US flag   Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Fact Sheet: DHS's International Footprint

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.

Below are examples of DHS's international work:

Strengthening the security of global aviation

  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspects airports overseas with flights to the United States to ensure they are in compliance with international security standards.
  • DHS collaborates with its international partners to share Passenger Name Records (PNR) -- information passengers provide to airlines in order to book a ticket for travel -- to identify high-risk individuals and deny them entry to the U.S.
  • Through the Visa Security Program, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with support from the Department of State, deploys trained special agents overseas to high-risk visa activity posts to identify potential terrorist and criminal threats before they reach the United States.
  • Through the Immigration Advisory Program, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) posts officers at foreign airports to identify high-risk travelers before they board U.S.-bound flights. This program has enabled CBP Officers to identify positive Terrorist Screening Database matches, recommend additional screening, and when appropriate, notify the air carrier that the individual would likely be refused admissions to the U.S.
  • TSA conducts international aviation security training for countries around the world, focusing on risk-based security strategies, including cargo security, screening techniques, vulnerability assessments and airport security management.
  • Through pre-clearance agreements in Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and Ireland, DHS screens travelers and their baggage before takeoff through the same process a traveler would undergo upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry, to better target and prevent threats while streamlining legitimate travel.

Increasing the security of the global supply chain

  • Through the Container Security Initiative -- currently operational in 58 foreign seaports in 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.
  • Members of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Redeployment Assistance and Inspection Detachment team, stationed in the Middle East, inspect military containers for compliance with international safety standards to ensure that hazardous materials are properly loaded and labeled, helping ensure that troops and their equipment can return home, safely.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard assesses seaports and shipping companies that trade with the United States, and interdicts drugs and human smuggling near our shores.

Combating transnational crime

  • DHS currently has 25 officers stationed in Afghanistan as part of the “civilian surge” led by the Department of State, mentoring border guards, providing training at the Customs Academy we helped establish, and using cash-counting machines at Kabul airport to help detect money laundering.
  • Instructors from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) participate in the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) Program, working with international law enforcement partners to enhance cooperation for combating transnational organized crime. Currently, FLETC personnel serve as the Director of the ILEA in Gaborone, Botswana, and Deputy Director of the ILEA in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel stationed abroad train, and coordinate investigations with, foreign law enforcement counterparts, to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations engaged in money laundering, weapons proliferation, child exploitation, intellectual property rights violations, and human trafficking.
  • The U.S. Secret Service assists foreign counterparts with the arrests of suspects involved in financial and electronic crimes as well as the seizure of counterfeit currency, and works with international law enforcement partners to share criminal intelligence information.

Strengthening Cybersecurity and Protecting Intellectual Property Rights

  • 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.

  • 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, through its 24 field offices around the world, works with international law enforcement agencies to combat credit and debit card fraud, identity theft, computer fraud, and bank fraud. 

Providing emergency response and humanitarian assistance

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (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, DHS deployed more than 1,000 personnel 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