threats. They are also able to use some technology like the CCTV in collection of information that may be used to persecute suspects of crimes. Similarly, private individuals may buy and install these cameras in their houses or business owners in their enterprises. The Department of Homeland Security appreciates them as volunteers to community policing. Consequently, thousands of business owners have appreciated the use of these cameras. Through alerting the public about the presence of the close-circuit-television (CCTV) cameras, business entrepreneurs have reduced the criminal cases in their firms and residences, for example shoplifting, fraud and theft have gone lower. Moreover, the Homeland Security also encourages the establishment of private security networked with the national intelligence security (Oliver, 2006). Therefore, the government is working with private businesses and individuals to ensure that the public is a secure place for all through establishing procedures and technologies that deter criminal activities. Since some criminals fear committing crime before the cameras while the security agencies may use biographic information and the captured videos to track down, those who committed felonies ran away or stayed low.
Furthermore, the department established the National Cyber Security and Communications Integration Centre, whose main role is to uphold cyber security. This has enabled the department to control the use and abuse of cyber space at both state and local government levels. This is useful to most departments and the American society. Logan & Ramsay (2012) assert that this organ manages all the sensitive information, especially in the finance and security departments. This information is very crucial for national security because if such sensitive information gets into the wrong hands, it may result to fraud on the highest level, which will eventually destabilize the American society, as soon as one is able to steal billions of dollars from affluent individuals, organizations or government. When the public has uncontrolled access to too much currency, it may result to inflation and the fall of value of the currency. Moreover, if criminals gain access to government infrastructure and network, they may be able to have access to very sensitive information, which may make the country vulnerable to attacks (White, 2011). The department also checks on all forms of information on the networks. In case one uses the networks to threaten others, the department will notify local government enforcers to track down such individuals for investigation. Therefore, the procedures of the Department of Homeland Security are very important because they determine our own safety (Logan & Ramsay, 2012).
The other major effect of the Homeland security activities is promotion of growth and development of the American economy through creation of an enabling business environment for all the businesspersons in America. Businesses work and operate well when they have secure and safe environment. Before the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, businesspersons used to live in fear of attacks and losing their property through theft and shoplifting among other petty crimes that resulted to low profits. Additionally, the businesspersons could shut down their businesses earlier to avoid attack that could cause injury on the clients or themselves. Moreover, businesspersons incurred heavy expenses through securing insurance to cover losses that could arise after the criminals evaded their shops and stole their assets. Apart from that, investors also avoided investing in places prone to crimes. Thus, such regions experienced slow economic development. Moreover, terrorism slowed down other areas of the economy like transport and tourism. Terrorism scared stakeholders from investing in aviation transport as terrorists hijacked some airplanes and set up abnormal demands, like withdrawal of the U.S. forces from war torn regions or very high ransoms or unconditional release of serious terrorists or criminals. These demands further fueled terrorism activities. If any country failed to meet such demands, it would result to the loss of lives or destruction of property causing more economic losses. Consequently, foreign tourists feared using the aviation transport leading to general losses in the tourism sector (Logan & Ramsay, 2012). Therefore, the procedures of Homeland security has enhanced security and reduced such cases, which has stimulated economic losses and made most businesspersons avoid financial losses. The Department of Homeland Security has worked hand in hand with the international civil aviation organization in combating terrorist threats and establishment of safe flight series through 100% scanning of air travel passengers. Thus, it assures all passengers of their security while using the U.S. bound and other international flights. This has increased employment opportunities, encouraged additional investment in all sectors of the American economy. The country has also experienced an increase in the gross domestic product and the increasing levels in the national income, which has generally improved the standards of living of all the American citizens.
The Department of Homeland Security has also caused deportation of hardcore criminals from its society. Through the immigration procedures and policies, the Department of Homeland Security has been able to check on authenticated identification and deported thousands of extraterrestrial individuals, who may compromise public security. These laws target some of the employers in the American economy, who have the tendency of breaking basic rules and regulations. Over the last three years, the Department of Homeland Security saw approximately 70% of foreigners with criminal history deported to their original countries. The government has also cancelled citizenship of individuals through naturalization, who had long criminal history. This has reduced criminal cases on the American society and straining of national resources in up keeping of foreign criminals in the public prisons. The department has employed technology like E-verify at the entry points to check on validity of the all the passports and passport cards (Logan & Ramsay, 2012). This has made the US government become aware of who are its original citizens and the imposters, who may pose threat to national security. This has also made the borders of the United States of America less porous because illegal immigrants have a difficulty in entering the American territory. The department is also in charge of the U.S. coast guard forces that arrested more than two thousand illegal immigrants, who attempted to enter the country in 2010. Through deportation of illegal immigrants with criminal or terrorist history, the nation is able to reduce incidents of terrorism and other security threats to the country. For example, the bombing of the World Trade Center was the brainchild of immigrants from Middle East countries. Therefore, the American government is able to reduce the crime threats and deals accordingly with the potential criminals and terrorists (Kjos, 2009).
The other impact of the Department of Homeland Security is reduction of human trafficking. For many years, child and woman trafficking has been a major issue affecting international communities. Kjos (2009) asserts that the United Nations organization has been on the forefront in dealing with this problem. The organization asked most of its member states to join forces in solving this problem. The American society has a group of selfish individuals who engage in human trafficking. These businesspersons trick many naïve and innocent maidens with promises of good jobs and greener pastures if they accepted to join their fake companies that offer good jobs abroad. Out of the lack of adequate experience, the innocent young girls subscribe to their companies, which smuggle into the United States of America. When they arrive in America, these businesspersons drug them before redistributing girls across their brothels in different states of America. At the brothels, they serve as sex slaves, who earn income and profits to these criminal units in America. As a superpower, the United States of America through the Department of Homeland Security in liaison with other departments has tirelessly fought the problem of human trafficking within its states. The department has procured powerful scanners that check the content in most cargoes at the borders. The scanners are able to sense illegal goods that enter the country. According to Kjos (2009), for more than a decade the Department of Homeland Security has arrested several businesspersons, who were earning income though human trafficking. Apart from that, the Department of Homeland Security instigated several operations to battle human trafficking activities in America for instance, the Blue campaign. This campaign aims at training local law enforcers on different ways of dealing with human trafficking. Therefore, the procedures of the Department of Homeland Security have brought to an end the business of human trafficking, restored human rights and conformed to the demands of the international community.
