US flag   Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Fact Sheet: DHS's International Engagement

Release Date: 
December 2, 2011

Updated: December 12, 2011

International security and the security of our homeland are inextricably linked. Today, the very nature of travel, trade, and commerce means that one vulnerability or gap anywhere across the globe has the ability to impact security thousands of miles away. That means our security must be a shared responsibility – among governments, the private sector, individuals and communities.

DHS works closely with international partners, including foreign governments, major multilateral organizations, and global businesses, to strengthen the security of the networks of global trade and travel upon which our nation's economy and communities rely. We are pushing our operational borders outward so that our physical borders become our last line of defense and not our first. Today, DHS is in just about every corner of the world, with personnel in more than 75 countries.

Key Efforts to: Strengthen International Aviation Security
DHS works with foreign governments, international organizations, and the aviation industry to strengthen the international aviation system and raise aviation security standards across the globe.

  • DHS works with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other partners on a global initiative to strengthen the international aviation system against evolving terrorist threats.
  • In October 2010, nearly 190 countries signed a historic ICAO agreement that establishes a foundation for aviation security to better protect the entire global aviation system and make air travel safer and more secure than ever before.
  • DHS uses Passenger Name Records (PNR) -- information passengers provide to airlines in order to book a ticket for travel -- to identify individuals with potential ties to terrorism, and deny those individuals entry to the U.S.
  • In November 2011, Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute initialed an agreement between the United States and the European Union that would strengthen our ability to combat terrorism and transnational threats, while respecting our commitment to privacy and data protection.
  • During 2008 and 2009, PNR helped the U.S. identify high-risk individuals in more than 3,000 cases. In fiscal year 2010, approximately one quarter of those individuals denied entry to the United States for having ties to terrorism were initially identified through analysis of PNR.
  • PNR data has aided nearly every high profile U.S. terrorist investigation in recent years, including New York City subway bomber Najibullah Zazi, Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, and David Headley, who was involved in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack and was planning attacks in Europe.
  • To date, nearly a dozen countries have deployed or piloted Advanced Imaging Technology in their major airports to screen passengers for metallic and non-metallic threats, including weapons, explosives and other objects concealed under layers of clothing.
  • TSA has formalized 40 agreements with foreign governments permitting Federal Air Marshals on international U.S. carrier flights, and more are currently underway.
  • Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), foreign nationals from 36 participating countries are able to travel to the United States for stays of 90 days or less upon receiving travel authorization through the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) program.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has partnered with Germany, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Mexico to allow vetted, trusted travelers to use Global Entry expedited border clearance stations in the U.S., focusing resources on individuals more likely to pose a risk while facilitating the flow of lawful people and goods entering the U.S.

Key Efforts to: Increase the Safety and Security of the Global Supply Chain
DHS works with international partners to protect the goods and commerce that move across the world every day - and that drive our global economy.

  • DHS leads the Administration's Global Supply Chain Security Initiative, working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
  • Fulfilling a requirement of the 9/11 Act, 100 percent of high risk cargo on international flights bound for the United States is screened.
  • DHS works with leaders from global shipping companies and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on developing preventative measures, including terrorism awareness training for employees and vetting personnel with access to cargo.
  • Through the Container Security Initiative -- currently operational in 58 foreign seaports in Europe, North, Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and throughout Asia -- CBP helps our partner countries identify and screen U.S.-bound maritime containers that pose a potential risk.

Key Efforts to: Enhance Information Sharing with International Partners
Since 2009, DHS has signed dozens of international agreements to share information about terrorism, organized crime, smuggling, human trafficking, and science and technology.

  • DHS, in collaboration with the Departments of Justice and State, has signed Preventing and Combating Serious Crime (PCSC) Agreements with 20 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries and one non-VWP country to share information about terrorists and criminals.
  • More than 70 countries participated in the pilot program Global Shield, sharing information about the export of chemicals that can be used in Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs.
  • Global Shield, a World Customs Organization initiative that DHS has spearheaded, has led to the seizure of more than 33 metric tons of chemicals, primarily ammonium nitrate, which, in the wrong hands, could have been used to build thousands of IEDs.
  • Through the Criminal History Information Sharing Arrangement between the United States and Mexico, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provides serious felony conviction information on Mexican nationals being repatriated to Mexico.
  • DHS and the Department of State have worked with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom to develop routine sharing of biometric information collected for immigration purposes.
  • Nationals from all Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, regardless of their port of embarkation, are required to obtain an approved travel authorization via ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), which screens travelers against government databases prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States.
  • DHS has signed 12 international agreements to foster collaboration in science and technology, including research and development in cutting-edge technologies to ensure our mutual security.

Key Efforts to: Strengthen Cybersecurity and Protect Intellectual Property Rights
DHS works closely with international partners to address cyber threats, including denial of service attacks, attempts to steal intellectual property, and intrusions against government networks and systems that control critical infrastructure.

  • The U.S.-EU Working Group on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime focuses on enhancing cyber incident management capabilities, strengthening public-private partnerships, raising awareness about cyber threats, and combating cybercrime. In November 2011, DHS held the first joint table top exercise with EU counterparts to enhance international collaboration on cyber incident response through mutual support systems.
  • The U.S. announced a new International Strategy for Cyberspace in May 2011 that lays out our vision for the future in this domain, including an agenda for partnering with other nations to achieve that vision.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) works with international partners to seize and destroy counterfeit goods and shut down websites that sell these goods. On Cyber Monday 2011, one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, ICE and our partners shut down 150 websites selling counterfeit goods.
  • The U.S. Secret Service works with international law enforcement agencies to combat credit and debit card fraud, identity theft, computer fraud, and bank fraud. In 2010, the U.S. Secret Service arrested over 1,200 suspects for cyber crime in investigations that prevented over $7 billion in fraud loss.

Key Efforts to: Provide Emergency Response and Humanitarian Assistance
DHS works abroad to provide emergency response and humanitarian assistance.

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assists individuals -- inside and outside the U.S. -- in need of shelter or aid from disasters, oppression, emergency medical issues and other urgent circumstances. USCIS grants temporary protected status, changes and extensions of nonimmigrant status, and employment authorization to qualified individuals. USCIS also grants parole to individuals with urgent humanitarian need, grants refugee status or asylum to individuals who have been persecuted or face persecution in the future, and enables children adopted from other countries to join their new families in the U.S.
  • DHS provides emergency response assistance abroad. In response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for example, DHS deployed more than 1,000 personnel from USCIS, CBP, ICE, TSA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard to evacuate American citizens, process Haitian orphans for humanitarian parole, secure Haitian ports, transport emergency personnel, support response and recovery planning, and deliver life-saving supplies.
Back to Top