Cybertalk: DHS Offers Stakeholders a New Voice

Written by on July 29, 2009 in Enforcement, Legislation, Reform with 1 Comment

Photo by bob canada.

Next week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin a “Quadrennial Homeland Security Review” (QHSR) billed as a 21st century version of the town hall meeting: an online, interactive discussion that is promoted as an opportunity to shape the future priorities of DHS. The QHSR is a Congressionally mandated strategic planning analysis that is intended to evaluate and shape Department priorities. The topics under discussion this year include:

  • Counter-terrorism and domestic security management
  • Securing our borders
  • Smart and tough enforcement of immigration laws
  • Preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters
  • Homeland Security National Risk Assessment
  • Homeland Security Planning and Capabilities

According to the website, the QHSR is an effort to engage public stakeholders in a genuine assessment of the agency. It’s an ambitious and time consuming project, slated to take place over the next three months.

While the QHSR is clearly in keeping with the administration’s commitment to new technologies and open government, it’s a little disconcerting to see that the deck is already stacked towards immigration enforcement. While it’s obviously important to secure the borders and to be smart about enforcing our immigration laws, it’s equally important to think about our overall immigration policy. Hopefully, the participants in the dialogue will share this concern and press the department to take a broader view of immigration policy—it’s not just smart and tough enforcement that we should be after, but achieving a fair and balanced immigration policy that respects families, works efficiently, treats people with dignity, contributes to economic prosperity, and ensures the long-term growth of the nation.

Of course, the other problem with the QHSR is that we haven’t had a great deal of luck on the enforcement front thus far. While DHS has made some changes to immigration enforcement, plenty of people are questioning whether those changes will really lead to smart enforcement or just more tough enforcement.

That’s not to say that people shouldn’t engage in this dialogue. We all should engage by signing up at before the July 30th deadline. But for the dialogue to be meaningful, DHS needs to show the public that it really is listening—not just every four years, but every day.



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  • Wow, I’m glad I came across this in time. I had a friend picked up by ICE back in November and just trying to help him has led me into the worst nightmare of my life! I had no idea that the things I’ve seen since then would be done in this country. It has totally changed my idea of where this country stands on an ethical and moral level.

    I’m working ten to fourteen hour days on this problem now and have a number of immigrants and their families that I am trying to help. I’ve written to DHS and gotten a form letter in return. I’ve written to the President and received nothing but a canned promotion for his health care plan. No one is even reading the letters. Maybe this will get through if enough of us speak up. I’m highly disillusioned, but I’m signing up anyway.