Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

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The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is an American federal executive cabinet-level department that handles public security-related matters, including counterterrorism, border security, cybersecurity, immigration and customs, and disaster prevention, preparedness, and management. It is the newest cabinet department, and it is also the third largest with over 220,000 employees. The DHS is headed by the Secretary of Homeland Security and headquartered in Washington D.C.

The DHS was created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that occurred 14 months earlier. Preexisting federal agencies dealing with topics touching on homeland security, such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Coast Guard, were moved from their original federal departments and consolidated within the DHS.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]