Despite all these positive effects, the Department of Homeland Security has also registered some negative effects, like invasion into citizens’ privacy, limiting of freedom of movement, extra costs on businesses and individuals, and separation of families of the American citizens.
The major negative effect of Department of Homeland Security is invasion into privacy of the citizens. Critics of the Department of Homeland Security believe that the department has done much harm to people’s privacy (White, 2011). The department procedures like the collection of biographic information at the entry points of the borders, airport and seaports followed by close monitoring of individuals activity in the country limits ones privacy. The department also adopted technologies like close-circuit cameras, which are kept in almost all public places like parks, public restaurants and nearly every corner of the street. In a single day, it is possible for an individual to appear in almost 1000 CCTV cameras in a busy city like the New York City (White, 2011). The department collects a lot of information from the public with an aim of establishing a criminal or terrorist intelligence, which is useful in preventing occurrence of crime. It also claims that it collects such information only to use it in cases when there is an occurrence of a crime. These cameras are everywhere including the eye in the sky on most streets or private vans that move with close circuit cameras or the cameras installed on most buildings. Some businesspersons have gone far beyond normal and installed these cameras in the lavatories. Apart from the cameras, the department also keeps an eye on the public cyber activities and network infrastructure. Through its organs, like the National Cyber Security and Communications Integration Centre, the department is able to oversee the use and abuse of public networks. White (2011) argues that this makes the public feel as if the government is watching their activities and there is always an individual who will strive to know what they feel is private. Furthermore, the police may also go into individual’s house after they receive a 911 call. The police from the Homeland Security Department are free to check on the safety of the citizens in case they receive this important call. This entry may be with or without the permission of the owner. Therefore, this further limits individual freedom to privacy. The security agents at the borders and entry point also check on electric devices such as laptops, which most individuals think it is invasion of their privacy. At the entry points like borders and airports, the security agents hold these electronic devices for up to 24 hours while trying to acquire any suspicious information from such gadgets. Psychologically, some individuals feel like they are not free to use the public network to communicate to others because there is someone watching over their activities. Therefore, the Department of Homeland Security has invaded the privacy of the public.
The other major negative effect of the Department of Homeland Security is limitation of freedom of movement. Through legislations controlling the generation of passports, the department limits the movement of the citizens. The policy demands that the citizens should apply for passports and wait for at least two-three weeks before the travelling in the U.S. The laws also demand that the citizens should have their national passports before they go past any U.S. borders. Initially, it would take three months before the Department of State generates the U.S. passport. Moreover, the department has also increased the fee of issuing the passports. It claims that in order to reproduce the passports, it needs new and advanced technology. Therefore, children shall pay $85 and adults shall pay $100. Apart from that, the department has also caused travelling past the borders of the U.S. to be cumbersome. For instance, if a family has electronic devices like the laptops, they will have to wait for not less than 24 hours for the security agents to verify on the safety of the electronic devices and confirm that the owners are not potential terrorists or criminals (White, 2011). This further delay the travelling process and demoralizes the citizens during the movement from one state to another, because of the increased cost and the government red tape at the borders and other entry points. On immigration, the Department of Homeland Security also limits the freedom of the people without proper identification. When the immigrants do not have authentic identification documents or they have a criminal history, the department puts such groups of people under custody. The security agents then hold investigations and interview such persons as they contact their home countries for more information or verify terrorism information about them from FBI terrorism database (White, 2011). The department through its branches, like the coast guard, also arrests the illegal migrants, thus limiting their freedom of movement.
The supreme courts in different states across America solve most matters of that arise from the Constitution, policies and government regulations. It is the role of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the American people demands that all states in America should protect all the rights of the American citizens, including the right to being alone. The Fourth Amendment demands that the American citizens have the right to secure their individual lives, houses and property among other effects (Faber, 2008). That clause further demands that the security agencies shall not have unreasonable apprehension, courts shall not issue warrants of search without good reasons, and if it shall be issued, the warrant should be specific about the place and the item to be searched. Initially, different supreme courts followed this principle to the latter. However, with several amendments, the supreme courts as the one in New Jersey made rulings that allowed security enforcers to breach this rule in case of an emergency call on 911. The court further authorized the law enforcers at the entry point to conduct search on travelers and their property just in case they were suspicious about them. The courts have also authorized limitation of the freedom of movement of people from immigrant communities who have history of petty crime, because the judges are convinced that aliens with petty crimes have potential of committing acts of terrorism (Faber, 2008). The courts also authorized strip-searching of people who have any offense. The courts also arrived to the conclusion that the government’s desire to stop some undesirable individuals and dangerous items from entering is territory is of more importance compared to individual’s privacy. The court prohibits security officers from invading into the necessary privacy of the citizens unless it is for the official purpose of enhancing public security.
To sum up, the Department of Homeland Security has both positive and negative effects on the daily lives of the American people. The department is created to counter terrorism and to enhance public security. The courts of law in America are ready to sacrifice individual rights to movement and privacy in protection of public security. However, the government has no right to infringe citizens’ right to privacy without a good reason.